The Dread Voyage Poems

by William Wilfred Campbell




SEE how the luminous night hath drawn around
The curtains of her majesty, and o’er
The far-heard, murmurous sounds of earthly life
Hath dropped the mantle of her misty sleep,
That spreads itself and folds the corners in
Of darkness round this hid rim of the world.

O Beauty, thou art never half so rare
And restful to the spirit as when thou
Dost throne thyself amid the dome of night,
The deep blue zenith that is scarcely blue,

Where darkness scarce takes color, and the arch
Of heaven glows with myriad misty fires,
That move like spirits in majestic space,
And fill with inward music the great void
That tunes itself to match the seraphim,
And lifts the heart of man to higher planes
Of strength and greatness. I have seen thy face
At kindling morning or at dreamy eve,
Or mid the pauses of a summer noon,
When thou didst glass thee in a woodland pool,
Where sound was far, and all the world a dream.

And I have hunted thee down autumn lanes,
Dream-avenues of mists and ruddy fires,
Past the complainings of the thoughtful wind,
That in the under-heart of woodlands moaned,

And jargoned memories of the haunted past.

Or I have seen thy presence in the storm,
The quick, mad muttering of the thunder-cloud,
That zigzagged all the ashen fields with red,
Followed by the sudden rushing rain,

That roared the roof-tops and the window-panes,
And threshed the grain-fields and the garden flowers,
And flooded the dusty roads with pools and streams,
While all the heaven brimmed with fire and rain:
Then darkened past and left the summer sky
As stainless as the blue eye of a child;
And all the world alit with trembling gems,
Beneath the sunlight and the cooling air.

Or I have seen thine awfuller majesty
In mad November, when his muffled storms,

Loud-tongued and mighty, racked the skeleton woods,
And roared and surged amid the branchy tops,
Like some far surf of ocean on his shore,
Hounding the frosts from their still fastness there.
Or in the frosty silence of deep snows
And long-drawn, silent nights of weeping winds,
Crooning a tune amid the skeleton trees;
Thy spirit hath made music in my heart.

But thou art draped in all thy glow, supreme,
Here in the luminous dream of this June night,

When all the heaven’s roof doth seem to rise
And lift and lift in endless floors of light;
Glad wells of glory, infinities of space,
Jewelled with wheeling systems, circling round
In silvered journeyings o’er the seas of night.

Down under here the mother-earth is still
And shadowed, save that for a spirit-wind
That whispers in a voice, so low, so low,
That scarcely makes a rustle in grasses heard;
Or low, cool breathings of the forest edge.
Down near by in the covert thicket hid,
Like molten silver or white moving mist,
Could you but see it, hark, a gurgling brook,
That goes so silvern, silvern, down its stones,
Blithely, like the sweet notes of a song,
Tenderly, from dripping stone to stone,
Filling the night with drowsèd melody.

This is a clime where spirits only dwell,
And man knows he is god-like; love finds wings,
And wisdom spans existence. Under here

My soul doth find the infinite, glad rest,
And all my heart grows kindred with the stars.