The Dread Voyage Poems

by William Wilfred Campbell




THEY hasten, still they hasten,
      From the even to the dawn;
And their tired eyes gleam and glis’en
      Under north skies white and wan.
Each panter in the darkness
      Is a demon-haunted soul,
The shadowy, phantom were-wolves,
      Who circle round the Pole.

Their tongues are crimson flaming,
      Their haunted blue eyes gleam,

And they strain them to the utmost
      O’er frozen lake and stream;
Their cry one note of agony,
       That is neither yelp nor bark,
These panters of the northern waste,
      Who hound them to the dark.

You may hear their hurried breathing,
      You may see their fleeting forms,
At the pallid polar midnight,
      When the north is gathering storms;

When the arctic frosts are flaming,
      And the ice-field thunders roll;
These demon-haunted were-wolves,
      Who circle round the Pole.

They hasten, still they hasten,

      Across the northern night,
Filled with a frighted madness,
      A horror of the light;
Forever and forever,
      Like leaves before the wind,
They leave the wan, white gleaming
       Of the dawning far behind.

Their only peace is darkness,
      Their rest to hasten on
Into the heart of midnight,

      Forever from the dawn.
Across far phantom ice-floes
      The eye of night may mark
These horror-haunted were-wolves
      Who hound them to the dark.

All through this hideous journey,
      They are the souls of men
Who in the far dark-ages
      Made Europe one black fen.
They fled from courts and convents,
      And bound their mortal dust
With demon wolfish girdles
      Of human hate and lust.

These who could have been god-like,
      Chose, each a loathsome beast,

Amid the heart’s foul graveyards,
      On putrid thoughts to feast;
But the great God who made them
      Gave each a human soul,
And so ’mid night forever
      They circle round the Pole.

A praying for the blackness,
      A longing for the night,
For each is doomed forever
      By a horror of the light;

And far in the heart of midnight,
      Where their shadowy flight is hurled,
They feel with pain the dawning
      That creeps in round the world.

Under the northern midnight,

      The white, glint ice upon,
They hasten, still they hasten,
      With their horror of the dawn;
Forever and forever,
      Into the night away
They hasten, still they hasten
      Unto the judgment day.