Lake Lyrics and Other Poems

by William Wilfred Campbell





STORM-BEATEN cliff, thou mighty cape of thunder;
Rock-Titan of the north, whose feet the waves beat under;
Cloud-reared, mist-veiled, to all the world a wonder,
Shut out in thy wild solitude asunder,
    O Thunder Cape, thou mighty cape of storms. 

About thy base, like two that naught assuages,
Throughout the years the wild lake raves and rages;
One after one, time clashes up weird pages;
But firm thou standest, unchanged, through the ages,
    O Thunder Cape, thou awful cape of storms.

Upon thy ragged front, the storm’s black anger,
Like eagle clings, amid the elements’ clangor:
About thee feels the lake’s soft sensuous languor;
But dead alike to loving and to anger,
    Thou towerest bleak, O mighty cape of storms. 

Year in, year out, the summer rain’s soft beating,
Thy front hath known, the winter’s snow and sleeting;
But unto each thou givest contemptuous greeting.
These hurt thee not through seasons fast and fleeting;
    O proud, imperious, rock-ribbed cape of storms. 

In August nights, when on thy under beaches,
The lake to caverns time-weird legend teaches;
And moon-pearled waves to shadowed shores send speeches,
Far into heaven, thine awful darkness reaches,
    O’ershadowing night; thou ghostly cape of storms. 

In wild October, when the lake is booming
Its madness at thee, and the north is dooming
The season to fiercest hate, still unconsuming,
Over the strife, thine awful front is looming;
    Like death in life, thou awful cape of storms. 

Across thy rest the wild bee’s noonday humming,
And sound of martial hosts to battle drumming,
Are one to thee—no date knows thine incoming;
The earliest years belong to thy life’s summing,
    O ancient rock, thou aged cape of storms. 

O thou so old, within thy sage discerning,
What sorrows, hates, what dead past loves still-burning,
Couldst thou relate, thine ancient pages turning;
O thou, who seemest ever new lores learning,
    O unforgetting, wondrous cape of storms. 

O tell me what wild past lies here enchanted:
What borders thou dost guard, what regions haunted?
What type of man a little era flaunted,
Then passed and slept? O tell me thou undaunted,
    Thou aged as eld, O mighty cape of storms. 

O speak, if thou canst speak, what cities sleeping?
What busy streets? what laughing and what weeping?
What vanished deeds and hopes like dust upheaping,
Hast thou long held within thy silent keeping?
    O wise old cape, thou rugged cape of storms. 

These all have passed, as all that’s living passes;
Our thoughts they either as the centuries’ grasses,
That bloom and rot in bleak, wild lake morasses;
But still thou loomest where Superior glasses
    Himself in surge and sleep, O cape of storms. 


And thou wilt stay when we and all our dreaming
Lie low in dust. The age’s last moon-beaming
Will shed on thy wild front its final gleaming;
For last of all that’s real and all that’s seeming,
    Thou still wilt linger, mighty cape of storms. 


* Thunder Cape, an immense cliff of basaltic rock, thirteen hundred feet high, guards the entrance to Thunder Bay, Lake Superior. [back]