Sagas of Vaster Britain: Poems of the Race, the Empire and the Divinity of Man

by William Wilfred Campbell




THERE is an autumn sense subdues the air,
   Though it is August and the season still
A part of the summer, and the woodlands fair.
   I hear it in the humming of the mill,
I feel it in the rustling of the trees
That scarcely shiver in the passing breeze.

‘Tis but a touch of winter ere his time,
   A presaging of sleep and icy death,
When skies are rich and fields are in their prime,
   And heaven and earth commingle in a breath:—

When hazy airs are stirred with gossamer wings,
And in shorn fields the shrill cicada sings.

So comes the slow revolving of the year,
   The glory of nature ripening to decay,
When in those paths by which, through loves austere,

   All men and beasts and blossoms find their way,
By steady easings of the Spirit’s dream,
From sunlight past the pallid starlight’s beam.

Nor should the spirit sorrow as it passes,
   Declining slowly by the heights it came;

We are but brothers to the birds and grasses,
   In our brief coming and our end the same:
And though we glory godlike in our day,
Perchance some kindred law their lives obey.

There are a thousand beauties gathered round:

   The sound of waters falling over-night,
The morning scents that steam from the fresh ground,
   The hair-like streaming of the morning light
Through early mists and dim, wet woods where brooks
Chatter, half seen, down under mossy nooks.

The ragged daisy starring all the fields,
   The buttercup abrim with pallid gold,
The thistle and burr-flowers hedged with pricky shields,
   All common weeds the draggled pastures hold,
With shrivelled pods and leaves, are kin to me,
Like-heirs of earth and her maturity.

They speak a silent speech that is their own,
   These wise and gentle teachers of the grass;
And when their breif and common days are flown,
   A certain beauty from the year doth pass:—

A beauty of whose light no eye can tell,
Save that it went; and my heart knew itwell.

I may not know each plant as some men know them,
   As children gather beasts and birds to tame;
But I went ‘mid them as the winds that blow them,

   From childhood’s hour, and loved without a name.
There is more beauty in a field of weeds
Than in all blooms the hothouse garden breeds.

For they are nature’s children; in their faces
   I see the sweet obedience to the sky

That marks these dwellers of the wilding places,
   Who with the season’s being live and die;
Knowing no love but of the wind and sun,
Who still are nature’s when their life is done.

They are a part of all the haze-filled hours,

   The happy, happy world all drenched with light,
The far-off, chiming click-clack of the mowers,
   And yon blue hills whose mists elude my sight;
And they to me will ever bring in dreams
Far mist-clad heights and brimming rain-fed streams.

In this dream August air, whose ripened leaf,
   Pausing before it puts death’s glories on,
Deepens its green, and the half-garnered sheaf
   Gladdens the haze-filled sunlight, love hath gone
Beyond the material, trembling like a star,
To those sure heights where all Thought’s glories are.

And Thought, that is the greatness of this earth
   And man’s most inmost being, soars and soars
Beyond the eye’s horizon’s outmost girth,
   Garners all beauty, on all mystery pores:—

Like some ethereal fountain in its flow,
Finds heavens where the senses may not go.