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

by William Wilfred Campbell




I STAND beneath the night’s wide vast,
    The awful curtains, dim, outrolled;
And know time but a tempest blast,
    And life a thing the hand may hold—

A thing the Nubian, Dark, may shut

    In his closed palm-grasp, black and rude,
Like dust in a kernel of a nut
    ’Mid vasts of night’s infinitude.

And Reason whispers: Why debate
    A moment’s thought, why breathe this breath?

For all are gone, the low, the great;
    And mighty lord of all is Death.

Yea, Egypt built her ruined dream,
    And Greece knew beauty’s perfect bliss,
Then Science fanned her taper gleam—

    And all for this, and all for this:

That when the fires of time burned out,
    The earth a barren ball should roll,
With wrinkled winter wrapt about,
    And night eterne from pole to pole.


And all the dreams of seers and kings,
    The pomps and pageants of the past,
The loves and vain imaginings,
    Ground into glacial dust at last.

Ah! no such creed, my soul, for thee,

    As, underneath the night’s wide bars,
They speak with love’s infinity—
     God’s wondrous angels of the stars.

And something in my heart—some light,
    Some splendour, science cannot weigh—

Beats round the shores of this dim night
    The surges of a mightier day.

Though all the loves of those who loved
    Be vanished into empty air,
Though all the dreams of ages proved

    But wrecks of beautiful despair,

Though all the dust of those who fought,
    Be scattered to the midnight’s main,
No noble life was lived for naught,
    No martyr death was died in vain.