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Short poem

E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913)

Shadow River: Muskoka

              1A stream of tender gladness,
              2Of filmy sun, and opal tinted skies ;
              3Of warm midsummer air that lightly lies
              4In mystic rings,
              5Where softly swings
              6The music of a thousand wings
              7That almost tones to sadness.

              8Midway 'twixt earth and heaven,
              9A bubble in the pearly air I seem
            10To float upon the sapphire floor, a dream
            11Of clouds of snow,
            12Above, below,
            13Drift with my drifting, dim and slow,
            14As twilight drifts to even.

            15The little fern-leaf, bending
            16Upon the brink, its green reflection greets,
            17And kisses soft the shadow that it meets
            18With touch so fine,
            19The border line
            20The keenest vision can't define ;
            21So perfect is the blending.

            22The far, fir trees that cover
            23The brownish hills with needles green and gold,
            24The arching elms o'erhead, vinegrown and old,
            25Repictured are
            26Beneath me far,
            27Where not a ripple moves to mar
            28Shades underneath, or over.

            29Mine is the undertone ;
            30The beauty, strength, and power of the land
            31Will never stir or bend at my command ;
            32But all the shade
            33Is marred or made,
            34If I but dip my paddle blade ;
            35And it is mine alone.

            36O! pathless world of seeming!
            37O! pathless life of mine whose deep ideal
            38Is more my own than ever was the real.
            39For others Fame
            40And Love's red flame,
            41And yellow gold : I only claim
            42The shadows and the dreaming.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), Flint and Feather: The Complete Poems, with Introduction by Theodore Watts-Dunton and a Biographical Sketch of the Author, Illustrated by J. R. Seavey, 7th edn. (1912: Toronto and London: The Musson Book Co., Ltd., 1921): 46-47. PS 8469 O3F5 1921 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1912
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/8

Rhyme: abbccca

Other poems by E. Pauline Johnson