Representative Poetry Online
  Poet Index   Poem Index   Random   Search  
  Introduction   Timeline   Calendar   Glossary   Criticism   Bibliography  
  RPO   Canadian Poetry   UTEL  
by Name
by Date
by Title
by First Line
by Last Line
Short poem

Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)

Night Hymns on Lake Nipigon

              1Here in the midnight, where the dark mainland and island
              2Shadows mingle in shadow deeper, profounder,
              3Sing we the hymns of the churches, while the dead water
              4Whispers before us.

              5Thunder is travelling slow on the path of the lightning;
              6One after one the stars and the beaming planets
              7Look serene in the lake from the edge of the storm-cloud,
              8Then have they vanished.

              9While our canoe, that floats dumb in the bursting thunder,
            10Gathers her voice in the quiet and thrills and whispers,
            11Presses her prow in the star-gleam, and all her ripple
            12Lapses in blackness.

            13Sing we the sacred ancient hymns of the churches,
            14Chanted first in old-world nooks of the desert,
            15While in the wild, pellucid Nipigon reaches
            16Hunted the savage.

            17Now have the ages met in the Northern midnight,
            18And on the lonely, loon-haunted Nipigon reaches
            19Rises the hymn of triumph and courage and comfort,
            20Adeste Fideles.

            21Tones that were fashioned when the faith brooded in darkness,
            22Joined with sonorous vowels in the noble Latin,
            23Now are married with the long-drawn Ojibwa,
            24Uncouth and mournful.

            25Soft with the silver drip of the regular paddles
            26Falling in rhythm, timed with the liquid, plangent
            27Sounds from the blades where the whirlpools break and are carried
            28Down into darkness;

            29Each long cadence, flying like a dove from her shelter
            30Deep in the shadow, wheels for a throbbing moment,
            31Poises in utterance, returning in circles of silver
            32To nest in the silence.

            33All wild nature stirs with the infinite, tender
            34Plaint of a bygone age whose soul is eternal,
            35Bound in the lonely phrases that thrill and falter
            36Back into quiet.

            37Back they falter as the deep storm overtakes them,
            38Whelms them in splendid hollows of booming thunder,
            39Wraps them in rain, that, sweeping, breaks and onrushes
            40Ringing like cymbals.


15] Nipigon: lake in western Ontario north of Lake Superior.

20] Adestes Fideles: Latin hymn of great antiquity, known in English as "O come all ye faithful."

23] Ojibwa: native people living north of Sault St. Marie between eastern Lake Superior and northeastern Georgian Bay.

27] where: "were" in original text.

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: The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1926): 23-24. PS 8487 C6 A17 1926 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1905
Publication date note: New World Lyrics and Ballads (1905).
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10

Form: quatrains
Rhyme: unrhyming

Other poems by Duncan Campbell Scott