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Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)

Rapids at Night


              1Here at the roots of the mountains,
              2Between the sombre legions of cedars and tamaracks,
              3The rapids charge the ravine:
              4A little light, cast by foam under starlight,
              5Wavers about the shimmering stems of the birches:
              6Here rise up the clangorous sounds of battle,
              7Immense and mournful.
              8Far above curves the great dome of darkness
              9Drawn with the limitless lines of the stars and the planets.
            10Deep at the core of the tumult,
            11Deeper than all the voices that cry at the surface,
            12Dwells one fathomless sound,
            13Under the hiss and cry, the stroke and the plangent clamour.

            14O human heart that sleeps,
            15Wild with rushing dreams and deep with sadness!

            16The abysmal roar drops into almost silence,
            17While over its sleep play in various cadence
            18Innumerous voices crashing in laughter;
            19Then rising calm, overwhelming,
            20Slow in power,
            21Rising supreme in utterance,
            22It sways, and reconquers and floods all the spaces of silence,
            23One voice, deep with the sadness,
            24That dwells at the core of all things.
            25There by a nest in the glimmering birches,
            26Speaks a thrush as if startled from slumber,
            27Dreaming of Southern ricefields,
            28The moted glow of the amber sunlight,
            29Where the long ripple roves among the reeds.

            30Above curves the great dome of darkness,
            31Scored with the limitless lines of the stars and the planets;
            32Like the strong palm of God,
            33Veined with the ancient laws,
            34Holding a human heart that sleeps,
            35Wild with rushing dreams and deep with the sadness,
            36That dwells at the core of all things.


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): 19-20. 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

Rhyme: unrhyming


Other poems by Duncan Campbell Scott