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William Wilfred Campbell (1858?-1918)

Bereavement of the Fields


In Memory of Archibald Lampman, who died February 10, 1899

              1Soft fall the February snows, and soft
              2Falls on my heart the snow of wintry pain;
              3For never more, by wood or field or croft,
              4Will he we knew walk with his loved again;
              5No more, with eyes adream and soul aloft,
              6In those high moods where love and beauty reign,
              7Greet his familiar fields, his skies without a stain.

              8Soft fall the February snows, and deep,
              9Like downy pinions from the moulting breast
            10Of all the mothering sky, round his hushed sleep,
            11Flutter a million loves upon his rest,
            12Where once his well-loved flowers were fain to peep,
            13With adder-tongue and waxen petals prest,
            14In young spring evenings reddening down the west.

            15Soft fall the February snows, and hushed
            16Seems life's loud action, all its strife removed,
            17Afar, remote, where grief itself seems crushed,
            18And even hope and sorrow are reproved;
            19For he whose cheek erstwhile with hope was flushed,
            20And by the gentle haunts of being moved,
            21Hath gone the way of all he dreamed and loved.

            22Soft fall the February snows, and lost,
            23This tender spirit gone with scarce a tear,
            24Ere, loosened from the dungeons of the frost,
            25Wakens with yearnings new the enfranchised year,
            26Late winter-wizened, gloomed, and tempest-tost;
            27And Hesper's gentle, delicate veils appear,
            28When dream anew the days of hope and fear.

            29And Mother Nature, she whose heart is fain,
            30Yea, she who grieves not, neither faints nor fails,
            31Building the seasons, she will bring again
            32March with rudening madness of wild gales,
            33April and her wraiths of tender rain,
            34And all he loved,—this soul whom memory veils,
            35Beyond the burden of our strife and pain.

            36Not his to wake the strident note of song,
            37Nor pierce the deep recesses of the heart,
            38Those tragic wells, remote, of might and wrong;
            39But rather, with those gentler souls apart,
            40He dreamed like his own summer days along,
            41Filled with the beauty born of his own heart,
            42Sufficient in the sweetness of his song.

            43Outside this prison-house of all our tears,
            44Enfranchised from our sorrow and our wrong,
            45Beyond the failure of our days and years,
            46Beyond the burden of our saddest song,
            47He moves with those whose music filled his ears,
            48And claimed his gentle spirit from the throng,—
            49Wordsworth, Arnold, Keats, high masters of his song.

            50Like some rare Pan of those old Grecian days,
            51Here in our hours of deeper stress reborn,
            52Unfortunate thrown upon life's evil ways,
            53His inward ear heard ever that satyr horn
            54From Nature's lips reverberate night and morn,
            55And fled from men and all their troubled maze,
            56Standing apart, with sad, incurious gaze.

            57And now, untimely cut, like some sweet flower
            58Plucked in the early summer of its prime,
            59Before it reached the fulness of its dower,
            60He withers in the morning of our time;
            61Leaving behind him, like a summer shower,
            62A fragrance of earth's beauty, and the chime
            63Of gentle and imperishable rhyme.

            64Songs in our ears of winds and flowers and buds
            65And gentle loves and tender memories
            66Of Nature's sweetest aspects, her pure moods,
            67Wrought from the inward truth of intimate eyes
            68And delicate ears of him who harks and broods,
            69And, nightly pondering, daily grows more wise,
            70And dreams and sees in mighty solitudes.

            71Soft fall the February snows, and soft
            72He sleeps in peace upon the breast of her
            73He loved the truest; where, by wood and croft,
            74The wintry silence folds in fleecy blur
            75About his silence, while in glooms aloft
            76The mighty forest fathers, without stir,
            77Guard well the rest of him, their rare sweet worshipper.

Notes

1] Archibald Lampman: a fellow Canadian poet living in Ottawa.

3] croft: farm.

9] pinions: feathers.

25] enfranchised: liberated.

27] Hesper: Venus, the evening star.

49] Wordsworth, Arnold, Keats: William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), and John Keats (1795-1821).

50] Pan: pastoral Greek god of the (pan) pipe.


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: W. Wilfred Campbell, Beyond the Hills of Dream (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1899), pp. 9-12. PS 8455 A6B4 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 27 May 1899
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/12

Composition date: 1899
Rhyme: abababb


Other poems by William Wilfred Campbell