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Short poem

William Wilfred Campbell (1858?-1918)

The Blind Caravan

              1I am a slave, both dumb and blind,
              2     Upon a journey dread;
              3The iron hills lie far behind,
              4     The seas of mist ahead.

              5Amid a mighty caravan
              6     I toil a sombre track,
              7The strangest road since time began,
              8     Where no foot turneth back.

              9Here rosy youth at morning's prime
            10     And weary man at noon
            11Are crooked shapes at eventime
            12     Beneath the haggard moon.

            13Faint elfin songs from out the past
            14     Of some lost sunset land
            15Haunt this grim pageant drifting, vast,
            16     Across the trackless sand.

            17And often for some nightward wind
            18     We stay a space and hark,
            19Then leave the sunset lands behind,
            20     And plunge into the dark.

            21Somewhere, somewhere, far on in front,
            22     There strides a lonely man
            23Who is all strength, who bears the brunt,
            24     The battle and the ban.

            25I know not of his face or form,
            26     His voice or battle-scars,
            27Or how he fronts the haunted storm
            28     Beneath the wintry stars;

            29I know not of his wisdom great
            30     That leads this sightless host
            31Beyond the barren hills of fate
            32     Unto some kindlier coast.

            33But often 'mid the eerie black
            34     Through this sad caravan
            35A strange, sweet thrill is whispered back,
            36     Borne on from man to man.

            37A strange, glad joy that fills the night
            38     Like some far marriage horn,
            39Till every heart is filled with light
            40     Of some belated morn.

            41The way is long, and rough the road,
            42     And bitter the night, and dread,
            43And each poor slave is but a goad
            44     To lash the one ahead.

            45Evil the foes that lie in wait
            46     To slay us in the pass,
            47Bloody the slaughter at the gate,
            48     And bleak the wild morass;

            49And I am but a shriveled thing
            50     Beneath the midnight sky;
            51A wasted, wan remembering
            52     Of days long wandered by.

            53And yet I lift my sightless face
            54     Toward the eerie light,
            55And tread the lonely way we trace
            56     Across the haunted night.

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 Collected Poems of Wilfred Campbell (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1905), pp. 46-47. PS 8455 A6A17. Robarts Library.
First publication date: 4 March 1905
Publication date note: Published in Outlook.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/12

Composition date: 1904
Form: Hymnal Measure
Rhyme: abab

Other poems by William Wilfred Campbell