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:
Publication date note: Published in Outlook.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/12
Form: Hymnal Measure
Other poems by William Wilfred Campbell