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William Wilfred Campbell (1858?-1918)

How One Winter Came in the Lake Region


              1For weeks and weeks the autumn world stood still,
              2     Clothed in the shadow of a smoky haze;
              3The fields were dead, the wind had lost its will,
              4And all the lands were hushed by wood and hill,
              5     In those grey, withered days.

              6Behind a mist the blear sun rose and set,
              7     At night the moon would nestle in a cloud;
              8The fisherman, a ghost, did cast his net;
              9The lake its shores forgot to chafe and fret,
            10     And hushed its caverns loud.

            11Far in the smoky woods the birds were mute,
            12     Save that from blackened tree a jay would scream,
            13Or far in swamps the lizard's lonesome lute
            14Would pipe in thirst, or by some gnarlèd root
            15     The tree-toad trilled his dream.

            16From day to day still hushed the season's mood,
            17     The streams stayed in their runnels shrunk and dry;
            18Suns rose aghast by wave and shore and wood,
            19And all the world, with ominous silence, stood
            20     In weird expectancy:

            21When one strange night the sun like blood went down,
            22     Flooding the heavens in a ruddy hue;
            23Red grew the lake, the sere fields parched and brown,
            24Red grew the marshes where the creeks stole down,
            25     But never a wind-breath blew.

            26That night I felt the winter in my veins,
            27     A joyous tremor of the icy glow;
            28And woke to hear the north's wild vibrant strains,
            29While far and wide, by withered woods and plains,
            30     Fast fell the driving snow.

Notes

6] blear: dim.

12] blue: blue jay, a bird native to Ontario.

17] runnels: channels.


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: William Wilfred Campbell, The Dread Voyage: Poems (Toronto: William Briggs, 1893), pp. 164-66. B-10 5840 Fisher Library.
First publication date: March 1890
Publication date note: Published in Century.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/17

Composition date: 1890
Rhyme: abaab


Other poems by William Wilfred Campbell