From: Archibald Lampman, Among the Millet, and Other Poems (Ottawa: Durie, 1888).


Pale season, watcher in unvexed suspense,
Still priestess of the patient middle day,
Betwixt wild March’s humored petulence
And the warm wooing of green kirtled May,
Maid month of sunny peace and sober grey,
Weaver of flowers in sunward glades that ring
With murmur of libation to the spring;

As memory of pain, all past, is peace,
And joy, dream-tasted, hath the deepest cheer,
So art thou sweetest of all months that lease

The twelve short spaces of the flying year.
The bloomless days are dead, and frozen fear
No more for many moons shall vex the earth,
Dreaming of summer and fruit-laden mirth.

The grey song-sparrows full of spring have sung

Their clear thin silvery tunes in leafless trees;
The robin hops, and whistles, and among
The silver-tasseled poplars the brown bees
Murmur faint dreams of summer harvestries;
The creamy sun at even scatters down
A gold-green mist across the murmuring town.

By the slow streams the frogs all day and night
Dream without thought of pain or heed of ill,
Watching the long warm silent hours take flight,
And ever with soft throats that pulse and thrill,

From the pale-weeded shallows trill and trill,
Tremulous sweet voices, flute-like, answering
One to another glorying in the spring.

All day across the ever-cloven soil,
Strong horses labour, steaming in the sun,

Down the long furrows with slow straining toil,
Turning the brown clean layers; and one by one
The crows gloom over them till daylight done
Finds them asleep somewhere in duskèd lines
Beyond the wheatlands in the northern pines.

The old year’s cloaking of brown leaves, that bind
The forest floor-ways, plated close and true—
The last love’s labour of the autumn wind—
Is broken with curled flower buds white and blue
In all the matted hollows, and speared through
With thousand serpent-spotted blades up-sprung,
Yet bloomless, of the slender adder-tongue.

In the warm noon the south wind creeps and cools,
Where the red-budded stems of maples throw
Still tangled etchings on the amber pools,

Quite silent now, forgetful of the slow
Drip of the taps, the troughs, and trampled snow,
The keen March mornings, and the silvering rime
And mirthful labour of the sugar prime.

Ah, I have wandered with unwearied feet,

All the long sweetness of an April day,
Lulled with cool murmurs and the drowsy beat
Of partridge wings in secret thickets grey,
The marriage hymns of all the birds at play,
The faces of sweet flowers, and easeful dreams
Beside slow reaches of frog-haunted streams;

Wandered with happy feet, and quite forgot
The shallow toil, the strife against the grain,
Near souls, that hear us call, but answer not,
The loneliness, perplexity and pain,

Sweet even choruses, that dance and spin
Soft tangles in the sunset; and once more
The city smites me with its dissonant roar.
To its hot heart I pass, untroubled yet,
Fed with calm hope, without desire or fret.

So to the year’s first altar step I bring
Gifts of meek song, and make my spirit free
With the blind working of unanxious spring,
Careless with her, whether the days that flee
Pale drouth or golden-fruited plenty see,
So that we toil, brothers, without distress,
In calm-eyed peace and godlike blamelessness.


The Frogs



Breathers of wisdom won without a quest,
     Quaint uncouth dreamers, voices high and strange,
     Flutists of lands where beauty hath no change,
And wintry grief is a forgotten guest,
Sweet murmurers of everlasting rest,
     For whom glad days have ever yet to run,
     And moments are as æons, and the sun
But ever sunken half-way toward the west.

Often to me who heard you in your day,
     With close wrapt ears, it could not choose but seem

That earth, our mother, searching in what way,
     Men’s hearts might know her spirit’s inmost dream,
        Ever at rest beneath life’s change and stir,
        Made you her soul, and bade you pipe for her.



In those mute days when spring was in her glee,
     And hope was strong, we knew not why or how,
     And earth, the mother, dreamed with brooding brow,
Musing on life, and what the hours might be,
When love should ripen to maternity,
     Then like high flutes in silvery interchange
     Ye piped with voices still and sweet and strange,
And ever as ye piped, on every tree
The great buds swelled; among the pensive woods
     The spirit of first flowers awoke and flung
From buried faces the close fitting hoods,
     And listened to your piping till they fell,
     The frail spring-beauty with her perfumed bell,
The wind-flower, and the spotted adder-tongue.



All the day long, wherever pools might be
     Among the golden meadows, where the air
     Stood in a dream, as it were moorèd there
Forever in a noon-tide reverie,
Or where the birds made riot of their glee
     In the still woods, and the hot sun shone down,
     Crossed with warm lucent shadows on the brown
Leaf-paven pools, that bubbled dreamily,

Or far away in whispering river meads
     And watery marshes where the brooding noon,
     Full with the wonder of its own sweet boon,
Nestled and slept among the noiseless reeds,

     Ye sat and murmured, motionless as they,
     With eyes that dreamed beyond the night and day.



And when day passed and over heaven’s height,
     Thin with the many stars and cool with dew,
     The fingers of the deep hours slowly drew
The wonder of the ever-healing night,
No grief or loneliness or rapt delight
     Or weight or silence ever brought to you
     Slumber or rest; only your voices grew
More high and solemn; slowly with hushed flight

Ye saw the echoing hours go by, long-drawn,
     Nor ever stirred, watching with fathomless eyes,
     And with your countless clear antiphonies
Filling the earth and heaven, even till dawn,
     Last-risen, found you with its first pale gleam,
     Still with soft throats unaltered in your dream.



And slowly as we heard you, day by day,
     The stillness of enchanted reveries
     Bound brain and spirit and half-closèd eyes,
In some divine sweet wonder-dream astray;
To us no sorrow or upreared dismay
     Nor any discord came, but evermore
     The voices of mankind, the outer roar,
Grew strange and murmurous, faint and far away.

Morning and noon and midnight exquisitely,

     Wrapt with your voices, this alone we knew,
Cities might change and fall, and men might die,
     Secure were we, content to dream with you,
        That change and pain are shadows faint and fleet,
        And dreams are real, and life is only sweet



From plains that reel to southward, dim,
     The road runs by me white and bare;
Up the steep hill it seems to swim
     Beyond, and melt into the glare.
Upward half way, or it may be
     Nearer the summit, slowly steals
A hay-cart, moving dustily
     With idly clacking wheels.

By his cart’s side the wagoner
     Is slouching slowly at his ease,

Half-hidden in the windless blur
     Of white dust puffing to his knees.
This wagon on the height above,
     From sky to sky on either hand,
Is the sole thing that seems to move
     In all the heat-held land.

Beyond me in the fields the sun
     Soaks in the grass and hath his will;
I count the marguerites one by one;
     Even the buttercups are still.

On the brook yonder not a breath
     Disturbs the spider or the midge.
The water-bugs draw close beneath
     The cool gloom of the bridge.

Where the far elm-tree shadows flood

     Dark patches in the burning grass,
The cows, each with her peaceful cud,
     Lie waiting for the heat to pass.
From somewhere on the slope near by
     Into the pale depth of the noon
A wandering thrush slides leisurely
     His thin revolving tune.

In intervals of dream I hear
     The cricket from the droughty ground;
The grass-hoppers spin into mine ear

     A small innumerable sound.
I lift mine eyes sometimes to gaze:
     The burning sky-line blinds my sight:
The woods far off are blue with haze:
     The hills are drenched in light.

And yet to me not this or that
     Is always sharp or always sweet;
In the sloped shadow of my hat
     I lean at rest, and drain the heat;
Nay more, I think some blessèd power
     Hath brought me wandering idly here:
In the full furnace of this hour
     My thoughts grow keen and clear.


Among the Timothy

Long hours ago, while yet the morn was blithe,
     Nor sharp athirst had drunk the beaded dew,
A reaper came, and swung his cradled scythe
     Around this stump, and, shearing slowly, drew
     Far round among the clover, ripe for hay,
        A circle clean and grey;
And here among the scented swathes that gleam,
     Mixed with dead daisies, it is sweet to lie
     And watch the grass and the few-clouded sky,
        Nor think but only dream.

For when the noon was turning, and the heat
     Fell down most heavily on field and wood,
I too came hither, borne on restless feet,
     Seeking some comfort for an aching mood.
     Ah, I was weary of the drifting hours,
        The echoing city towers,
The blind grey streets, the jingle of the throng,
     Weary of hope that like a shape of stone
     Sat near at hand without a smile or moan,
        And weary most of song.
And those high moods of mine that sometime made
     My heart a heaven, opening like a flower,
A sweeter world where I in wonder strayed,
     Begirt with shapes of beauty and the power
     Of dreams that moved through that enchanted clime
        With changing breaths of rhyme,
Were all gone lifeless now like those white leaves,
     That hang all winter, shivering dead and blind
     Among the sinewy beeches in the wind,
        That vainly calls and grieves.

Ah! I will set no more mine overtaskèd brain
     To barren search and toil that beareth nought,
Forever following with sorefooted pain
     The crossing pathways of unbournèd thought;
     But let it go, as one that hath no skill,
        To take what shape it will,
An ant slow-burrowing in the earthy gloom,
     A spider bathing in the dew at morn,
     Or a brown bee in wayward fancy borne
        From hidden bloom to bloom.
Hither and thither o’er the rocking grass
     The little breezes, blithe as they are blind,
Teasing the slender blossoms pass and pass,
     Soft-footed children of the gipsy wind,
     To taste of every purple-fringèd head
        Before the bloom is dead;
And scarcely heed the daisies that, endowed
     With stems so short they cannot see, up-bear
     Their innocent sweet eyes distressed, and stare
        Like children in a crowd.

Not far to fieldward in the central heat,
     Shadowing the clover, a pale poplar stands
With glimmering leaves that, when the wind comes, beat
     Together like innumerable small hands,
     And with the calm, as in vague dreams astray,
        Hang wan and silver-grey;
Like sleepy mænads, who in pale surprise,
     Half-wakened by a prowling beast, have crept
     Out of the hidden covert, where they slept,
        At noon with languid eyes.

The crickets creak, and through the noonday glow,
     That crazy fiddler of the hot mid-year.
The dry cicada plies his wiry bow
     In long-spun cadence, thin and dusty sere:
     From the green grass the small grasshoppers’ din
        Spreads soft and silvery thin:
And ever and anon a murmur steals
     Into mine ears of toil that moves alway,
     The crackling rustle of the pitch-forked hay
        And lazy jerk of wheels.

As so I lie and feel the soft hours wane,
     To wind and sun and peaceful sound laid bare,
That aching dim discomfort of the brain
     Fades off unseen, and shadowy-footed care
     Into some hidden corner creeps at last
        To slumber deep and fast;
And gliding on, quite fashioned to forget,
     From dream to dream I bid my spirit pass
     Out into the pale green ever-swaying grass
        To brood, but no more fret.

And hour by hour among all shapes that grow
     Of purple mints and daisies gemmed with gold
In sweet unrest my visions come and go;
     I feel and hear and with quiet eyes behold;
     And hour by hour, the ever-journeying sun,
        In gold and shadow spun,
Into mine eyes and blood, and through the dim
     Green glimmering forest of the grass shines down,
     Till flower and blade, and every cranny brown,
        And I are soaked with him.


Morning On the Lievre

Far above us where a jay
Screams his matins to the day,
Capped with gold and amethyst,
Like a vapour from the forge
Of a giant somewhere hid,   
Out of hearing of the clang
Of his hammer, skirts of mist
Slowly up the woody gorge
Lift and hang.

Softly as a cloud we go,

Sky above and sky below,
Down the river, and the dip
Of the paddles scarcely breaks,
With the little silvery drip
Of the water as it shakes  
From the blades, the crystal deep
Of the silence of the morn,
Of the forest yet asleep,
And the river reaches borne
In a mirror, purple grey,  
Sheer away
To the misty line of light,
Where the forest and the stream
In the shadow meet and plight,
Like a dream.   

From amid a stretch of reeds,
Where the lazy river sucks
All the water as it bleeds
From a little curling creek,
And the muskrats peer and sneak  
In around the sunken wrecks
Of a tree that swept the skies
Long ago,
On a sudden seven ducks
With a splashy rustle rise,   
Stretching our their seven necks,
One before, and two behind,
And the others all arow,
And as steady as the wind
With a swivelling whistle go,  
Through the purple shadow led,
Till we only hear their whir
In behind a rocky spur,
Just ahead.


In October

Along the waste, a great way off, the pines,
     Like tall slim priests of storm, stand up and bar
The low long strip of dolorous red that lines
     The under west, where wet winds moan afar.
The cornfields all are brown, and brown the meadows
     With the blown leaves’ wind-heapèd traceries,
And the brown thistle stems that cast no shadows,
     And bear no bloom for bees.

As slowly earthward leaf by red leaf slips,
     The sad trees rustle in chill misery,

A soft strange inner sound of pain-crazed lips,
     That move and murmur incoherently;
As if all leaves, that yet have breath, were sighing,
     With pale hushed throats, for death is at the door,
So many low soft masses for the dying
     Sweet leaves that live no more.

Here I will sit upon this naked stone,
     Draw my coat closer with my numbèd hands,
And hear the ferns sigh, and the wet woods moan,
     And send my heart out to the ashen lands;

And I will ask myself what golden madness,
     What balmèd breaths of dreamland spicery,
What visions of soft laughter and light sadness
     Were sweet last month to me.

The dry dead leaves flit by with thin weird tunes,

     Like failing murmurs of some conquered creed,
Graven in mystic markings with strange runes,
     That none but stars and biting winds may read;
Here I will wait a little; I am weary,
     Not torn with pain of any lurid hue,
But only still and very gray and dreary,
     Sweet sombre lands, like you.


Winter Hues Recalled

Life is not all for effort: there are hours,
When fancy breaks from the exacting will,
And rebel thought takes schoolboy’s holiday,
Rejoicing in its idle strength. ’Tis then,
And only at such moments, that we know
The treasure of hours gone—scenes once beheld,
Sweet voices and words bright and beautiful,
Impetuous deeds that woke the God within us,
The loveliness of forms and thoughts and colors,
A moment marked and then as soon forgotten.
These things are ever near us, laid away,
Hidden and waiting the appropriate times,
In the quiet garner-house of memory.
There in the silent unaccounted depth,
Beneath the heated strainage and the rush
That teem the noisy surface of the hours,
All things that ever touched us are stored up,
Growing more mellow like sealed wine with age;
We thought them dead, and they are but asleep.
In moments when the heart is most at rest
And least expectant, from the luminous doors,
And sacred dwellingplace of things unfeared,
They issue forth, and we who never knew
Till then how potent and how real they were,
Take them, and wonder, and so bless the hour.

Such gifts are sweetest when unsought. To me,
As I was loitering lately in my dreams,
Passing from one remembrance to another,
Like him who reads upon an outstretched map,
Content and idly happy, these rose up,
Out of that magic well-stored picture house,
No dream, rather a thing most keenly real,
The memory of a moment, when with feet,
Arrested and spellbound, and captured eyes,
Made wide with joy and wonder, I beheld
The space of a white and wintry land
Swept with the fire of sunset, all its width
Vale, forest, town and misty eminence,
A miracle of colour and of beauty.

I had walked out, as I remember now,

With covered ears, for the bright air was keen,
To southward up the gleaming snow-packed fields,
With the snowshoer’s long rejoicing stride,
Marching at ease. It was a radiant day
In February, the month of the great struggle
’Twixt sun and frost, when with advancing spears,
The glittering golden vanguard of the spring
Holds the broad winter’s yet unbroken rear
In long-closed wavering contest. Thin pale threads
Like streaks of ash across the faroff blue
Were drawn, nor seemed to move. A brooding silence
Kept all the land, a stillness as of sleep;
But in the east the grey and motionless woods,
Watching the great sun’s fiery slow decline,
Grew deep with gold. To westward all was silver.
An hour had passed above me; I had reached
The loftiest level of the snow-piled fields,
Clear eyed, but unobservant, noting not,
That all the plain beneath me and the hills
Took on a change of colour splendid, gradual,
Leaving no spot the same; nor that the sun
Now like a fiery torrent overflammed
The great line of the west. Ere yet I turned
With long stride homeward, being heated
With the loose swinging motion, weary too,
Nor uninclined to rest, a buried fence,
Whose topmost log just shouldered from the snow,
Made me a seat, and thence with heated cheeks,
Grazed by the northwind’s edge of stinging ice,
I looked far out upon the snow-bound waste,
The lifting hills and intersecting forests,
The scarce marked courses of the buried streams,
And as I looked lost memory of the frost,
Transfixed with wonder, overborne with joy.
I saw them in their silence and their beauty,
Swept by the sunset’s rapid hand of fire,
Sudden, mysterious, every moment deepening
To some new majesty of rose or flame.
The whole broad west was like a molted sea
Of crimson. In the north the light-lined hills
Were veiled far off as with a mist of rose
Wondrous and soft. Along the darkening east
The gold of all the forests slowly changed
To purple. In the valley far before me,
Low sunk in sapphire shadows, from its hills,
Softer and lovelier than an opening flower,
Uprose a city with its sun-touched towers,
A bunch of amethysts.

                                    Like one spell-bound
Caught in the presence of some god, I stood,

Nor felt the keen wind and the deadly air,
But watched the sun go down, and watched the gold
Fade from the town and the withdrawing hills,
Their westward shapes athwart the dusky red
Freeze into sapphire, saw the arc of rose
Rise ever higher in the violet east,
Above the frore front of the uprearing night
Remorsefully soft and sweet. Then I awoke
As from a dream, and from my shoulders shook
The warning chill, till then unfelt, unfeared.


The Poets

Half god, half brute, within the self-same shell,
     Changers with every hour from dawn till even,
     Who dream with angels in the gate of heaven,
And skirt with curious eyes the brinks of hell,
Children of Pan, whom some, the few, love well,
     But most draw back, and know not what to say,
     Poor shining angels, whom the hoofs betray,
Whose pinions frighten with their goatish smell.

Half brutish, half divine, but all of earth,
     Half-way ’twixt hell and heaven, near to man,

     The whole world’s tangle gathered in one span,
Full of this human torture and this mirth:
     Life with its hope and error, toil and bliss,
     Earth-born, earth-reared, ye know it as is it.


In November

The hills and leafless forests slowly yield
     To the thick-driving snow. A little while
     And night shall darken down. In shouting file
The woodmen’s carts go by me homeward-wheeled,
Past the thin fading stubbles, half-concealed,
     Now golden-grey, sowed softly through with snow,
     Where the last ploughman follows still his row,
Turning black furrows through the whitening field.
Far off the village lamps begin to gleam,
     Fast drives the snow, and no man comes this way;
        The hills grow wintry white, and bleak winds moan
        About the naked uplands. I alone
     Am neither sad, not shelterless, nor grey,
Wrapped round with thought, content to watch and dream.


From: Archibald Lampman, Lyrics of Earth (Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895 [1896]).

After Rain

For three whole days across the sky,
In sullen packs that loomed and broke,
With flying fringes dim as smoke,
The columns of the rain went by;
At every hour the wind awoke;
     The darkness passed upon the plain;
     The great drops rattled at the pane.

Now piped the wind, or far aloof
Fell to a sough remote and dull;
And all night long with rush and lull

The rain kept drumming on the roof:
I heard till ear and sense were full
     The clash or silence of the leaves,
     The gurgle in the creaking eaves.

But when the fourth day came—at noon,

The darkness and the rain were by;
The sunward roofs were steaming dry;
And all the world was flecked and strewn
With shadows from a fleecy sky.
     The haymakers were forth and gone,
     And every rillet laughed and shone.

Then, too, on me that loved so well
The world, despairing in her blight,
Uplifted with her least delight,
On me, as on the earth, there fell

New happiness of mirth and might;

     I strode the valleys pied and still;
     I climbed upon the breezy hill.

I watched the grey hawk wheel and drop,
Sole shadow on the shinning world;
I saw the mountains clothed and curled,
With forest ruffling to the top;
I saw the river’s length unfurled,
     Pale silver down the fruited plain,
     Grown great and stately with the rain.

Through miles of shadow and soft heat,
Where field and fallow, fence and tree,
Were all one world of greenery,
I hear the robin ringing sweet,
The sparrow pipping silverly,
     The thrushes at the forest’s hem;
     And as I went I sang with them.


In November

With loitering step and quiet eye,
Beneath the low November sky,
I wandered in the woods, and found
A clearing, where the broken ground
Was scattered with black stumps and briers,
And the old wreck of forest fires.
It was a bleak and sandy spot,
And, all about, the vacant plot
Was peopled and inhabited
By scores of mulleins long since dead.
A silent and forsaken brood
In that mute opening of the wood,
So shrivelled and so thin they were,
So grey, so haggard, and austere,
Not plants at all they seemed to me,
But rather some spare company
Of hermit folk, who long ago,
Wandering in bodies to and fro,
Had chanced upon this lonely way,
And rested thus, till death one day
Surprised them at their compline prayer,
And left them standing lifeless there.

There was no sound about the wood
Save the wind’s secret stir. I stood
Among the mullein-stalks as still

As if myself had grown to be
One of their sombre company,
A body without wish or will.
And as I stood, quite suddenly,
Down from a furrow in the sky
The sun shone out a little space
Across that silent sober place,
Over the sand heaps and brown sod,
The mulleins and dead goldenrod,
And passed beyond the thickets gray,
And lit the fallen leaves that lay,
Level and deep within the wood,
A rustling yellow multitude.

And all around me the thin light,
So sere, so melancholy bright,

Fell like the half-reflected gleam
Or shadow of some former dream;
A moment’s golden revery
Poured out on every plant and tree
A semblance of weird joy, or less,
A sort of spectral happiness;
And I, too, standing idly there,
With muffled hands in the chill air,
Felt the warm glow about my feet,
And shuddering betwixt cold and heat,
Drew my thoughts closer, like a cloak,
While something in my blood awoke,
A nameless and unnatural cheer,
A pleasure secret and austere.


From: Archibald Lampman, Alcyone (Ottawa: Ogilvy, 1899).

The City of the End of Things

Beside the pounding cataracts
Of midnight streams unknown to us
’Tis builded in the leafless tracts
And valleys huge of Tartarus.
Lurid and lofty and vast it seems;
It hath no rounded name that rings,
But I have heard it called in dreams
The City of the End of Things.

Its roofs and iron towers have grown
None knoweth how high within the night,

But in its murky streets far down
A flaming terrible and bright
Shakes all the stalking shadows there,
Across the walls, across the floors,
And shifts upon the upper air
From out a thousand furnace doors;
And all the while an awful sound
Keeps roaring on continually,
And crashes in the ceaseless round
Of a gigantic harmony.
Through its grim depths re-echoing
And all its weary height of walls,
With measured roar and iron ring,
The inhuman music lifts and falls.
Where no thing rests and no man is,
And only fire and night hold sway;
The beat, the thunder and the hiss
Cease not, and change not, night nor day.
And moving at unheard commands,
The abysses and vast fires between,
Flit figures that with clanking hands
Obey a hideous routine;
They are not flesh, they are not bone,
They see not with the human eye,
And from their iron lips is blown
A dreadful and monotonous cry;
And whoso of our mortal race
Should find that city unaware,
Lean Death would smite him face to face,
And blanch him with its venomed air:
Or caught by the terrific spell,
Each thread of memory snapt and cut,
His soul would shrivel and its shell
Go rattling like an empty nut.

It was not always so, but once,

In days that no man thinks upon,
Fair voices echoed from its stones,
The light above it leaped and shone:
Once there were multitudes of men,
That built that city in their pride,
Until its might was made, and then
They withered age by age and died.
But now of that prodigious race,
Three only in an iron tower,
Set like carved idols face to face,
Remain the masters of its power;
And at the city gate a fourth,
Gigantic and with dreadful eyes,
Sits looking toward the lightless north,
Beyond the reach of memories;
Fast rooted to the lurid floor,
A bulk that never moves a jot,
In his pale body dwells no more,
Or mind or soul,—an idiot!
But sometime in the end those three
Shall perish and their hands be still,
And with the master’s touch shall flee
Their incommunicable skill.
A stillness absolute as death
Along the slacking wheels shall lie,
And, flagging at a single breath,
The fires shall moulder out and die.
The roar shall vanish at its height,
And over that tremendous town
The silence of eternal night
Shall gather close and settle down.
All its grim grandeur, tower and hall,
Shall be abandoned utterly,
And into rust and dust shall fall
From century to century;
Nor ever living thing shall grow,
Or trunk of tree, or blade of grass;
No drop shall fall, no wind shall blow,
Nor sound of any foot shall pass:
Alone of its accursèd state,
One thing the hand of Time shall spare,
For the grim Idiot at the gate
Is deathless and eternal there.


The Clearer Self

Before me grew the human soul,
     And after I am dead and gone,
Through grades of effort and control
     The marvellous work shall still go on.

Each mortal in his little span

     Hath only lived, if he have shown
What greatness there can be in man
     Above the measured and the known;

How through the ancient layers of night,
     In gradual victory secure,

Grows ever with increasing light
     The Energy serene and pure:

The Soul, that from a monstrous past,
     From age to age, from hour to hour,
Feels upward to some height at last

     Of unimagined grace and power.

Though yet the sacred fire be dull,
     In folds of thwarting matter furled,
Ere death be nigh, while life is full,
     O Master Spirit of the world,

Grant me to know, to seek, to find,
     In some small measure though it be,
Emerging from the waste and blind,
     The clearer self, the grander me!


The Land of Pallas

Methought I journeyed along ways that led for ever
    Throughout a happy land where strife and care were dead,
And life went flowing by me like a placid river
    Past sandy eyots where the shifting shoals make head.

A land where beauty dwelt supreme, and right, the donor

     Of peaceful days; a land of equal gifts and deeds,
Of limitless fair fields and plenty had with honour;
     A land of kindly tillage and untroubled meads,

Of gardens, and great fields, and dreaming rose-wreathed alleys,
     Wherein at dawn and dusk the vesper sparrows sang; 

Of cities set far off on hills down vista’d valleys,
     And floods so vast and old, men wist not whence they sprang,

Of groves, and forest depths, and fountains softly welling,
     And roads that ran soft-shadowed past the open doors,
Of mighty palaces and many a lofty dwelling, 

     Where all men entered and no master trod their floors.

A land of lovely speech, where every tone was fashioned
     By generations of emotion high and sweet,
Of thought and deed and bearing lofty and impassioned;
     A land of golden calm, grave forms, and fretless feet.  


And every mode and saying of that land gave token
     Of limits where no death or evil fortune fell,
And men lived out long lives in proud content unbroken,
     For there no man was rich, none poor, but all were well.

And all the earth was common, and no base contriving 

     Of money of coined gold was needed there or known,
But all men wrought together without greed or striving,
     And all the store of all to each man was his own.

From all that busy land, grey town, and peaceful village,
     Where never jar was heard, nor wail, nor cry of strife,  

From every laden stream and all the fields of tillage,
     Arose the murmur and the kindly hum of life.

At morning to the fields came forth the men, each neighbour
     Hand linked to other, crowned, with wreathes upon their hair,
And all day long with joy they gave their hands to labour, 

     Moving at will, unhastened, each man to his share.

At noon the women came, the tall fair women, bearing
     Baskets of wicker in their ample hands for each,
And learned the day’s brief tale, and how the fields were faring,
     And blessed them with their lofty beauty and blithe speech. 

And when the great day’s toil was over, and the shadows
     Grew with the flocking stars, the sound of festival
Rose in each city square, and all the country meadows,
     Palace, and paven court, and every rustic hall.

Beside smooth streams, where alleys and green gardens meeting

     Ran downward to the flood with marble steps, a throng
Came forth of all the folk, at even, gaily greeting,
     With echo of sweet converse, jest, and stately song.

In all their great fair cities there was neither seeking
     For power of gold, not greed of lust, nor desperate pain  

Of multitudes that starve, or, in hoarse anger breaking,
     Beat at the doors of princes, break and fall in vain.

But all the children of that peaceful land, like brothers,
     Lofty of spirit, wise, and ever set to learn
The chart of neighbouring souls, the bent and need of others,  

     Thought only of good deeds, sweet speech, and just return.

And there there was no prison, power of arms, nor palace,
     Where prince or judge held sway, for none was needed there;
Long ages since the very names of fraud and malice
     Had vanished from men’s tongues, and died from all men’s care.  


And there there were no bonds of contract, deed or marriage,
     No oath, nor any form, to make the word more sure,
For no man dreamed of hurt, dishonour, or miscarriage,
     Where every thought was truth, and every heart was pure.

There were no castes of rich or poor, of slave or master,   

     Where all were brothers, and the curse of gold was dead,
But all that wise fair race to kindlier ends and vaster
     Moved on together with the same majestic tread.

And all the men and women of that land were fairer
     Than ever the mightiest of our meaner race can be;  

The men like gentle children, great of limb, yet rarer
     For wisdom and high thought, like kings for majesty.

And all the women through great ages of bright living,
     Grown goodlier of stature, strong, and subtly wise,
Stood equal with the men, calm counsellors, ever giving  

           The fire and succour of proud faith and dauntless eyes.

And as I journeyed in that land I reached a ruin,
    The gateway of a lonely and secluded waste,
A phantom of forgotten time and ancient doing,
     Eaten by age and violence, crumbled and defaced. 


On its grim outer walls the ancient world’s sad glories
     Were recorded in fire; upon its inner stone,
Drawn by dead hands, I saw, in tales and tragic stories,
     The woe and sickness of an age of fear made known.

And lo, in that grey storehouse, fallen to dust and rotten,  

     Lay piled the traps and engines of forgotten greed,
The tomes of codes and canons, long disused, forgotten,
     The robes and sacred books of many a vanished creed.

An old grave man I found, white-haired and gently spoken,
     Who, as I questioned, answered with a smile benign,  

‘Long years have come and gone since these poor gauds were broken,
     Broken and banished from a life made more divine.

‘But still we keep them stored as once our sires deemed fitting,
     The symbols of dark days and lives remote and strange,
Lest o’er the minds of any there should come unwitting  

     The thought of some new order and the lust of change.

‘If any grow disturbed, we bring them gently hither,
     To read the world’s grim record and the sombre lore
Massed   in   these   pitiless   vaults,    and   they   returning   thither,

     Bear with them quieter thoughts, and make for change no more.’

And thence I journeyed on by one broad way that bore me
     Out of that waste, and as I passed by tower and town
I saw amid the limitless plain far out before me
    A long low mountain, blue as beryl, and its crown

Was capped by marble roofs that shone like snow for whiteness, 

     Its foot was deep in gardens, and that blossoming plain
Seemed in the radiant shower of its majestic brightness
     A land for gods to dwell in, free from care and pain.

And to and forth from that fair mountain like a river
     Ran many a dim grey road, and on them I could see  

A multitude of stately forms that seemed for ever
     Going and coming in bright bands; and near to me

Was one that in his journey seemed to dream and linger,
     Walking at whiles with kingly step, then standing still,
And him I met and asked him, pointing with my finger,  

     The meaning of the palace and the lofty hill.

Whereto the dreamer: ‘Art thou of this land, my brother,
     And knowest not the mountain and its crest of walls,
Where dwells the priestless worship of the all-wise mother?
     That is the hill of Pallas; those her marbled halls!  


‘There dwell the lords of knowledge and of thought increasing,
     And they whom insight and the gleams of song uplift;
And thence as by a hundred conduits flows unceasing
     The spring of power and beauty, and eternal gift.

Still I passed on until I reached at length, not knowing

     Whither the tangled and diverging paths might lead,
A land of baser men, whose coming and whose going
     Were urged by fear, and hunger, and the curse of greed.

I saw the proud and fortunate go by me, faring
     In fatness and fine robes, the poor oppressed and slow, 

The faces of bowed men, and piteous women bearing
     The burden of perpetual sorrow and the stamp of woe.

And tides of deep solicitude and wondering pity
     Possessed me, and with eager and uplifted hands
I drew the crowd about me in a mighty city,  

     And taught the message of those other kindlier lands.

I preached the rule of Faith and brotherly Communion,
    The law of Peace and Beauty and the death of Strife,
And painted in great words the horror of disunion,
     The vainness of self-worship, and the waste of life. 


I preached but fruitlessly; the powerful from their stations
     Rebuked me as an anarch, envious and bad,
And they that served them with lean hands and bitter patience
     Smiled only out of hollow orbs, and deemed me mad.

And still I preached, and wrought, and still I bore my message, 

     For well I knew that on and upward without cease
The spirit works for ever, and by Faith and Presage
     That somehow yet the end of human life is Peace.


From: Archibald Lampman, The Poems of Archibald Lampman. Ed. Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: Morang, 1900).

A Sunset at Les Eboulements

Broad shadows fall. On all the mountain side
The scythe-swept fields are silent. Slowly home
By the long beach the high-piled hay-carts come,
Splashing the pale salt shallows. Over wide
Fawn-coloured wastes of mud the slipping tide,
Round the dun rocks and wattled fisheries,
Creeps murmuring in. And now by twos and threes,
O’er the slow spreading pools with clamorous chide,
Belated crows from strip to strip take flight.
Soon will the first star shine; yet ere the night
Reach onward to the pale-green distances,
The sun’s last shaft beyond the gray sea-floor
Still dreams upon the Kamouraska shore,
And the long line of golden villages.


On the Companionship with Nature

Let us be much with Nature; not as they
That labour without seeing, that employ
Her unloved forces, blindly without joy;
Nor those whose hands and crude delights obey
The old brute passion to hunt down and slay;
But rather as children of one common birth,
Discerning in each natural fruit of earth
Kinship and bond with this diviner clay.
Let us be with her wholly at all hours,
With the fond lover’s zest, who is content
If his ear hears, and if his eye but sees;
So shall we grow like her in mould and bent,
Our bodies stately as her blessèd trees,
Out thoughts as sweet and sumptuous as her flowers.


On Lake Temiscamingue

A single dreamy elm, that stands between
     The sombre forest and the wan-lit lake,
Halves with its slim gray stem and pendent green
     The shadowed point. Beyond it without break
Bold brows of pine-topped granite bend away,
     Far to the southward, fading off in grand
Soft folds of looming purple. Cool and gray,
     The point runs out, a blade of thinnest sand.
Two rivers meet beyond it: wild and clear,
     Their deepening thunder breaks upon the ear—
The one descending from its forest home
     By many an eddied pool and murmuring fall—
The other cloven though the mountain wall,
     A race of tumbled rocks, a roar of foam.


Winter Uplands

The frost that stings like fire upon my cheek,
The loneliness of this forsaken ground,
The long white drift upon whose powdered peak
I sit in the great silence as one bound;
The rippled sheet of snow where the wind blew
Across the open fields for miles ahead;
The far-off city towered and roofed in blue
A tender line upon the western red;
The stars that singly, then in flocks appear,
Like jets of silver from the violet dome,
So wonderful, so many and so near,
And then the golden moon to light me home—
The crunching snowshoes and the stinging air,
And silence, frost and beauty everywhere.


From: Archibald Lampman, At the Long Sault and Other New Poems. Ed. E.K. Brown (Toronto: Ryerson, 1943).

At the Long Sault: May, 1660

Under the day-long sun there is life and mirth
     In the working earth,
And the wonderful moon shines bright
     Through the soft spring night,
The innocent flowers in the limitless woods are springing
     Far and away
     With the sound and the perfume of May,
And ever up from the south the happy birds are winging,
     The waters glitter and leap and play
     While the grey hawk soars.
But far in an open glade of the forest set
     Where the rapid plunges and roars,
Is a ruined fort with a name that men forget,—
     A shelterless pen
     With its broken palisade,
     Behind it, musket in hand,
     Beyond message or aid
     In this savage heart of the wild,
     Mere youngsters, grown in a moment to men,
     Grim and alert and arrayed,
     The comrades of Daulac stand.
     Ever before them, night and day,
     The rush and skulk and cry
     Of foes, not men but devils, panting for prey;
     Behind them the sleepless dream
Of the little frail-walled town, far away by the plunging stream,
     Of maiden and matron and child,
With ruin and murder impending, and none but they
To beat back the gathering horror
Deal death while they may,
     And then die.

Day and night they have watched while the little plain
Grew dark with the rush of the foe, but their host
Broke ever and melted away, with no boast
But to number their slain;

And now as the days renew
Hunger and thirst and care
Were they never so stout, so true,
Press at their hearts; but none
Falters or shrinks or utters a coward word,
Though each setting sun
Brings from the pitiless wild new hands to the Iroquois horde,
And only to them despair.

Silent, white-face, again and again
Charged and hemmed round by furious hands,

Each for a moment faces them all and stands
In his little desperate ring; like a tired bull moose
Whom scores of sleepless wolves, a ravening pack,
Have chased all night, all day
Through the snow-laden woods, like famine let loose;
And he turns at last in his track
Against a wall of rock and stands at bay;
Round him with terrible sinews and teeth of steel
They charge and recharge; but with many a furious plunge and
Hither and thither over the trampled snow,
He tosses them bleeding and torn;
Till, driven, and ever to and fro
Harried, wounded and weary grown,
His mighty strength gives way
And all together they fasten upon him and drag him down.
So Daulac turned him anew
With a ringing cry to his men
In the little raging forest glen,
And his terrible sword in the twilight whistled and slew.
And all his comrades stood
With their backs to the pales, and fought
Till their strength was done;
The thews that were only mortal flagged and broke
Each struck his last wild stroke,
And they fell one by one,
And the world that had seemed so good
Passed like a dream and was naught.

And then the great night came
With the triumph-songs of the foe and the flame
Of the camp-fires.

Out of the dark the soft wind woke,
The song of the rapid rose alway
And came to the spot where the comrades lay,
Beyond help or care,
With none but the red men round them
To gnash their teeth and stare.

All night by the foot of the mountain
     The little town lieth at rest,
The sentries are peacefully pacing;
     And neither from East nor from West

Is there rumour of death or of danger;
     None dreameth tonight in his bed
That ruin was near and the heroes
     That met it and stemmed it are dead.

But afar in the ring of the forest,

     Where the air is so tender with May
And the waters are wild in the moonlight,
     They lie in their silence of clay.

The numberless stars out of heaven
     Look down with a pitiful glance;

And the lilies asleep in the forest
     Are closed like the lilies of France.


Frontispiece, from Archibald Lampman, Poems,
ed. Duncan Campbell Scott (1900).