By Charles Sangster




I stood upon a bank that faced the West,
     Beyond me lay Lake Erie, softly calm,
Calm as the thoughts that soothe the dying breast,
     As the Soul passes to the great I AM.

One solitary bird melodiously


     Trilled its sweet vesper from a grove of elm,
One solitary sail upon the sea
     Rested, unmindful of its potent helm.

There lay the Island with its sanded shore
     The snow-white Lighthouse, like an Angel-friend


Dressed in his fairest robes, and evermore
     Guiding the mariner to some promised end.

And down behind the forest trees, the sun,
     Arrayed in burning splendors, slowly rolled,
Like to some sacrificial urn, o’errun


     With flaming hues of crimson, blue and gold.

And round about him, fold on fold, the clouds,
     Steeped in some rainbow essence, lightly fell,
Draped in the living glory that enshrouds
     His nightly entrance to his ocean shell.


The woods were flashing back his gorgeous light,
     The waters glowed beneath the varied green, [Page 87]
Ev’n to the softened shadows, all was bright,
     Heaven’s smile was blending with the view terrene.

The lofty woods, in summer sheen arrayed,


     The trembling poplar with its silver leaf,
The stately walnut rising o’er the glade,
     The willow bending with its load of grief:

The graceful elm, the energetic oak,
     The red-leaved maple, and the slender pine,


The grove of firs, half hidden by the smoke
     From the white cottage clothed with jessamine:

The thirsty cattle drinking from the spring,
     Or standing mid-deep in the sunny stream,
The stream itself, like Joy, meandering,—


     A silver shaft shot down a golden beam:

The ruddy orchard with its tempting fruit,
     The juicy apple, and the mellow pear,
The downy peach, and near the garden, mute
     With eager visions of a fruitful share,


Lolled the young urchin on his bed of grass,
     Thinking of Autumn, with her red-ripe store—
So Boyhood smiles to mark the seasons pass,
     And Manhood sight that they return no more:

On these the parting Day poured down a flood


     Of radiant, unimaginable light,
Like as in some celestial spirit-dream
     A thousand rainbows melt upon the sight, [Page 88]

Setting the calm horizon all ablaze
     With splendors stolen from the crypts of heaven,


Dissolving with their magic heat the maze
     Of clouds that nestle to the breast of even.

The Fisher ceased his song, hung on his oars,
     Pausing to look, a pulse in every breath,
And, in imagination, saw the shores


     Elysian rising o’er the realms of Death.

And as he dreamed, the sunlight passed away,
     The stream gave back no deep cerulean hue,
Eve’s purple finger closed the lips of Day,
     And a dim glory clothed the upper blue.


And down on tip-toe came the gradual Night,
     A gentle Twilight first, with silver wings,
And still from out the darkening infinite
     Came shadowy forms, like deep imaginings.

There was no light in all the brooding air,


     There was no darkness yet to blind the eyes,
But through the space interminable, there
     Nature and Silence passed in solemn guise. [Page 89]