12 June 2017

larryhammer: canyon landscape with saguaro and mesquite trees (desert)
For Poetry Monday, because the dragon of summer has arrived in the desert, something from up north:


How One Winter Came in the Lake Region, William Wilfred Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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


Campbell (c.1860-1918) was born in Ontario, attended a seminary in Massachusetts, and was an Episcopal rector in New Hampshire and New Brunswick until he gave up the ministry in his mid-30s to become a civil servant and man of letters in Ottawa. He initially made his name as a nature poet, but aged into a poet of (diffuse) spirituality and (British) imperialism -- in short, he was very much a conservative late Victorian. This is one of his best-known poems.

---L.

Subject quote from "Dance Apocalyptic," Janelle Monáe.

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