Wolfram's Dirge

IF thou wilt ease thine heart
Of love and all its smart,
   Then sleep, dear, sleep;
And not a sorrow
   Hang any tear on your eyelashes;
   Lie still and deep,
   Sad soul, until the sea-wave washes
The rim o' the sun to-morrow,
   In eastern sky.

But wilt thou cure thine heart
Of love and all its smart,
   Then die, dear, die;
'Tis deeper, sweeter,
   Than on a rose-bank to lie dreaming
   With folded eye;
   And there alone, amid the beaming


Wolf Knife

In the mid August, in the second year
of my First Polar Expedition, the snow and ice of winter
almost upon us, Kantiuk and I
attempted to dash the sledge
along Crispin Bay, searching again for relics
of the Frankline Expedition. Now a storm blew,
and we turned back, and we struggled slowly
in snow, lest we depart land and venture onto ice
from which a sudden fog and thaw
would abandon us to the Providence
of the sea.

Near nightfall I thought I heard snarling behind us.


Wolf and Hound

You'll take my tale with a little salt;

But it needs none, nevertheless!

I was foiled completely - fair at fault -

Disheartened, too, I confess!



At the splitters' tent I had seen the track

Of horse-hoofs fresh on the sward;

And though Darby Lynch and Donovan Jack

(Who could swear through a ten-inch board)



Solemnly swore he had not been there,

I was just as sure they lied;

For to Darby all that is foul was fair,


Witness

Against the enormous rocks of a rough coast
The ocean rams itself in pitched assault
And spastic rage to which there is no halt;
Foam-white brigades collapse; but the huge host

Has infinite reserves; at each attack
The impassive cliffs look down in gray disdain
At scenes of sacrifice, unrelieved pain,
Figured in froth, aquamarine and black.

Something in the blood-chemistry of life,
Unspeakable, impressive, undeterred,
Expresses itself without needing a word
In this sea-crazed Empedoclean Strife.


With Arms Outstretched

with
arms outstreched
and crowned with wisps
of seaweed hair she floats, eyes closed
in a world of perfect silence
that is loud enough
to hear
light
a kaleidoscope
a shimmering, elusive glimmer
dances across the bottom, the reflection
of a white hot sun that fails
to reach beyond
the blue
alone
she dives spins glides
in effortless infinite motion
bubbles trailing like round diamonds
in a perfect sapphire sea
surging forward
free
scales
pearly sheened


Witch-Wife

She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun 'tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of coloured beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine.


Winter-Solitude

I saw the city's towers on a luminous pale-gray sky;
Beyond them a hill of the softest mistiest green,
With naught but frost and the coming of night between,
And a long thin cloud above the colour of August rye.
I sat in the midst of a plain on my snowshoes with bended knee
Where the thin wind stung my cheeks,
And the hard snow ran in little ripples and peaks,
Like the fretted floor of a white and petrified sea.
And a strange peace gathered about my soul and shone,
As I sat reflecting there,


Winter Sleep

When against earth a wooden heel
Clicks as loud as stone on steel,
When stone turns flour instead of flakes,
And frost bakes clay as fire bakes,
When the hard-bitten fields at last
Crack like iron flawed in the cast,
When the world is wicked and cross and old,
I long to be quit of the cruel cold.

Little birds like bubbles of glass
Fly to other Americas,
Birds as bright as sparkles of wine
Fly in the nite to the Argentine,
Birds of azure and flame-birds go
To the tropical Gulf of Mexico:


Winter in the Country

Sweet life! how lovely to be here
And feel the soft sea-laden breeze
Strike my flushed face, the spruce's fair
Free limbs to see, the lesser trees'

Bare hands to touch, the sparrow's cheep
To heed, and watch his nimble flight
Above the short brown grass asleep.
Love glorious in his friendly might,

Music that every heart could bless,
And thoughts of life serene, divine,
Beyond my power to express,
Crowd round this lifted heart of mine!

But oh! to leave this paradise


Winter Evening

To-night the very horses springing by
Toss gold from whitened nostrils. In a dream
The streets that narrow to the westward gleam
Like rows of golden palaces; and high
From all the crowded chimneys tower and die
A thousand aureoles. Down in the west
The brimming plains beneath the sunset rest,
One burning sea of gold. Soon, soon shall fly
The glorious vision, and the hours shall feel
A mightier master; soon from height to height,
With silence and the sharp unpitying stars,


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