The Sky Watcher

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Black rolls the phantom chimney-smoke
  Beneath the wintry moon;
  For miles on miles, by sound unbroke,
  The world lies wrapt in its ermine cloak,
  And the night's icy swoon
  Sways earthward in great brimming wells
  Of luminous, frosty particles.
  Far up the roadway, drifted deep,
  Where frost-etched fences gleam;
 Beneath the sky's wan, shimmering sleep
 My solitary way I keep
 Across the world's white dream;
 The only living moving thing
 In all this mighty slumbering.
 Up in the eastern range of hill,
 The thin wood spectrally
 Stirs in its sleep and then is still
 (Like querulous age) at the wind's will.
 My shadow doggedly
 Follows my footsteps where I go,
 A grotesque giant on the snow.
 Out where the river's arms are wound,
 And icy sedges cling,
 There comes to me as in a swound
 A far-off clear, thin, vibrant sound,-
 The distant hammering
 Of frost-elves as they come and go,
 Forging, in silver chains, his woe.
 I stand upon the hill's bleak crest
 And note the far night world:
 The mighty lake whose passionate breast,
 Manacled into arctic rest,
 In shrouded sleep is furled:
 The steely heavens whose wondrous host
 Wheel white from flaming coast to coast.
 Then down the night's dim luminous ways,
 Meseems they come once more,
 Those great star-watchers of old days
 The lonely, calm-ones, whose still gaze,
 On old-time, orient shore,
 Dreamed in the wheeling sons of light,
 The awful secrets of earth's night.
 They come, those lofty ones of old,
 And take me by the hand,
 And call me brother; ages rolled
 Are but a smoke-mist; kindred-souled,
 They lift me to their band;
 Like lights that from pale starbeams shine,
 Their clear eyes look with peace on mine.
 In language of no common kind
 These watchers speak to me;
 Their thoughts the depths of heaven find
 Like plummets true. It were a kind
 Of immortality
 To spend with them one holy hour,
 And know their love and grasp their power.
 And wrapt around with glad content,
 I learn with soul serene,
 Caught from the beauty that is blent
 In earth, the heaven's luminous tent,
 The frost-lit dreams between,
 And something holier out of sight,
 Glad visions of the infinite.
 Then backward past the sere hill's breast,
 The spectral moaning wood,
 With great peace brooding in my breast,
 I turn me toward the common rest
 Of earth's worn brotherhood;
 But as I pass, a sacred sign,
 Each lays his holy lips on mine:-
 Gives me the golden chrism of song,
 Tips my hushed heart with fire;
 Till high in heaven I hear that throng
 Who march in mystic paths along,
 Great Pleiades, The Lyre,
 The Te-Deum of the ages swell,
 To earth-tuned ear inaudible.

© William Wilfred Campbell