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Poem by Duncan Campbell Scott

The Wood-Spring to the Poet

Dawn-cool, dew-cool
Gleams the surface of my pool
Bird haunted, fern enchanted,
Where but tempered spirits rule;
Stars do not trace their mystic lines
In my confines;
I take a double night within my breast
A night of darkened heavens, a night of leaves,
And in the two-fold dark I hear the owl
Puff at his velvet horn
And the wolves howl.
Even daylight comes with a touch of gold
Not overbold,
And shows dwarf-cornel and the twin-flowers,
Below the balsam bowers,
Their tints enamelled in my dew-drop shield.
Too small even for a thirsty fawn
To quench upon,
I hold my crystal at one level
There where you see the liquid bevel
Break in silver and go free
Singing to its destiny.

Give, Poet, give!
Thus only shalt thou live.
Give! for 'tis thy joyous doom
To charm, to comfort, to illume.

Speak to the maiden and the child
With accents deep and mild,
Tell them of the world so wide
In words of wonder and pure pride,
Touched with the rapture of surprise
That dwells in a child angel's eyes,
Awed with the strangeness of new-birth,
When the flaming seraph sent
To lead him into Paradise,
Calls his name with the mother's voice
He has just ceased to hear on earth.

Give to the youth his heart's content,
But power with prudence blent,
Thicken his sinews with love,
With courage his heart prove,
Till over his spirit shall roll
The vast wave of control.
In the cages and dens of strife,
Where men draw breath
Thick with a curse at the dear thing called life,
Give them courage to bear,
Strength to aspire and dare;
Give them hopes rooted in stone,
That the loveliest flowers take on,
Bind on their brows with a gesture free
The palm green bays of liberty.

Give to the mothers of men
  The knowledge of joy in pain,
Give them the sense of reward
That grew in the breast of the Lord
On the dawn of the seventh morn;
For 'tis they who re-create the world
Whenever a child is born.

Give, Poet, give!
Give them songs that charm and fill
The soul with an alluring pleasure,
Prelusive to a deeper thrill,
A richer tone, a fuller measure;
Like voices, veiled with hidden treasure,
Of angels on a windy morning,
That first far off, then all together,
Come with a glorious clarion calling;
And when they swoon beneath the spell
Recapture them to hear the echoes

To those stoned for the truth
Give ruth;
Give manna for the mourner's mouth
Sovereign as air;
For his heart's drouth
A prayer.

Give to dead souls that mock at life
Aweary of their cankered hearts,
Weary of sleep and weary of strife,
Weary of markets and of arts,--
Helve them a song of life,
Two-edged with joyous life,
Tempered trusty with life,
Proud pointed with wild life,
Plunge it as lightning plunges,
Stab them to life!

Give to those who grieve in secret,
Those who bear the sorrows of earth,
The deep unappeasable longings
Which beset them with throngings and throngings,
(As, on a windless night,
Through the fold of a dark mantle furled,
Gleams on our world, world after unknown world)
Give them peace,
Wide as the veil that hides God's face,
The pure plenitude of space,
In which our universe is but a glittering crease,--
Give them such peace.

Give, Poet, give!
Thus only shalt thou live:
Give as we give who are hidden
In myriad dimples of rock and fern;
Give as we give unbidden
To tarn and rillet and burn,
Where the lake dreams,
Where the fall is hurled,
Striving to sweeten
The oceans of the world.

Should my song for a moment cease,
Silence fall in the woodland peace;
Should I wilfully check the flow
Bubbling and dancing up from below;
Say to my heart be still--be still,
Let the murmur die with the rill;
Then should the glittering, grey sea-things
Sigh as they wallow the under springs;
Where the deep brine-pools used to lie
Deserts vast would stare at the sky,
And even thy rich heart
(O Poet, Poet!)
Even thy rich heart run dry.

Duncan Campbell Scott

Duncan Campbell Scott's other poems:
  1. The Harvest
  2. The Forgers
  3. Spring on Mattagami
  4. The Height of Land
  5. When Spring Goes By

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