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Sunshine

I

Flat as a drum-head stretch the haggard snows;
The mighty skies are palisades of light;
The stars are blurred; the silence grows and grows;
Vaster and vaster vaults the icy night.
Here in my sleeping-bag I cower and pray:
"Silence and night, have pity! stoop and slay."

I have not slept for many, many days.
I close my eyes with weariness -- that's all.
I still have strength to feed the drift-wood blaze,
That flickers weirdly on the icy wall.
I still have strength to pray: "God rest her soul,
Here in the awful shadow of the Pole."

There in the cabin's alcove low she lies,
Still candles gleaming at her head and feet;
All snow-drop white, ash-cold, with closed eyes,
Lips smiling, hands at rest -- O God, how sweet!
How all unutterably sweet she seems. . . .
Not dead, not dead indeed -- she dreams, she dreams.

II

"Sunshine", I called her, and she brought, I vow,
God's blessed sunshine to this life of mine.
I was a rover, of the breed who plough
Life's furrow in a far-flung, lonely line;
The wilderness my home, my fortune cast
In a wild land of dearth, barbaric, vast.

When did I see her first? Long had I lain
Groping my way to life through fevered gloom.
Sudden the cloud of darkness left my brain;
A velvet bar of sunshine pierced the room,
And in that mellow glory aureoled
She stood, she stood, all golden in its gold.

Sunshine! O miracle! the earth grew glad;
Radiant each blade of grass, each living thing.
What a huge strength, high hope, proud will I had!
All the wide world with rapture seemed to ring.
Would she but wed me? YES: then fared we forth
Into the vast, unvintageable North.

III

In Muskrat Land the conies leap,
The wavies linger in their flight;
The jewelled, snakelike rivers creep;
The sun, sad rogue, is out all night;
The great wood bison paws the sand,
In Muskrat Land, in Muskrat Land.

In Muskrat Land dim streams divide
The tundras belted by the sky.
How sweet in slim canoe to glide,
And dream, and let the world go by!
Build gay camp-fires on greening strand!
In Muskrat Land, in Muskrat Land.

IV

And so we dreamed and drifted, she and I;
And how she loved that free, unfathomed life!
There in the peach-bloom of the midnight sky,
The silence welded us, true man and wife.
Then North and North invincibly we pressed
Beyond the Circle, to the world's white crest.

And on the wind-flailed Arctic waste we stayed,
Dwelt with the Huskies by the Polar sea.
Fur had they, white fox, marten, mink to trade,
And we had food-stuff, bacon, flour and tea.
So we made snug, chummed up with all the band:
Sudden the Winter swooped on Husky Land.

V

What was that ill so sinister and dread,
Smiting the tribe with sickness to the bone?
So that we waked one morn to find them fled;
So that we stood and stared, alone, alone.
Bravely she smiled and looked into my eyes;
Laughed at their troubled, stern, foreboding pain;
Gaily she mocked the menace of the skies,
Turned to our cheery cabin once again,
Saying: "'Twill soon be over, dearest one,
The long, long night: then O the sun, the sun!"

VI

God made a heart of gold, of gold,
Shining and sweet and true;
Gave it a home of fairest mould,
Blest it, and called it -- You.

God gave the rose its grace of glow,
And the lark its radiant glee;
But, better than all, I know, I know
God gave you, Heart, to me.

VII

She was all sunshine in those dubious days;
Our cabin beaconed with defiant light;
We chattered by the friendly drift-wood blaze;
Closer and closer cowered the hag-like night.
A wolf-howl would have been a welcome sound,
And there was none in all that stricken land;
Yet with such silence, darkness, death around,
Learned we to love as few can understand.
Spirit with spirit fused, and soul with soul,
There in the sullen shadow of the Pole.

VIII

What was that haunting horror of the night?
Brave was she; buoyant, full of sunny cheer.
Why was her face so small, so strangely white?
Then did I turn from her, heart-sick with fear;
Sought in my agony the outcast snows;
Prayed in my pain to that insensate sky;
Grovelled and sobbed and cursed, and then arose:
"Sunshine! O heart of gold! to die! to die!"

IX

She died on Christmas day -- it seems so sad
That one you love should die on Christmas day.
Head-bowed I knelt by her; O God! I had
No tears to shed, no moan, no prayer to p
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert William Service

Robert William Service was a poet and writer sometimes referred to as the Bard of the Yukon He is best-known for his writings on the Canadian North including the poems The Shooting of Dan McGrew The Law of the Yukon and The Cremation of Sam McGee His writing was so expressive that his readers took him for a hard-bitten old Klondike prospector not the later-arriving bank clerk he actually was Robert William Service was born 16 January 1874 in Preston England but also lived in Scotland before emigrating to Canada in 1894 Service went to the Yukon Territory in 1904 as a bank clerk and became famous for his poems about this region which are mostly in his first two books of poetry He wrote quite a bit of prose as well and worked as a reporter for some time but those writings are not nearly as well known as his poems He travelled around the world quite a bit and narrowly escaped from France at the beginning of the Second World War during which time he lived in Hollywood California He died 11 September 1958 in France Incidentally he played himself in a movie called The Spoilers starring John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich more…

All Robert William Service poems | Robert William Service Books

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    "Sunshine" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 2 Aug. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/32458/sunshine>.

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