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The Dread Voyage

William Wilfred Campbell 1860 (Newmarket) – 1918 (Ottawa)



1 Trim the sails the weird stars under—
2 Past the iron hail and thunder,
3 Past the mystery and the wonder,
4 Sails our fated bark;
5 Past the myriad voices hailing,
6 Past the moaning and the wailing,
7 The far voices failing, failing,
8 Drive we to the dark.

9 Past the headlands grim and sombre,
10 Past the shores of mist and slumber,
11 Leagues on leagues no man may number,
12 Soundings none can mark;
13 While the olden voices calling,
14 One by one behind are falling;
15 Into silence dread, appalling,
16 Drift we to the dark.

17 Far behind, the sad eyes yearning,
18 Hands that wring for our returning,
19 Lamps of love yet vainly burning:
20 Past the headlands stark!
21 Through the wintry snows and sleeting,
22 On our pallid faces beating,
23 Through the phantom twilight fleeting,
24 Drive we to the dark.

25 Without knowledge, without warning,
26 Drive we to no lands of morning;
27 Far ahead no signals horning
28 Hail our nightward bark.
29 Hopeless, helpless, weird, outdriven,
30 Fateless, friendless, dread, unshriven,
31 For some race-doom unforgiven,
32 Drive we to the dark.

33 Not one craven or unseemly;
34 In the flare-light gleaming dimly,
35 Each ghost-face is watching grimly:
36 Past the headlands stark!
37 Hearts wherein no hope may waken,
38 Like the clouds of night wind-shaken,
39 Chartless, anchorless, forsaken,
40 Drift we to the dark.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Wilfred Campbell

William Wilfred Campbell (1 June ca. 1860 – 1 January 1918) was a Canadian poet. He is often classed as one of the country's Confederation Poets, a group that included fellow Canadians Charles G. D. Roberts, Bliss Carman, Archibald Lampman, and Duncan Campbell Scott; he was a colleague of Lampman and Scott. By the end of the 19th century, he was considered the "unofficial poet laureate of Canada." Although not as well known as the other Confederation poets today, Campbell was a "versatile, interesting writer" who was influenced by Robert Burns, the English Romantics, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Thomas Carlyle, and Alfred Tennyson. Inspired by these writers, Campbell expressed his own religious idealism in traditional forms and genres.  more…

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