Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
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William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
 
Indian Summer
By Susanna Moodie (1803–1885)
 
BY the purple haze that lies
  On the distant rocky height,
By the deep blue of the skies,
  By the smoky amber light
Through the forest arches streaming,        5
Where Nature on her throne sits dreaming,
And the sun is scarcely gleaming
  Through the cloudlets, snowy white,
Winter’s lovely herald greets us
Ere the ice-crowned tyrant meets us.        10
 
A mellow softness fills the air,
  No breeze on wanton wing steals by
To break the holy quiet there,
  Or make the waters fret and sigh,
Or the golden alders shiver        15
That bend to kiss the placid river,
Flowing on and on for ever.
But the little waves are sleeping,
O’er the pebbles slowly creeping,
That last night were flashing, leaping,        20
Driven by the restless breeze,
In lines of foam beneath yon trees.
 
Dressed in robes of gorgeous hue,
  Brown and gold with crimson blent;
The forest to the waters blue        25
  Its own enchanting tints has lent;
In their dark depths, life-like glowing,
We see a second forest growing,
Each pictured leaf and branch bestowing
A fairy grace to that twin wood,        30
Mirror’d within the crystal flood.
 
’Tis pleasant now in forest shades;
  The Indian hunter strings his bow
To track through dark, entangling glades
  The antler’d deer and bounding doe,        35
Or launch at night the birch canoe,
To spear the finny tribes that dwell
On sandy bank, in weedy cell,
Or pool the fisher knows right well—
Seen by the red and vivid glow        40
Of pine-torch at his vessel’s bow.
 
This dreamy Indian-summer day
  Attunes the soul to tender sadness;
We love—but joy not in the ray:
  It is not summer’s fervid gladness,        45
But a melancholy glory
  Hovering softly round decay,
Like swan that sings her own sad story
  Ere she floats in death away
 
The day declines; what splendid dyes,        50
  In flickered waves of crimson driven,
Float o’er the saffron sea that lies
  Glowing within the western heaven!
  Oh, it is a peerless even!
See, the broad red sun is set,        55
But his rays are quivering yet
Through nature’s veil of violet,
Streaming bright o’er lake and hill;
But earth and forest lie so still,
It sendeth to the heart a chill;        60
We start to check the rising tear—
’Tis Beauty sleeping on her bier.
 
 
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