Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
Winter in Canada
By J. C. M. Duncan
SPIRIT of winter, breathe thou thro’ my song,
I sing not to upbraid as some have sung,
Nor lift I up the puny pipes of scorn
Against the utterance of thine iron tongue.
I am thy child; I boast that I was born        5
Upon thy threshold, and have drunk thy wine,
And in thy wilds been nurtured and made strong,
To match my strength with thine.
Season of quickening joys and sharp delights,
They love thee best who meet thee face to face,        10
In thine own fields, and on thy channelled heights,
Or on the shining floors of open space
Breast thine assaults, and shun
The shelter’d skirmish for the open raid,
And take into their blood the draughts of sun,        15
That add a biting lustre to thy blade.
Sternest of all that serve the sun’s own moods,
Yet most we love thee when thou dost unfold
Thy majesty in storms that put to rout
The hills and fields and woods;        20
When day, like a lost star, is whirled about,
And the old earth rocks and reels,
With the mad skies at its heels,
O then our spirits grow strong as thine grows bold.
Yet art thou rich in days of perfect peace,        25
And sometimes gentle in thy moods as May;
Thy mornings rise like mirrors that draw down
Out of the heavens the crystal depths of day,
Day that still gathers light with its decrease,
Till hill, and field, and town,        30
In all the many-colour’d splendours shine,
Wherewith the sun doth pave the path of his decline.
The silver flutes of Summer at thy breath
Grew mute, and the last flower
Took from thy lips the icy kiss of death;        35
The roving tides stood still when thou didst set
Thy foot upon them in an iron hour;
Thy hungry wolf-winds out of East and North
Glutted themselves, and do not now forget
The feast of plenty in the autumn bower,        40
Blaring thy martial music they go forth,
Where long the heart of Summer hath lain dead,
And the last song to Autumn’s ear was lost;
A milder music hast thou too, instead.
The many myriad sparkling bells of frost,        45
That ring their crisp chimes to the passing tread.
And when the sun abandons thee to night
Under the weaving spell of star and moon,
The dews of thy white spirit are shed and spun
Into frore flowers and foliage, steeped in light,        50
That are before the clear unshadow’d noon,
Regather’d to the garden of the sun.
They know not thee who cannot comprehend
Thy spirit in all its moods of calm and stress,
Not to what purpose all thy strivings tend,        55
For thou dost minister to the rounded year
In things that lead to blessing and to bless;
And they who doubt shall understand at length,
Thy vestiture is woven of hope, not fear.
And thy true gifts are life, and joy, and strength.        60

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