Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
Stanzas from ‘To a Morning Cloud’
By Charles Mair (1838–1927)
O GOLDEN shape! Fair, full-blown flow’r of heaven!
Gift of the dawn and far-possessing sea!
Thou foster-child of sunshine and the free
Wild air of summer, wherefore art thou given
To mock us with delights which quickly flee        5
Th’ inviting of our souls? Art thou, O God!
Offended that thy weary children groan,
And wither in their anguish at thy rod,
And think it but small ill to walk alone
On this thine earth, wishing their cares away,        10
Yet finding them grow deadlier day by day?
Oh, ’tis enough that the sharp solstice brings
Numb snow and frost to bite us to the heart;
That devilish pain and sickness smite apart
Ease and keen pleasure in the face of things.        15
Those gifts from heaven could we take athwart
Our little eager paths, and bear the cross
Meekly; yet they are nought to these; hope dies
And leaves us desolate, and love is loss,
And hatred burns our bones, and mercy flies        20
Our sundering souls, and progress funeral
Towards the love that reigns and rules o’er all.
Our pain hath no dismissal, and our joys
But speed us to our ashes. In life’s charm
There lifts a cold, intolerable arm        25
Which smites the very infant at its ploys.
Our comfort wastes, and fair forms come to harm—
Naught lasts but sorrow, all things else decay,
And time is full of losing and forgetting,
Our pleasure is as iron and rusts away,        30
Our days are grief, and scarcely worth their setting,
Wherein there is repose and slumber deep,
And therefore are we thankful for our sleep.
We all are thankful for a little sleep,
For therein there is peace and easy death,        35
And solace for our sad, impatient breath.
Perchance therein we lose ourselves, and keep
Part of an ageless silence; yet one saith
We are but born to linger and to fear,
To feel harsh fleeting time and aimless woe.        40
Th’ inscrutable decree which brought us here
Makes myriads wretched, and shall keep them so
Till death uplifts the bars for those who wait
And yearn along the soundless gulfs of fate.
Still let us wait beneath the glorious sun,        45
And, be his light or strengthened or subdued,
Let light come to our eyes, for it is good
To see the small flow’rs open one by one,
And see the wild wings fleeting through the wood,
They grow and perish uncomplainingly,        50
And blameless live and end their blameless years,
And mayhap we are blind, and cannot see
The rainbow shining in a mist of tears;
And mayhap we are dull, and cannot feel
The touch which strengthens and the lips which heal.        55

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