Archibald Lampman

A Ballade of Waiting


A Forecast


A Song


Morning on the Lièvre


In November




A Ballade of Waiting
No girdle hath weaver or goldsmith wrought So rich as the arms of my love can be; No gems with a lovelier lustre fraught Than her eyes, when they answer me liquidly. Dear lady of love, be kind to me In days when the waters of hope abate, And doubt like a shimmer on sand shall be, In the year yet, Lady, to dream and wait. Sweet mouth, that the wear of the world hath taught No glitter of wile or traitorie, More soft than a cloud in the sunset caught, Or the heart of a crimson peony; Oh turn not its beauty away from me; To kiss it and cling to it early and late Shall make sweet minutes of days that flee, In the year yet, Lady, to dream and wait. Rich hair, that a painter of old had sought For the weaving of some soft phantasy, Most fair when the streams of it run distraught On the firm sweet shoulders yellowly; Dear Lady, gather it close to me, Weaving a nest for the double freight Of cheeks and lips that are one and free, For the year yet, Lady, to dream and wait. Envoi. So time shall be swift till thou mate with me, For love is mightiest next to fate, And none shall be happier, Love, than we, In the year yet, Lady, to dream and wait.


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A Forecast
What days await this woman, whose strange feet Breathe spells, whose presence makes men dream like wine, Tall, free and slender as the forest pine, Whose form is moulded music, through whose sweet Frank eyes I feel the very heart's least beat, Keen, passionate, full of dreams and fire: How in the end, and to what man's desire Shall all this yield, whose lips shall these lips meet? One thing I know: if he be great and pure, This love, this fire, this beauty shall endure; Triumph and hope shall lead him by the palm: But if not this, some differing thing he be, That dream shall break in terror; he shall see The whirlwind ripen, where he sowed the calm.


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A Song
Oh night and sleep, Ye are so soft and deep, I am so weary, come ye soon to me. Oh hours that creep, With so much time to weep, I am so tired, can ye no swifter be? Come, night, anear; I'll whisper in thine ear What makes me so unhappy, full of care; Dear night, I die For love that all men buy With tears, and know not it is dark despair. Dear night, I pray, How is it that men say That love is sweet? It is not sweet to me. For one boy's sake A poor girl's heart must break; So sweet, so true, and yet it could not be! Oh, I loved well, Such love as none can tell: It was so true, it could not make him know: For he was blind, All light and all unkind: Oh, had he known, would he have hurt me so? Oh night and sleep, Ye are so soft and deep, I am so weary, come ye soon to me. Oh hours that creep, With so much time to weep, I am so tired, can ye no swifter be?


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Morning on the Lièvre
Far above us where a jay Screams his matins to the day, Capped with gold and amethyst, Like a vapour from the forge Of a giant somewhere hid, Out of hearing of the clang Of his hammer, skirts of mist Slowly up the woody gorge Lift and hang. Softly as a cloud we go, Sky above and sky below, Down the river, and the dip Of the paddles scarcely breaks, With the little silvery drip Of the water as it shakes From the blades, the crystal deep Of the silence of the morn, Of the forest yet asleep, And the river reaches borne In a mirror, purple grey, Sheer away To the misty line of light, Where the forest and the stream In the shadow meet and plight, Like a dream. From amid a stretch of reeds, Where the lazy river sucks All the water as it bleeds From a little curling creek, And the muskrats peer and sneak In around the sunken wrecks Of a tree that swept the skies Long ago, On a sudden seven ducks With a splashy rustle rise, Stretching out their seven necks, One before, and two behind, And the others all arow, And as steady as the wind With a swivelling whistle go, Through the purple shadow led, Till we only hear their whir In behind a rocky spur, Just ahead.


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In November
The leafless forests slowly yield To the thick-driving snow. A little while And night shall darken down. In shouting file The woodmen's carts go by me homeward-wheeled, Past the thin fading stubbles, half concealed, Now golden-gray, sowed softly through with snow, Where the last ploughman follows still his row, Turning black furrows through the whitening field. Far off the village lamps begin to gleam, Fast drives the snow, and no man comes this way; The hills grow wintry white, and bleak winds moan About the naked uplands. I alone Am neither sad, nor shelterless, nor gray, Wrapped round with thought, content to watch and dream.


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Lampman's grave is marked by a natural stone
on which is carved only the one word, "Lampman".
A plaque on the site carries the four last lines
from his poem " In November".


Archibald Lampman
(°1861, Morpeth, Ontario - †1899, Ottawa)

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© Gaston D'Haese: 27-09-2012.
Update: 11-02-2016.