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.
 
Stella Flammarum
By William Wilfred Campbell (1861–1918)
 
(An Ode to Halley’s Comet)

STRANGE Wanderer out of the deeps,
  Whence, journeying, come you?
From what far, unsunned sleeps
  Did fate foredoom you,
Returning for ever again        5
  Through the surgings of man,
A flaming, awesome portent of dread
  Down the centuries’ span?
 
Riddle! from the dark unwrung
  By all earth’s sages;        10
God’s fiery torch from His hand outflung,
  To flame through the ages:
Thou Satan of planets eterne,
  ’Mid angry path,
Chained, in circlings vast, to burn        15
  Out ancient wrath.
 
By what dread hand first loosed
  From fires eternal?
With majesties dire infused
  Of force supernal,        20
Takest thy headlong way
  O’er the highways of space?
Oh, wonderful, blossoming flower of fear
  On the sky’s far face!
 
What secrets of destiny’s will        25
  In thy wild burning?
What portent dire of humanity’s ill
  In thy returning?
Or art thou brand of love
  In masking of bale?        30
And bringest thou ever some mystical surcease
  For all who wail?
 
Perchance, O Visitor dread,
  Thou hast thine appointed
Task, thou bolt of the vasts outsped!        35
  With God’s anointed,
Performest some endless toil
  In the universe wide:
Feeding or curing some infinite need
  Where the vast worlds ride.        40
 
Once, only once, thy face
  Will I view in this breathing;
Just for a space thy majesty trace
  ’Mid earth’s mad seething:
Ere I go hence to my place,        45
  As thou to thy deeps;
Thou flambent core of a universe dread,
  Where all else sleeps.
 
But thou and man’s spirit are one:
  Thou poet! Thou flaming        50
Soul of the dauntless sun,
  Past all reclaiming!
One in that red unrest,
  That yearning, that surge,
That mounting surf of the infinite dream        55
  O’er eternity’s verge.
 
 
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