Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Fancy: III. Mythical: Mystical: Legendary
The Walker of the Snow
Charles Dawson Shanly (1811–1875)
 
SPEED on, speed on, good Master!
  The camp lies far away;
We must cross the haunted valley
  Before the close of day.
 
How the snow-blight came upon me        5
  I will tell you as I go,—
The blight of the Shadow-hunter
  Who walks the midnight snow.
 
To the cold December heaven
  Came the pale moon and the stars,        10
As the yellow sun was sinking
  Behind the purple bars.
 
The snow was deeply drifted
  Upon the ridges drear,
That lay for miles around me        15
  And the camps for which we steer.
 
’T was silent on the hill-side,
  And by the solemn wood,
No sound of life or motion
  To break the solitude,        20
 
Save the wailing of the moose-bird
  With a plaintive note and low,
And the skating of the red leaf
  Upon the frozen snow.
 
And said I, “Though dark is falling,        25
  And far the camp must be,
Yet my heart it would be lightsome
  If I had but company.”
 
And then I sang and shouted,
  Keeping measure, as I sped,        30
To the harp-twang of the snow-shoe
  As it sprang beneath my tread.
 
Nor far into the valley
  Had I dipped upon my way,
When a dusky figure joined me,        35
  In a capuchon of gray,
 
Bending upon the snow-shoes,
  With a long and limber stride;
And I hailed the dusky stranger
  As we travelled side by side.        40
 
But no token of communion
  Gave he by word or look,
And the fear-chill fell upon me,
  At the crossing of the brook.
 
For I saw by the sickly moonlight        45
  As I followed, bending low,
That the walking of the stranger
  Left no footmarks on the snow.
 
Then the fear-chill gathered o’er me,
  Like a shroud around me cast,        50
As I sank upon the snow-drift
  Where the Shadow-hunter passed.
 
And the other trappers found me,
  Before the break of day,
With my dark hair blanched and whitened        55
  As the snow in which I lay.
 
But they spoke not as they raised me;
  For they knew that in the night
I had seen the Shadow-hunter
  And had withered in his blight.        60
 
Sancta Maria speed us!
  The sun is falling low,
Before us lies the valley,
  Of the Walker of the Snow!
 
 
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