William Wilfred Campbell

The Blind Caravan

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I am a slave, both dumb and blind,
Upon a journey dread;
The iron hills lie far behind,
The seas of mist ahead.
Amid a mighty caravan
I toil a sombre track,
The strangest road since time began,
Where no foot turneth back.
Here rosy youth at morning's prime
And weary man at noon
Are crooked shapes at eventime
Beneath the haggard moon.

Faint elfin songs from out the past
Of some lost sunset land
Haunt this grim pageant drifting, vast,
Across the trackless sand.

And often for some nightward wind
We stay a space and hark,
Then leave the sunset lands behind,
And plunge into the dark.

Somewhere, somewhere, far on in front,
There strides a lonely man
Who is all strength, who bears the brunt,
The battle and the ban.

I know not of his face or form,
His voice or battle-scars,
Or how he fronts the haunted storm
Beneath the wintry stars;

I know not of his wisdom great
That leads this sightless host
Beyond the barren hills of fate
Unto some kindlier coast.

But often 'mid the eerie black
Through this sad caravan
A strange, sweet thrill is whispered back,
Borne on from man to man.

A strange, glad joy that fills the night
Like some far marriage horn,
Till every heart is filled with light
Of some belated morn.

The way is long, and rough the road,
And bitter the night, and dread,
And each poor slave is but a goad
To lash the one ahead.

Evil the foes that lie in wait
To slay us in the pass,
Bloody the slaughter at the gate,
And bleak the wild morass;

And I am but a shriveled thing
Beneath the midnight sky;
A wasted, wan remembering
Of days long wandered by.

And yet I lift my sightless face
Toward the eerie light,
And tread the lonely way we trace
Across the haunted night.

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William Wilfred Campbell