William Wilfred Campbell

Stella Flammarum: An Ode to Halley's Comet

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Strange wanderer out of the deeps,
Whence, journeying, come you?
From what far, unsunned sleeps
Did fate foredoom you,
Returning for ever again
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;--
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
Out ancient wrath.

By what dread hand first loosed
From fires eternal?
With majesties dire infused
Of force supernal,
Takest thy headlong way
O'er the highways of space?
O wonderful, blossoming flower of fear
On the sky's far face!

What secret of destiny's will
In thy wild burning?
What portent dire of humanity's ill
In thy returning?
Or art thou brand of love
In masking of bale?
And bringest thou ever some mystical surcease
For all who wail?

Perchance, O Visitor dread,
Thou hast thine appointed
Task, thou bolt of the vast outsped!
With God's anointed,
Performest some endless toil
In the universe wide,
Feeding or curing some infinite need
Where the vast worlds ride.

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,
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
Soul of the dauntless sun,
Past all reclaiming!
One in that red unrest,
That yearning, that surge,
That mounting surf of the infinite dream,
O'er eternity's verge.

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William Wilfred Campbell