The Blind Caravan

written by William Wilfred Campbell

The Blind Caravan

— William Wilfred Campbell

1 I am a slave, both dumb and blind,
2 Upon a journey dread;
3 The iron hills lie far behind,
4 The seas of mist ahead.

5 Amid a mighty caravan
6 I toil a sombre track,
7 The strangest road since time began,
8 Where no foot turneth back.

9 Here rosy youth at morning's prime
10 And weary man at noon
11 Are crooked shapes at eventime
12 Beneath the haggard moon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the poet


William Wilfred Campbell

William Wilfred Campbell was born 15 June 1860 in Newmarket, Upper Canada (present-day Ontario). There is some doubt as to the date and place of his birth. His father, Rev. Thomas Swainston Campbell, was an Anglican clergyman who had been assigned the task of setting up several frontier parishes in "Canada West", as Ontario was then called. Consequently, the family moved frequently. In 1871, the Campbells settled in Wiarton, Ontario, where Wilfred grew up, attending high school in nearby Owen Sound. The school later be renamed Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute). Campbell would look back on his childhood with fondness. Campbell taught in Wiarton before enrolling in the University of Toronto's University College in 1880, Wycliffe College in 1882, and at the Episcopal Theological...

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