The Dread Voyage

written by William Wilfred Campbell

The Dread Voyage

— William Wilfred Campbell

1 Trim the sails the weird stars under—
2 Past the iron hail and thunder,
3 Past the mystery and the wonder,
4 Sails our fated bark;
5 Past the myriad voices hailing,
6 Past the moaning and the wailing,
7 The far voices failing, failing,
8 Drive we to the dark.

9 Past the headlands grim and sombre,
10 Past the shores of mist and slumber,
11 Leagues on leagues no man may number,
12 Soundings none can mark;
13 While the olden voices calling,
14 One by one behind are falling;
15 Into silence dread, appalling,
16 Drift we to the dark.

17 Far behind, the sad eyes yearning,
18 Hands that wring for our returning,
19 Lamps of love yet vainly burning:
20 Past the headlands stark!
21 Through the wintry snows and sleeting,
22 On our pallid faces beating,
23 Through the phantom twilight fleeting,
24 Drive we to the dark.

25 Without knowledge, without warning,
26 Drive we to no lands of morning;
27 Far ahead no signals horning
28 Hail our nightward bark.
29 Hopeless, helpless, weird, outdriven,
30 Fateless, friendless, dread, unshriven,
31 For some race-doom unforgiven,
32 Drive we to the dark.

33 Not one craven or unseemly;
34 In the flare-light gleaming dimly,
35 Each ghost-face is watching grimly:
36 Past the headlands stark!
37 Hearts wherein no hope may waken,
38 Like the clouds of night wind-shaken,
39 Chartless, anchorless, forsaken,
40 Drift we to the dark.

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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