Out Of Pompeii

written by William Wilfred Campbell

Out Of Pompeii

— William Wilfred Campbell

1 She lay, face downward, on her beaded arm,
2 In this her new, sweet dream of human bliss,
3 Her heart within her fearful, fluttering, warm,
4 Her lips yet pained with love's first timorous kiss.
5 She did not note the darkening afternoon,
6 She did not mark the lowering of the sky
7 O'er that great city. Earth had given its boon
8 Unto her lips, love touched her and passed by.

9 In one dread moment all the sky grew dark,
10 The hideous rain, the panic, the red rout,
11 Where love lost love, and all the world might mark
12 The city overwhelmed, blotted out
13 Without one cry, so quick oblivion came,
14 And life passed to the black where all forget;
15 But she,—we know not of her house or name,—
16 In love's sweet musings doth lie dreaming yet.

17 The dread hell passed, the ruined world grew still,
18 And the great city passed to nothingness:
19 The ages went and mankind worked its will.
20 Then men stood still amid the centuries' press,
21 And in the ash-hid ruins opened bare,
22 As she lay down in her shamed loveliness,
23 Sculptured and frozen, late they found her there,
24 Image of love 'mid all that hideousness.

25 Her head, face downward, on her bended arm,
26 Her single robe that showed her shapely form,
27 Her wondrous fate love keeps divinely warm
28 Over the centuries, past the slaying storm,
29 The heart can read in writings time hath left,
30 That linger still through death's oblivion;
31 And in this waste of life and light bereft,
32 She brings again a beauty that had gone.

33 And if there be a day when all shall wake,
34 As dreams the hoping, doubting human heart,
35 The dim forgetfulness of death will break
36 For her as one who sleeps with lips apart;
37 And did God call her suddenly, I know
38 She'd wake as morning wakened by the thrush,
39 Feel that red kiss across the centuries glow,
40 And make all heaven rosier by her blush.

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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