Frederick George Scott

(7 April 1861 – 19 January 1944 / Montreal)

A Mood


AS some great cloud upon a mountain's breast,
Hanging for ever, shutteth out the sun,
Its chilly fingers twining in the trees
And blighting them, so ever one dark thought
Broods o'er my life and makes my spirit droop
5
Beneath its baleful shade. A demon form
Is ever at my side, whose icy touch
Freezes my warmest thoughts, and makes them hang
Like dull, cold icicles about my heart.
I feel his presence 'mid my fellow-men;
10
I see his image in the restless sea
That gnaws the land; and on the towering top,
Where everything is still, amid the rocks,
Worn bald by fleeting years, I hear his tread.
I see his footsteps in the lonely wild,
15
Where forests ever spring and ever die;
But, most of all, I feel him near the night,
When all the world is shrouded in the gloom
Of dreamful Sleep,—so like his brother Death;
I see his eyeballs on the glittering sky;
20
I hear his laughter ringing from the stars,
That look at me and say, "O helpless worm,
Upon the world of worms, dost thou not know
The dust thou treadest in was once like thee,
And laughed its laugh, and had its time to weep,
25
And now lies helpless, trampled on, forgot,
Scattered upon thy tiny globe which hangs
Chained to its sun in black infinity?
That thou—thou, too—must soon be dust again,
Forgotten, helpless, trampled on by those
30
That shall come after thee?"
I even hear
His voice amid the voices of my friends,
Harsh, taunting me with death, and dreams of death.
And, when I gaze in rapture on the face
35
Of whom I love, he casts a hideous light,
That lets me see, behind the sweet, warm flesh,
The lightless skull, and o'er the rounded form
The shades of death, aye dark and darker growing,
Until the life-light melts into the night.
40
Oh, would that I could break the cursèd chain
That binds this monster to me! for my life
Is like some gloomy valley that lies chill
Beneath a frowning precipice. And yet
The thread of gloom is woven in my being,
45
And I am loth to rend it, for my thoughts
Have long been shaded by it. Ever since
I first could play, I used to watch the boys,
So joyous in their sports, and saw them men,
Grown chilly-hearted in a chilly world,
50
Grown weary with the burden of their life,
All restless, seeking rest yet finding change;
And then I saw the gathering shadows lower
Upon the evening of their life, and then
They merged into the dark, and all was still—
55
Dust under dust, forgotten by the world
In ugly loathsomeness.
The demon still
Was at my side in after-years, and threw
A shade on every friendship, as a cloud
60
Floats past the sun and dims the flowering fields.
Oft have I wondered at the woodland stream
That dances on, through dappled-lighted woods,
O'er mossy pebbles glinting in the sun,
Like eyes of merry children round the fire,
65
And never seems to think that it must thread
The misty fen, where every flower grows rank
Amid the lazy ooze, and sink at last
Beneath the boundless sea. Oh, happy they,
Who thus go laughing on from year to year,
70
And never know the mystery of being,
And never start and shudder at the dream
That they and all mankind are dreaming—Life,
And strive to wake, but fall back helplessly;
Who fancy sunlight, when the sky is dark,
75
And never know that time, like India's snake,
Enwraps us with his gaudy-coloured folds
Of changing seasons, till his dread embrace
Has crushed out life; who live, and laugh, and weep,
And tread the dust of myriads underfoot,
80
And see men die around them, yet whose life,
The demon form that stalks beside my path,
The consciousness of never-ending change,
Has never darkened, as it darkens mine,
Beneath the shadow of the wings of Death.

Submitted: Saturday, March 31, 2012

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