Charles Mackay

(1814-1889 / Scotland)

To The Winds - Poem by Charles Mackay

Wind of the winter night, whence comest thou?
And whither, oh whither, art wandering now?
Sad, sad is thy voice on this desolate moor,
And mournful, oh mournful, thy howl at my door.
Say where hast thou been on thy cloud-lifted car,
Say what hast thou seen in thy roamings afar!
What sorrow impels thee, thou boisterous blast,
Thus to mourn and complain as thou journeyest past?
Dost weep that the green sunny summer hath fled,
That the leaves of the forest are withered and dead,
That the groves and the woodlands re-echo no more
The light-hearted music they teemed with of yore?
That the song of the lark, and the hum of the bee,
Have ceased for awhile on the snow-covered lea?
Say, wind of the winter-night, whence comest thou,
And whither, oh whither, art wandering now?


REPLY.

I have been where the snow on the chill mountain-peak
Would have frozen the blood in the ruddiest cheek,
And for many a dismal and desolate day,
No beam of the sunshine has brightened my way;
But I weep not that winter hath bared the green tree,
And hushed the sweet voice of the bird and the bee;
I sigh not that summer hath fled from the plain,
For spring will return in its brightness again;
But I mourn and complain for the wail and the woe
That I've seen on my course as I journeyed below,
For I've heard the loud shout of the demon of war,
And the peal of his guns as they flashed from afar,
And heard the lone widows and orphans complain,
As they wet with their tears the pale cheeks of the slain;
And I sigh as I think on the miseries of man,
And the crimes and the follies that measure his span.

I have come from the deep, where the storm in its wrath
Spread havoc and death on its pitiless path,
Where the billows rose up as the lightnings flew by,
And twisted their arms in the dun-coloured sky;
And I saw a frail vessel, all torn by the wave,
Drawn down with her crew to a fathomless grave,
And I heard the loud creak of her hull as I past,
And the flap of her sails, and the crash of her mast;
And I raised my shrill voice on the cold midnight air,
To drown the last cry of the sailor's despair,
But it smote on my ear like the tocsin of death,
As he struggled and strove with the waters for breath;
'Tis his requiem I tune as I howl through the sky,
And repent of the fury that caused him to die.

And far have I roamed on the desolate shore,
And the cold dreary wastes of the tenantless moor,
Where a hoary old man journeyed on thro' the plain,
To his bright blazing hearth and his children again,
And I sighed as I rushed o'er that desert of snow,
For I saw not the path where the traveller should go;
For a moment he paused in that wilderness drear,
And clasped his cold hands as he listened to hear
The bark of his dog from his cot in the dell,
Or the long-wished for toll of the far village bell.
Poor weary old man! he was feeble and chill,
And the sounds that he loved were all silent and still,

For vainly he turned his dim glance to the sky,
And vainly he sought with his tremulous eye
Some light in the distance, whose pale beaming ray
Might guide him aright on his comfortless way,
Till, fainting and chill, he turned wearily back,
And tried to recover the snow-hidden track;
Ah, vainly he strove, and no sound could he hear,
To tell his sad heart that a refuge was near,
When, worn by the load of his toil and his woe,
He muttered a prayer, and sank down on the snow;
And I heard the last gasp of his quick fleeting breath,
His last dying groan, as he struggled with death:
And I mourn for him now on this desolate moor,
And tune his sad dirge as I howl at thy door.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, October 19, 2012



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