Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

(1838-1912 / USA)

At Dawn - Poem by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

I. THE CAVEMAN

I live! And the scarlet sunrise is climbing the
mountain steep,
I live . . . And below, in the caverns, the rest
of my clansmen sleep;
But I - I am here, and chanting, I could slay a
beast with my hand,
And I thrill as the mist of the morning creeps up
from the rock-strewn land!

I live, I have strength for fighting - and courage to
rend and slay,
I live! And my eyes are lifting to gaze at the new-
born day;
And I pause, on the way to my hewn-out cave,
though I know that she waits me there,
My mate, with her eyes on the scarlet dawn, and the
wind in her flame-like hair.

I live - and the joy of living leaps up in my searching
eyes,
I live, and my soul starts forward, to challenge the
waking skies!
Far down are the torrents roaring, far up are the
clouds, unfurled;
And I stand on the cliff, exultant, akin to the waking
world.

The mists are gone, and an eagle sweeps down from
the mountain high,
And I wish that my arms were feathered and strong,
that I, too, might fly;
I live! I am one with the morning! Ah, I am a
MAN, and free!
And I shout aloud, and the scarlet dawn shouts back,
on the gale, to me!

II. THE PIONEER

I creep along, but silently,
For, oh, the dawn is coming;
I creep along, for I have heard
A flint-tipped arrow, humming;
And I have heard a snapping twig,
Above the wind's low laughter;
And I have known - and thrilled to know,
That swift THEY followed after!

The forest turns from black to grey,
The leaves are silver-shining;
But I have heard a far-off call -
The war-whoop's sullen whining.
And I have been a naked form,
Among the tree trunks prowling;
And I have glimpsed a savage face,
That faded from me, scowling.

A rosy color sweeps the sky,
A vagrant lark is singing,
But, as I steal along the trail,
I know that day is bringing
A host of red-skins in its train,
Their tommy-hawks are gleaming -
I SEE THEM NOW; or can it be
The first pale sunlight beaming?

I creep along, but stealthily,
For, oh, the dawn is coming!
I creep along - but I have heard
A flint-tipped arrow, humming. . . .
And yet, my heart is light, inside,
My soul, itself, is flying
To greet the dawn! I AM ALIVE -
AND WHAT IS DEATH - BUT DYING?

III. THE FARMER

The dawn is here! I climb the hill;
The earth is young and strangely still;
A tender green is showing where
But yesterday my fields were bare. . . .
I climb and, as I climb, I sing;
The dawn is here, and with it - spring!

My oxen stamp the ground, and they
Seem glad, with me, that soon the day
Will bring new work for us to do!
The light above is clear and blue;
And one great cloud that swirls on high,
Seems sent from earth to kiss the sky.

The birds are coming back again,
They know that soon the golden grain
Will wave above this fragrant loam;
The birds, with singing, hasten home;
And I, who watch them, feel their song
Deep in my soul, and nothing wrong,
Or mean or small, can touch my heart. . . .
Down in the vale the smoke-wreaths start,
To softly curl above the trees;
The fingers of a vagrant breeze
Steal tenderly across my hair,
And toil is fled, and want, and care!

The dawn is here!
I climb the hill;
My very oxen seem to thrill -
To feel the mystery of day.
The sun creeps out, and far away
From man-made law I worship God,
Who made the light, the cloud, the sod;
I worship smilingly, and sing!


*
The dawn is here, and with it - spring!


Comments about At Dawn by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

  • Brian Jani (5/3/2014 11:55:00 AM)


    What a well written poem this is Elizabeth (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010



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