The Song of the Ski

Original Text: 
Wilson MacDonald, Out of the Wilderness (Ottawa: Graphic Publishers, 1926): 17-19.
1Norse am I when the first snow falls;
2Norse am I till the ice departs.
3The fare for which my spirit calls
4Is blood from a hundred viking-hearts.
5The curved wind wraps me like a cloak;
6The pines blow out their ghostly smoke.
7I'm high on the hill and ready to go--
8A wingless bird in a world of snow:
9Yet I'll ride the air
10With a dauntless dare
11That only a child of the north can know.
12The bravest ski has a cautious heart
13And moves like a tortoise at the start,
14But when it tastes the tang of the air
15It leaps away like a frightened hare.
16The day is gloomy, the curtains half-drawn,
17And light is stunted as at the dawn:
18But my foot is sure and my arm is brawn.
19I poise on the hill and I wave adieu:
20(My curving skis are firm and true)
21The slim wood quickens, the air takes fire
22And sings to me like a gypsy's lyre.
23Swifter and swifter grows my flight:
24The dark pines ease the unending white.
25The lean, cold birches, as I go by,
26Are like blurred etchings against the sky.
27One am I for a moment's joy
28With the falling star and the plunging bird.
29The world is swift as an Arab boy;
30The world is sweet as a woman's word.
31Never came such a pure delight.
32To a bacchanal or a sybarite:
33Swifter and swifter grows my flight,
34And glad am I, as I near the leap,
35That the snow is fresh and the banks are deep.
36Swifter and swifter on I fare,
37And soon I'll float with the birds on air.
38The speed is blinding; I'm over the ridge,
39Spanning space on a phantom bridge.
40The drifts await me; I float, I fall:
41The world leaps up like a lunging carp.
42I land erect and the tired winds drawl
44Child of the roofless world am I;
45Not of those hibernating drones
46Who fear the gray of a wintry sky
47And the shrieking wind's ironic tones,
48Who shuffle cards in a cloud of smoke
49Or crawl like frozen flies at chess,
50Or gossip all day with meddling folk
51In collar of starch and a choking dress.
52Come, ye maids of the vanity-box,
53Come, ye men of the stifling air:
54The white wind waits at your door and knocks;
55The white snow calls you everywhere.
56Come, ye lads of the lounge and chair,
57And gird your feet with the valiant skis
58And mount the steed of the winter air
59And hold the reins of the winter breeze.
60Lord of the mountains dark with pine!
61Lord of the fields of smoking snow!
62Grant to this vagrant heart of mine
63A patch of wood where my feet may go,
64And a roofless world to my journey's end,
65And a cask of wind for my cup of wine,
66And yellow gold of the sun to spend,
67And at night the stars in endless line,
68And, after it all, the hand of a friend--
69The hand of a trusted friend in mine.

Notes

43] rune: poem. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: