Night among the Thousand Islands

2    On lichen-covered rock and granite wall,
3Comes piercing through the hollows of the night
4        The loon's weird, plaintive call.
5Like some great regiment upon the shore
6    The stalwart pines go trooping up the hill,
7And faintly in the distance o'er and o'er
8        Echoes the whip-poor-will.
9Like silhouettes the dreaming islands keep
10    Their silent watches, mirrored in the tide,
11While in their labyrinthine aisles some deep,
12        Still mystery seems to hide.
13From out the shadows dim against the sky
14    Come stealing shadow-ships not made of men,
15Faint phantom-barques that slowly drifting by
16        Are swallowed up again.
17While silently beneath, the river flows,
18    Unfathomed, dark, a great resistless tide,
19Within its bosom deep the virgin snows
20        From many a mountain-side.
21And, drifting with the current, how we feel
22    The haunting witchery of Beauty's spell!
23The world we left behind seems all unreal.
24        Where such enchantments dwell.
25The vexing cares that overfill our days
26    Slip stealthily away, and we are wooed
27Back to the healing, half-forgotten ways
28        Of peace and solitude.


1] Coleman and her brother, A.P. Coleman, spent summer holidays at their cottage ("Pinehurst") in the Thousand Islands, an Ontario-New York archipelago in the Saint Lawrence River at the northeast edge of Lake Ontario. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
Helena Coleman, Songs and Sonnets, Published under the auspices of the Tennyson Club at Toronto (Toronto: William Briggs, 1906): 98-99. Internet Archive
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: