In November (2)

Original Text: 
The Poems of Archibald Lampman, ed. Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: George N. Morang, 1900): 158-60, as reprinted in The Poems of Archibald Lampman (including At the Long Sault), intro. by Margaret Coulby of Toronto Press, 1974), and from Lyrics of Earth (Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895).
1With loitering step and quiet eye,
2Beneath the low November sky,
3I wandered in the woods, and found
4A clearing, where the broken ground
5Was scattered with black stumps and briers,
6And the old wreck of forest fires.
7It was a bleak and sandy spot,
8And, all about, the vacant plot,
9Was peopled and inhabited
11A silent and forsaken brood
12In that mute opening of the wood,
13So shrivelled and so thin they were,
14So gray, so haggard, and austere,
15Not plants at all they seemed to me,
16But rather some spare company
17Of hermit folk, who long ago,
18Wandering in bodies to and fro,
19Had chanced upon this lonely way,
20And rested thus, till death one day
22And left them standing lifeless there.
23There was no sound about the wood
24Save the wind's secret stir. I stood
25Among the mullein-stalks as still
26As if myself had grown to be
27One of their sombre company,
28A body without wish or will
29And as I stood, quite suddenly,
30Down from a furrow in the sky
31The sun shone out a little space
32Across that silent sober place,
33Over the sand heaps and brown sod,
34The mulleins and dead goldenrod,
35And passed beyond the thickets gray,
36And lit the fallen leaves that lay,
37Level and deep within the wood,
38A rustling yellow multitude.
39And all around me the thin light,
40So sere, so melancholy bright,
41Fell like the half-reflected gleam
42Or shadow of some former dream;
43A moment's golden reverie
44Poured out on every plant and tree
45A semblance of weird joy, or less,
46A sort of spectral happiness;
47And I, too, standing idly there,
48With muffled hands in the chill air,
49Felt the warm glow about my feet,
50And shuddering betwixt cold and heat,
51Drew my thoughts closer, like a cloak,
52While something in my blood awoke,
53A nameless and unnatural cheer,
54A pleasure secret and austere.


10] mulleins: woolly-leaved plants of the figwort family. Back to Line
21] compline: seventh and last of the canonical hours, used by the Christian church to schedule daily monastic devotions. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1997.