Stella Flammarum: An Ode to Halley's Comet

Original Text: 
Wilfred Campbell, Sagas of Vaster Britain: Poems of the Race, the Empire and the Divinity of Man (Toronto: Musson, 1914), pp. 128-29. PS 8455 A6S3 Robarts Library.
2Whence, journeying, come you?
3From what far, unsunned sleeps
4Did fate foredoom you,
5Returning for ever again
6Through the surgings of man,
7A flaming, awesome portent of dread
8Down the centuries' span?
9Riddle! from the dark unwrung
10By all earth's sages;--
11God's fiery torch from His hand outflung,
12To flame through the ages:
13Thou Satan of planets eterne,
14'Mid angry path,
15Chained, in circlings vast, to burn
16Out ancient wrath.
17By what dread hand first loosed
18From fires eternal?
19With majesties dire infused
20Of force supernal,
21Takest thy headlong way
22O'er the highways of space?
23O wonderful, blossoming flower of fear
24On the sky's far face!
25What secret of destiny's will
26In thy wild burning?
27What portent dire of humanity's ill
28In thy returning?
29Or art thou brand of love
30In masking of bale?
32For all who wail?
33Perchance, O Visitor dread,
34Thou hast thine appointed
35Task, thou bolt of the vast outsped!
36With God's anointed,
37Performest some endless toil
38In the universe wide,
39Feeding or curing some infinite need
40Where the vast worlds ride.
41Once, only once, thy face
42Will I view in this breathing;
43Just for a space thy majesty trace
44'Mid earth's mad seething;
45Ere I go hence to my place,
46As thou to thy deeps,
47Thou flambent core of a universe dread,
48Where all else sleeps.
49But thou and man's spirit are one,
50Thou poet! thou flaming
51Soul of the dauntless sun,
52Past all reclaiming!
53One in that red unrest,
54That yearning, that surge,
55That mounting surf of the infinite dream,
56O'er eternity's verge.


1] Campbell wrote about the "flaming star" in his diary on April 13,1910: "I believe that the Comet has its appointed place and task in the universe. It may be a vast carrier of necessary elements or gases or other substances necessary to life on the planets so that they may revive or receive new life. No one can fathom the vast unplumbed deeps of the mystery of the universe. Our mind is finite, but the soul is wider in its dim consciousness of things outside its comprehension" (Carl F. Klinck, Wilfred Campbell: A Study in Late Provincial Victorianism (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1942), p. 260; PS 8455 A6Z75 Robarts Library). Back to Line
31] surcease: cessation. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Published in Toronto Globe.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.