The Lamp At The Window

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Like some gaunt ghost the tempest wails
Outside my door; its icy nails
Beat on the pane: and Night and Storm
Around the house, with furious flails
Of wind, from which the slant sleet hails,
Stalk up and down; or, arm in arm,
Stand giant guard; the wild-beast lair
Of their fierce bosoms black and bare.
My lamp is lit, I have no fear.
Through night and storm my love draws near.
Now through the forest how they go,
With whirlwind hoofs and manes of snow,
The beasts of tempest, Winter herds!
That lift huge heads of mist and low
Like oxen; beasts of air that blow
Ice from their nostrils; winged like birds,
And bullock-breasted, onward hurled,
That shake with tumult all the world.
My lamp is set where love can see,
Who through the tempest comes to me.
I press my face against the pane,
And seem to see, from wood and plain,
In phantom thousands, stormy pale,
The ghosts of forests, tempest-slain,
Vast wraiths of woodlands, rise and strain
And rock wild limbs against the gale;
Or, borne in fragments overhead,
Sow night with horror and with dread.
He comes! my light is as an arm
To guide him onward through the storm.
I hear the tempest from the sky
Cry, eagle-like, its battle-cry;
I hear the night, upon the peaks,
Send back its condor-like reply;
And then again come booming by
The forest's challenge, hoarse as speaks
Hate unto hate, or wrath to wrath,
When each draws sword and sweeps the path.
But let them rage! through darkness far
My bright light leads him like a star.
The cliffs, with all their plumes of pines,
Bow down high heads: the battle-lines
Of all the hills, that iron seams,
Shudder through all their rocky spines:
And under shields of matted vines
The vales crouch down: and all the streams
Are hushed and frozen as with fear
As from the deeps the winds draw near.
But let them come! my lamp is lit!
Nor shall their fury flutter it.
Now 'round and 'round, with stride on stride,
In Boreal armor, darkness-dyed,
I hear the thunder of their strokes
The heavens are rocked on every side
With all their clouds: and far and wide
The earth roars back with all its oaks.
Still at the pane burns bright my light
To guide him onward through the night;
To lead love through the night and storm
Where my young heart shall make him warm.

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