Winter. Calling Up His Legions.

A poem by Susanna Moodie


Awake--arise! all my stormy powers,
The earth, the fair earth, again is ours!
At my stern approach, pale Autumn flings down
In the dust her broken and faded crown;
At my glance the terrified mourner flies,
And the earth is filled with her doleful cries.
Awake!--for the season of flowers is o'er,--
My white banner unfurl on each northern shore!
Ye have slumbered long in my icy chain--
Ye are free to travel the land and main.
Spirits of frost! quit your mountains of snow--
Will ye longer suffer the streams to flow?
Up, up, and away from your rocky caves
And herald me over the pathless waves!

He ceased, and rose from his craggy throne
And girt around him his icy zone;
And his meteor-eye grew wildly bright
As he threw his glance o'er those realms of night.
He sent forth his voice with a mighty sound,
And the snows of ages were scattered around;
And the hollow murmurs that shook the sky
Told to the monarch, his band was nigh.


I come o'er the hills of the frozen North,
To call to the battle thy armies forth:
I have swept the shores of the Baltic sea,
And the billows have felt my mastery;
They resisted my power, but strove in vain--
I have curbed their might with my crystal chain.
I roused the northwind in his stormy cave,
Together we passed over land and wave;
I sharpened his breath and gave him power
To crush and destroy every herb and flower;
He obeyed my voice, and is rending now
The sallow leaves from the groaning bough;
And he shouts aloud in his wild disdain,
As he whirls them down to the frozen plain:
Those beautiful leaves to which Spring gave birth
Are scattered abroad on the face of the earth.
I have visited many a creek and bay,
And curdled the streams in my stormy way;
I have chilled into hail the genial shower:--
All this I have done to increase thy power.


I stood by the stream in the deep midnight.
The moon through the fog shed a misty light;
I arrested the vapours that floated by,
And wove them in garlands and hung them on high;
I bound the trees in a feathery zone,
And turned the soft dews of heaven to stone;
I spangled with gems every leaf and spray,
As onward I passed on my noiseless way;
And I came to thee when my work was done,
To see how they shone in the morning sun!


I have borne the clouds on my restless wings,
And my sullen voice through the desert rings;
I sent through the forest a rushing blast,
And the foliage fled as I onward passed
From the desolate regions of woe and death,
In adamant bound by my freezing breath:
From the crystal mountains where silence reigns,
And nature sleeps on the sterile plains,
I have brought the snow from thy mighty store
To whiten and cover each northern shore.


I woke like a giant refreshed with sleep,
And lifted the waves of the troubled deep;
I clouded the heavens with vapours dark,
And rolled the tide o'er the foundering bark,
Then mocked in hoarse murmurs the hollow cry
Of the drowning wretch in his agony:
I have leagued with the North to assert thy right
On the land and the wave both by day and by night!


I heard thy summons and hastened fast,
And floated hither before the blast,
To wave thy white banner o'er tower and town,
O'er the level plain and the mountain brown.
I have crowned the woods with a spotless wreath,
And loaded the avalanche with death;
I have wrapped the earth in a winding sheet,
And Nature lies dead beneath my feet.


All hail, mighty monarch! our tasks are o'er;
Thy power is confessed on each northern shore;
From the rock's stern brow to the rolling sea
The spirits of earth have bowed to thee.
In the cradle of Nature the young Spring lies
With the slumber of death on her azure eyes;
And we wander at will through the wide domain,
Which in beauty and verdure shall flourish again,
When she bursts from her shroud like a sun-beam forth
'To chase us back to the frozen North!'

With darkness and storms for thy panoply,
Stern Winter, what power may contend with thee?
Thy sceptre commands both the wind and the tide,
And thy empire extends over regions wide;
With thy star-gemmed crown and eagle wings,
The strongest of nature's potent kings!
But thy power for a season alone is lent,
Thou art but a ministering spirit sent
By the mighty Creator of thine and thee,
Who fills with his presence immensity!

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