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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Wilfred Campbell 1861–1918

The Were-Wolves


THEY hasten, still they hasten,

From the even to the dawn;

And their tired eyes gleam and glisten

Under north skies white and wan.

Each panter in the darkness

Is a demon-haunted soul,

The shadowy, phantom were-wolves,

Who circle round the Pole.

Their tongues are crimson flaming,

Their haunted blue eyes gleam,

And they strain them to the utmost

O’er frozen lake and stream;

Their cry one note of agony,

That is neither yelp nor bark,

These panters of the northern waste,

Who hound them to the dark.

You may hear their hurried breathing,

You may see their fleeting forms,

At the pallid polar midnight

When the north is gathering storms;

When the arctic frosts are flaming,

And the ice-field thunders roll;

These demon-haunted were-wolves,

Who circle round the Pole.

They hasten, still they hasten,

Across the northern night,

Filled with a frighted madness,

A horror of the light;

Forever and forever,

Like leaves before the wind,

They leave the wan, white gleaming

Of the dawning far behind.

Their only peace is darkness,

Their rest to hasten on

Into the heart of midnight,

Forever from the dawn.

Across far phantom ice-floes

The eye of night may mark

These horror-haunted were-wolves

Who hound them to the dark.

All through this hideous journey,

They are the souls of men

Who in the far dark-ages

Made Europe one black fen.

They fled from courts and convents,

And bound their mortal dust

With demon wolfish girdles

Of human hate and lust.

These who could have been god-like,

Chose, each a loathsome beast,

Amid the heart’s foul graveyards,

On putrid thoughts to feast;

But the great God who made them

Gave each a human soul,

And so ’mid night forever

They circle round the Pole;

A praying for the blackness,

A longing for the night,

For each is doomed forever

By a horror of the light;

And far in the heart of midnight,

Where their shadowy flight is hurled,

They feel with pain the dawning

That creeps in round the world.

Under the northern midnight,

The white, glint ice upon,

They hasten, still they hasten,

With their horror of the dawn;

Forever and forever,

Into the night away

They hasten, still they hasten

Unto the judgment day.