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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Emily Pauline Johnson (1861–1913)


TO-NIGHT I hunger so,

Belovèd one, to know

If you recall and crave again the dream

That haunted our canoe,

And wove its witchcraft through

Our hearts as ’neath the northern night we sailed the northern stream.

Ah! dear, if only we

As yesternight could be

Afloat within that light and lonely shell,

To drift in silence till

Heart-hushed, and lulled and still

The moonlight through the melting air flung forth its fatal spell.

The dusky summer night,

The path of gold and white

The moon had cast across the river’s breast,

The shores in shadows clad,

The far-away, half-sad

Sweet singing of the whippoorwill, all soothed our souls to rest.

You trusted I could feel

My arm as strong as steel,

So still your upturned face, so calm your breath,

While circling eddies curled,

While laughing rapids whirled

From bowlder unto bowlder, till they dashed themselves to death.

Your splendid eyes aflame

Put heaven’s stars to shame;

Your god-like head so near my lap was laid

My hand is burning where

It touched your wind-blown hair,

As sweeping to the rapids’ verge I changed my paddle blade.

The boat obeyed my hand,

Till wearied with its grand

Wild anger, all the river lay aswoon;

And as my paddle dipped,

Through pools of pearl it slipped

And swept beneath a shore of shade, beneath a velvet moon.

To-night, again dream you

Our spirit-winged canoe

Is listening to the rapids purling past?

Where in delirium reeled

Our maddened hearts that kneeled

To idolize the perfect world, to taste of love at last.