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Your eyes will blot from my heart forever
A brand in the white dews drenched.



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Northland Lyrics

"WINTER WARMS HIS FREEZING
HAND"

Winter warms his freezing hand,
Bends his head and leans low down,
Where the sunset fires the land
Just behind the hills and town.

Winter melts his freezing heart

What time the screaming geese take wing

And the willow-blossoms start

Up and down the creeks of Spring.

Once I warmed this heart of mine
By the light of her sweet eyes,
Firing my horizon line
Firing all these Winter skies,

And in dreams I scent the Spring.
Dreaming still, she beckons me
And with wild birds we take wing
Down the creeks of mystery ;

Down where willow-blossoms blow
Dreaming thus, I kiss her cheek.
Waking, I can see the snow
Lying cold above the creek.

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Northland Lyrics

A WHISPERED WORD

To-night a word, a whisper,

Through long, long miles there thrills,
To you beside the river,

From one among the hills.

Above the town's sad turmoil
Your listening heart shall hear

The murmuring sound of alders,
The whispered word of cheer !

SUNSET

The hearth-fire of the universe
To-night burns kind and deep ;

We warm ourselves before it
In converse ere we sleep.

For Love, the mighty builder,
Makes boundless space a homej

We nestle safe and fearless,
With infinite skies for dome.

THE VOICES

" Lonely, lonely," over the hill
Wails the wind at its restless will;
Close to your shoulder my head I lean,
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Northland Lyrics

No wind so sharp it can blow between :
(" Only the bitter wind of death; "
Hear what the whisper saith.)

Swift, surely, the ominous night
Quenches the sunset's coloured light;
In your eyes the star of love is lit,
No darkest hour can banish it :
(" Only the cold, cold hour of death ;"
Hear what the whisper saith.)

Nay, not the darkest night can part,
Or bitterest wind, true heart from heart ;
Hold me close that we hear no more
The taunting voices without the door:
(" Love shall be conqueror over death ! "
Hear what the whisper saith.)



EX UMBRIS

Dear heart, the storm cries at the door, the snow is

blown about the eaves,
The wind from some wreck-drifted shore around my

lattice window grieves,
And ghosts of happier hours go by across the dark

tempestuous sky.

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Northland Lyrics

The spruce-trees crowding up the slope toward the

lonely dwelling lean,
Forgetting all the songs of hope they crooned us when

the fields were green ;
The wailing voices of the blast mourn for the golden

summers past.

The firelight dancing on the wall and lighting many

a pictured face,
The wavering shadows quaint and tall, the carved

chair by the chimney-place,
Have each some wistful word to say of one beloved

and far away.

And yet how longing brings you near ! Just now, I

almost thought I heard
From out the bitter darkness, dear, your voice and

that most tender word,
The sweet new name you murmured low, that

Autumn was it years ago ?

A shadow on the threshold stands O love, can

this be fancy too ?
With pleading lips, and outstretched hands, and those

sad eyes by time proved true !
Now gladly, faithful heart, I come to these dear arms

that take me home !

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Northland Lyrics

IN THE NIGHT-SEASON

The joy of my art

And the love of my heart
And the lost, lost garden of young delight,

I came to these

Through the shadow-trees
By the gate of dreams in the night.

The daytime was cold,

And the world had grown old,
And bitter and lonely the light of the sun,

And life was chill

With the dread of ill
And sorrow of works undone.

Came night, with its tears

For the severing years,
And its gift reluctant of weary sleep ;

And then your hand

In that clearer land,
And your word for my heart to keep !

THE LAST FURROW

Mellow the grapes are,
Purple as gloamings that free.
Yellow the corn in the husk,
And scarlet the haws in the tree.
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Northland Lyrics

Wide winged the geese go,

Swift, and crying, and crossing the stars,

Foreseeing the snow.

The hoar-frost lies white on the bars.

This is the royal time

The partridges out of their covers

Each morning a rhyme,

And the sun and the hill are as lovers.

The cattle in stall

The pastures forsaken and lone

Firelight in the hall,

And the thistle-seeds withered and blown.

The last furrow turned,

With the great moon watching all white.

The oxen can rest now,

For the ponds will be frozen to-night.



"ON THE HILLS A GOD LIES
DEAD"

On the hills a god lies dead
Carl, the girdled one,
With the white stars for his bed,
For his shield the sun.
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Northland Lyrics

Brother to the crawling wind
And the sweeping snow ;
With his hair adrift behind,
Forehead to the foe.

On the hills a god lies dead
With his sword in twain :
Down the East his grey soul fled
With the shifting rain.

Centuries it has been so

Yet I knew it not

Still the hills mourn, and the snow

He is not forgot.

Gnarled pines in the wind rejoice
" Carl, the girdled one,
Gave to us his god-like voice ;
To the sky, the sun."

On the hills a god lies dead.
Centuries have gone
Since his soul rose up and fled
From the crimson dawn.



34



Northland Lyrics

TO W. C. R.

The very thought of it moves me here
The thought of April coming again
To our Mother St. John. Excuse this pen;
And the blot there looks like a tear.

How you will stand in the snow and note
The first faint odour of willows in bud
The Indian-willow will flush with blood
And the robin will clear his throat.

The ice will swing at the brink, and flow
Seaward a hundred miles let it travel.
The battered logs will hang on the gravel
The islands will strain to go.

The geese will return to your hills and the loon ;
You will find them all, some day, when you wake,
Trying the depths of a woodland lake
Or feeding in some lagoon.

A week will pass like a breath, and then
Up and along the creeks I know
The pussy-willows will scent and blow
The catkins will thrill again.

Then you will slip from the bank and drift
In your slim canoe, and her gunwale's gleam
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Northland Lyrics

Will come to me in a happy dream \
And your paddle will dip and lift

And speed her along, and through it all
The red-bud maples will burst and lean
The swollen waters will snarl between
-Then I will awake, and call

And find that the valour of April and sun
On our Mother St. John and the Nashwaak there
Is not for me so I '11 snuff the air
And dream how the thing is done.

SOCOBIE'S PASSING
Socobie, aged and bent with pain,
At the time of the year when the red leaves fly
Crawled from his tent door down to the river.
" I will try my wrist and my skill again
And sweep a paddle before I die."

Time falls the windfalls the grey geese draw on.
There is silence and peace on our Mother St. "John.

Socobie, once a king of his tribe,
Once a lover, a poet, a man,
Launched his sun-scarred craft to the river.
" I will try my strength where the rapids jibe
I will run her sheer, as a master can."
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Northland Lyrics

At the time of the year when the pass is blue
And the spent leaf falls in the empty wood
Socobie put out on the merry river ;
The brown blade lifted the white canoe
The rapids shouted, the forests stood.

Down in the village the hearths were bright,
And the nig.ht frost gleamed in the after-grass,
And the farmers were homing up from the river,
When out of the star-mist, slender and white
A birch craft leapt and they watched it pass.

Time falls the frost falls the great stars draw on.
What voice cries, "Farewell" to our Mother St. "John?

ESTRANGED

In my dreams I returned to my hills ; for the life that

I left,
The life of my waking, was drear as the pipe of the

winds through a cleft
Of the mountains of old held sacred, but long of their

godhead bereft.

When pitiful sleep drew near, and laid cool hands on

my brow,
And kind dreams led me away, where my hills, like

a great ship's prow,

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Northland Lyrics

Stood forth to the northern wastes, my heart remem-
bers how.

With the dreams I returned to my hills and they

were not the same !
Yet the winds went by as of old, and the red spruce

murmured her name,
And down bleak alleys of pine the sunset quivered

in flame.

Then I opened my heart and cried to the hills to know
A touch of their ancient kinship, their solace of long

ago.
But the voice of the wind grew strange, and a hush

fell over the snow.



AUTUMN DREAM

I overheard the Wind to-day

Telling the Stream
The tragedy of Falling Leaf

And Autumn Dream ;

And when the Wind had finished it

He laughed and fled,
With never any thought of all

He left unsaid.
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Northland Lyrics

And still the Stream went murmuring

Of her own grief
Without a thought for Autumn Dream

And Falling Leaf.



HAUNTED

It is a weird that cries across black water,
And in my heart there is no rest at all,
But dim, unquiet dreams of ancient slaughter
Spring, Summer, Fall.

Sometimes only the wind on the frosty reaches

With the low cry my heart has learned to know ;
But in its voice that other voice beseeches
Through wind and snow.

Sometimes night, with the hush and the starry glamour,

Allures my feet to uplands far and lone ;
Over the dark horizon drifts a clamour
Of words unknown.

And then I dream it is my own soul calling

Through the blind urge of life's eternal deep,
Across the sobbing sound of spent dreams falling
On death and sleep.



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Northland Lyrics

THE WIND IN THE GARDEN

A wind is astir in my garden
Who spills the rose to death.
I will not, will not hearken
The bitter thing he saith.

A sinister, strange intruder,
He chills my heart with fear;
Wrecked dreams and ruined visions
At his approach draw near.

By the dial's menacing finger
The sweet hours wither and fall,
And the shadows leer and whisper
Along the garden wall ;

For they know the viewless stranger,
With colder eyes than dawn,
The rustle of whose footstep
Tells me that youth is gone.

AN AUTUMN NIGHT

The night is like a mystic dream ;
Slim alders bend above the stream
Wherein the last faint daylights gleam.

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Northland Lyrics

The sere autumnal meadows rise
Smooth-sloping to the neutral skies;
Far off the lonely night-hawk cries.

The world is sad and dark the night,
And I who ever loved the might
Of Nature, whether dull or bright,

Am lonelier, sadder, than the chill
Slow stream that wanders at its will
Through these grave meadows bare and still.



THE WIND-CRY

O weary wind, be still, be still ;

Such bitter woe is in thy cry ;
All the lost dreams of all the world

On thy dark wings go by.

Thou voice of heart-ache, let me rest !

Lo, thou hast gathered up the tears,
The sobs and manifold despairs,

Of earth's unnumbered years.

Art thou the voice of Nature's pain
Or bearest thou, with dawning day,

The message of a lonely heart
Too many leagues away ?



Northland Lyrics

BEYOND THE YEARS

The work to which his hands were set
Went down with scorn and jeers ;

His look grew deeper : " Even yet
We '11 build beyond the years."

The vision that his faith had wrought,
Touched by the blight that sears,

Fell shattered. But he said : " My thought
Will live beyond the years."

The dream that in his heart had rest

Wrought bitterness and tears.
His eyes grew tender : "Now, the quest;

Then joy beyond the years."

He smiled to know his strength was gone.

His eyes among the spheres
Saw strength and beauty at the dawn

In dreams beyond the years.

Then the Great Silence covered him

Too deep for dreams or tears.
Now the wind scatters at its whim

His dust along the years.



Northland Lyrics

THE WANDERER

Across the lawn the leaves are shed,
The roses mouldered in their bed,
And where their frosty shadows spread
The gaunt trees watch and sigh.

The moonlight, like a ghostly pall,
Casts its weird glamour over all,
Where the great house stands grim and tall
Beneath the lonely sky.

Down the long path his hurried tread
Rings like a voice among the dead,
While by his side a stealthy dread
Glides grinning like a gnome.

Her window, with a vacant stare,
Gazes across the garden square.
Only some marigolds are there

To greet the wanderer home.

A SECRET SONG
O Snow-bird, Snow-bird !
Welcome thy note when maple boughs are bare,

Thy merry twitter, thy emphatic call,
Like silver trumpets pierce the freezing air
What time the crystal flakes begin to fall.
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Northland Lyrics

We know thy secret ! When the day grows dim,
Far from the homes that thou hast cheered so
long,

Thy chirping changes to a twilight hymn.

O Snow-bird, Snow-bird, wherefore hide thy song ?

O Snow-bird, Snow-bird !
Is it a song of sorrow none may know,

An aching memory ? Nay, too glad the note.
Untouched by knowledge of our human woe,

Clearly the crystal flutings fall and float.
We hear thy tender ecstasy, and cry :

" Lend us thy gladness that can brave the chill ;
Under the splendours of the Winter sky,

O Snow-bird, Snow-bird, carol to us still ! "

THANKSGIVING

When beechen leaves are brown
And barberries bright as coral,

Let us forget the frown

Of fate, and the longed-for laurel.

Come where the maples burn

In crimson and golden glory
That Earth may hold in her urn

The ashes of Summer's story.

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Northland Lyrics

Faithless the birds depart

With musical chirp and twitter,

And Nature folds to her heart
Alike the sweet and bitter.

Then sing in Autumn's praise,

Nor shrink from the colder comer ;

The joy of these shining days
Is deep as the bliss of Summer ;

Winter in graves of snow

May bury, but hide them never,

For safe in our hearts shall glow

The light they have brought forever.

The woods, the hills, rejoice,
Each leaf a mute thanksgiving;

We sing with grateful voice
The pure delight of living.

THE FADING YEAR

Now fades the year, and in the sloping fields
The clustering thin ferns are misty red,
And in the wood red leaves are on the sod ;

And down the paths among the dusky firs,
And down the shore beside the shining stream,
Come ghosts of other days and walk with us.
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Northland Lyrics

Shrill pipes the wind, and all our world grows cold ;
The darkness closes round us ; on the hearth
The fires of home are kindled like a star.

Old voices call us, old ideals return ;

The heart of childhood in us wakes and yearns ;

Grant, Lord, it falter not again nor sleep !



HEIMWEH

The wind is just a far-off voice

Beyond the pale-blue bound of sky ;
Too weak to murmur or rejoice,

I watch the moments drifting by.
So large the world ; and ah, so chill

The great pale sky, the shining snow ;
The lonely wind is calling still,

With a voice like human woe.

Now all my high ambitions fade ;

The things I hoped for seem so far;
From work once loved I shrink, afraid

Lest some mistake that work should mar ;
And all my longings turn to this :

To hold my Mother's hand, to know
The rest of Home, the smile, the kiss,

And let the great world go !
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Northland Lyrics

SURPRISE

Blind golden buds, we listened yesterday,
Somewhere where winds were cool and dews were

tender,

To hear what older buttercups could say
Of skies blue-domed above the field's wide splen-
dour.

To-day we bloomed, and thought from out the grass
To front the sun with half-closed yellow eyes,
But faced instead a white-draped toilet-glass,
And opened every petal in surprise.

GREETING

O glad brown earth, we greet thee,

Freed from the shrouding snow !
Soon shall the shadowy forests wake
To starry bloom for thy dear sake,

Soon where the rivulets flow
The crumpled ferns their sheaths shall break,

The slender rushes grow.
O glad brown earth, to greet thee

The skies of Spring lean low.

O sad brown earth, we greet thee !
Hushed on thy mighty breast
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Northland Lyrics

Thy graves lie bleak beneath the sun ;
In vain the silver rivers run

On their unending quest :
Strange grows this life, since death has won

Lips that our lips have prest.
O sad brown earth, we greet thee

For those who lie at rest !



SPIRIT OF SPRING

Spirit of Spring, draw near, draw near !
Let the glad voices of the brooks
Sing anthems out of shadowy nooks,
And adder-tongues appear.

Bid all thy sleeping kinsfolk wake,
The armies of the grass arise,
White violets open fairy eyes,
And crocus-flames outbreak.

Bring hope to souls that long have lain
In blank despair beside a tomb ;
Let every resurrection-bloom
Speak comfort unto pain.

In hearts where sordid cares hold sway
And world-love dulls the sacred gleam,

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Northland Lyrics

Re-wake the longing, and the dream
Of childhood's golden day.

Spirit of Spring, draw near, draw near,
With leaf, and blossom, and the light
Unspeakable on plain and height,
High-priestess of the year !

MARCH-WAKING

Before the dawn, when birds crouch close together,

A voiceless silvery stir the silence breaks ;
So through the greyness of this mid-March weather,

Something wakes.

No green has sprung between the withered grasses,

No blossom stars the roadside's mossy miles,
Yet from the fields the frozen bareness passes,

Something smiles.

Not yet, not yet the time of song's full cheering;

Expectant silence all my heart enthralls ;
Out of the woods and through the lonely clearing

Something calls.

BEYOND THE HILLS

The daffodils fling far the flag of Spring,
Their golden troop the garden-fortress fills,
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Northland Lyrics

And bird-throat bugles greet the days that bring
The daffodils.

Over the hills the Summer comes at last ;

But sad the light and sad the laughing rills,
And sad the golden flowers since he has passed
Beyond the hills.



FROM THE EARTH

From the earth our bodies came ;

From the sad brown whirling earth,
Knowing death, though not by name,

From the hour of their birth.
From the earth our bodies came,

And they shall return to earth.

To the earth they shall return,
To a sod kept green with tears,

Lips that sing and hearts that yearn,
Stilled at last from doubts and fears.

To the earth they shall return,

The brown earth kept sad with tears.

From the earth they shall arise
Purified and strong and free,



Northland Lyrics

All of worth that here they prize
Made their own eternally ;

When from earth they shall arise
Purified and strong and free.



THE SHOOTING OF THE MOOSE

All day through woodland stillnesses

Of weighted fir and spruce

We 've followed on our springing shoes

The blood-trail of the moose,

And now the moon swings clear, and black

The shadows fall across our track.

All day above the crunching snow

Pierre and Dick and I,

With lust of blood, have sped along

To see the great moose die.

And now the night has come, and dim

The spectral drifts wreathe after him.

We shot him at the cabin door ;
The whisky-jacks cried shrill.
And when the smoke moved up I saw
The hemlocks waiting still
The ancient spruces bending low
To his brave blood across the snow.
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Northland Lyrics

Yea, brave his blood as yours or mine
And fit for better skill.
The devil's luck, Pierre ! I know
The sights were fixed to kill.
To-night a bull-moose, plunging, dies
Beneath the comfortless, wide skies.

OLAF'S BOWMAN

Here is a rocky cave ;
Where else could be fitter grave
For Wolfgof, Olaf 's bowman,
Flower and soul of the brave.

Asleep on the rocky floor

He can hark to the ocean's roar,

And dream that the Vikings muster
Where the black tides tramp the shore.

Here in his Viking bed,

With his bow and spear at his head,

He will hark to the voice of the wind
And forget, for a while, he is dead.

The waves will reel on the shore,
And the seaweeds will cover his door,

And he '11 lie with his head on his helmet
And his brave soul dreaming of war.
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Northland Lyrics

When the brazen trumpet of doom
Shatters the gladness and gloom,

Wolfgof, bowman of Olaf,
Will rise like a prince from his tomb.

THE SHADOWY TIDE

Through the wide white streets of the little town

The bitter tide comes stealing down;

The night is astir with the wings of woe,

The shadows creep and cower low

At the creak of the frosts in the frozen snow

And the aching tide drifts down.

The women and children will wake and sleep,
And the days will creep, and the days will creep,
And the silent tide flood full and deep,
And a shiver creep over hearth and kin,
And the gibbering shadows dance and grin
Till they fold us in, till they fold us in,
And we feel the chill of that shadowy tide
Which is cooling the world, and far and wide
Is surging up to the stars outside.

And in that day when the tide shall break
And the fulness of pain shall all pain slake
And the little city its rest shall take
From the long toil of life,
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Northland Lyrics

The strong man out of his sleep will wake,
From dreams of child and wife,
To find his hair and his beard washed grey
With the bitter spume of the frozen spray,
And the dust at his lips that he may not pray.

I feel it cold at my heart to-night ;

It creaks the stair and dims the light,

A frozen breath before my sight.



TO AN OLD SHIP'S FIGURE-HEAD

You tasted the brine through the Viking years,
And gazed wide-eyed on the lifting flood,

With the measureless song of the sea in your ears'
Her pulse in your blood.

And now from the corner of this old room
You gaze wide-eyed at the curtain'd wall,

Where the wood-lice tick all day in the gloom,
And the shadows crawl.

Behind that forehead, all brown and scarred,
Do dreams of the wind-mad sea still move ?

Dream on, for the harbor mouth still is barred
'Twixt you and your love !



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Northland Lyrics

INSCRUTABLE

Her gold hair, fallen about her face,
Made light within that shadowy place,

But on her garments lay the dust
Of many a vanished race.

Her deep eyes, gazing straight ahead,
Saw years and days and hours long dead,

While strange gems glimmered at her feet,
Yellow, and green, and red.

And ever from the shadows came
Voices to pierce her heart like flame.

The great bats fanned her with their wings,
The voices called her name.

But yet her look turned not aside
From the black deep where dreams abide,
Where worlds and pageantries lay dead
Beneath that viewless tide.

Her elbow on her knee was set,

Her strong hand propt her chin, and yet

No man might name that look she wore,
Nor any man forget.



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Northland Lyrics

HAROLD

Up from the trodden sands lift his red plume ;

Shoot his maimed stallion, and sheathe his red

sword ;
Bury him there where the cliffs make a gloom

And the cedars hang desolate over the ford.

Helmet and cuirass and scabbard of steel,

Gauntlets and top-boots and clatter of spur,

Dumb now the clashing from thigh-bone to heel,
And harmless as dragon-fly mocking them there.

Such a great fight there will never be more ;

Harold alone there, with pistols and sword,
Shooting them down where they rode to the shore,

Cutting them down where they rode from the ford ;

Twenty long minutes he held it, and then,

Shouting, came down from the pass overhead ;

He turned in his saddle to cheer on his men,

And the grey rocks that saw it were spattered with
red.

Bury him there where the waters swing by,

And the gloom of the mountain hangs over the ford ;

With his feet to the rock and his face to the sky,
And the grip of his hand on the hilt of his sword.
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Northland Lyrics

Bury him there where the winds in the pass
Will cry him the dirges the sere cedars know.

No tear will awake him of comrade or lass,

Where we leave him to dream in the grass and the
snow.

Only the flare of his singing red plume

Like the flag of a hero will challenge the ford,

Till the last great " To horse ! " will blare over his

tomb,
And he '11 lead us again with his hand on his sword.

GREY GARRY

Grey Garry stood in the dusky stall

Grey Garry, dapple-grey Garry.

He heard the birds, and the wind's footfall ;

He heard the sparrows flutter and call,

Where the soft lights flush and tarry.

He raised his head from the scented hay

He drew his lips from the yellow grain,
For down the cool of the ending day

He heard his laughter again.

Nay, Grey Garry, 't was but a dream
The wind gone daft or the trees unstrung.

Nay, dear horse, it was but a trick

Of the Summer-wind, who is ever young.

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Northland Lyrics

The writer sat in his lamp-lit room

Weary and sad the writer.

He heard the wind in the outer gloom

It held a tang of the woodland bloom,

As it did when the world was brighter.

He lifted his eyes from the scribbled proofs;

He dropped the pen from his weary hand,
For somewhere he heard the clatter of hoofs


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Online LibraryCharles George Douglas RobertsNorthland lyrics → online text (page 2 of 3)