by C. S. Lewis
O Dwellers at the back of the North Wind,
What have we done to you? How have we sinned
Wandering the Earth from Orkney unto Ind?
With many deaths our fellowship is thinned,
Our flesh is withered in the parching wind,
Wandering the earth from Orkney unto Ind.
We have no rest. We cannot turn again
Back to the world and all her fruitless pain,
Having once sought the land where ye remain.
Some say ye are not. But, ah God! we know
That somewhere, somewhere past the Northern snow
Waiting for us the red-rose gardens blow:
-The red-rose and the white-rose gardens blow
In the green Northern land to which we go,
Surely the ways are long and the years are slow.
We have forsaken all things sweet and fair,
We have found nothing worth a moment's care
Because the real flowers are blowing there.
Land of the Lotus fallen from the sun,
Land of the Lake from whence all rivers run,
Land where the hope of all our dreams is won!
Shall we not somewhere see at close of day
The green walls of that country far away,
And hear the music of her fountains play?
So long we have been wandering all this while
By many a perilous sea and drifting isle,
We scarce shall dare to look thereon and smile.
Yea, when we are drawing very near to thee,
And when at last the ivory port we see
Our hearts will faint with mere felicity:
But we shall wake again in gardens bright
Of green and gold for infinite delight,
Sleeping beneath the solemn mountains white,
While from the flowery copses still unseen
Sing out the crooning birds that ne'er have been
Touched by the hand of winter frore and lean;
And ever living queens that grow not old
And poets wise in robes of faerie gold
Whisper a wild, sweet song that first was told
Ere God sat down to make the Milky Way.
And in those gardens we shall sleep and play
For ever and for ever and a day.
Ah, Dwellers at the back of the North Wind,
What have we done to you? How have we sinned,
That yes should hide beyond the Northern wind?
Land of the Lotus, fallen from the Sun,
When shall your hidden, flowery vales be won
And all the travail of our way be done?
Very far we have searched; we have even seen
The Scythian waste that bears no soft nor green,
And near the Hideous Pass our feet have been.
We have heard Syrens singing all night long
Beneath the unknown stars their lonely song
In friendless seas beyond the Pillars strong.
Nor by the dragon-daughter of Hypocras
Nor the vale of the Devil's head we have feared to pass,
Yet is our labour lost and vain, alas!
Scouring the earth from Orkney unto Ind,
Tossed on the seas and withered in the wind,
We seek and seek your land. How have we sinned?
Or is it all a folly of the wise,
Bidding us walk these ways with blinded eyes
While all around us real flowers arise?
But, by the very God, we know, we know
That somewhere still, beyond the Northern snow
Waiting for us the red-rose gardens blow.
Last updated January 14, 2019