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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

British America: Labrador

The Spirit Guide

By Augusta Larned (1835–1924)

FAR in the realm of Arctic night,

Where flames the weird auroral light,

And icebergs loom on every hand,

Enchanters of that lonely land,

The patient, dark-skinned Esquimaux

A little grave shapes in the snow.

And o’er the ice-plain, bleak and wild,

The mourning mother bears her child,

In furry garments softly rolled,

Who ne’er again shall feel the cold,

And lays him on the icy breast

To take his last and final rest.

And there beside the little mound

The father slays his fleetest hound,

A creature of unerring skill,

Of keenest scent and docile will,

To trace far haunts of seal and bear

That stock the little ice-hut there.

He lays the faithful beast and brave

Low down beside his baby’s grave,

And says: “The little one will stray,

Through night and darkness far away;

His tender feet have never trod,

And cannot find the path to God.

“Now guide him safe from night and cold

Far out to realms of purest gold,

Where flowery meads and crystal streams

Are smiling in the sun’s glad beams,

Where rise abodes of joy and mirth

And feasting fills the happy earth.”

Consoled the parents homeward wend,

And leave their baby to the friend

Who for protection and defence

Has proved a gentle Providence,

Sure that the dog so true and wise

Will find the gates of Paradise.

O love that would outrun the tomb

And light your darlings through the gloom!

O simple faith that deems love’s care

Can be a joy and solace there;

Ye cling to each untutored soul,

And bind the tropics to the pole!