Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison


 

THE FRIEND


 

WAS it at a dinner, glum,
Was it at a kettledrum?
Was it at the rink, the play,
Where was it, O friend, I pray—
First we talked of schemes like these,
5
Longed to taste the eastern breeze,
Longed to go away together
In a flash of summer weather,
Where the Gallic pulses beat
Quickly in the quiet street;
10
Where a quainter life prevails,
And no modern strife assails;
Where few others seldom go,
Where the red-doored houses low
Stand behind the stately row
15
Of leafy poplars, where they show
Famous hollyhocks and vines,
Where they make their own sweet wines,
Chat and weave and spin and knit
All the day—O picture it!
20
Where there flames the marigold
Side by side with sunflowers bold,
And the Norman asters hold
Colloquy with columbine,
Aquilegia—spurred and fine,
25
Canadensis—yellow-red,
Stem erect and drooping head—
Where the gabled houses meet
Almost o’er the grass-grown street,
Where the maidens kneel and pray
30
At the Cross beside the way,
While their mothers rake the hay.

That is—so my friends all say—
How they live at Côte Beaupré,
That is where we two shall go,

35
Hear them talk or watch them sew,
Help them, shall we—once to sing
Gai le rosier—that pretty thing—
Pimpanipole and Claire Fontaine,
And many another haunting strain?
40
How they’ll laugh and how they’ll stare,
When they hear us hum the air
Of St. Malo and Guignolée.
V’la bon vent and P’tit Bonnet!

Well, well, well, I see it all;

45
Presbytère and poplars tall,
Wayside Cross and lichen’d wall,
Dark-eyed gamin brown and fat,
Cheerful curé fond of chat,
Sparkling spires among the hills,
50
Water falls and roadside rills,
Blueberries in birch canoes
Brought by boys in wooden shoes,
Cones of berries red and sweet
Brought by girls in bare brown feet,
55
And behind it all, the pride
Of the lofty Laurentide
Mountain range so misty blue,
All the glorious, peerless view
Of the river flowing down
60
Past Cape Diamond’s jewell’d crown;
Past each sleepy little town
White against the hillside brown,
Past Ste. Anne’s where you may see
Relics of a fealty
65
Long since dead in wiser places,
Plann’d by cautious, colder races;
Past the Isle of Bacchus, where
All the past is in the air,
And in song and shoe we deem
70
La belle France to be supreme.

Past Tourmente we then shall float
In our yellow open boat,
All along the spar-bright shore
Lightly land and swift explore,

75
While the garnet-threaded cliff
Hangs above our yellow skiff,
And the eyeless fossils wait
Friendly hammer in their slate.
Eurypterus remipes—he
80
Is the one we long to see.
But I fear he did not grow
Quite so very far below.
Simple types, content us then;
Fossils fit to match the men;
85
We decline our souls to vex
With a type at all complex;
Graptolites will do for us,
Asaphus platycephalus,
Or Trinocleus concentricus.
90
As to flora—why, they say,
Nowhere are the woods so gay
As around fair Murray Bay.
Beds of Cornus red as wax,
Blossoms blue as azure flax,
95
Yards and yards of rosy bells,
Sweet Linnæa—deck the dells,
Carpet all the forest floor,
And the terraced land is crown’d,
Every hill and every mound,
100
With a grass as purely green
As in England e’er was seen.
All the country round about
Set with streams of perch and trout,
Crystal clear as streams should be
105
In this land so fair and free.
’Tis no dream, no fallacy.
He, my brother, Crémazie,
Saw it all as we shall see,
That is, if you go with me.
110
This dear landscape meant for him
More than grey cathedral dim,
Steeped in incense, sweet with chime
In the mellow evening time;
More than ancient parapet,
115
Storied mosque and minaret,
Much, much more than palace halls
Crumbling under Moorish walls.
What to him were Cadiz, Venice,
Pisa, Paris, Florence, Rome,
120
All the world beyond the foam?
These he measured without menace
At their value, then his heart
Without seeming, without art,
Craved for Canada, for home.
125

When the sunrise wakes the pines,
When the saffron glory shines
On the stirring of the loon,
On the sleepy, pallid moon,
When the wood awakes to shiver
130
In the cool breath of the river,
Flowing, blowing, flowing down
Past Cape Diamond’s jewell’d crown,
And the spray that wets the lips,
As we float among the ships,
135
Holds a precious grain of salt—
Gracious gift and darling fault—
Then the sternest must confess
To the perfect loveliness
Of this province old and quaint,
140
Sans utilitarian taint.
And when sunset spreads its fires
Over all the slender spires,
When the long Laurentians blue
(O the glorious peerless view!)
145
Take the amethystine hue
Of a summer evening sky,
Late in June or through July,
Or perhaps in late September,
You will all your life remember,
150
Spells of Nature’s magic weaving,
Almost past our mild believing,
While the vesper bells resound,
Dear to people darkly bound,
(So say those who strain and strive
155
These same happy ones to drive
Far from ancient goal and gyve),
And the crimson vapours fly,
Leaving orange ones on high.
Last, the amber pales to green,
160
And o’er all the charmed scene
Deep the veil of dusk is drawn.

     *      *      *      *      *      *

Thus the beauty of the dawn,
Thus the beauty of the night,
Shall encompass with delight

165
You and me as close we sit
In our boat—O, picture it!

 


 

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