Later Poems
And New Villanelles

by

S. FRANCES HARRISON

Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1928.


 

Later Poems and Villanelles

By S. Frances Harrison, “Seranus.”



A CANADIAN ANTHOLOGY
(OF FLOWERS)


AS ONCE the Greek Meleager wove in verse
A chaplet for the bards of his own land,
Theocritus, and Simmias, Plato too,
All, all of flowers, with ivy, cypress, grape,
Roses of Sappho, crocus, cyclamen—
5
So, for the dear Unknown across the seas,
And under Afric stars, and where the smoke
Of pulsing geysers rises in Maori-land,
And even where Ganges rolls its lamp-lit flood,
For all who make the Empire (and all are friends),
10
I make a song in Canada to-day,
The song of her own flowers, not England’s, nor
Another’s, but her own. See—I have plucked
In fancy, some of the ivory blood-root buds
And twined with them the yellow violet,
15
No shrinking blossom this, but strong and erect
From sturdy clumps, encompassed by its leaves
Of fearless mien, protectress too of one
Like to itself, but timid, scented, white—
Viola blanda is her gentle name;
20
And further in the forest paths I sought [Page 1]
And found (for you) the ruby-tinted bells
Of sweet Linnæa, with perchance a stalk
Grey-curved and curious, of Indian Pipe,
Pale Monotropa, loving not the sun
25
Yet nurtured near the Trillium, all in threes,
Bravest of blossoms born in moist mid-May,
The children’s choice, the nation’s favourite,
Giving its light to darkest interlace
Of fallen log and fern. Still other prize
30
I have for you—in windy open fields
Blow saffron lilies and Asclepias
The orange Butterfly-Weed, Lupinus blue;
Calypso, Arethusa, Orchids twain,
I’ll find, be sure, with Kypris’ Moccasin-Flower,
35
The Painted Cup, all redolent of Spain,
Gay Castilleia, Sarracenia
Or Pitcher-Plant in hooded vesture drest,
Weird marvel of the marsh and irised pools;
Rhodora’s clusters purple-rose in hue,
40
Andromeda, and Kalmia, Wintergreen;
Mitchella’s scarlet berries, and the odorous
Arbutus, I must have, and the wild Calla
Gleaming in streamlets like a patch of snow,
And where the clearing slides along the rail
45
Pink Epilobium spires I’ll gather in
With blackberry and vivid Golden-Rod,
Still on the prairie waves the fair Wind-Flower,
Anemone, but so unlike the frail
Anemone nemorosa of the wood!
50
And these are not all. Our Northern Rivers yield
Tall spikes of Cardinal flower and sumach bright,
And on the mountain slopes, corollas rare
(Celestial azure, crystal-cinctured) grow,
With gentian and azaleas. Maiden-hair
55
From dripping cliffs, and birch bark satin-smooth,
I must not miss, nor Nuphar’s lovely cup;
Waxen Nymphæa and the Dragon-Root,
Wild rice, and Indian hemp, and plumed beach-grass,
Polygala’s fringes and the fairy star
60
Of Trientalis whorled in emerald—
Must I not wait for these, Dicentra too,
And pearly “everlastings” and the spoils
Of fruited moss and cinnamon fungi, mats
Of hemlock twigs and tassels of the larch?
65
Yet are there more. What of the radiant lanes [Page 2]
Where warm peach-petals colour the fragrant air
For miles and miles of old Niagara’s strand—
Not only for the rich, not glassed nor walled
But full in sight for all. What of the bloom
70
Where eastern orchards burst their bonds in spring,
(And apples grow more rosy toward the sea);
And then—the misty berries of the North,
Blue as an infant’s eye and kindly spread
O’er leagues Laurentian, plateau, stone, and dyke!
75
These will I add, and many a marvel more,
And I will dream that he, Meleager, came
And saw these wonders, and, working in his mind
Came Envy, Malice, and all Uncharitableness,
Fears, lest his own Anthology be found
80
Wanting, till later, better feelings filled
His heart; at last he spake—I hear the names
Of Græcia’s Nymphs and Goddesses given to flowers
Growing in this far land, new land, of snows
And boundless waters—I marvel much at this.
85
—And I, divining, answered—It is true,
And true of other things, for, like the Greek,
We love all waters. Mariners all are we,
Each one a proud Odysseus sailing thro’
The island channels or on craggy shores
90
Building the beacons that shall lead us home
Across the many-rivered, rocky plain,
Spangled with lakes and foaming waterfalls.
Mirth-merry at the thought I gave him roots
Of Aquilegia, gallant, spurred and gay—
95
Of Erythronium, saying—“Go and plant
These (if you have them not) in Ithaca
And watch if they flourish.” But for all the rest
They are for all the friends in distant climes,
For all who make the Empire (plucked by one,
100
A lover of her country, coast to coast)
For whom this floral wreath I weave to-day
Bound with a branch of crimson Maple Leaf,
And may my loving Coronal of Song
“Be for all such as love these holy things.”
105
(From the “Canadian Bookman,” December, 1928)
[Page 3]


TO THE SPIRIT OF THE WEST

GOD OF the rivers and lakes,
    Maker of manifold blooms,
Dweller in woodland brakes,
    Weaver of violet glooms,

Sower of immortelles,

5
    Pearly, and grey, and white,
Painter of roseate dells,
    Heart of the heron in flight,

Lord of the torrents that forge
    Their foam-cleft path to the wave,

10
Soul of the deep green gorge
    Whose bosom the waters lave,

Builder of bastion tall,
    Hewn from the rose-red rock,
Carver of mystical scrawl

15
    Cut in the jaspered block,

Keeper of homes that lift
    Brown thatch to a bright blue sky,
Lover of snows that sift
    Their glittering powder dry

20

O’er clearing and farm and field—
    Guardian of garnered grain,
Hope of the Empire, and shield,
    Heir of the prodigal plain.


THE HILLS OF HULL

I

THE SUN will set to-night in gold
      Behind the hills of Hull,
But Thou and I, my friend, will not be there.
    The book is closed, the story told,
      And over Life has crept a lull
5
        Half-rooted in despair. [Page 4]

II

What time we watched the rosy cloud
      Flush the Laurentians grim,
And in the icy air beheld our breath,
    We did not think of shoulders bowed,
10
      Of faltering footsteps, eyes grown dim,
        We did not think of Death.

III

We loved the scene: the fields of snow
      Beyond the hills of Hull,
The curls of smoke grey-feathered next the sky,
15
    The pines and distant spires aglow,
      The river flowing brown and dull—
        We loved it, you and I.

IV

Peaceful and strong, we viewed it oft,
      It seemed a Promised Land
20
Where nothing evil lived to lure to harm,
    Where no one sinned, nor strove, nor scoffed,
      Where pain and suffering were banned
        By some celestial charm.

V

And if with years we wiser grew
25
      And saw those glittering plains
With different eyes and moral strenuousness,
    Knowing each mortal draws his due
      Of trouble, penalties and pains,
        We loved it none the less.
30

VI

O happy days, when we were young
      Beside the hills of Hull!
When river, earth, and sky in one were blent,
    With eye and ear and heart and tongue
      In such accord, nought could annul
35
        With chill presentiment. [Page 5]

VII

Perchance the dead, in spirit gleams,
      Still glimpse the glistening hills,
Still breathe the crystal airs they loved so well,
    As memory brings to me in dreams
40
      The flashing chute, the busy mills,
        The old Laurentian spell.

VIII

The sun to-night will set in gold,
      The moon in silver shine
Upon the hills of Hull where once we met.
45
    Friend of the radiant days of old,
      My path no longer links with thine,
        Yet do I not forget.


CHRYSOPRASE

SEA-FOAM fast frozen to an emerald cream
For nymphs and all who like such; tinted pearl
That holds, within, waves that no longer whirl
But rest content in soft translucent gleam
Like grassgreen ledge where slides the fall to stream;
5
Opal that lackest fire; ferns that unfurl
In dark cool caves laved daily, unhurt by hurl
Of white or sable surges—of these I dream,
When, on a counter strewn with doubtful gold,
Fraudulent turquoise, tarnished filigree,
10
This jewel meets my view, and when I see,
(In Wardour St.) a wrinkled claw enfold
In miserly grasp the heart of milky green,
I shrink and shudder. Chaste is near Unclean!


TOPAZ

THE EYES of cats, huge cats, in the deepest lair
Of the deepest jungle; the eyes of unblinking birds;
The red-brown fox; all roan and russet herds;
An autumn wood flooded with golden glare;
All pebbled brooks; all flasks of amber wine;
5
Wings of a butterfly, the “Queen of Spain”; [Page 6]
The cloth-of-gold of some great princess’ train;
The burnished copper of some secret shrine—
All these lie pictured in a limpid pool
Of glowing bronze; a Rajah’s rich bequest
10
The gems themselves, lying flat and smooth and cool
In rows upon the honey-coloured breast
Of one whose charms the world may never know,
Whose home is in the dim seraglio.


AMETHYST

SHADOWS of distant pines outlined aloft
Against the blue of some bright summer sky;
Veins in a delicate eyelid, or the eye
Itself, an Irish eye, of violet soft;
Tips of proud thistles, purple after raining;
5
Throat of the pigeon, the harebell’s timid spire;
Edges of sunset cloud when skies are waning
To a pale brightness from a field of fire—
All these caught up, commingled, reappear
In one deep lake of Amethyst unpriced.
10
Jewel auspicious, worn in winter sere,
For thy dear sake are gladly sacrificed
The richer emblems of a season tender,
The gayer gems that wait on Summer’s splendour.


RIVIÈRE PERDUE

LOST RIVER hides—Rivière Perdue.
Between steep banks of slaty shale,
Known but to Emile’s sullen crew.

’Tis a strange stream that meets their view,
Among its rushes, starved and pale,

5
Lost River hides—Rivière Perdue!

To where it goes there seems no clue,
It follows some mysterious trail
Known but to Emile’s sullen crew, [Page 7]

And even they fail to pursue

10
Farther than lonely Ste. Adèle,
Lost River hides—Rivière Perdue,

Perchance a secret shared by few,
Some sorry deed—so runs the tale—
Known but to Emile’s sullen crew.

15

Thus comes it, silence fills the blue,
No song is heard, no friendly hail.
Lost River hides—Rivière Perdue!
Known but to Emile’s sullen crew.


LOST RIVER

WELL—let it be! The tales persist.
Lost River only sees the sun
Close shrouded in mountain mist.

What was the deed? With knife, with fist,
With rope, was some poor soul undone?

5
Well—let it be! But tales persist,

For no one ever makes a tryst
Beside these waters wise men shun,
Close shrouded in the mountain mist.

They say—a palsy plucks your wrist

10
If e’er you try to fire a gun!
Well—let it be; such tales persist,

For where the river takes a twist,
They say—so all the legends run—
Close shrouded in the mountain mist,

15

Unknown, unnamed, unmourned, unkissed,
You see her face— a drowning nun!

                *     *     *     *     *     *
Well—let it be! Such tales persist,
Close shrouded in the mountain mist. [Page 8]


AT ST. JEROME

AMONG the hills of St. Jerome,
Though woods are thick and winds are bleak
I would not fear to make my home.

White lilies blow amid the foam
Of waterfalls that outlets seek

5
Among the hills of St. Jerome.

With blueberries and honeycomb,
At Whitefish Lake or Ste. Monique
I would not fear to make my home,

Nor fear to sleep, beneath the dome

10
Of arching trees with creatures sleek,
Among the hills of St. Jerome;

My bed the bracken—book, the tome
Scriptèd for me on rocky peak,
I would not fear to make my home

15

Where the Black Mountain grisly gnome
Might nightly wake me with his shriek!
Among the hills of St. Jerome
I would not fear to make my home.


AT LAC LABELLE

I PITY those who have not been
—Where’er their feet have strayed before—
To Lac Labelle when woods are green.

No matter what they may have seen,
If they know not the charmèd shore,

5
I pity those who have not been

To this, a Paradise terrene,
Where northern airs the soul restore,
To Lac Labelle when woods are green.

A sheet of silver in the sheen

10
Of moonlight! Daytime’s golden floor!
I pity those who have not been
[Page 9]

To stay within this fair demesne,
(Whose wayside Calvary all implore)
To Lac Labelle when woods are green.

15

Ah—when shall I be free to glean
Peace in thy midst for evermore!
Pray pity me—I have not been
To Lac Labelle when woods were green.


THE LUMBERJACK

WHAT colour lurks in Lac Labelle,
As summer comes and summer goes,
Young Philemon can easily tell.

His home is near, at La Chapelle,
He cannot read or write, but knows

5
What colour lurks in Lac Labelle.

Pink, in the sunset, like a shell,
From emerald, back to jade, it flows—
Young Philemon can easily tell

By purplish black of angry swell

10
The coming storm that hourly grows.
What colour lurks in Lac Labelle?

All colours that on earth do dwell,
Peacock, and turquoise! Lovely rose?
Young Philemon can easily tell.

15

A “Lumberjack,” in whom the spell
Of Poetry has conquered Prose,
What colour lurks in Lac Labelle
Young Philemon can easily tell.


LES SUCRERIES

LES SUCRERIES! Les Sucreries!
The sugar bush is quickly manned,
It is not far from Ste. Lucie;

The schools will close at ten to three,
For young and old must give a hand,

5
Les Sucreries! Les Sucreries! [Page 10]

To start the sap all will agree,
Love’s labour, this, you understand.
It is nor far from Ste. Lucie—

Come out and watch them tap the tree,

10
And taste the famous “Maple Brand,”
Les Sucreries! Les Sucreries!

The sap has started, flowing free,
Come out and join a joyous band.
It is nor far from Ste. Lucie.

15

The snow is not all gone, maybe,
But what of that? The air is grand!
Les Sucreries! Les Sucreries!
It is not far from Ste. Lucie!


NEAR FILION WOOD

NEAR Filion Wood I met a maid,
—Years ago, at Pointe Clairville—
Fair—so fair I was afraid,

For ne’er before had I delayed
Going to my work, until

5
Near Filion Wood I met a maid.

Blue her eyes, but black her braid,
Cheek of cream above its frill—
Fair—so fair I was afraid

Other loves might quickly fade,

10
Other lips give back no thrill.

                *     *     *     *     *     *
Near Filion Wood I met a maid.

Whether roguish, wild, or staid,
I know not, yet she haunts me still.
Fair, so fair—I was afraid

15

We might have loved, and might have—paid,
So I went on, across the hill.

                *     *     *     *     *     *
Near Filion Wood I met a maid.
Fair—so fair, I was afraid! [Page 11]


THE ONE WHO RENTED BOATS

SHADE of Villon—have at thee!
Take thy face from out the camp,
Nothing shalt thou get of me.

Neither guerdon, bribe or fee.
Take they “Uke” away, thou—scamp!

5
Shade of Villon—have at thee!

What thou singest, verily
Hath no true and Bardic stamp.
Nothing shalt thou get of me,

Save the boat rent ere I flee,

10
And the cushions, mostly damp.
Shade of Villon—have at thee!

Go back whence thou came—Perdie!
Must I tell thee twice to—tramp?
Nothing shalt thou get of me

15

But what I owe. Bien. Merci.
So take thy boat, thy stove, thy lamp.
Shade of Villon—have at thee!
No more shalt thou get of me.


MARKET DAY

DÉPÊCHE-TOI donc—plus vite, Achille,
The sun is up, the sky is bright,
’Tis Market Day at St. Basile.

So, as we wish to make a deal
With farmers keen on prices right,

5
Dépêche-toi donc—plus vite, Achille!

Charrette and buckboard, horse of steel,
Are speeding past with all their might,
’Tis market day at St. Basile.

What shall we buy? Some “feesh,” some eel,

10
Some cabbage, currants red and white?
Dépêche-toi donc—plus vite, Achille!

By boat, by rail, afoot, awheel,
Five parishes to-day unite,
’Tis market day at St. Basile. [Page 12]

15

Chez Madame Tarte there waits a meal,
Twelve of the clock, with good appetite,
Dépêche-toi donc—plus vite, Achille,
’Tis market day at St. Basile!


MADAME TARTE (1)

IN GLADES where moonbeams lightly stray,
In dim sequestered forest dell,
Good fairies still are found, they say.

I doubt it. Yet I know one fay,
Although ’tis clear she doth not dwell

5
In glade where moonbeams lightly stray

But keeps an Inn with strong-armed sway,
And rings with will her dinner-bell.
Good fairies still are found, they say,

But Madame Tarte, I think, must weigh

10
Two hundred, easy—truth to tell!
In glades where moonbeams lightly stray

Such sprites are not supposed to play!
Yet—hostess, cook, gendarme as well—
Good fairies still are found, they say,

15

Where one exists the others may.
Her virtues all my doubts dispel.
In glades where moonbeams lightly stray,
Good fairies still are found, they say.


THE RIVER DU MOULIN

A MARKET—set beneath a Tree
And by the River of the Mill,
A Paradise appears to be.

The farmer folk seem to agree
While marshalling their goods to fill

5
Their market set beneath a tree.

The curé you may chance to see,
The notary, too, who brings his quill—

                *     *     *     *     *     *
A Paradise appears to be [Page 13]

This rustic roadside côterie.
10
Who could regard with aught of ill
A Market, set beneath a Tree,

So merry, hearty, brisk and free!
Beside these waters brown and still
A Paradise appears to be

15

And surely is, it seems to me.
Here in the shadow of the mill
A market, set beneath a tree,
A Paradise appears to be.


THE CRIPPLES

YET EVEN here is life full sore,
Here mopes the hunchback, young Tremblay.
(Alas—the cripples’ stalls are four!)

Surely, he thinks, ere summer’s o’er,
He’ll seek the shrine at Côte Beaupré,

5
Yes—even here is life full sore.

Here knits and weaves her homespun store,
Madame’s blind daughter, Desirée.
Alas—the cripples’ stalls are four!

Here, withered, wise, long past threescore,

10
Madame’s old mother shakes all day.
Yes—even here is life full sore!

She still gets worse, despite her lore
Of plant and herb and sap and spray—
(Alas—the cripples’ stalls are four!)

15

The blacksmith’s little Polidore
Will never walk, or so they say.
Yes, even here is life full sore,
Alas—the cripples’ stalls are four!


MADAME TARTE LOQUITUR

BUT THE Bon Dieu is over all,
He knows our woes. He sees our cares,

                *     *     *     *     *     *
Each one be cheerful at his stall! [Page 14]
Show Madame now this fine grey shawl,
And good thick socks, and mitts—five pairs.
5
Look—the Bon Dieu is over all

And does not wish a bird to fall,
So the Curé at Mass declares.
(Each one be cheerful at his stall

And sit up straight, not lounge, nor sprawl.)

10
Regard this quilt all sewn in squares.

                *     *     *     *     *     *
Yes—the Bon Dieu is over all

And hears his children when they call!
Show Monsieur now these strong-made chairs.
Each one be cheerful at his stall,

15

Nor charge too high, nor fight and brawl,
But most politely count your wares,
For the Bon Dieu is over all.
(Each one be cheerful at his stall!)


HEART OF GOLD

NO HARDSHIP lies in growing old,
No cause for sighs, regrets, or fears,
If one has grown a heart of gold,

And such has Madame Tarte. Behold—
How well she carries fifty years!

5
No hardship lies in growing old

While one can still dictate and scold,
When one has eyes and tongue and ears.
If one has grown a heart of gold

Nought comes amiss, the manifold

10
Mishaps of life, the gibes, the jeers,
No hardship lies in growing old

For one whose hearth is never cold,
Who warms, then wipes away the tears.
If one has grown a heart of gold,
15

Strong, kindly, wise (maybe too bold)
One still is love by all one’s peers.
No hardship lies in growing old
If one has grown a Heart of Gold. [Page 15]


MADAME TARTE (2)

GREAT faith is hers. Her steadfast soul
    Not lightly is cast up and down,
Is never hurt by hint of dole,

But keeps its stalwart course. Her rôle
    To minister to—priest and—clown.

5
Great faith is hers. Her steadfast soul,

(Which first saw light in Trois Pistoles)
    Though garbed in ancient fuzzy gown
Is never hurt by hint of dole.

Black silk for Mass, with rabbit stole,

10
    Enhances office, gives renown.
Great faith is hers. Her steadfast soul

Is constant as the Northern Pole;
    Believes Good beats the Evil down,
Is never hurt by hint of dole.

15

Au reste, she lives, upon the whole,
    For others, and, despite her frown,
Great faith is hers. Her steadfast soul
Is never hurt by hint of dole.


THE MARKET PLACE

NO MATTER where, nor which the race,
It’s just a mimic world, you’ll find,
The Market Place! The Market Place!

Food, fuel, flowers, clothing, lace,
All are beneath one roof combined,

5
No matter where nor which the race.

To sell and barter’s no disgrace!
The chief desire of all mankind—
“The Market Place! The Market Place!”

Cry vendors noble, vendors base,

10
As up and down they groan and grind;
No matter where, nor which the race.

Banker and butcher, sportsman, ace,
Each has his goods marked and designed
To suit the nearest market place.

15

And poets often join the chase,
While preachers run, not far behind,
(No matter where, nor which the race)
To reach the fittest Market Place. [Page 16]