The White Wampum

by Emily Pauline Johnson


 

MY ENGLISH LETTER


 

WHEN each white moon, her lantern idly swinging,
    Comes out to join the star night-watching band,
Across the grey-green sea, a ship is bringing
    For me a letter, from the Motherland.

Naught would I care to live in quaint old Britain,
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    These wilder shores are dearer far to me,
Yet when I read the words that hand has written,
    The parent sod more precious seems to be.

Within that folded note I catch the savour
    Of climes that make the Motherland so fair,
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Although I never knew the blessed favour
    That surely lies in breathing English air.

Imagination’s brush before me fleeing,
    Paints English pictures, though my longing eyes
Have never known the blessedness of seeing
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    The blue that lines the arch of English skies. [Page 87]

And yet my letter brings the scenes I covet,
    Framed in the salt sea winds, aye more in dreams
I almost see the face that bent above it,
    I almost touch that hand, so near it seems.
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Near, for the very grey-green sea that dashes
    ’Round these Canadian coasts, rolls out once more
To Eastward, and the same Atlantic splashes
    Her wild white spray on England’s distant shore.

Near, for the same young moon so idly swinging
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    Her threadlike crescent bends the self-same smile
On that old land from whence a ship is bringing
    My message from the transatlantic Isle.

Thus loves my heart that far old country better,
    Because of those dear words that always come,
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With love enfolded in each English letter
    That drifts into my sun-kissed Western home. [Page 88]