“The Cliff” to “The Islands.”

by Agnes Maule Machar (Fidelis)

© Gananoque, ON: Privately Printed, 1891.



 

“The Cliff” to “The Islands.”



PAST the “Rocks in Deep Water,” winding its way to the sea,
Sweeps our mighty St. Lawrence, grand, majestic and free;
Yet, methinks he tarries, as glad to linger awhile
Amid the mazy channels, where the happy islands smile.
Fair they seem as Eden, when Eden was newly made,

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To the wearied city dwellers, who seek their rest and shade;
Far from the hurry and clamour, far from the bustle and din
Seem their cool and shady recesses, that beckon the wanderers             in!
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Soft in the haze of morning, their shadowy masses seem
To rest on the calm blue water, like the phantasm of a dream,

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Dark in the glare of noon-day, their bowers of foliage stand,
Spreading their deep, cool shadow like rocks in a weary land!
But when, at close of his journey, the sun rides down the west,
Trailing his crimson and purple o’er the water’s opal breast,
Then, like isles of the blessed, bathed in celestial light,

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They float between earth and heaven, like a mystic vision bright!
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Happy the island dwellers, who steer the light canoe
O’er the mingling ruby and topaz―the purple shadows thro’,
While the stroke of the ashen paddle, beneath the accustomed             arm,
Scarce troubles the magic mirror, or breaks the wondrous charm.

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And when the mystic moonlight, with its white, unearthly spell,
Like a vision of enchantment, clothes river, and rock and dell,
How the lights and shadows tremble with a hidden mystery,
And the silhouettes of the islands stand out on the silver sea!
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Like a garland of beauty about us, the island homes appear,

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As we look from the cliff and trace them from the crags so grey             and sheer,
As one by one we count them, and each has a charm―its own,
And each to each adds a charm that were gone if it stood alone!
First and nearest us nestles, serene in shady vale,
Under its spreading elm trees, green, peaceful Dorasdale,

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Whose door stands ever open, to offer the weary rest,
Where there’s ever a hail for the coming and speed to the parting             guest! [Page 4]

Out beyond it to southward, where the cool lake breezes blow,
Kalaria sits on her rugged rocks, where the waters come and go
O’er the jagged boulders of granite, and shower them with their

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            spray,

When the wind blows wild, from lakeward, and the white-topped             breakers play,
And the voices of little children blend sweet with the surges’ roar,
And we seem to see the face of one who is gone to “the other             shore!”[Page 5]

Then we pass by the “mystic channel,” to the “Home of sunshine             bright,”
To the happy Sagastaweke, perched on her wooded height,

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Soft on her pines and birches the summer sunlight falls,
And the music of happy voices sounds through the echoing walls;
Close by the glade of the lillies, that wave in the breeze of May,
Like an army of snowy pennons fluttering in glad array.
Long may Sagastaweke keep its sunshine clear and free,

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And gather its loving circle from “both sides of the sea!” [Page 6]

A little farther to westward, on Bostick’s rock-girt isle,
Roseneath and Channel Vista, with happy faces smile;
Swift through the island mazes the light canoe and skiff
Dart in their playful races, past lichen-crested cliff,

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Waking the sleeping echoes with merry laugh and shout,
Or singing the evening song, as the evening stars shine out;
Or, in the depths of its “lonely bay,” in the Sabbath sunset fair,
Still holier notes ascending, bear the voice of praise and prayer.
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Thence to our cliff returning, we halt in a sheltered bay,

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Where Riverview from its sunny slope, looks towards the opening             day;
Cool is the shade of its pine trees, fair are the isles around,
And soft on the beach laps the water, with dreamy and gentle             sound.
Fair is the garland of islands that from the cliff we view,
Around the “Rocks in Deep Water” that once the red man knew,

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Who has yielded his savage reign to the sons of a nobler race;
And the hunting ground of the Indian is the white man’s resting             place.
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And now, to the island dwellers, the cliff dwellers bid God-speed,
Crown you with richest blessings and guard each word and deed,
And, when again the breezes woo you to summer rest,

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May they bear you safe to the islands, the Islands of the blest.


FERNCLIFF, GANANOQUE,
            August, 1891.

 


Note.―The Indian name Gananoque means “Rocks in Deep Water.”
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