Lays of the ‘True North,’

AND

OTHER CANADIAN POEMS

BY

AGNES MAULE MACHAR


I.

LAYS OF THE ‘TRUE NORTH.’


—————

 


 

THE QUEEN’S JUBILEE CANADIAN POEM.

‘In hoc signo vinces.’


     FROM west to east, from east to west,
          The glad bells ring across the sea;
     They echo o’er the ocean’s breast
          With sound of song and minstrelsy.
     Wide as our world-wide Empire swells

5

     The mellow music of the bells
          That ring Victoria’s Jubilee!

     Back through the mists of sixty years
          They bid the lingering fancy stray,
     Through all their changing hopes and fears,

10

          Through summers green and winters gray;
     And, looking both ways o’er the stream
     Of Time, we see, as in a dream.
          The vision of a gala-day:

   A chapel royal, through whose vaulted height

15

       Deep organ tones majestic music pour,
   While through emblazoned panes the rainbow light
       Falls in soft colours on the marble floor,
   On Britain’s chivalry, on ladies bright,
       And effigies of kings and knights of yore,

20

   And a young princess, on whose sunny hair
A crown imperial rests—too stern a weight of care! [Page 1]

   In the dim splendour of that ancient shrine
       Again the maiden stands, but not alone;
   Love’s snowy blossoms with her jewels twine;

25

       A dearer kingdom, a more fitting throne,
   The crown of womanhood the most divine,
       This fairer pageant gives her for her own;
   And onward now, in love’s sweet strength serene,
Shall walk with firmer tread the woman and the queen.

30


   So ran its course through many a peaceful year
       The happy idyll of a royal love,
   Rich with all blessings human hearts hold dear,
       Nor set in lonely majesty above
   All lowly lives, but, with its radiance clear,

35

       Brooding o’er all the nation like a dove
   Till fate came sudden, deaf to prayers and tears,
And cut in twain the current of the tranquil years.

   The woman’s heart clung, mourning, to the grave,
       The queen must brace herself alone to bear

40

   The burden of her station; and how brave
       The heart that bore so well its load of care
   And bitter grief, He knows alone who gave
       The balm to sorrow and the strength to prayer,
   Whose unseen guidance through the light and dark

45

Guides men and nations to th’ appointed mark.

   So must the stream of human progress flow
       Through light and shadow to the brighter day,
   Now seeming backward on its course to go,
       While lingering evil smites us with dismay—

50

   Wrong and oppression, dumb beasts’ helpless woe,
       The burdens men upon their fellows lay—
   While yet through all the turnings, all the strife,
Still through our Empire flows a tide of fresh’ning life.

   The dusky Hindoo ’neath his sheltering palm

55

       Ceases to muse on those dim, shadowy days
   Of mystic contemplation, dreamlike calm
       That brooded o’er the cradle of our race, [Page 2]
   Loses, in music of the Christian psalm,
       The jarring tones of conquest and disgrace,

60

   Till he, too, catch the nobler impulse nigh,
And hope and progress kindle in his pensive eye.

   In the fair islands ’neath the Austral skies,
       Where the dark low-browed savage chased his prey
   But fifty years agone, great cities rise,

65

       And a new empire, at the gates of day,
   Owns as the moulder of its destinies
       The sea-queen isle, of northern waters gray;
   While, where the sun burns hot on Afric’s sands
New peoples wake to life, and stretch to it their hands.

70


   Our fair Dominion spreads from sea to sea
       Her pine-clad mountains, prairies, streams, and lakes;
   Where late the hardy Indian wandered free,
       The throbbing life of a young nation wakes,
   A greater Britain of the West to be,

75

       While yet no link of happy concord breaks,
   With the dear land from whence our fathers brought
Heirlooms of high tradition, poesy, and thought.

   And when another sixty years have sped,
       May the old red-cross flag still float on high,

80

   The sacred sign of evil phantoms fled,
       Of broken power, of wrong and tyranny.
   Where’er its free-born standard-bearers tread,
       Ne’er may the weak for rescue vainly cry,
   No voice of brother’s blood for vengeance rise,

85

Nor smoke of ruined homes defile the clear blue skies!

   First in the files of progress may it be;
       First in the march of science, freedom, peace,
   Bearing the truth that must make all men free,
       The Brotherhood of man, whose blest increase

90

   Shall merge in it, as rivers in the sea,
       All hearts in love, till every discord cease,
   And every warring symbol shall be furled
Before the ensign of a federated world! [Page 3]

   So let the bells ring o’er the sea

95

       From west to east, from east to west,
   Bearing the anthem of the free
       Across the ocean’s azure breast,
   A world-wide song of love and liberty—
Victoria! In this symbol bless the brighter age to be.

100

 


 

CANADA TO THE LAUREATE.

IN RESPONSE TO TENNYSON’S LINES.


‘AND that true North, whereof we lately heard
A strain to shame us, “Keep you to yourselves;
So loyal is too costly. Friends, your love
Is but a burden; loose the bond and go.”
Is this the tone of empire?’


We thank thee, Laureate, for thy kindly words
Spoken for us to her to whom we look
With loyal love across the misty sea—
Thy noble words, whose generous ring may shame
The cold and heartless tone that said, ‘Begone!

5

We want your love no longer; all our aim
Is riches. That your love cannot increase.’
Fain would we tell them that we do not seek
To hang dependent, like a helpless brood
Who, selfish, drag a weary mother down;

10

For we have British hearts and British blood
That leap up eager when the danger calls!
Once and again our sons have sprung to arms
To fight in Britain’s quarrel—not our own—
And drive the covetous invader back,

15

Who would have let us, peaceful, keep, our own—
So we had cast the British name away!
Canadian blood has dyed Canadian soil
For Britain’s honour that we deemed our own;
Nor do we ask but for the right to keep

20

Unbroken, still, the cherished filial tie
That binds us to the distant sea-girt isle [Page 4]
Our fathers loved, and taught their sons to love,
As the dear home of freemen brave and true,
And loving honour more than ease or gold!

25


Well do we love our Canadian land,
Its breezy lakes, its rivers sweeping wide
Past stately towns and peaceful villages,
And banks begirt with forests, to the sea;
Its tranquil homesteads and its lonely woods,

30

Where sighs the summer breeze through pine and fern.

But well we love, too, Britain’s daisied meads,
Her primrose-bordered lanes, her hedgerows sweet,
Her purple mountains and her heathery braes,
Her towers and ruins, ivy-crowned and gray,

35

Glistening with song and story as with dew;
Dear to our children’s dreaming fancy, since
We heard of them from those whose hearts were sore
For home and country left, and left for aye,
That they might found in these our western wilds

40

New Britains, not unworthy of the old!

We hope to live a history of our own,
One worthy of the lineage that we claim;
Yet, as our past is but of yesterday,
We claim as ours, too, that emblazoned roll

45

Of golden deeds that bind with golden links
The long dim centuries since King Arthur ‘passed.’
Fain would we thence new inspiration draw
To make our country’s future still uphold
The high traditions of a noble past,

50

That crowed our Britain queen on her white cliffs,
Stretching her sceptre o’er the gleaming waves
Ever beyond the sunset! There were some
Who helped to found our wide Canadian realm,
Who left their cherished homes, their earthly all,

55

In the fair borders that disowned her sway,
Rather than sever the dear filial tie
That stretched so strong through all the tossing waves,
And came to hew out in the trackless wild
New homes, where still their ancient flag should wave. [Page 5]

60


We would be worthy them, and worthy thee,
Our old ideal Britain! generous, true,
The helper of the helpless, and perchance,
Seeing thyself in our revering eyes,
Might keep thee worthier of thine ancient name

65

And place among the nations. Still we would
Believe in thee, and strive to make our land
A brighter gem to deck the royal crown
Whose lustre is thy children’s – is our own.*

* The above lines, originally published in Good Words, were generously acknowledged by the late Laureate in a cordial note to the author.

 

 

OUR CANADIAN FATHERLAND.

(For the air ‘Was ist der Deutschen Vaterland?’)

Canadensis sum, et nihil Canadenes alienum a me puto.’

I.


WHAT is our young Canadian land?
Is it fair Norembega’s strand ?
Or gray Cape Breton by the sea?
Quebec? Ontario? Acadie?
Or Manitoba’s flower-decked plain?

5

Or fair Columbia’s mountain chain?
Can any part, from strand to strand,
Be a Canadian’s Fatherland?
Nay, for our young Canadian land
    Is greater, grander far than these;

10

It stretches wide on either hand
    Between the world’s two mighty seas.
So let no hostile foot divide
    The fields our feet should freely roam;
Gael, Norman, Saxon, side by side,

15

    And Canada our nation’s home;
From sea to sea, from strand to strand,
Spreads our Canadian Fatherland. [Page 6]

 

II.


Where’er our country’s banner spreads
Its folds o’er free Canadian heads—

20

Where’er our lands romantic story
Enshrines the memory and the glory
Of heroes who with blood and toil
Laid deep in our Canadian soil
Foundations for the future age,

25

And wrote their names on history’s page—
Our history—from strand to strand,
Spreads our Canadian Fatherland!
So each to each is firmly bound
    By ties all generous hearts should own;

30

We cannot spare an inch of ground:
    No severed part can stand alone.
So Nova Scotia and Quebec
    Shall meet in kinship real and true;
New Brunswick’s hills be mirrored back

35

    In fair Ontario’s waters blue.
From sea to sea, from strand to strand,
Spreads our Canadian Fatherland!

 

III.


Where’er Canadian thought breathes free,
Or strikes the lyre of poesy—

40

Where’er Canadian hearts awake
To sing a song for her dear sake,
Or catch the echoes, spreading far,
That wake us to the noblest war
Against each lurking ill and strife

45

That weakens now our growing life,
No line keep hand from clasping hand—
One is our young Canadian land.
McGee and Howe she counts her own;
    Hers all her eastern singers’ bays;

50

Fréchette is hers, and in her crown
    Ontario every laurel lays;
Let CANADA our watchword be,
While lesser names we know no more; [Page 7]
One nation spread from sea to sea,

55

    And fused by love from shore to shore;
From sea to sea, from strand to strand;
Spreads our Canadian Fatherland!

 


 

PRAYER FOR DOMINION DAY, 1890.


WITH head uplifted towards the Polar star,
    And feet half buried in the vines and corn,
    Our country, of the nations latest born,
Stretches one hand the Atlantic’s waves to bar,
The other—to the setting sun afar—

5

    Rolls back the wide Pacific towards the morn!
    And yet, methinks, distracted and forlorn
She looks—from things that were to things that are—
With doubtful eyes, that all uncertain sweep
    The wide horizon , as if searching there

10

For one strong love to make her pulses leap
    With one strong impulse! Wayward passions tear
The heart that should be set in purpose deep,
    And cloud the eyes that should be raised in prayer!

O God of nations, who hast set her place

15

    Between the rising and the setting day,
    Her part in this world’s changeful course to play,
Soothe the conflicting passions that we trace
In her unrestful eyes—grant her the grace
    To know the one true perfect love that may

20

    Give noble impulse to her onward way—
God’s love, that doth all other loves embrace!
Gird her with panoply of truth and right
    In which she may go forth her fate to meet—
Ithuriel’s spear, to crush with angel might

25

    The brood of darkness crouching at her feet;
With faith to nerve her will and clear her sight,
    Till she shall round a destiny complete! [Page 8]

 


 

THE NEW WORLD.


ONE hemisphere lay hid in misty night;
    God said, ‘Let there be light!’
And straight a bark from Palos steered its way
O’er trackless ocean towards the setting day—
And he who shaped its course with outlook grave

5

    Had thought and prayed through many a sleepless night
In convent cell, or on the restless wave.
    Beyond the watery waste, his prophet sight
Had traced, in vision, shadowy purple bands,
Had seen in dreams the rich and fruitless lands

10

    Towards which o’erflowing human tides might sweep,
Bearing the teeming life from older strands,
    That yet must lay foundations firm and deep
    For nations born of nations in their sleep,
Waking to find their children’s sturdy hands

15

    Able and strong their hard-won prize to keep.

The red men, standing by in feathered pride,
   Gazed wondering—open-eyed—
To see upon their strand remote and lone
These pale-faced strangers from a world unknown.

20

Little they dreamed, who paddled close to shore,
    Afraid to fare forth on the trackless sea-
Little they dreamed of what those white wings bore
    For them, what omens dark of misery;
Little they knew of what the coming years

25

Must bring to them of strife and blood and tears—
    The ancient empire of their fathers spurned;
Fled the wild subjects of their bows and spears;
    Their hunting-grounds to yellow cornfields turned;
    Their lodges levelled and their forests burned!

30

Ship after ship, band after band appears,
    To keep the sway these first explorers earned.
Perchance their Sachems on the evening gale
    Caught a low, sobbing wail,
As if their fathers’ spirits sighed, in vain,

35

O’er all the desolation, death and pain [Page 9]
Which these strange, winged barks from unknown seas
    Bore with their pale-faced crews, an unseen freight—
Men seeming friends, and eager now to please,
    Yet but the van of legions driven by fate !

40

So must the tide of human progress go
Past every barrier, till it overflow
    All wastes where the dull savage lived and died
Amid the common round of instincts low—
The chase, the strife, the skill of spear and bow—

45

    Till quickened life o’erspread those regions wide
    With higher impulse in its swelling tide,
And nobler men to nobler stature grow
    In a new world which god hath purified!

 


 

CANADA’S BIRTHDAY.


WITH feu de joie, and merry bells, and cannons’ thundering peal,
And pennons fluttering on the breeze, and serried rows of steel,
We greet once more the birthday morn of our Canadian land,
Wide stretching from Atlantic shore to far Pacific strand,
With sweeping rivers, oceans lakes, and prairies wide and free,

5

And waterfalls and forests dim, and mountains by the sea;
A country on whose birth there smiled the genius of romance,
Above whose cradle brave hands hung the lilied flag of France;
Whose infancy was grimly nursed in peril, pain and woe,
When gallant hearts found early graves beneath Canadian snow,

10

When savage raid and ambuscade and famine’s sore distress
Combined their strength in vain to crush the gallant French                       noblesse;
While her dim, trackless forests lured again and yet again
From silken courts of sunny France her flower the brave                            Champlain; [Page 10]
And now her proud traditions guard four ancient rolls of fame,

15

Crécy’s and Flodden’s combatants for ancestors we claim!
Past feud and battle buried far behind the peaceful years,
While Gaul and Celt and Saxon turn to pruning-hooks their                        spears;
Four nations welded into one with long, historic past,
Have found in these our western wilds one common life at last.

20

Through the young giant’s mighty limbs that reach from sea to sea
There runs a throb of conscious life, of waking energy;
From Nova Scotia’s misty coast to far Pacific shore
She wakes, a band of scattered homes and colonies no more,
But a young nation, with her life full beating in her breast;

25

A noble future in her eyes, the Britain of the West.
Hers be the generous task to fill the yet untrodden plains
With fruitful, many-sided life that courses through her veins:
The English honour, nerve and pluck, the Scotchman’s faith in               right,
The grace and courtesy of France, the Irish fancy bright,

30

The Saxon’s faithful love of home and home’s affections blest,
And chief of all, our holy faith, of all her treasures best.

May she, through poor in luxuries, wax in rich noble deeds,
Knowing that righteousness exalts the people that it leads.
As yet the waxen mould is soft, the opening page is fair;

35

It rests with those who rule us now to leave their impress there—
The stamp of true nobility, high honour, stainless truth,
The earnest quest of noble ends, the generous heart of youth;
The love of country, soaring far above all party strife,
The love of culture, art and song, the crowning grace of life,

40

The  love  of  science  reaching  far  through  Nature’s hidden                   ways,
The love and fear of Nature’s God, a nation’s highest praise;          [Page 11]
So in the long hereafter our Canada shall be
The worthy heir of British power and British liberty,
Spreading their blessings ’neath her sway to her remotest

45
          bounds,

While with the fame her fair name a continent resounds,
True to the high traditions of our Britain’s ancient glory
Of patriots, prophets, martyrs, saints, who live in deathless                    story—
Strong in their liberty and truth, to shed from shore to shore
A light among the nations, till nations are no more!

50

 


 

THE PASSING OF CLOTE-SCARP,* OR GLOOSCAP.


HARK! Through the twilight stillness,
    Across the sleeping lake,
What notes of mournful cadence
    The charmèd stillness break!

Is it a wailing spirit

5

    That lingers on its flight,
Or voice of human sorrow
    That echoes through the night?

Nay, not from man or spirit
    Does that weird music flow;

10

’Tis the bird that waits Clote-scarp,
    As ages come and go.


       *       *       *       *       *


Still in the Mic-mac lodges
    Is the old story told
How Clote-scarp’s passed, and ended

15

    Acadia’s age of gold; [Page 12]

In the primeval forests,
    In the old happy days,
The men and beasts lived peaceful
    Among the woodland ways—

20


The forest knew no spoiler,
    No timid beast or bird
Feared fang or spear or arrow;
    No cry of pain was heard;

For all loved gentle Clote-scarp,

25

    And Clote-scarp loved them all,
And men and beasts and fishes
    Obeyed his welcome call.

The birds came circling round him
    With carols gay and sweet;

30

The little wilding blossoms
    Sprang smiling at his feet.

All spake one simple language,
    And Clote-scarp understood,
And, in his tones of music,

35

    Taught them that love was good.

But in the course of ages
    An alien spirit woke,
And men and woodland creatures
    Their peaceful compact broke.

40


Then through the gloomy forest
    The hunter tracked his prey;
The bear and wolf went roaming
    To ravage and to slay;

Through the long reeds and grasses

45

    Stole out the slimy snake;
The hawk pounced on the nestling,
    Close cowering in the brake;

The beaver built his stronghold
    Beneath the river’s flow;

50

The partridge sought the covert
    Where beeches closest grow. [page 13]

In mute and trembling terror
    Each timid creature fled,
To seek the safest refuge,

55

    And hide its hunted head.

In sorrow and in anger
    The gentle Clote-scarp spake:
‘My soul can bear no longer
    The havoc that ye make!

60


‘Ye will not heed my bidding;
    I cannot stay your strife,
And so I needs must leave you
    Till love renew your life.’


       *       *       *       *       *


Then by the great white water

65

    He made a parting feast;
The men refused his bidding,
    But there came bird and beast.

There came the bird and walrus,
    The wolf with bristling crest;

70

There came the busy beaver,
    The deer with bounding breast;

There came the mink and otter,
    The seal with wistful eyes;
The birds in countless numbers,

75

    With sad, imploring cries!

But, when the feast was over,
    He launched his bark canoe;
The wistful creatures watched him
    Swift gliding from their view

80


They heard his far-off singing
    Through the fast-falling night,
Till on the dim horizon
    He vanished from their sight.

And when the wail of sorrow

85

    Went up from one and all,
Then echoed through the twilight
    The loon’s long mournful call.


       *       *       *       *       * [page 14]


But all in vain their wailing,
    In vain that wistful cry,

90

Alone, through deepening shadows,
    The echoes made reply.


       *       *       *       *       *


Still through the twilight echoes
    That cadence wild and shrill,
But on a blessèd island

95

    Clote-scarp is wailing still.

No darkness, cold or tempest
    Comes near that happy spot;
It fears no touch of winter,
    For winter’s self is not.

100


And there waits gentle Clote-scarp
    Till happier days shall fall,
Till strife be fled for ever,
    And love be Lord of all.

 

* Clote-scarp or Glooscap is the Mic-mac Hiawatha, with something of the Western Balder and Hiawatha combined. [back]

 


 

 

NÔTRE DAME DES ANGES.*


SOFTLY falls the July evening, in its fading  fair and sweet,
’Neath dark pine-boughs flows the river, rippling gently at our feet;
Wooded shore and island, mirrored softly in its quite breast,
Lie enfolded in the stillness of the evening’s peace and rest;

And the quite of the Sabbath seems to brood o’er rock and tree,

5
On the woodland and the river, far as straining eye can see;
And the birds’ commingled vespers in a liquid carol swell,
While we catch the silvery chiming of the distant Sabbath bell.
        [Page 15]

Yet from the scene around us, fair as such a scene can be,
Still our thoughts go wandering eastward with the river towards
10
        the sea,

To the old great city, sitting throned in stern and rugged state,
Guardian of our fair Dominion at its rocky entrance-gate!

Scarred by many a wintry tempest, still she keeps her fortress-             hold,
With her mountains curving round her, like Jerusalem of old;
While old memories of warfare, hard-won siege and gallant fight,

15

Hover o’er the old gray ramparts, like the rays of sunset light.

Yet not first to martial triumphs won upon the hard-fought field—
Not to knightly deeds of valour done where knightly foemen yield,
Turn our thoughts with truest homage, when, from Time’s                         relentless wreck
We would save thy noblest treasures—our old chivalrous

20
        Quebec!

Light undying shines upon thee—light that Time can ne’er efface,
Glory of the Christian heroes, shedding love’s most tender grace
O’er the old colonial fortress, keeping hard-won footing here
Through the shocks of savage warfare and the wintry tempest             drear!

On from high embrasured rampart, on from bastioned citadel,
25

Still the eye will travel farther, on one sacred spot to dwell,
Where, in curves of silver winding, bight St. Charles tenderly
Lingers ’mid the long green meadows where he loves the best to         stray!  [Page 16]

There the rude stockaded cabins, there the grass-thatched roofs         arose
Of Our Lady of the Angels, home of men who bravely chose

30

Suffering in their Master’s service, hunger, cold, and war-fare                 dread;
And, unmoved by stake and torture, still would follow where He             led.

Huts and palisades have vanished; her gray ruins mark the spot:
Moss-grown mound and graven pillar saint and martyr needest             not.
Lallement! Brébœuf! shine for ever on our history’s earliest page,

35

And their martyr-fires shall light it long through many a future age!

Ours their faith and inspiration, though we worship not as they,
Still their spirit we would cherish in our country’s life to-day;
Death of truer heroes never hallowed our Canadian sod
Than the men who, like their Master, died for love of man and

40
        God!


*
Nôtre Dame des Anges was the name of the first rude dwelling of the pioneer missionaries of New France, or French Canada, both Recollets and Jesuits. [back]

 


 

A BIRTHDAY SONG.


METHOUGHT in visions of the night
    I saw, as in a dream Elysian,
Our fair Dominion spread in sight,
    As from a prophet’s mount of vision.
From east to west ’twas fair and free,

5

    Across the continent extended,
And mighty stream and inland sea
    Shone in the sun—a vision splendid! [Page 17]

Full oft the strong young eagle might,
    Exhausted, furl his weary pinion,

10

Who strove to measure in his flight
    The circuit of our wide Dominion,
From far snow-girdled Hudson’s Bay,
    O’er many a winding creek and river,
To where, beneath her shadowy spray,

15

    Niagara thunders on for ever;

From where the long, low banks advance
    Their barriers to the wide Atlantic,
O’er which the snowy surges prance
    Like foaming steeds of war gigantic—

20

To where the mild Pacific breaks
    Mid frowning fiord and misty mountain,
Within whose caverned canon wakes
    In darkness, many a river fountain;

Where lies Columbia’s coast, rock-bound,

25

    With rugged isle and mountain hoary,
Seamed with dark pass and cache profound,
    Haunted with dreams of golden glory;
Then eastward o’er a tract serene,
    Pine-dotted steppe and rolling prairie,

30

Where rivers wind mid copses green,
    And lakes are gemmed with isles of faëry;

On where in state Superior sleeps
    Beneath her purple-tinted highlands,
On where our proud St. Lawrence sweeps

35

    Amid her maze of bosky islands,
By many a homestead nestling down
    Mid orchard trees and dimpled meadow,
Where, ’neath the linden’s leafy crown,
    The kine are lying, deep in shadow;

40


By many and island pine-girt lake,
    And glassy creek, in silence faring,
Mid shadowy mead and woodland brake,
    Its crown of water-lilies wearing; [Page 18]
Then onward past Mount Royal’s domes,

45

    By many a gleaming guardian steeple,
Past narrow fields and bowery homes
    Of quiet French Canadian people—

Till high upon its rock throne
    St. Louis’ Castle—warder hoary—

50

Keeps guard above the quaint old town,
    All haloed with Canadian story;
Still on, where Orleans’ woodlands sleep,
    And snowy sails are seaward flashing,
Where Montmorency from the steep

55

    Her snowy, foam-flecked sheet is dashing—

And onward still, in mighty tide,
    The Gulf, its way to ocean taking
’Twixt pine-crowned hills in circuit wide,
    On gray Acadia’s shore is breaking,

60

Where fishers roam, a hardy race,
    The spoils of ocean homeward bringing,
And sea-pinks o’er the rock’s dark face
    Twine with dark sea-weed, moistly clinging!

Fair heritage and fruitful soil,

65

    This land, our own, we fondly cherish,
Won for us by the blood and toil
    Of those whose memory ne’er should perish;
A land where Nature’s forces teach
    A lesson stern of bravely bearing

70

Whate’er betide, and youth can reach
    A prime of high and noble daring—

A land where Nature’s beauty, too,
    A higher beauty still revealing,
In sunset glory, autumn hue,

75

    May cherish high poetic feeling.
A land, we fain would hope, where Right
    Shall rule o’er interest’s baser measure,
And Christian love and Freedom’s might
    Together prove its dearest treasure! [Page 19]

80


Long, long may Britain’s banner be
    Above our country’s youth extended,
The honoured ensign of the free,
    By brave Canadian hearts defended.
But life is short, and thought is long,

85

    And Fancy, wearied, furled her pinion,
And sought to frame a birthday song
    In honour of our young Dominion!

 


 

THE THERMOPYLÆ OF NEW FRANCE.

INSCRIBED TO THE CANADIAN NATIONAL LEAGUE.


METHOUGHT I stood where Time had rolled his gathering mists         away,
And the long story of the past in open vision lay,
And from Mount Royal’s wooded crest, an old gray cross beside,
I heard a strangely mingled chant of grief and joy and pride:

‘Now listen, gallant sons of France beside the wide blue sea;

5

Now listen to the glorious tale that rings from Ville-Marie—
Fair Ville-Marie, the sacred spot where, ’neath Mount Royal’s             crown,
Brave hearts, true knights, keep watch and ward for France and         her renown
Against the craft, the stealthy shaft, the deadly ambuscade
Of the red panthers from the woods, in battle and in raid,

10

Eager for torture, blood and death, their fiendish hearts delight,
More cruel than the wolf that steals upon the flock at night.
Our hearts within us quailed with fear, for, so rumour ran,
The dusky hordes were gathering round to crush us to a man,
From east and west, from north and south, each silent, swift

15
        canoe

Came gliding on; the paddlers’ eyes no ruth nor mercy knew.                 [Page 20]
‘Death to the hated pale-face!’ the watchward of each band;
‘Torture and massacre and burn and drive him from the land!’

Then spake aloud the young Daulac, the bravest of us all:
‘One hope remains for Ville-Marie, but some must fight and fall.

20

On the dark Ottawa’s green shore, where white the Rapids                     glance,
A score of faithful Frenchmen might die and save New France!
I’ll lead the forlorn hope myself—man cannot better die
Than for his country and his home!’ And sixteen made reply,
Sixteen young men, our flower and pride—revere them, one and

25
        all

‘Lead on, and we will follow, and fight until we fall!’

And though brave men—Le Moyne himself—hard pleaded for             delay,
Till fields were sown, and more could go; they stoutly answered,          ‘Nay!’
The need was stern and urgent, delay might wreck the whole,
So eager for the deadly fray was each young patriot soul!

30

Before God’s holy alter, with prayer and chanted psalm,
As Christian knights, they pledged their vows in our old Nôtre                 Dame,
That oft had echoed back our prayers in trials sharp and sore,
But sure had never witnessed such a sight as that before!
And then, mid murmured blessings, they paddled from the beach;

35

They sang a psalm, we bowed our heads, with hearts too full for          speech.

Soon came our Huron ally, then, with forty following braves,
And swiftly flew each light canoe across the dancing waves;
For when they heard that Daulac’s band had gone to meet the          foe, [Page 21]
Their Indian pulses fiercely stirred, and on they, too, would go,

40

Though our brave, prudent Maisonneuve, whose trust in them was          small,
Scarcely rejoiced to see them go, and feared what might befall.

For weary weeks we heard no more, though day by day we                   prayed,
As maidens pray for lovers, strong men sought heavenly aid,
For the seventeen who faced such odds, in stress so strange and

45
         sore,

While day by day the warm spring sun smiled down on stream          and shore,
And decked the woods with snowy bloom that mocked our                   anxious glance,
As we thought of our young heroes, fighting, dying for New                   France.

At last, when weeks to months had grown, and summer’s burning          glow
Yellowed the grain, and hope was dead, and fear was merged in

50
         woe,

Some straggling Hurons found their way to waiting Ville-Marie,
And told the tale that seemed defeat, and yet was victory.
We seemed to see the Iroquois come leaping down the flood,
The musket-flash—the sudden dash—the eager rush for blood,
The swift attack—the brave defence—the sharp repulse and

55
         flight,

The weary days of waiting—then the last deadly fight!
We heard the fierce exultant yells, while, faithful unto death,
Each brave young hero held his ground, and fought with failing          breath!

What though Daulac fell, overborne, beside his dying band,                   [Page 22]
The precious blood that dyed the sod had saved the suffering

60
         land.

And not in vain our heroes fell, since with their death they made
Against that savage torrent an unseen barricade;
For if seventeen could thus defy seven hundred in their lair,
What might a hundred Frenchmen here be roused to do and                   dare?

So with the solemn requiem blends the glad Te Deum sung.

65

New France is saved! and blessings fall from every grateful                   tongue,
And while our hearts our heroes mourn, they throb with patriot                 pride;
New France must be the nobler now, since these have lived and          died.


*       *       *       *       *


Thus in a dream I seem to hear those voices of the dead,
While a new Canada hath risen through toil of centuries fled;

70

Gone are the dusky savage hordes that threatened then its life,
Ended the long sharp contest of fratricidal strife;
And though St. George’s Cross waves now for that of St. Denis,
And the green maple leaf is twined with the white fleur-de-lis—
We are the heirs of those brave hearts that erst both standards

75
         bore,

And brought the light of faith and hope to a rude savage shore;
Each noble memory is ours to keep undimmed and bright,
Each gallant deed to emulate in a yet nobler fight!

A fairer Canada is ours than that young Daulac knew,
And wider realms are ours to hold than Champlain wandered

80
         through; [Page 23]

’Tis ours to wage a nobler war than that of fire and steel;
Subtler the foes that threaten now our country’s peace and weal:
Not fierce low passions only, in hearts half savage still,
Not ignorance and vice alone, with teeming brood of ill,
But ‘idols of the markets-place,’ less hideous to behold,

85

The quenchless thirst for place and power, the sordid green of          gold—
The hydra of corruption, that stretches, coil on coil,
Round the young manhood of our land, to strangle and despoil
The freedom won on many a field and sung to many a lyre
That selfish men, for selfish ends, would trample in the mire—

90

The demon of dissension, of differing race and aims,
The shock of jarring interests, the clash of warring names,
The heartless, cold oppression that crushes down the weak,
The low half-muttered discontent that yet may loudly speak,
The love of pleasure, choking thought and all heroic life,

95

The bitter hate that maddens men to internecine strife;
The hostile ranks of party that scatter and divide
The ranks of our young warriors, whose place is side by side!
These be the powers of darkness we have to face and fight
In strength of knightly truth and faith, the armour of the right;

100

What though they swoop on wings of night to take the citadel,
True knights once more may turn the tide and check the hordes of          hell!

With hearts on fire with patriot flame, encased in silver mail,
And pure as were the knights of old who sought the Holy Grail,
Bearing the Cross of Faith and Love upon each loyal breast,

105
         [Page 24]

Token of lower life resigned—of higher life possessed!
So, conquering and to conquer, our heroes onward go,
Clad in immortal panoply, to fear no mortal foe;
What though the single warrior fall in sorrow and defeat,
Still goes the great cause grandly on to victory complete,

110

And they who nobly do their part, and perish by the way,
Shall share the laurels and divide the honours of the day!
So many the spirit of the brave seventeen of Ville-Marie
Inspire Canadian hearts to win a new Thermopylæ!

 


 

THE PASSING OF PÈRE LA BROSSE.

A LEGEND OF THE SAGUENAY.


COMMENT,
M’ sieu? A story from old Pierre?
’Tis a good time to tell it as we sit
Here round the camp fire! August nights are cool
In these north regions. Summer goes so soon!
Yet the keen air enlivens like good wine

5

We taste so seldom now! But M’sieu’s tale
Must be a story of the good old times—
The times when hunts were hunts, and life was life;
And that with right goodwill. No stories now
Grow worth telling.  So my tale shall be

10

Of the old, old time one of grandsire’s tales.
Oft have I heard him tell it when, a boy,
I sat before his camp fire—nights like this,
And—boy-like—poked the embers with a stick,
And heaped on pine-cones to send high the flame,

15

Chasing the shadows, where I conjured up
The dark befeathered shapes of Indian braves
Lurking in wait to kill—as in the tales
The old man told they kept their ambush dread!
But this one always I loved best to hear,

20

For then I thought no more of ambuscades,
And bloody scalps, and tomahawks, and spears,
But when ’twas done would peaceful  fall asleep
As with God’s benediction on my head. [Page 25]

Bien! ’
Tis a simple story of the times

25

When the woods teemed with game, and trappers throve,
And Indians lived with white men here at peace,
Because the long-robed Fathers toiled to show
The white man loved the red—at least they did,
For they loved all, and they served all alike!

30

Wherever there was trouble, there came they;
If Jean had broken bones, or François feared
The approach of death , because of evil deeds
That, unconfessed, lay heavy on his soul,
There stood the Fathers with their pitying eyes

35

And earnest warnings, ready to confess,
Exhort, absolve, or soothe the mourner’s grief
And do last office for the passing soul!
White men or red, ’twas all the same to them,
And both seemed pagans near those holy men.

40

For strange indeed to the rude trappers seemed
The manner of their lives, who might have shone
At court, or dwelt in peaceful, cloistered cell
In our fair France, near all they loved and prized,
If some strange impulse, hard to comprehend,

45

Had he not constrained them in these savage wilds
To ‘seek the lost sheep in the wilderness,’
For love of God and pity for their brother,
As our good curé oft explained to me!

You know the old gray church at Tadousac,

50

Where from the grim, fir-tufted crags above
The entrance to the gloomy Saguenay?
By many a winter it hath battered been
Until it seems as hoary as the hills
That yet were old when first its beams were felled.

55

There many a tonsured Sieur has chanted mass
Since the first Father marked with anguish keen
The cruel passions of the savage heart;
But of them all none was there more beloved,
More good, more loving than the Père la Brosse!

60

The children loved him for the friendly words
And kindly smiles that won their wild young hearts,
And little gifts that, from his scanty store, [Page 26]
He oft bestowed with blessing and caress,
For diligence in learning Pater-nosters

65

And creeds he set them in the Indian tongue;
And, best of all, he loved to hear them sing
With clear young voices holy chant and hymn.

The squaws sat at his feet with rev’rent love
For his strange gentleness of look and tone,

70

And for the hope and comfort that he spoke
To those who had so little in their lives,
That scarce at first they understood his ruth,
Until it stole about their beings’ roots,
Softening the roughness left by rude hard lives,

75

Dropping like balm upon their dry, parched hearts,
Which scarcely they had known for hearts before!

And the fierce braves, who scarce had thoughts beyond
The fortunes of the chase, from day to day,
Or feast prepared to gorge themselves withal,

80

Till nought was left and Want was lord once more,
Even they would listen to his earnest talk
With heads bent forward, and keen eyes intent
On the strange things he told in his own way—
How the Great Spirit, in His mighty love,

85

Pitying their souls, and seeking them to save,
Had sent down His only Son to yield His life,
That they might live for ever—happier far
Than aught that now their fondest dreams could feign;
Only they must obey with grateful love

90

The Lord of love, who gave Himself for them .
And, as they listened, something drew their hearts
Towards Love unseen; and waking conscience bore
Its witness to his words, as one by one
They came to be baptized; and gentler ways

95

Insensibly grew up, as do the flowers
Mid the wild rocks beneath the breath of spring!
One evening when the bitter winds of March
Had softened into balmy April gales,
And the shrill blue-bird glanced through budding trees

100

Where woke the thrushes’ plaintive flute once more;
And softer shone the sun from clear blue skies [Page 27]
On grass left green by swiftly–melting snow;
One such spring evening, round the big hearth fire
Of the rough-raftered room at Tadousac,

105

In the old trading post, there sat, as oft,
Trappers and traders, dusky Indian chiefs,
With officers of France—a motley crew.
With them that eventide sat Père la Brosse,
And talked in kindly converse of the things

110

That made the warp and woof of living there:
The welcome signs of spring, th’ expected ships
With stores and letters, news of friends and France,
The stock of peltries ready to be shipped—
With some old memories that seemed to come

115

Unbidden to his thoughts and to his lips,
Old tales of France and of his boyhood’s days,
And scenes and friends of youth left far behind,
To which his heart paid tribute of a sigh.

But as the hour grew late, the Father rose,

120

And bidding all farewell with solemn look,
He further said some words that chilled their blood,
And seemed to stop the beating of their hearts
In sheer astonishment and dumb dismay.
Into the church he said he now must go

125

To watch and pray—and none must there intrude
Till, at the midnight hour, the passing bell
Should warn them that his soul had passed away;
Then they should seek the chapel, there to find
The mortal part of him who spoke to them,

130

And there they reverently should let it lie,
Nor touch the loved and venerable form,
But swiftly two must go to Ile aux Coudres,
To bring from thence another holy man,
Père Compain—well they knew him for a saint

135

And yet not such a saint as Père la Brosse !
And bring him back with them, that he might do
For him the last sad office. So he went,
And not the boldest dared to follow him
To the weird vigil he alone must keep.

140


So sat they there, and not a word was said, [Page 28]
As one by one the long, slow minutes passed,
Only their heart-throbs seemed to measure time,
Till suddenly on the strange stillness broke
The solemn tolling of the passing bell,

145

And then they knew his presage was fulfilled,
And he passed to everlasting bliss!
With steps reluctant, dreading what they sought,
The silent company the chapel gained,
And there, before the altar, calm and still,

150

With peaceful smile upon the marble face,
And all the majesty of death impressed
Upon his tranquil brow, lay Père la Brosse.

Deep was the sorrow, heavy were the hearts
That waited for the earliest streak of dawn,

155

Wherewith a furious April gale arose,
That tossed the inky waves high on the shore.
But some stout hearts that nothing could dismay,
Intent to do the Father’s last behest,
Launched their canoe upon the turbid stream,

160

And swiftly passed the Saguenay’s grim gate
Into the great wide river surging high;
And straight before them all the threatening waves
Calmed down to bear it on its onward way,
Till, in far shorter time then they had dared

165

To hope, they beached their bark at Ile aux Courdres;
And there upon the rocks awaiting them,
His brevier in his hand, sat Père Compain,
For in the hush of midnight he had heard
His chapel bell toll for a passing soul,

170

And then a still small voice bade him prepare
To pay the last rites to good Père la Brosse.

Swiftly as they had come, they hastened back
O’er a calm river ’neath an April sky,
With a fair wind that softly breathed of spring;

175

Reaching again the pier of Tadousac
So soon that they who waited scarce could deem
That they had traversed all the weary leagues
Between gray Tadousac and Ile aux Courdres! [Page 29]
With mournful hearts they buried Père la Brosse

180

Beside the chapel that he had loved so well,
Still standing silent warder of his rest;
And it was said by those who ought to know
That in each mission Père la Brosse had served
The midnight tolling of its chapel bell

185

Had marked the moment he had passed to heaven.

There you’ve Pierre’s story—all of it I know—
I give it as I heard it from my grandsire,
Who faithfully believed it, every word,
And said, moreover, that for many a year

190

No trapper paddling down his load of furs,
Or Indian gliding by in birch canoe,
Could pass the rocky heights of Tadousac
Without the holy sign and benison
On him whom all men loved, good Père la Brosse!

195

 


 

IN ACADIE.*

BROTHER ANTOINE’S SOLILOQUY.


FAIR through the valley winds the stream,
    To find at last the wide blue sea,
And on its banks, in many a dream,
    I roam once more in Acadie.
O Acadie! dear Acadie!

5

    Fair are they fields, mine Acadie!
And there again I fain would be
    Where fields are green in Acadie!

In Acadie, when life was young
    I dreamed the restless dreams of youth;

10
I dreamed the world with gems was strung,
    And I must win my share, in sooth! [Page 30]
Now , Acadie, dear Acadie!
    My weary heart returns to thee,
And fain my longing eyes would see
15

    The sunny fields of Acadie!

The sunset through my convent bars
    Paints golden memories on the wall;
And as I watch the silver stars
    I roam in fancy mid them all.

20

Thy fields and woods, dear Acadie!
    My hungry heart cries out for thee;
And ne’er by me forgot shall be
    Thy fair green fields—mine Acadie!

I see our seat beside the stream,

25

    The stream that seeks the wide blue sea;
I see her dark eyes softly gleam,
    My true love’s eyes—in Acadie.
O Acadie! dear Acadie!
    Fair blooms the spring in Acadie;

30

And there again I fain would be
    Where fields are fair in Acadie!

The orchard boughs about the eaves
    Bend as they bent so long ago;
The reapers garner in the sheaves,

35

     All golden in the sunset glow.
O Acadie! dear Acadie!
   Thine autumn woods once more I see;
And fair in memory shine to me
    The golden fields of Acadie!

40


Along those quite fields at eve
    The old folks walk and talk of me,
And wonder oft how I could leave
    The fair green hills of Acadie.
O Acadie! dear Acadie!

45

    Dear are thy hill-girt shores to me,
And fain my weary eyes would see
    Thy fair green fields, mine Acadie! [Page 31]

But many a year has gone its way
    And lost itself in Time’s broad sea,

50

And life waxed cold and dull and gray—
    Since last I looked on Acadie.
O Acadie! dear Acadie!
    Clear run thy streams, mine Acadie;
On their green banks I fain would be,

55

    Where fields are fair in Acadie!

They tell me of a land more fair
    Than fairest vale of Acadie;
They tell me I am welcome there
    For sake of One who died for me;

60

But yet, methinks, mine Acadie,
    From heaven my heart would turn to thee;
No fields can ever fairer be,
    Or land more dear than Acadie!

 

*Acadie is the old French name for Nova Scotia, and, in a general and poetical sense, for the hill-girt and sea-girt provinces of both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. [back]

 


 

LAURA SECORD*

     During the so-called war of 1812-14 between England and the United States, Laura Secord, the wife of a crippled British veteran, saved the British forces from surprise and possible destruction by the heroic action narrated in the balled. Her home lay near the celebrated Queenston Heights, a few miles from the Falls of Niagara.

SOFTLY the spell of moonlight fell
    On the swift river’s flow,
On the gray crags of Queenston Heights,
    And the green waves below.

Alone the whip-poor-will’s sad cry

5

    Blent with the murmuring pines,
Save where the sentry paced his rounds
    Along th’ invading lines.

But in one lowly cottage home
    Were trouble and dismay;

10

Two anxious watchers could not sleep
    For tidings heard that day. [Page 32]

Brave  James Secord, with troubled heart,
    And weary crippled frame,
That bore the scars of Queenston Heights,

15

    Back in his cabin came;

For he had learned a dark design
    Fitzgibbon to surprise,
As with a handful of brave men
   At Beaver Dam he lies.

20


‘And Boerstler, with eight hundred men,
    Is moving from the shore
To steal upon our outpost there,
    Guarded by scarce two score!

Then, wiping out, as well he may,

25

    That gallant little band,
The foe will sweep his onward way
    O’er the defenceless land.

Then noble Brock had died in vain—
    If but Fitzgibbon knew!’

30

And the poor cripple’s heart is fain
    To press the journey through.

But Laura, bending o’er her babes,
    Said, smiling through her tears:
‘These are not times for brave men’s wives

35

    To yield to craven fears.

You cannot go to warn our men,
    Or slip the outposts through;
But if perchance they let me pass,
    This errand I will do.’

40


She soothed his anxious doubts and fears:
    She knew the forest way;
She put her trust in Him who hears
    His children when they pray!

Soon as the rosy flush of dawn

45

    Glowed through the purple air,
She rose to household tasks—and  kissed
    Her babes with whispered prayer. [Page 33]

To milk her grazing cow she went;
    The sentry at the lines

50

Forgot to watch, as both were lost
    Amid the sheltering pines.

The rising sun’s first golden rays
    Gleamed through the forest dim,
And through its leafy arches rang

55

    The birds’ sweet morning hymn.

The fragrant odour of the pines,
    The carols gay and sweet,
Gave courage to the fluttering heart,
    And strength to faltering feet.

60


And on she pressed, with steadfast tread,
    Her solitary way,
O’er tangled brake and sodden swamp
    Through all the sultry day.

Though, for the morning songs of birds

65

    She heard the wolf’s hoarse cry,
And saw the rattlesnake glide forth,
    As swift she hurried by.

Nor dark morass nor rushing stream
    Could balk the steadfast will,

70

Nor pleading voice of anxious friends
    Where stood St. David’s Mill.

The British sentry heard her tale,
    And cheered her on her way;
But bade her ’ware the Indian Scouts

75

    Who in the covert lay.

Anon, as cracked a rotten bough
    Beneath her wary feet,
She heard their war-whoop through the gloom,
    Their steps advancing fleet;

80


But quickly to the questioning chief
    She told her errand grave,
How she had walked the live long day
    Fitzgibbon’s men to save! [Page 34]

The redskin heard and kindly gazed

85

    Upon the pale-faced squaw;
Her faithful courage touched his heart,
    Her weary look he saw.

‘Me go with you’ was all he said,
    And through the forest gray

90

He led her safe to Beaver Dam,
    Where brave Fitzgibbon lay.

With throbbing heart she told her tale;
    They heard with anxious heed,
Who knew how grave the crisis was,

95

    How urgent was the need!

Then there was riding far and near,
    And mustering to and fro
Of troops and Indians from the rear
    To meet the coming foe;

100


And such the bold, determined stand
    Those few brave soldiers made—
So fiercely fought the Indian band
    From forest ambuscade—

That Boerstler in the first surprise

105

    Surrendered in despair,
To force so small it scarce could serve
    To keep the prisoners there!

While the brave weary messenger
    In dreamless slumber lay,

110
And woke to find her gallant friends
    Were masters of the fray.

       *       *       *       *       *

If e’er Canadian courage fail,
    Or loyalty grow cold,
Or nerveless grow Canadian hearts,
115

    Then be the story told—

How British gallantry and skill
    There played their noblest part
Yet scarce had won if there had failed
    One woman’s dauntless heart! [Page 35]

120

 

* Published in the Canadian Magazine. [back]

 


 

QUEBEC TO ONTARIO,

A PLEA FOR THE LIFE OF RIEL, SEPTEMBER, 1885.


YOU have the land our fathers bought
    With blood, and toil, and pain,
De Mont’s and Cartier’s earnest thought—
    The life-blood of Champlain.

From fair Acadia’s rock-bound strand

5

    To wide Ontario’s shore,
Where Norman swords fought hand to hand
    The Iroquois of yore,

And those great western wilds afar,
    Where wandering Indians roam,

10

And where the hardy voyageur
    First reared his cabin home—

All, all is yours; from east to west
    The British banner streams,
But in a conquered people’s breast

15

    Will live its early dreams!

So when your rich men grudge our poor
    Homes on their native plains,
The blood of the old voyageur
    Leaps boiling in our veins.

20


And one whose heart was fired at sight
    Of suffering and wrong
Took arms, in evil hour, to fight,
    For weakness—with the strong.

His wild scheme failed; how could it stand

25

    Against such fatal odds?
And brave hearts sleep in yon far land
    Beneath the prairie sods.

He stands a traitor at the bar
    Of your cold modern laws,

30

And yet, to him who woke the war
    It seemed a patriot cause! [Page 36]

Nay, more, perchance the sore distress
    That stirred the bitter fray,
Through that, has pierced to ears that else

35

    Had still been deaf to-day;

While he who sought his people’s weal,
    Who loved his nation well,
The prisoner of your fire and steel,
    Lies doomed in felon’s cell!

40


Pity the captive in your hand,
    Pity the conquered race;
You—strong, victorious in the land—
    Grant us the victor’s grace!

 


 

CANADA OUR HAME.

DEDICATED TO SCOTTISH READERS.


FU’ mony a Scottish bard has praised, i’ mony a noble sang,
The hills and glens of Scotia’s isle, frae whilk our fathers sprang.
How shall we fitly celebrate in patriotic strain
The praises o’ the bonnie lan’ we proudly ca’ our ain?
A lan’ the foreign potentate misca’ed some leagues o’snaw,

5

When frae his faint an’ feckless grip he lat it slip awa’—
A lan’ sae stored wi’ wealth untauld aneath its rugged grace,
Sae rich in monya pleasant hame an’sheltered bidin’-place!

To east and west gran’ mountain-slopes the wide horizon boun’,
An’ swathin’ robes o’ floatin’ mists their pine-clad summits crown;

10

Yet grander are the rosy clouds that greet the risin’ sun,
An’ gowd an’ purple tints that wrap him roun’ when day is done.
Though frae the lift we dinna hear the lav’rock’s soarin’ sang,
Lintie or mavis whistlin’ clear the birken shaws amang, [Page 37]
We hae sweet sangsters o’ our ain in ilka bush and tree,

15

What mak’ the simmer mornin’ sweet wi’ gushin’ melody!

Fu’ sweetly shines the mornin’ sun frae oot the lift sae blue,
An’ bright on ilka blade o’ grass its crystal drap o’ dew,
Hoo balmy is the caller air o’ incense-breathing morn,
An’ brighter lies the licht o’ noon upo’ the golden corn!

20

Fu’ saftly through the cool green woods the slantin’ sunbeams             play,
When shadows lengthen, and the kye hame tak’ their lingerin’             way;
An’ when the trystin’ hour is come, an’ hearts wi’ luve are thrang,
Hoo sweetly i’ the gloamin’ soun’s the milkmaids evenin’sang!

But when the simmer slips awa’ amang the drappin’ flowers,

25

An’ early rime upo’ the grass foretells the wintry hours,
What walth o’ glory on the woods then meets the wonderin’ sicht,
An’ scatters o’er the country-side a shower o’ gowden licht!
The amber fleeces o’ the birks, wi’ white stems shimmerin’                     through,
The maple’s gowd an’ scarlet, the aik’s deep crimson hue,

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Wi’ purple an’ wi’ russet mixed, an’ feathery larch between,
An’ ower a’—’neath the opal sky, the pine-tree’s sombre green.

An’ syne when a’ the glory’s gane, an’ cauld the north winds blaw,
An’ mirk’s the lift wi’ smoorin’ drifts an’ blindin’ clouds o’ snaw,
Hoo brichtly when the onding’s o’er, an’ a’ the strife is done,

35

A pure white warl’, in snaw-wreaths wrapt, lies sparklin’ i’ the sun!
Hoo gaily ring the merry bells as sleighs gang glidin’ by!
Hoo swiftly o’er the glancin’ ice the skater seem to fly! [Page 38]
An’ when the last reid sunset hue fleets frae the frosty nicht,
Hoo keen the sparkle o’ the stars an’ shimmerin’ northern licht!

40


We dinna see upo’ the brae the bonnie bush o’ broom,
Nor whins see rich i’ gowden glow an’ saftly breathed perfume;
Nae crimson-tippit gowans glint amang the dewy grass,
Nor primroses alang the lanes smile at us as we pass.
But wi’ the breath o’ comin’ spring the sweet wee Mayflower

45
        wakes,

Lily an’ violet brichtly smile amang the forest brakes,
An’ snaw-white wreaths on blossoming trees make a’ the forest             gay,
An’ waves o’ gowd and purple gleam to hide the year’s decay.

We hae nae castles auld an’ gray wi’ lichen crusted o’er,
Grim relics o’ the bluidy wars our fathers waged of yore,

50

Entwined wi’ stirrin’ tales o’ raid an’ capture an’ relief,
When pibrochs ca’ed the gatherin’ clans to rally roun’ their chief.
Nor has each bonnie wimplin’ stream an’ ilka rocky scaur,
A tongue an’  story o’ its ain o’ luve, or dule, or war;
Some noble memories we keep to whilk we fondly turn,

55

But scarce can claim a Flodden Field or glorious Bannock-burn!

But we hae leal, true Scottish hearts within our bosoms yet;
The prowess of our fathers’ arms we never can forget;
The sangs that fired our fathers’ bluid our heritage we calim,
An’ gin the time o’ need arrive, their bluid we winna shame!

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True to the Queen we ca’ our  ain, the flag that o’er us waves—
The han’ that wins the lan’ frae us maun in it o’er our graves—                [Page 39]
The bluid o’ some we countit brave hath wat Canadian sod;
We’ll guard the lan’ they died for—for freedom an’ for God!

Methinks I see it a’ outspread, frae far Columbia’s strand,

65

To where the saut sea licks the banks o’ misty Newfoundland.
See fertile strath, an’ granite isle, an’ fertile rollin’ lea,
An’ bristlin’ pine-clad hills that guard the entrance frae the sea.
I see braid rivers swiftly rin by mony a busy toun,
An’ windin’ streams, an’ rocky scaurs wi’ brown waves dashin’

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        roun’,

An’ mony a steadin’ mist its fields, baith bield an’ trim an’ fair,
An’ the white steeples o’ the kirks that ca’ the folk to prayer!

An’ lookin’ wistfully alang the mists o’ comin’ years,
Methinks a noble future spread before our lan’ appears—
A lan’ o’ wise , God-fearin’ men, no to be bought or sold;

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A lan’ where freedom, truth, an’ richt mair precious are than gold.
The people a’ thegither boun’ wi’ links o’ britherhood,
The leaders no for pairty keen, but for the public good—
A lan’ where social virtues thrive, an’ truth upholds the state,
An’ puirest folk are countit still the brithers o’ the great—

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Lang may the doo o’ peace outspread her wings aboot our                 shores,
An’ plenty, wi’ bounteous han’, increase our yearly stores,
Lang may the stout an’ sturdy pine that towers our woods amang
Be emblem o’ our gallant sons, upricht, an’ leal, an’ strang—                  [Page 40]
Ready to daur in righteous war, a’ manly deeds to do,

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Steadfast their country’s guid to seek —a’ change an’ chances             through;
Amang the nations o’ the warl’ to win a worthy place,
An’ gie to God—who gives us a’—the glory an’ the praise.

 


 

A FRATERNAL GREETING FROM CANADA.


To thee, O sister land, we stretch a sister’s hand
    In this thine anxious hour of storm and stress;
Fain would we stay the tide of trouble, spreading wide,
    Whose rising waves about thee surge and press!

We own the kindred blood that, with its generous flood,

5

    Sweeps out of sight and mind the ancient feud;
In our hearts, as in you, the freeman’s pulse beats true,
    That hath so oft the tyrant’s power withstood!

We dare not judge the need on which thou hast decreed
    To loose the storm of war—the cannon’s rage;

10

Though, since the world began, man’s cruelty to man
    Hath writ its record red on history’s page.

Once more the ancient foes in deadly combat close,
    The proud Armada’s heirs, young Freedom’s van;
If needs must come the fray, we fain would hope and pray

15

    That from the conflict rise new life for man!

Then, since the die is cast, the crisis come at last,
    Your sword unsheathed for human weal and right,
Our hearts must go with you, so ye to these stand true,
    While in that sacred Name your cohorts fight.

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We needs must grieve for all who, at their country’s call,
    For her must fight and fall—they scarce know why;
But since the choice must be ‘Freedom or Tyranny,’
    Our freeborn hearts can make but one reply.

God’s justice hallow thee, O standard of the free,

25

    Whether the lion or the eagle lead;
Our stalwart northern race must keep its ancient place
    In Freedom’s van, where’er her squadrons speed! [Page 41]

Shoulder to shoulder stand the sea-girt motherland,
    The strong young new-world nations that she bore,

30

Till dawns that happier day when peace and liberty
    And righteousness shall reign from shore to shore.

Soon! soon! O Prince of Peace, bid war and discord cease;
    Banish the clash of arms, the blood-stained spears;
In dew of  chrism divine, let a fair new world shine,

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    And usher in at last love’s golden years.

 


 

A SONG FOR CANADA.


OUR Canada, young , strong and free,
    Whose sceptre stretches far,
Whose hills look down on either sea,
    And front the polar star—
Not for thy greatness, half unknown,

5

      Wide plains or mountains grand,
But, as we hold thee for our own,
     We love our native land!
      God bless our mighty forest-land
        Of mountain, lake and river,

10

      Whose loyal sons, from strand to strand,
        Sing ‘Canada for ever!’

In winter robes of virgin snow
    We proudly hail thee ours;
We crown thee when the south winds blow

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    ‘Our Lady of the Flowers;’
We love thy rainbow-tinted skies,
    Thy mystic charm of spring;
For us thine autumn’s gorgeous dyes,
    For us thy song-birds sing.

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      God bless our own Canadian land
        Of mountain, lake and river,
      Whose loyal sons, from strand to strand,
        Sing ‘Canada for ever!’ [Page 42]

Fair art thou when the summer wakes

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    The cornfields’ yellow gold;
Thy quite pastures, azure lakes,
    For us their treasures hold;
To us each hill and dale is dear,
    Each rock stream and glen,

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Dear scattered homes of kindly cheer,
    And busy haunts of men.
      God bless our own Canadian land
        Of mountain, lake and river,
      Whose loyal sons, from strand to strand,

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        Sing ‘Canada for ever!’

Our sires their old traditions brought,
    Their lives of faithful toil;
For home and liberty they fought
    On our Canadian soil.

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Queenstown, Quebec, and Lundy’s Lane
    Can stir our pulses still;
The lands they held through blood and pain
    A free-born people fill.
      God bless our own Canadian land

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        Of mountain, lake and river,
      Whose loyal sons, from strand to strand,
        Sing ‘Canada for ever!’

Saxon and Celt and Norman we:
    Each race its memory keeps;

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Yet o’er us all, from sea to sea,
    One Red Cross banner sweeps.
Long may our Greater Britain stand
    The bulwark of the free!
But, Canada, our own fair land,

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    Our first love is for thee.
      God bless our own Canadian land
        Of mountain, lake and river,
      Well may thy sons, from strand to strand,
        Sing ‘Canada for ever!’ [Page 43]

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