CANADIAN BALLADS,

AND

OCCASIONAL VERSES.

By Thomas D’Arcy McGee


 

SAINT BEES.



I.
 


Bright shone the joyful summer sun
        On Cumberland’s dark shore,
The wind had failed the fishermen,
        And put them to the oar,
The flippant swallows swept the shaw,

5
 

        The brown nuts bent the trees,
When, from the neighb’ring hill, I saw
        The village of Saint Bees.


II.
 


“Who was Saint Bees?”  I asked of one
        Who drove a lazy yoke—

10
 

“Saint Bees,” quoth he, “is that place yon:
        You’ll find ’em stiffish folk.”
“Who was Saint Bees?” I asked again
        A squire in scarlet drest—
Who?” echo’d he—North Countrie men

15
 

        Mislike a stranger’s jest.” [Page 96]


III.
 


I stood within the frontless porch,
        I paced the empty nave,
The very Verger of the Church
        A false tradition gave.

20
 

Hard by, a staring pile of brick
        (Or college, if you please,)
Had played the Saint the scurviest trick,
        Had called itself—Saint Bees.


IV.
 


A well-fed pedant in a train

25
 

        Of stuff (not train of thought),
Who, like great goose, strode before
        The gosling flock he taught,
Said, stroking down his neckcloth white,
        That he, “In times like these,

30
 

Must say, that being no Puseyite,
        He knew nought of Saint Bees.”


V.
 


Was it for this, oh Virgin band,
        Your early home you left,
And set for heathen Cumberland

35
 

        The life-spring in this cleft?
Was it for this your vesper  chant
        Charmed all these savage seas—
Where is the fruit you strove to plant
        Along this shore, Saint Bees? [Page 97]

40

VI.
 


I could have borne the callous clown,
        The squire’s chagrin amused—
But the dullard in the cap and gown
        I from my heart abused.
I wished that I had been his Pope,

45
 

        To put him on his knees,
And make his fine pedantic gown
        An offering to Saint Bees. [Page 98]