T H E  P O E M S  O F

W I L F R E D
C A M P B E L L



 


Elegiac and Memorial Verse
 

 



Victoria


ROLL out earth’s muffled drums, let sable streamers flow,
And all Britannia’s might assume her panoply of woe!
Love’s holiest star is gone;
                                   Wind wide the funeral wreath;
For she, our mightiest, hath put on

5

                                   The majesty of death.
Roll forth the notes of woe,
Let the baleful trumpets blow
A titan nation’s titan, heartfelt throe;
          ’Mid age and storm and night and blinding snow,

10

          Death, the pale tyrant, lays our loftiest low.

Like some fair mask of queenly sleep she lies,
The mists of centuries in her sightless eyes,
This august woman; greatest of earth’s great;
Who ruled this splendor, held this Empire’s fate,

15

And built this purity and white of love’s supreme estate.

     Low, like a lily broken on its stem,
Passed all her glory, filched her diadem,
She sleeps at His weird bidding who saith, Peace!
And all the loud world’s mighty roar is hushed in love’s surcease.

20

Song is an echo; lore an idle tale;
Love but the yearning of white lips that wail;
Woe but the weeping of wild autumn rain;
Power but the transient gust of angered main.
Thus fades all glory. But her lofty life,

25

That long gold summer as mother, monarch, wife;  [Page 157]
These bide and stay, ’mid wrecks that pass away,
Beyond the mutability of our poor day,
To live when power is swept,
                                   And pomp but clay in clay.

30

Greater than greatness, stronger than iron power,
That makes earth’s Neros grim, her Cæsars dower;
Hers was the gift to girdle isles of peace
With woman’s nobleness and love’s increase.

The century rang with might of sword and flame

35

And coarser moods.  Amid its blight she came,
And love grew purer, life a holier name;
Religion graver, deeper; happiness,
A part of character to aid and bless;
And softer grew life’s heart of bitterness.

40

Man’s faith grew godlier, chivalry arose,
With virtue white as winter’s winnowed snows;
And art and song awoke from sorrow’s long repose.

From heart of suffering life and conscience went
On higher dreams of love and action bent;

45

Self-sacrifice from her pure convents came,
And sweetened life of half its bitter blame;
Till cynic scorn crept out in love’s
                                   White banishment of shame.

So calm she sleeps in her great southern isle,

50

Wrapt round in silence drear of stormy death,
No more for her wide earth or heaven will smile,
Or southern ocean breathe his balmy breath;
No more for her the love of child and friend,
Memory of old happiness gone before,

55

The calm, serene, of life’s long peaceful end;
Sweet day, glad night, for her, no more! no more!  [Page 158]
The rose of England, red, will burst in bloom;
The lark in meadows rise as she hath risen;
The heart of springtime break its wintry gloom,

60

And life its iron prison;

And far in Scotland, loved of her and him,
Her nearest, dearest; laverocks will sing;
And loch and mountain clothe their glories, dim,
With joy of leaf and wing—

65

But she no more will mourn her warriors dead.
Roll forth the muffled drum!  The mighty will
That worked for others, brain and heart are still;
The august spirit, queenly soul is fled!
Death, king of monarchs as of meaner men,

70

Thundered her palace, o’er the drawbridge crept,
Filched life’s rare coffer, stole earth’s pearl; and then,
She gravely smiled and slept.

For us remains the grief, the pain, the woe,
The anguish, sorrow and the boding heart;

75

For her, the mighty peace of those who go
Forth from a nobler part.

From all earth’s shores one mighty grief is heard;
Each zone remote, in tryst of sorrow wed;
The Briton’s love, the alien spirit stirred—

80

Earth’s great heart bleeding for earth’s mighty dead.

Far hid from us, in veils of love, supreme,
She knows now, gloried, what she prayed before;
Storming love’s fortress, for that one star-beam,
God-given to mortals wandering on this shore,

85

Where earth-mists thicken into perilous night,
She greets her august line of long and kindly might.  [Page 159]

Wise, lofty Alfred, first of her great line
To build those laws by which she ruled so well;
Heroic Richard; and, like some Undine,

90

The fated Mary, both of heaven and hell;
Great Edward; Henry; Charles of fateful death;
And greatest of all her high and storied line,
                                   Rare, great Elizabeth!
These greet her, ghostly, on that shadowed beach,

95

Beyond our human tears and woe of human speech.

Above all praise of ours, undying fame,
Like sun on mountain, aureoles her white brow.
We cry in darkness, creep to whence we came,
Our little sorrows and our fleeting show,

100

With all that crumbles whereunto men go;
But hers a splendor will endure when time
And age have wrinkled up to shriveled scroll,
The fame of fames above all fame sublime,
The fair white memory of a woman’s soul.

105


Great Cæsars, Alexanders, spoil a world,
Enslave whole coasts, crush mighty peoples down;
But greater greatness where love’s flags are furled,
Than wreck of earth’s renown:—
Her woman’s kindness lightened all earth’s seas,

110

And drew to her by silken cord of love,
What tyrants dread, in grim old centuries,
Could not compel by might of iron glove.

Not Shakespeare’s art such majesty might wear;
Not Cromwell’s spirit linked to lofty cause;

115

Not Bonaparte could with her might compare;
Her greatness lay in being what she was,
Higher than genius, might or kingly bays—
The queenliest queen, the noblest woman-soul
                                   Of all earth’s mighty days!  [Page 160]

120


Yea, she is gone who ruled but yesterday,
Her pomp, her power, her glory, but a name!
Not for its greatest will this mad world stay.
New dreams arise, new gods for love’s acclaim,
New fames, new prophets.  Kings, as lesser clay,

125

Are but the dead, gone, faded dreams
                                   Of dead, gone yesterday.
Life feeds on life, earth’s glories wane and die,
Her mighty Sidons and her vaunted Tyres!
Her far-flamed beacons and her baleful fires;

130

Only her noble actions never die.
These bide and stay when names of seers and kings
Are but the ashes of forgotten things,
Hid ’mid the moth and rust of earth’s imaginings.

But she will live when we and all our time

135

Are gathered to the dread and blinding past,
A mighty dream for mighty-builded rhyme,
The golden age of Britain’s splendid prime,
Remembered when old glories, long that last,
Are blown as shriveled autumn wreck

140

                                   Upon the age’s blast.
Yea, she will live, and tales of her pure life,
Her toil for others, her wise woman’s love,
Her heart of sorrow ’mid the jar and strife,
Her noble wifehood, faith in heaven above,

145

Her simple trust in love from day to day;
Yea, these will bide, while peoples pass away
With all that puts its trust
                                   In pomp of human clay.

Soon, with majestic rite, and earth’s wide sorrow,

150

(Great lady of the pure and lofty crown!)
Will Britain, weeping, lay her sadly down,
To wait a brighter dawn, a happier morrow,  [Page 161]
In that rare tomb with that rare soul to sleep,
In God’s glad rest for all who wait and weep.

155


And days will pass, and men will come and go,
And love and hate and sorrow dream, alas!
And all this world and its wild wraith of woe
Unto the wrack of all the ages pass;
And greatness be forgot and dreams decay,

160

And empires fade, and great souls pass away;
But she will linger in her people’s love,
As autumn lingers gilding winter’s snows,
Or sunset, fading purpled peaks above,
Leaves golden trails of glory as he goes.

165


So will she fade not, nor her honor pass,
But burgeon on and grow to one white fame,
While lark in heaven lifts from England’s grass,
And heart of England leaps to nobler flame.

 



The Dead Poet

(Lowell)


DEAD he lies at Elmwood,
Who sang of human fortitude;
Who voiced the higher, clearer way
By which all nobler spirits may
Rise to the rims of God’s pure light

5

Over the edges of earth’s night;
Who sang of manhood’s highest best,
Like some sweet Arnold of the West,
With more of kinship in his blood
With the great struggling human brood.  [Page 162]

10

With more of lyric in his note,
More of the clarion in his throat,
Tunèd to the brawnier West,
He sang the songs our men love best.

He woke new longings in the heart

15

For that love-hungered, better part;
He stripped religion of her creeds,
And showed beneath the withered reeds
And dead old grass husks, bleached and sere,
The streams of God’s love running clear.

20

In humor’s ink he dipped his pen,
And mirth stirred in his fellowmen;
That larger, healthier, kindlier mirth,
That kindles in great souls of earth.
His was the mind of reverence,

25

Too great to give the soul offence.

This was the poet, simple, true,
Who all things glad for brothers knew;
With clear eyes knew the kings of earth
Beneath the husks of common worth;

30

Who never grew too learned to know
The hope of earth in heaven’s bow;
Who never grew too old to feel
The sap of springtime upward steal;
Who never grew too worldly wise

35

To see with purer, childward eyes;
Too human to be merely good,
This great soul dead at Elmwood.
The song of life was on his lips,
True human to the finger tips,

40

With heart that pulsed and pulsed again,
A man, he loved his fellowmen,  [Page 163]
This singer of all singers, who
To the young, strong republic true,
Voicing earth’s people in the van,

45

Most manly, strong, American!

Yes, he is dead, as men know death,
Who count our living by the breath
That ebbs or flows.  Yes, he is dead.
With morning’s blush, or evening’s red,

50

No more upon this earth will walk;
No more in human page, or talk,
Will he delight, or teach his kind,
Who love the glad lore of the mind.
But till the last despair is fled,

55

The last weird cell untenanted,
The last sweet hope athwart the dark
Vanishes in meteor spark;
While love of earth and man lives on,
And God and hope ahead are gone

60

To lead the way to loftier truth,
And earth rejuvenates her youth;
Till earth her latest blossom gives,
The heart of Lowell breathes and lives;
His Launfal learns the godlier way,

65

His dandelion casts its dusty ray,
His “Zekle” knows eternal youth;
As long as love, and hope, and truth,
As long as bloom, and pulse of blood,
He lives in earth’s eternal good

70

Who now lies dead at Elmwood.


OTTAWA, August, 1891.  [Page 164]

 



Summer Death

(A Nature Monody—in Memory of the Hon. Arthur Rupert Dickey)


I.


SPLENDOR on splendor moves the summer world,
Its days of beauty and its hours of thought
And lofty vision.  Over fields unfurled
And these hushed woods with sunlit dreams inwrought
Comes life’s far promise.  He alone is not.

5

No more he comes, the grave, the wise, the kind,
To share as once of yore love’s treasures of the mind.

How fills the silence with the year’s great love,
This golden precinct of her liberties;
There is no breath in earth or heaven above,

10

Save stir of winds or whispering lisp of trees,
Or chirp of bird or murmurous drone of bees:—
In spirit might he stands alone with us,
To hark her under-song, so hushed, so tremulous!

This is the world he loved, this home of tree

15

And grass and flower and far unsounded sky:
His joy and quiet passion alone to be
Abroad with nature in her tranquillity,
When she nor all her train gave care a sigh:—
Far, far from life’s loud thunder or its grief,

20

To stray in thought, alone, with flower and bud and leaf.

This was his world, his leafy summer home,
The woods he prized with quiet student eye.
But where is he who gazed upon the dome  [Page 165]
Of unflecked heaven and let man’s world go by;

25

Its strident note tumultuous, shrill and high,
And left the dreams of ermined Senate hall,
To note her sunbeams dance, her silvern waters fall?

Where hath he soared, to what far heights of dream?
Grave Summer sobs his name among her boughs;

30

And grieves him far by ocean loud, or stream,
Quiet of woodlands; where the shimmering brows
Of aspens fleck the waters with their snows,
Happy and laughing; or the vagrant wind
Haunts the high darkling wood like some unquiet mind.

35


So grieves or laughs the Summer; me alone,
Sadness unending and misty grief attends,
By sunny field and where his pine-trees moan,
Or soft conferring of his woodland friends:—
For me alone grey Sorrow her brow unbends,

40

And shows her eyes, those orbs whose haunted glooms
Hold ever in their depths the year’s eternal dooms.


II.


O day of thought!  O day of splendid dreams!
Where through these sunny glades the ghost winds walk,
Making a melody of the leafy gleams:

45

And overhead the ravens call and flock
To incantations, where the pine-trees rock;—
While far above from golden moorings high,
The sun’s white ancient barges drift down the azure sky.

But he is gone.  No more, no more, alas!

50

Will he revisit these familiar scenes
By peaceful haunts of waters or of grass;  [Page 166]
No more amid the summer’s gold and greens,
A shadow with the silent shadows pass,
Revolving inward thoughts of days to be,

55

As one who reads life’s book of God’s futurity.


III.


Wide walls of elm trees, etched against the skies!
Far lofty aisles of summer majesty!
Where cool at morn the wandering winds arise;—
Lean low your sighings to moan his death with me,

60

Whose life, high-reaching like a skyward tree,
Cut in the forenoon of its splendid prime,
Fell thundering on the slopes of shuddering time;—

Lean low and teach me of your summer peace,
A peace of heart that nature alone receives

65

From out the treasures of her love’s increase:
Give me your balm of dreams and whispering leaves;
And all that magic mighty summer weaves
From out her shimmer and shade and inward dreams
Of deep embosomed woods and sunward glinting streams!

70


In thunders of trade the loud world moves along,
By granite avenues of its iron roar:—
And men, unmoved by melody of song,
Toil like poor ants to pile the world’s great store
Of largesse rich by wave and sounding shore;—

75

Beauty and thought, unheeded, ’reft, alone,
Dream here unmindful of the world’s far moan.

But he hath vanished, only yesterday,
’Mid rude alarm of earth’s loud battle-drum,
And all the century’s latest hours astray,  [Page 167]

80

In doubt and mutterings of dread wars to come;
Now he, the strong, the wise, is stricken dumb.
At time’s iron gates, while friend or foeman weeps,
Unmindful of our woe and strife of life, he sleeps.


IV.


Grey gates of memory and the mournful mind!

85

Dim aisles of sadness and of pensive thought!
Like touch of winter in the summer wind,
Your dream of life with dreams of death is fraught!
I feel your sadness though you murmur not,
Where flute your reveries in love’s woodland tune,

90

Down hollow, golden slopes of haunted afternoon.

Here in your glades where sunbeams interlace,
My dreams are all for him who dreameth not,
Whose sleep is hidden in some sacred place,
Some solemn, lonely, love-devoted spot,

95

Dedicate to tears and saddened thought,
Where sleep the dead who rest remote alone,
Where Fundy’s thundering surges beat their mighty monotone.

Here bide no sorrows, those grim shadowed glooms,
Those sleepless torturers of the human mind,

100

Alien to these luminous leafy rooms,
Whose only tenant is the laughing wind
Mindless of the days and hours behind,
Wandering ’mid boughs and blossoms tremulous,
Dead to all earth’s ills and griefs that torture us.

105

V.


This cool, sweet, summer-breathing Sabbath morn,
The very winds of heaven are filled with peace;
Such restfulness upon their wings is borne  [Page 168]
Of motion wherein action seems to cease;—
And life breathes on its slow-drawn measured lease;—

110

Low sighing airs, cool skies, and lisping leaves,
A summer lute whereon the stately season grieves.

On such a morn, enisled in summer dreams,
All sadness sinks to peace; a peace that holds
The spirit in a trance as fields and streams

115

Are held within the day’s dim shining folds;
And as these woodlands in their greens and golds
Stand hushed in trance of wind and leaf and bird:
So we, too, stand and hark for nature’s larger word.

And it is meet that here in such an hour,

120

When all the world is tuned to love’s low psalm,
The heart should dream of him whose spirit’s power,
Whose whole true strength was islanded in calm,
Like some reef-island of far summered palm,
Hidden in peace from out those ruder seas

125

Where rage the baser hates of life’s mad destinies.

So wrapt in strength he garnered from within,
So isolate in peace he stood apart,
A solitary headland in the din
And maddened roar of all our angered mart,

130

Alien from the mob and mad upstart,
Serene and reticent, from all the world
Of party-strife and its loud passions hurled:—

A hater of that sordid horde who sneak
And cringe and crawl to favor’s lap unclean;

135

A silent patriot not afraid to speak
The saner word amid the mobs of spleen,
He stood alone, and chose that golden mean
Of wisdom’s place ’twixt each extremity
Of brutal bigot spite and blind antipathy.  [Page 169]

140


So like this limpid morning grew his life,
So calm and temperate, kindly, grave, contained,
It cannot be that all this peace is rife,
And he alone in wintry silence chained;
Who ne’er perforce a single spirit pained,

145

Whose quaint grave wisdom gladdened in his look,
Should now be blind and dumb like wintry, prisoned brook!

Peace! peace! my spirit! let not misery rave,
That he who left us holds untimely tryst
With shrouded death in June’s untimely grave;

150

Though Love her bright wings darkens into mist,
With hope’s eternal radiance death is kissed:—
Peace! peace! he lives yet in our highest dreams,
In every leafy, upward life, in every bud that gleams!


VI.


He sleeps alone by Fundy’s thundering shore,

155

He sleeps, though heedless, unforgotten he,
Who loved earth’s mystery ever more and more,
And yearned to pierce her veiled infinity;
He sleeps to-day unshackled, franchised, free,
To wander where she wills him, she who gave

160

And took to her again by sedge and sounding wave.

He sleeps, and dreaming, chance in dreams he may;—
If nature builds anew or holds unchanged
That fragile mystery clothed erstwhile in clay,
The human mind; whose wondrous vision ranged

165

The universe of life and thought unchanged;—
Soar to some morn, beyond these veilèd skies,
And dusks of our poor night, and all its vague surmise. 
[Page 170]

I grieve, but not alone, the whole earth grieves
For him and all hushed souls who fare alone,

170

Reaped and bound as autumn-garnered sheaves,
Unto that harvest of the dim unknown:—
I grieve, but not in vain, as clouds are blown,
By sun and wind aside till heaven looks through;—
So some far shining hope illumines grief’s dim dew.

175


From here by lone Ottawa’s* dreaming bank,
To where he sleeps by his loved Fundy’s tide,
Unheeding, where the seabirds, rank on rank,
Circle forever where the sea-winds ride:—
A thread of memory doth forever bide

180

Of those who knew and loved him in his prime,
Till memory fades and fails in some dim after-time;—

Then men may question, gazing on his tomb,
Who was this spirit of an earlier day?
And chance, still lingering in the aftergloom,

185

This sombre verse revivify his clay:
And teach men of his worthiness to stay
In memory and honor as of one
Who passed, untimely, ere his weird was spun.

This lover of earth’s grave wisdom; in the man

190

He prized it dearer than in lore of page;
And dwelt in spirit with that rarer clan,
The seer, the bard, the prophet and the sage,
Who dream the purer dreams of each new age,
And build anew hope’s citadels of time,

195

In granite of grim thought, or mists of airy rhyme.

Still dreams Ottawa,* ’twixt his country ways,
The roar of cities and the haste of men;—
And far-off Fundy thunders through his haze  [Page 171]
A grief more sad than woe of poet’s pen,

200

And wakes the sea-wolf in his craggy den,
And lifts his mists and brims his tides afar,
To lave the shining wastes of haunted Tantramar!

I grieve, but sorrow lightens; Love, all-wise,
Hath ne’er made earth a charnel-house for tears:—

205

Even as I dream, the morning drapes his skies
In glories far by golden woods and meres,
And builds a wondrous bastion round my fears;
While loosen the winds, their shining wings unfurled,
And God’s great purpose compasses the world.

210


* Pronounced Ot-taw-wa — with accent on second syllable. [back]

 



Sebastian Cabot


I DREAM his name, and there doth come to me
A vision of league-long breakers landward hurled;
Of olden ships far-beating out to sea;
Of splendid shining wastes of heaving green
Far-stretching round the world;

5

Of many voices heard from many lands,
Torrid and arctic, orient and the Line;
Of heaving of vast anchors, vanishing strands,
And over all the wonder and thunder and wash
Of the loud, world-conquering brine.

10

Of sky-rimmed waste, or fog-enshrouded reef,
Where some mad siren ever sings the grief
Of all the mighty wrecks in that weird span
Since ocean and time began.  [Page 172]


II.


Venice and England cradled,

15

Could this seaman be
Other than ocean’s child,
With heart less restless than that vast and wild
Great heart of the thrilling sea?
Wakened to her long thunders,

20

Cradled in her soft voice,
Could other voice of all earth’s voices sweet
Make his stern heart rejoice?
Yea, this was better than all, greater than all to him,
Truer than youth’s mad whim,

25

The only love of his youth, the only lore of his age,
To gaze on her vast tumultuous scroll,
To pore on her wrinkled page:—
For he was very soul of her soul,
And she meet mother for him.

30

III.


Over the hazy distance,
Beyond the sunset’s rim,
Forever and forever
Those voices called to him,
Westward! westward! westward!

35

The sea sang in his head,
At morn in the busy harbour,
At nightfall on his bed—
Westward! westward! westward!
Over the line of breakers,

40

Out of the distance dim,
Forever the foam-white fingers
Beckoning, beckoning him.  [Page 173]


IV.


This was no common spirit,
This sailor of old Bristowe;

45

Not one of the mart-made helots
Such as the world doth know;
But a bronzed and rugged veteran,
Adrift in the vanguard’s flow;
A son of the world’s great highway

50

Where the mighty storm-winds blow.


V.


All honor to this grand old Pilot,
Whose flag is struck, whose sails are furled,
Whose ship is beached, whose voyage ended;
Who sleeps somewhere in sod unknown,

55

Without a slab, without a stone.
In that great Island, sea-impearled.
Yea, reverence with honor blended,
For this old seaman of the past,
Who braved the leagues of ocean hurled,

60

Who out of danger knowledge rended,
And built the bastions, sure and fast,
Of that great bridgeway grand and vast
Of golden commerce round the world.
All honor! yea, a day shall come,

65

If glory lives in human rhyme,
When our poor faltering lips are dumb;
A greater and more splendid time,
When larger men of mightier aim
Shall do meet honor to his name.

70

Yea, honor! only greatness keeps
Its sanctuary where this seaman sleeps;
This old Venetian, Briton-born,
Who held of fear a hero’s scorn,  [Page 174]
Who nailed his colors to the mast,

75

Who sought in reverence for the true,
And found it in the rifting blue
Of those broad furrows of the vast.
Who knew no honors, held no state,
But in his ruggedness was great.

80

Who, like some sea-shell, in him felt
The universe of ocean dwelt,
Whose whole true being nature cast
Like his own ocean-spaces, vast!


VI.


Yea, he is dead, this mighty seaman!

85

Four long centuries ago.
Beating westward, ever westward,
Beating out from old Bristowe,
Saw he far in visions lifted,
Down the golden sunset’s glow,

90

Through the bars of twilight rifted,
All the glories that we know.
Beating westward, ever westward,
Over heaving leagues of brine,
Buffeted by arctic scurries,

95

Languid trade-winds from the Line;
With a courage heaven-gifted,
And a fortitude divine.
Yea, he is dead; but who shall say
That all the splendid deeds he wrought,

100

That all the lofty truths he taught
(If truth be knowledge nobly sought),
Are dead and vanished quite away.
Nay, nay, he lives; and such as he,
In every lofty human dream,

105

In every true sublimity  [Page 175]
That splendors earth and makes it teem
With inward might and majesty;
This grad old Pilot of Bristowe,
Incarnate, comes to earth again,

110

As when, four hundred years ago,
He swept in storm and shine and snow,
Athwart the thunders of the main.


VII.


Greater far than shaft or storied fane,
Than bronze and marble blent,

115

Greater than all the honors he could gain
From a nation’s high intent,
He sleeps alone, in his great isle, unknown,
With the chalk-cliffs all around him for his mighty graveyard stone,
And the league-long, sounding roar

120

Of old ocean, for evermore
Beating, beating, about his rest,
For fane and monument.

 



Bereavement of the Fields

(In Memory of Archibald Lampman, who died February 10th, 1899)


SOFT fall the February snows, and soft
Falls on my heart the snow of wintry pain;
For never more, by wood or field or croft,
Will he we knew walk with his loved again;
No more, with eyes adream and soul aloft,

5

In those high moods where love and beauty reign,
Greet his familiar fields, his skies without a stain.  [Page 176]

Soft fall the February snows, and deep,
Like downy pinions from the moulting breast
Of all the mothering sky, round his hushed sleep,

10

Flutter a million loves upon his rest,
Where once his well-loved flowers were fain to peep,
With adder-tongue and waxen petals prest,
In young spring evenings reddening down the west.

Soft fall the February snows, and hushed

15

Seems life’s loud action, all its strife removed,
Afar, remote, where grief itself seems crushed,
And even hope and sorrow are reproved;
For he whose cheek erstwhile with hope was flushed,
And by the gentle haunts of being moved,

20

Hath gone the way of all he dreamed and loved.

Soft fall the February snows, and lost,
This tender spirit gone with scarce a tear,
Ere, loosened from the dungeons of the frost,
Wakens with yearnings new the enfranchised year,

25

Late winter-wizened, gloomed, and tempest-tost;
And Hesper’s gentle, delicate veils appear,
When dream anew the days of hope and fear.

And Mother Nature, she whose heart is fain,
Yea, she who grieves not, neither faints nor fails,

30

Building the seasons, she will bring again
March with rudening madness of wild gales,
April and her wraiths of tender rain,
And all he loved,—this soul whom memory veils,
Beyond the burden of our strife and pain.

35


Not his to wake the strident note of song,
Nor pierce the deep recesses of the heart,
Those tragic wells, remote, of might and wrong;  [Page 177]
But rather, with those gentler souls apart,
He dreamed like his own summer days along,

40

Filled with the beauty born of his own heart,
Sufficient in the sweetness of his song.

Outside this prison-house of all our tears,
Enfranchised from our sorrow and our wrong,
Beyond the failure of our days and years,

45

Beyond the burden of our saddest song,
He moves with those whose music filled his ears,
And claimed his gentle spirit from the throng,—
Wordsworth, Arnold, Keats, high masters of his song.

Like some rare Pan of those old Grecian days,

50

Here in our hours of deeper stress reborn,
Unfortunate thrown upon life’s evil ways,
His inward ear heard ever that satyr horn
From Nature’s lips reverberate night and morn,
And fled from men and all their troubled maze,

55

Standing apart, with sad, incurious gaze.

And now, untimely cut, like some sweet flower
Plucked in the early summer of its prime,
Before it reached the fullness of its dower,
He withers in the morning of our time;

60

Leaving behind him, like a summer shower,
A fragrance of earth’s beauty, and the chime
Of gentle and imperishable rhyme.

Songs in our ears of winds and flowers and buds
And gentle loves and tender memories

65

Of Nature’s sweetest aspects, her pure moods,
Wrought from the inward truth of intimate eyes
And delicate ears of him who harks and broods,
And, nightly pondering, daily grows more wise,
And dreams and sees in mighty solitudes.  [Page 178]

70


Soft fall the February snows, and soft
He sleeps in peace upon the breast of her
He loved the truest; where, by wood and croft,
The wintry silence folds in fleecy blur
About his silence, while in glooms aloft

75

The mighty forest fathers, without stir,
Guard well the rest of him, their rare sweet worshipper.

 



Nicholas Flood Davin


NATURE the mother hath her seas,
     Her lakes, her vales, her mountain rifts,
And to her various sons she gives
     Her various gifts.

To one the power of mighty mind,

5

     To sway, to forge a people’s chain,
And to another but to bear
     A life-long pain.

To one rare soul her magic lore
     Of will, keen insight, prophecy;

10

To do, to dare, and change all things
     Beneath the sky.

Unto another to console,
     To raise and succor, aid and heal
Those wounded ones who blindly drive

15

     Fate’s grinding wheel.  [Page 179]

Not singly gifted was this man,
     No simple furrow his to plow;
But with a burden of gifts the Mother kind
     Did him endow.

20


The piercing wit, the splendid form,
     The poet lip, the flashing eye,
And all that magic power of soul
     That will not die.

Not his to rule with subtle skill,

25

     To plot, to plan with fertile brain:
But with rare charm of mind and voice
     To hold and chain.

Here where he sleeps we rear this stone,
     Memorial of his spirit’s force;

30

This valiant knight whom death alone
     Could dare unhorse.

Alone he moved amid our clan,
     A genial alien in our waste,
The courtly relic of an age

35

     Of finer taste;

When kindly satire forged her darts,
     And wit and learning leaned to rhyme;
And polished sentences were more in vogue,
     And less a crime.

40


Courteous and manly, child of that
     Rare charm old Erin grants her sons;
With all that humorous touch with which she dowers
     Her rarer ones.  [Page 180]

Not his to raise prophetic voice,

45

     To sear the soul with flaming brand:
He stood for culture, genial, kind,
     In our new land:

Where Force, oft naked, often clothed
     In ruder garments than is meet,

50

Doth in grave senate halls parade,
     As in the street.

Yea, he is gone, departed hence,
     When shall our halls another find:
His kindly satire, scintillating wit,

55

His kindly satire, scintillating wit,
     His classic mind.

And o’er his grave Canadian love
     Canadian grief a garland throws:
And our young muse a chaplet binds
     About his brows.

60


Leaving his faults, his virtues rare,
     His failure, hopes, to gentle heaven;
Forgiving his weakness, as we do also pray
     To be forgiven.

 



Henry A. Harper

(Drowned in the Ottawa River while trying to save Miss Blair)


WE crown the splendors of immortal peace,
And laud the heroes of ensanguined war,
Rearing in granite memory of men
Who build the future, recreate the past,
Or animate the present dull world’s pulse

5

With loftier riches of the human mind.  [Page 181]

But his was greatness not of common mould,
And yet so human in its simple worth,
That any spirit plodding its slow round
Of social commonplace and daily moil,

10

Might blunder on such greatness, did he hold
In him the kernel sap from which it sprung.

Men in rare hours great actions may perform,
Heroic, lofty, whereof earth will ring,
A world onlooking, and the spirit strung

15

To high achievement, at the cannon’s mouth,
Or where fierce ranks of maddened men go down.

But this was godlier.  In the common round
Of life’s slow action, stumbling on the brink
Of sudden opportunity, he chose

20

The only noble, godlike, splendid way,
And made his exit, as earth’s great have gone.
By that vast doorway looking out on death.

No poet this of winged, immortal pen;
No hero of an hundred victories;

25

Nor iron moulder of unwieldy states,
Grave counsellor of parliaments, gold-tongued,
Standing in shadow of a centuried fame,
Drinking the splendid plaudits of a world.

But simple, unrecorded in his days,

30

Unostentatious, like the average man
Of average duty, walked the common earth,
And when fate flung her challenge in his face,
Took all his spirit in his blinded eyes,
And showed in action why God made the world.

35


He passes as all pass, both small and great,
Oblivion-clouded, to the common goal;—
And all unmindful moves the dull world round,  [Page 182]
With baser dreams of this material day,
And all that makes man petty, the slow pace

40

Of small accomplishment that mocks the soul.

But he hath taught us by this splendid deed,
That under all the brutish mask of life
And dulled intention of ignoble ends,
Man’s soul is not all sordid; that behind

45

This tragedy of ills and hates that seem,
There lurks a godlike impulse in the world,
And men are greater than they idly dream.

 



The Dead Leader

(Written on the day of Sir John A. Macdonald’s Funeral, June 10th, 1891)


     LET the sad drums mutter low,
     And the serried ranks move slow,
And the thousand hearts beat hushed along the street;
     For a mighty heart is still,
     And a great, unconquered will

5

Hath passed to meet the conqueror all must meet.

     Outworn without assoil
     From a great life’s lengthened toil,
Laurelled with a half a century’s fame;
     From the care and adulation

10

     To the heart-throb of the nation
He hath passed to be a memory and a name.

     With banners draped and furled,
     ’Mid the sorrow of a world,
We lay him down with fitting pomp and state;

15

     With slumber in his breast,
     To his long, eternal rest
We lay him down, this man who made us great.  [Page 183]

     Him of the wider vision,
     Who had one hope, elysian,

20

To mould a mighty empire toward the west:
     Who through the hostile years,
     ’Mid the wrangling words, like spears,
Still bore this titan vision in his breast.

     God gave this highest honor

25

     To the nation, that upon her
He was spared to lay the magic of his hand;
     Then to live to see the greatness
     Of his noble work’s completeness,
Then to pass to rest beloved by his land.

30


     We stand at death’s dim gates
     Where his mighty soul awaits
Somewhere the long, long silence of the years.
     And the marble of his lips
     Doth all our woe eclipse,

35

Death’s awful peace rolls back upon our tears.

     Greater than all sorrow
     That our hearts can borrow,
Loftier than our fleeting, human praise;
     He hath calmness, great and grim,

40

     That death hath granted him,
The wisest and the mightiest of our days.

     Let the sad drums mutter low,
     And the serried ranks move slow,
And the thousand hearts beat hushed along the street:

45

     For a mighty heart is still,
     And a great, unconquered will
Hath passed to meet the conqueror all must meet.  [Page 184]

 



Alexander Lumsden

A Scottish-Canadian


BESIDE the Rideau, ’neath its elms,
     Still stands the home he loved so well;
But silence eternal overwhelms
     The kindly master ’neath its spell.

Beneath its rooftree hushed he lies

5

     In death’s cold truce of mortal pain,
While outside under August skies
     His loved flowers glisten in the rain,

Unconscious in their lack of grief
     Of those who come or those who go,

10

Innocent in their beauty brief,
     Of human heart-break, human woe.

A man he was of simple moods,
     Of strong keen action, kindly thought,
A friend of life’s beatitudes,

15

     Beneath the rough mail grimly wrought.

Time’s busy battlers of the street,
     In strife for earth’s material things,
Know not the souls they daily meet,
     Disguised in trade’s grim armored rings.

20


’Tis not the outward presence, bland,
     Whose honied accents plaudits win,
The favored idol of a land,
     That holds the noblest heart within.  [Page 185]

’Twas not the high or lowly birth,

25

     The worldly culture, made this man,—
But somewhat in him, more than earth,
     That blessed him ere his life began.

Some kind, intuitive knowledge sent,
     Some wisdom of the heart and brain;

30

Some essence in his nature blent,
     As throughout heaven dissolves the rain;

That ’mid the grime of worldly strife,
     Of toil’s rude struggle, hard and grim,
Still near to nature all his life

35

     There walked the unsullied heart of him.

A spirit joying in tender moods
     Of bud and blossom, sun and rain;
Who read the wisdom of wide woods,
     A poet with all the poet’s pain.

40


The bough into the blast is bent,
     The shaft from out the bow is sped;
The fire that flamed the wick is spent,
     The wind that whirled the dust is dead.

Fair Stanley Avenue, once so full

45

     Of life’s achievement, power and will!
Now only silence beautiful!
     The very vagrant hours are still.

NEW EDINBURGH, August 6, 1904.  [Page 186]

 

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