Sagas of Vaster Britain: Poems of the Race, the Empire and the Divinity of Man

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

QUEBEC

(TERCENTENARY)


 

AT last ’tis gone, that fever of fair days,
And silence broods o’er that late Babylon.
The mighty fleet, the marching hosts have gone,
The radiant week becomes a memory.
The tired city, returning to its tasks,
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Takes up once more its daily duty’s round,
Fulfilling, godlike, ancient destiny.

But is the vanished pageant all a dream
At morning shattered by the cruel return
To grim, material round of serf-like tasks

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Of mimes who, mirthless, weave some hideous web,
And, ever weaving, never know the end?

Hearken! thou ancient storied River Crag!
Give answer from thy mists of thy great hill!
Lifting thy titan shoulders, mantled green,

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And teach the world—yea, thy poor children blind.
Rend wide this veil of gross, material sleep!
Wake Neptune from his foamy, spermy tent,
And Pan, to sing, from out his forests green!

What is that lesson thou wouldest have us learn?

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What is that dream which lurketh in thy sleep?
What visions ’neath thine eyelids ere the dawn?
Wouldst thou, old Crag, worn of earth’s aged despairs,
Weary of dark dominion, like that fiend,
Planet o’ershadowing, bereaved of light,
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Upon thy shoulders huge uplift the morn?

Meanwhile thou broodest where vast mountains frown,
And thy great river seaward ever melts
Beyond Orleans for many a weary mile
Into the lonely evening, purpling bleak;

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As when, in ages gone, Atlantean gods,
Grave titan children of the early world,
Pushed here their wandering prows, and gazed in awe:
Or ’chance famed Jason, with immortal crew,
Moored here the Grecian ship, fearing thy grim
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Gates heraclean, to the Hesperides.