THE MANY-MANSIONED HOUSE
AND OTHER POEMS


By
EDWARD WILLIAM THOMSON




 

MOTHER AND CHILD

(OLD FRANCE AND NEW)

W. CHAPMAN



FROM old Amorica our fathers, wending
Over strange seas to solitudes unknown,
Wrought centuries Homeric ere the ending
On Abram’s Plains beheld them overthrown.

By famine weakened and by numbers stricken,

5

Vainly they called to Louis’ deafened ears;
Wantons alone could that base Wanton quicken,
And our last hope went down in blood and tears.

Conquered?  Oh, yes—the victors find us loyal
To oaths recorded,—but our hearts go free,

10

They yearn across the deep with love as royal
As ever heroes gave, O France, to thee.

Despite neglect the true-born child must cherish
Ever the mother, though she walked astray;
The duty of his soul can never perish,

15

Nor cease from hope to make her glad some day.

Never by force the filial bond is riven:—
Because thy bosom to our lips did thrill,
Because thy blood throughout our veins is driven,
Because that Thou art France we love thee still.

20


Little it matter if neglect or distance
Hide us from her, as ocean fogs immense;
Ever her forehead’s glorious persistence
Sublimely lifts a radiance intense. [Page 143]

It lightens round the World a beamy pleasure.

25

And, ’spite fierce thunderclaps that ominous roll
From dark events, we hear the racy measure
Of her fine humors freshening Man’s soul.

More sweetly fall her accents than the murmur
Of wakening birds saluting morning clear,

30

Her charming tones could come to us no firmer
Were the beloved lips against our ear.

Ever she glowed aloft, a brilliant vision
Enchanting Europe, even when Fates unkind
And Teuton victors voice a vain derision,

35

Deeming her star eternally declined.

Though then the blind and shame-forgetting neighbor
Spat on her brow, insulting all her woe,
We saw her rise portending over Tabor
In splendor clearer than her Past could show.

40


Thou art, O France, to us the fertile Mother,
From whom the World an endless thirst allays;
Thou art the eye, more piercing than all other,
Scanning through mists of Time Man’s coming days;

The Head that guides The Future’s ship to haven;

45

The Hand that turns the mighty volume’s page,
Whereon The Ideal’s characters are graven
To inspire the human soul from Age to Age.

Behold, an hundred years have long been ended
Since vanquished France her weeping child forsook;

50

To Manhood’s strength the babe has far ascended,
His origin august beams in his look.

Wealthy and proud and free, by hardy training
In iron contests conquering adverse Fate, [Page 144]
Fighting enormous forests, slowly gaining,

55

To Progress all his energies vibrate.

Superbly laboring, Founder and Creator,
Soldier, Apostle, valorous Pioneer,
From Arctic solitudes to thronged Equator
His furrowing keels plough down the arduous year.

60


Unsullied gleams his path when back he glances,
He eyes the morning, brave his youthful stride,
On trails of living light his course advances;
Henceforth the Child may claim the Mother’s pride. [Page 145]