Eos: An Epic of the Dawn, and Other Poems

By Nicholas Flood Davin


 

CHRISTMAS DAY AT OTTAWA.

(COMPOSED WHILE LOOKING AT THE CHAUDIÈRE FALLS FROM THE PAVILION ON PARLIAMENT HILL. )


 

The broad snowy landscape, blue sky over-bending,
The river closed up, but the course of its trending
Apparent through woodland and mountain all bare;
    And glazing and gilding, and buttress and building,
And tower and turret, a-gleam in the glare
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    Of a sun, of a brightness complete and unyielding,
And Hull like a camp, and the lumber like war tents;
The roar of the Chaudière—the smoke of its torments
Flung high in the clear frosty air, like the breath
Of some monster Titanic, in torture of death.
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And the sleigh bells are singing, and jingling, are flinging
    Their music of gladness through resonant air,
And folk drest en fete, wend where church bells are ringing,
    And man kneels to heaven and proffers his prayer;
Where through arches of green the deep organ-note rolls,
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    And the cross is bedeck’d with the spoil of the trees,
And legends of mercy, from fanciful scrolls,
    Breathe hope to the sin-laden crowd on its knees.
But the sun’s a shekinah, the white snow an altar,
And whose faith, ’mid such scene, on this day, dares to falter?
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Trade’s bustle is hushed, and great Nature calls
The soul to its God by the voice of those falls. [Page 76]

And those waters which howl o’er the bleak rocks forever,
    Now slow to the sea ’neath the ice silent roll,
Like some life full of purpose, but shrouded endeavour,
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    That spurns acclaim, yet wins on to the goal;
Like God’s life in Christ—can the mind there find rest?
    A manger, a maiden, a babe newly born!—
Can that tiny hand which soft presses the breast,
    Be his who rules oceans and reins in the storm?
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His the hand who let loose those wild waves in their might,
And softened their terror with sweet rainbow light?
Do not fear—have but faith—and hark! how he calls
The soul to his soul thro’ the sound of those falls.

O Father and source of whatever is fair!
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    Fill my soul with such strength as to nature belongs.
The cataract’s force as it leaps from its lair,
    The sweetness of Summer and Summer birds’ songs;
A will like a law to no passion e’er bending,
    A heart that responds but to noble desires,
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And thoughts wing’d with light’ning of Heaven’s own lending,
    And a fancy illumin’d with Heaven’s own fires.
On this bright Xmas Day, which annihilates care,
In Christ’s name I offer this confident prayer,
And, with heart that nor future nor present appals,
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Thy blessing I hear in the boom of those falls. [Page 77]