Canada

Original Text: 
Selected Poems of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts (Toronto: Ryerson, 1936): 125-26. PS 8485 O22A17 Robarts Library.
1O Child of Nations, giant-limbed,
2    Who stand'st among the nations now
3Unheeded, unadored, unhymned,
4    With unanointed brow, --
5How long the ignoble sloth, how long
6    The trust in greatness not thine own?
7Surely the lion's brood is strong
8    To front the world alone!
9How long the indolence, ere thou dare
10    Achieve thy destiny, seize thy fame, --
11Ere our proud eyes behold thee bear
12    A nation's franchise, nation's name?
13The Saxon force, the Celtic fire,
14    These are thy manhood's heritage!
15Why rest with babes and slaves? Seek higher
16    The place of race and age.
17I see to every wind unfurled
18    The flag that bears the Maple Wreath;
19Thy swift keels furrow round the world
20    Its blood-red folds beneath;
21Thy swift keels cleave the furthest seas;
22    Thy white sails swell with alien gales;
23To stream on each remotest breeze
24    The black smoke of thy pipes exhales.
25O Falterer, let thy past convince
26    Thy future, -- all the growth, the gain,
30    Quebec, thy storied citadel
31Attest in burning song and psalm
32    How here thy heroes fell!
33O Thou that bor'st the battle's brunt
35On whose scant ranks but iron front
36    The battle broke in vain! --
37Whose was the danger, whose the day,
38    From whose triumphant throats the cheers,
40    Storming like clarion-bursts our ears?
41On soft Pacific slopes, -- beside
42    Strange floods that northward rave and fall, --
44    Thy sons await thy call.
45They wait; but some in exile, some
46    With strangers housed, in stranger lands, --
47And some Canadian lips are dumb
49O mystic Nile! Thy secret yields
50    Before us; thy most ancient dreams
51Are mixed with far Canadian fields
52    And murmur of Canadian streams.
53But thou, my country, dream not thou!
54    Wake, and behold how night is done, --
55How on thy breast, and o'er thy brow,
56    Bursts the uprising sun!

Notes

27] Cartier: Jacques Cartier (1491-1557), French navigator who first explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River in 1534-36 and 1541-42 and who is often credited for discovering Canada. Back to Line
28] Champlain: Samuel de Champlain (ca. 1570-1635), who explored up the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers and about the lower Great Lakes as well as along the coasts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England. He drew up maps of all these regions and in 1633 was made Governor of Canada, a colony centred in Quebec City, which he founded. Back to Line
29] Montcalm and Wolfe: Louis-Joseph de Montcalm (1712-1759), Marquis de Montcalm, commander of the French forces defeated by the English, commanded by General James Wolfe (1728-59), on the Plains of Abraham above the St. Lawrence River before Quebec City. Both men died in a battle that was to shift sovereignty in Canada from the French to the British. Back to Line
34] Queenston: the Battle of Queenston Heights, on October 13, 1812, in which US forces crossed the Niagara River and were victorious over Upper Canada forces, led by Isaac Brock (who died in the battle) until reinforcements arrived from Fort George, commanded by Major-General Roger Hale Sheaffe, who attacked the Americans from the rear, down from Queenston Heights, and defeated them with very few losses.
Lundy's Lane: the most hard-fought battle in the War of 1812, took place between American and Upper Canada forces on July 25, 1814, near Niagara Falls; won by the Canadians, barely, and at great cost to both sides. Back to Line
39] Chrysler's Farm: the Battle of Crysler's Farm, fought November 11, 1813, near Morrisburg, Ontario, was decisively won by British troops over much larger American forces.
Chateauguay: the Battle of Châteauguay was fought on October 26, 1813, along the Châteauguay River some 50 kilometers south of Montreal. Canadian forces made the Americans retreat. Back to Line
43] Acadia: the first lasting French colony in North America and still a dominant cultural and political region within Canada's maritime provinces. Back to Line
48] Some Canadians served in the army of Charles George Gordon (1833-1885) when Khartoum was overrun by the forces of El Mahdi in 1885. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1886
Publication Notes: 
Toronto Globe (January 4, 1886).
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Rhyme: