The Dance at McDougall's

Original Text: 
The Collected Poems of Thomas O'Hagan (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1922): 33-34. PS8479 .H34 A17 1922 Robarts
1In a little log house near the rim of the forest
2    With its windows of sunlight, its threshold of stone,
3Lived Donald McDougall, the quaintest of Scotchmen,
4    And Janet his wife, in their shanty, alone:
5By day the birds sang them a chorus of welcome,
6    At night they saw Scotland again in their dreams;
7They toiled full of hope 'mid the sunshine of friendship,
8    Their hearts leaping onward like troutlets in streams,
9        In the little log home of McDougall's.
10At evening the boys and the girls would all gather
11    To dance and to court 'neath McDougall's rooftree;
13    When lashed by the tempests that sweep the dark sea:
14There Malcolm and Flora and Angus and Katie
15    With laughter-timed paces came tripping along,
17    Would link each Scotch reel with a good Irish song,
18        Down at the dance at McDougall's.
19For the night was as day at McDougall's log shanty,
20    The blaze on the hearth shed its halo around,
22    Patter'd each measure with "ooch!" and with bound;
24    Nor the latest waltz-step found a place on the floor,
26    Shook the room to its centre from fire-place to door,
27        In the little log house of McDougall's.
28Gone now is the light in McDougall's log shanty,
29    The blaze on the hearth long has sunk into gloom,
30And Donald and Janet who dreamed of "Auld Scotia"
31    Are dreaming of Heaven in the dust of the tomb:
33    Who toiled during day and danced through the night,
34Live again in bright dreams of Memory's morning
35    When their hearts beat to music of life, love and light,
36        Down at the dance at McDougall's.

Notes

12] Solway Firth, an inlet of the Irish Sea that partly borders England and Scotland. Back to Line
16] Old Erin: Old Ireland. Back to Line
21] The reel of Tullochgorum, now known as "Jimmy Allen." Back to Line
23] "Lancers": a quadrille, a square dance with four couples. "Jerseys": unidentified. Back to Line
25] strathspeys: stately dance in 4/4 time. Back to Line
32] "balachs" and "calahs": Old Testament pagan names, the first Balach, the king of Moab (Vulgate, Micheas, 6.5), and the second Calah, an ancient Assyrian capital city (Genesis 10.8). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: