Flint and Feather
Flint and Feather
E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), Flint and Feather: The Complete Poems, with Introduction by Theodore Watts-Dunton and a Biographical Sketch of the Author, Illustrated by J. R. Seavey, 7th edn. (1912: Toronto and London: The Musson Book Co., Ltd., 1921. PS 8469 O3F5 1921 ROBA.
1.2Of him whose name breathes bravery and life
1.3And courage to the tribe that calls him chief.
1.4I am Ojistoh, his white star, and he
1.5Is land, and lake, and sky--and soul to me.
1.6Ah ! but they hated him, those Huron braves,
1.7Him who had flung their warriors into graves,
1.8Him who had crushed them underneath his heel,
1.9Whose arm was iron, and whose heart was steel
1.10To all--save me, Ojistoh, chosen wife
1.11Of my great Mohawk, white star of his life.
1.12Ah ! but they hated him, and councilled long
1.13With subtle witchcraft how to work him wrong ;
1.14How to avenge their dead, and strike him where
1.15His pride was highest, and his fame most fair.
1.16Their hearts grew weak as women at his name :
1.17They dared no war-path since my Mohawk came
1.18With ashen bow, and flinten arrow-head
1.19To pierce their craven bodies ; but their dead
1.20Must be avenged. Avenged ? They dared not walk
1.21In day and meet his deadly tomahawk ;
1.22They dared not face his fearless scalping knife ;
1.24[page 4] O ! evil, evil face of them they sent
1.25With evil Huron speech : "Would I consent
1.26To take of wealth ? be queen of all their tribe ?
1.27Have wampum ermine ? " Back I flung the bribe
1.28Into their teeth, and said, "While I have life
1.29Know this--Ojistoh is the Mohawk's wife."
1.30Wah ! how we struggled ! But their arms were strong.
1.31They flung me on their pony's back, with thong
1.32Round ankle, wrist, and shoulder. Then upleapt
1.33The one I hated most : his eye he swept
1.34Over my misery, and sneering said,
1.35"Thus, fair Ojistoh, we avenge our dead."
1.36And we two rode, rode as a sea wind-chased,
1.37I, bound with buckskin to his hated waist,
1.38He, sneering, laughing, jeering, while he lashed
1.39The horse to foam, as on and on we dashed.
1.40Plunging through creek and river, bush and trail,
1.41On, on we galloped like a northern gale.
1.42At last, his distant Huron fires aflame
1.43We saw, and nearer, nearer still we came.
1.44I, bound behind him in the captive's place,
1.45Scarcely could see the outline of his face.
1.46I smiled, and laid my cheek against his back :
1.47"Loose thou my hands," I said. "This pace let slack.
1.48Forget we now that thou and I are foes.
1.49I like thee well, and wish to clasp thee close ;
1.50I like the courage of thine eye and brow ;
1.51I like thee better than my Mohawk now."
1.52[page 5] He cut the cords ; we ceased our maddened haste
1.53I wound my arms about his tawny waist ;
1.54My hand crept up the buckskin of his belt ;
1.55His knife hilt in my burning palm I felt ;
1.56One hand caressed his cheek, the other drew
1.57The weapon softly--"I love you, love you,"
1.58I whispered, "love you as my life."
1.59And--buried in his back his scalping knife.
1.60Ha ! how I rode, rode as a sea wind-chased
1.61Mad with sudden freedom, mad with haste,
1.62Back to my Mohawk and my home. I lashed
1.63That horse to foam, as on and on I dashed.
1.64Plunging thro' creek and river, bush and trail,
1.65On, on I galloped like a northern gale.
1.66And then my distant Mohawk's fires aflame
1.67I saw, as nearer, nearer still I came,
1.68My hands all wet, stained with a life's red dye,
1.69But pure my soul, pure as those stars on high--
1.70"My Mohawk's pure white star, Ojistoh, still am I."
As Red Men Die2.1
2.2A taunt more galling than the Huron's hiss ?
2.3He--proud and scornful, he--who laughed at law,
2.4He--scion of the deadly Iroquois,
2.5He--the bloodthirsty, he--the Mohawk chief,
2.6He--who despises pain and sneers at grief,
2.7Here in the hated Huron's vicious clutch,
2.8That even captive he disdains to touch!
2.9Captive ! But never conquered ; Mohawk brave
2.10Stoops not to be to any man a slave ;
2.11Least, to the puny tribe his soul abhors,
2.12The tribe whose wigwams sprinkle Simcoe's shores.
2.13With scowling brow he stands and courage high,
2.14Watching with haughty and defiant eye
2.15His captors, as they council o'er his fate,
2.16Or strive his boldness to intimidate.
2.17Then fling they unto him the choice ;
2.18 "Wilt thou
2.19Walk o'er the bed of fire that waits thee now--
2.20Walk with uncovered feet upon the coals,
2.21Until thou reach the ghostly Land of Souls,
2.22And, with thy Mohawk death-song please our ear ?
2.23Or wilt thou with the women rest thee here ? "
2.24[page 7] His eyes flash like an eagle's, and his hands
2.25Clench at the insult. Like a god he stands.
2.26"Prepare the fire ! " he scornfully demands.
2.27He knoweth not that this same jeering band
2.28Will bite the dust--will lick the Mohawk's hand ;
2.29Will kneel and cower at the Mohawk's feet ;
2.30Will shrink when Mohawk war drums wildly beat.
2.31His death will be avenged with hideous hate
2.32By Iroquois, swift to annihilate
2.33His vile detested captors, that now flaunt
2.34Their war clubs in his face with sneer and taunt,
2.35Not thinking, soon that reeking, red, and raw,
2.36Their scalps will deck the belts of Iroquois.
2.37The path of coals outstretches, white with heat,
2.38A forest fir's length--ready for his feet.
2.39Unflinching as a rock he steps along
2.40The burning mass, and sings his wild war song ;
2.41Sings, as he sang when once he used to roam
2.42Throughout the forests of his southern home,
2.43Where, down the Genesee, the water roars,
2.44Where gentle Mohawk purls between its shores,
2.45Songs, that of exploit and of prowess tell ;
2.46Songs of the Iroquois invincible.
2.47Up the long trail of fire he boasting goes,
2.48Dancing a war dance to defy his foes.
2.49His flesh is scorched, his muscles burn and shrink,
2.50But still he dances to death's awful brink.
2.51[page 8] The eagle plume that crests his haughty head
2.52Will never droop until his heart be dead.
2.53Slower and slower yet his footstep swings,
2.54Wilder and wilder still his death-song rings,
2.55Fiercer and fiercer thro' the forest bounds
2.56His voice that leaps to Happier Hunting Grounds.
2.57One savage yell--
2.58 Then loyal to his race,
2.59He bends to death--but never to disgrace.
The Pilot of the Plains3.1
3.2Rise and wed thy Redskin wooer, nobler warrior ne'er was born ;
3.3Cease thy watching, cease thy dreaming,
3.4 Show the white thine Indian scorn."
3.5Thus they taunted her, declaring, "He remembers naught of thee :
3.6Likely some white maid he wooeth, far beyond the inland sea."
3.7But she answered ever kindly,
3.8 "He will come again to me,"
3.9Till the dusk of Indian summer crept athwart the western skies ;
3.10But a deeper dusk was burning in her dark and dreaming eyes,
3.11As she scanned the rolling prairie,
3.12 Where the foothills fall, and rise.
3.13Till the autumn came and vanished, till the season of the rains,
3.14Till the western world lay fettered in midwinter's crystal chains,
3.15Still she listened for his coming,
3.16 Still she watched the distant plains.
3.17[page 10] Then a night with nor'land tempest, nor'land snows a-swirling fast,
3.18Out upon the pathless prairie came the Pale-face through the blast,
3.19Calling, calling, "Yakonwita,
3.20 I am coming, love, at last."
3.21Hovered night above, about him, dark its wings and cold and dread ;
3.22Never unto trail or tepee were his straying footsteps led ;
3.23Till benumbed, he sank, and pillowed
3.24 On the drifting snows his head,
3.25Saying, "O ! my Yakonwita call me, call me, be my guide
3.26To the lodge beyond the prairie--for I vowed ere winter died
3.27I would come again, belovèd ;
3.28 I would claim my Indian bride."
3.29"Yakonwita, Yakonwita ! " Oh, the dreariness that strains
3.30Through the voice that calling, quivers, till a whisper but remains,
3.32 I am lost upon the plains."
3.33But the Silent Spirit hushed him, lulled him as he cried anew,
3.34"Save me, save me ! O ! beloved, I am Pale but I am true.
3.36 I am dying, love, for you."
3.37[page 11] Leagues afar, across the prairie, she had risen from her bed,
3.38Roused her kinsmen from their slumber : "He has come to-night," she said.
3.39"I can hear him calling, calling ;
3.40 But his voice is as the dead.
3.41"Listen ! " and they sate all silent, while the tempest louder grew,
3.42And a spirit-voice called faintly, "I am dying, love, for you."
3.43Then they wailed, "O ! Yakonwita.
3.44 He was Pale, but he was true."
3.45Wrapped she then her ermine round her, stepped without the tepee door,
3.46Saying, "I must follow, follow, though he call for evermore,
3.47Yakonwita, Yakonwita ; "
3.48 And they never saw her more.
3.49Late at night, say Indian hunters, when the starlight clouds or wanes,
3.50Far away they see a maiden, misty as the autumn rains,
3.51Guiding with her lamp of moonlight
3.52 Hunters lost upon the plains.
The Cattle Theif4.1
4.2For the eyes of those desperate riders had sighted their man at last--
4.3Sighted him off to Eastward, where the Cree encampment lay,
4.4Where the cotton woods fringed the river, miles and miles away.
4.5Mistake him ? Never ! Mistake him ? the famous Eagle Chief !
4.6That terror to all the settlers, that desperate Cattle Thief--
4.7That monstrous, fearless Indian, who lorded it over the plain,
4.8Who thieved and raided, and scouted, who rode like a hurricane !
4.9But they've tracked him across the prairie ; they've followed him hard and fast ;
4.10For those desperate English settlers have sighted their man at last.
4.11Up they wheeled to the tepees, all their British blood aflame,
4.12Bent on bullets and bloodshed, bent on bringing down their game ;
4.13[page 13] But they searched in vain for the Cattle Thief : that lion had left his lair,
4.14And they cursed like a troop of demons--for the women alone were there.
4.15"The sneaking Indian coward," they hissed ; "he hides while yet he can ;
4.16He'll come in the night for cattle, but he's scared to face a man."
4.17"Never ! " and up from the cotton woods rang the voice of Eagle Chief ;
4.18And right out into the open stepped, unarmed, the Cattle Thief.
4.19Was that the game they had coveted ? Scarce fifty years had rolled
4.20Over that fleshless, hungry frame, starved to the bone and old ;
4.21Over that wrinkled, tawny skin, unfed by the warmth of blood.
4.22Over those hungry, hollow eyes that glared for the sight of food.
4.23He turned, like a hunted lion : "I know not fear,: said he;
4.24And the words outleapt from his shrunken lips in the language of the Cree.
4.25"I'll fight you, white-skins, one by one, till I kill you all," he said ;
4.26But the threat was scarcely uttered, ere a dozen balls of lead
4.27Whizzed through the air about him like a shower of metal rain.
4.28[page 14] And the gaunt old Indian Cattle Thief dropped dead on the open plain.
4.29And that band of cursing settlers gave on triumphant yell,
4.30And rushed like a pack of demons on the body that writhed and fell.
4.31"Cut the fiend up into inches, throw hes carcass on the plain ;
4.32Let the wolves eat the cursed Indian, he'd have treated us the same."
4.33A dozen hands responded, a dozen knives gleamed high,
4.34But the first stroke was arrested by a woman's strange, wild cry.
4.35And out into the open, with a courage past belief,
4.36She dashed, and spread her blanket o'er the corpse of the Cattle Thief ;
4.37And the words outleapt from her shrunken lips in the language of the Cree,
4.38"If you mean to touch that body, you must cut your way through me."
4.39And that band of cursing settlers dropped backward one by one,
4.40For they knew that an Indian woman roused, was a woman to let alone.
4.41And then she raved in a frenzy that they scarcely understood,
4.42Raved of the wrongs she had suffered since her earliest babyhood :
4.43"Stand back, stand back, you white-skins, touch that dead man to your shame ;
4.44[page 15] You have stolen my father's spirit, but his body I only claim.
4.45You have killed him, but you shall not dare to touch him now he's dead.
4.46You have cursed, and called him a Cattle Thief, though you robbed him first of bread--
4.47Robbed him and robbed my people--look there, at that shrunken face,
4.48Starved with a hollow hunger, we owe to you and your race.
4.49What have you left to us of land, what have you left of game,
4.50What have you brought but evil, and curses since you came ?
4.51How have you paid us for our game ? how paid us for our land ?
4.52By a book, to save our souls from the sins you brought in your other hand.
4.53Go back with your new religion, we never have understood
4.54Your robbing an Indian's body, and mocking his soul with food.
4.55Go back with your new religion, and find--if find you can--
4.56The honest man you have ever made from out a starving man.
4.57You say your cattle are not ours, your meat is not our meat ;
4.58When you pay for the land you live in, we'll pay for the meat we eat.
4.59Give back our land and our country, give back our herds of game ;
4.60[page 16] Give back the furs and the forests that were ours before you came ;
4.61Give back the peace and the plenty. Then come with your new belief,
4.62And blame, if you dare, the hunger that drove him to be a thief."
A Cry from an Indian Wife5.1
5.2We may not meet to-morrow ; who can tell
5.3What mighty ills befall our little band,
5.4Or what you'll suffer from the white man's hand ?
5.5Here is your knife ! I thought 'twas sheathed for aye.
5.6No roaming bison calls for it to-day ;
5.7No hide of prairie cattle will it maim ;
5.8The plains are bare, it seeks a nobler game :
5.9'Twill drink the life-blood of a soldier host.
5.10Go ; rise and strike, no matter what the cost.
5.11Yet stay. Revolt not at the Union Jack,
5.12Nor raise Thy hand against this stripling pack
5.13Of white-faced warriors, marching West to quell
5.14Our fallen tribe that rises to rebel.
5.15They all are young and beautiful and good ;
5.16Curse to the war that drinks their harmless blood.
5.17Curse to the fate that brought them from the East
5.18To be our chiefs--to make our nation least
5.19That breathes the air of this vast continent.
5.20Still their new rule and council is well meant.
5.21They but forget we Indians owned the land
5.22From ocean unto ocean ; that they stand
5.23Upon a soil that centuries agone
5.24Was our sole kingdom and our right alone.
5.25They never think how they would feel to-day,
5.26If some great nation came from far away,
5.27[page 18] Wresting their country from their hapless braves,
5.28Giving what they gave us--but wars and graves.
5.29Then go and strike for liberty and life,
5.30And bring back honour to your Indian wife.
5.31Your wife ? Ah, what of that, who cares for me ?
5.32Who pities my poor love and agony ?
5.33What white-robed priest prays for your safety here,
5.34As prayer is said for every volunteer
5.35That swells the ranks that Canada sends out ?
5.36Who prays for vict'ry for the Indian scout ?
5.37Who prays for our poor nation lying low ?
5.38None--therefore take your tomahawk and go.
5.39My heart may break and burn into its core,
5.40But I am strong to bid you go to war.
5.41Yet stay, my heart is not the only one
5.42That grieves the loss of husband and of son ;
5.43Think of the mothers o'er the inland seas ;
5.44Think of the pale-faced maiden on her knees ;
5.45One pleads her God to guard some sweet-faced child
5.46That marches on toward the North-West wild.
5.47The other prays to shield her love from harm,
5.48To strengthen his young, proud uplifted arm.
5.49Ah, how her white face quivers thus to think,
5.50Your tomahawk his life's best blood will drink.
5.51She never thinks of my wild aching breast,
5.52Nor prays for your dark face and eagle crest
5.53Endangered by a thousand rifle balls,
5.54My heart the target if my warrior falls.
5.55O ! coward self I hesitate no more ;
5.56Go forth, and win the glories of the war.
5.57[page 19] Go forth, nor bend to greed of white men's hands,
5.58By right, by birth we Indians own these lands,
5.59Though starved, crushed, plundered, lies our nation low . . .
5.60Perhaps the white man's God has willed it so.
6.2They are chanting, they are singing through the starlight evermore,
6.3As they steal amid the silence,
6.4 And the shadows of the shore.
6.5You can hear them when the Northern candles light the Northern sky,
6.6Those pale, uncertain candle flames, that shiver, dart and die,
6.7Those dead men's icy finger tips,
6.8 Athwart the Northern sky.
6.9You can hear the ringing war-cry of a long-forgotten brave
6.10Echo through the midnight forest, echo o'er the midnight wave,
6.11And the Northern lanterns tremble
6.12 At the war-cry of that brave.
6.13And you hear a voice responding, but in soft and tender song ;
6.14It is Dawendine's spirit singing, singing all night long ;
6.15And the whisper of the night wind
6.16 Bears afar her Spirit song.
6.17[page 21] And the wailing pine trees murmur with their voice attuned to hers,
6.18Murmur when they 'rouse from slumber as the night wind through them stirs ;
6.19And you listen to their legend,
6.20 And their voices blend with hers.
6.21There was feud and there was bloodshed near the river by the hill ;
6.22And Dawendine listened, while her very heart stood still :
6.23Would her kinsman or her lover
6.24 Be the victim by the hill ?
6.25Who would be the great unconquered ? who come boasting how he dealt
6.26Death ? and show his rival's scalplock fresh and bleeding at his belt.
6.27Who would say, "O Dawendine !
6.28 Look upon the death I dealt ? "
6.29And she listens, listens, listens--till a war-cry rends the night,
6.30Cry of her victorious lover, monarch he of all the height ;
6.31And his triumph wakes the horrors,
6.32 Kills the silence of the night.
6.33Heart of her ! it throbs so madly, then lies freezing in her breast,
6.34For the icy hand of death has chilled the brother she loved best ;
6.35And her lover dealt the death-blow ;
6.36 And her heart dies in her breast.
6.37[page 22] And she hears her mother saying, "Take thy belt of wampum white ;
6.38Go unto yon evil savage while he glories on the height ;
6.39Sing and sue for peace between us :
6.40 At his feet lay wampum white.
6.41"Lest thy kinsmen all may perish, all thy brothers and thy sire
6.42Fall before his mighty hatred as the forest falls to fire;
6.43Take thy wampum pale and peaceful,
6.44 Save thy brothers, save thy sire."
6.45And the girl arises softly, softly slips toward the shore ;
6.46Loves she well the murdered brother, loves his hated foeman more,
6.47Loves, and longs to give the wampum ;
6.48 And she meets him on the shore.
6.49"Peace," she sings, "O mighty victor, Peace ! I bring thee wampum white.
6.50Sheathe thy knife whose blade has tasted my young kinsman's blood to-night
6.51Ere it drink to slake its thirsting,
6.52 I have brought thee wampum white."
6.53Answers he, "O Dawendine ! I will let thy kinsmen be,
6.54I accept thy belt of wampum ; but my hate demands for me
6.55That they give their fairest treasure,
6.56 Ere I let thy kinsmen be.
6.57[page 23] "Dawendine, for thy singing, for thy suing, war shall cease ;
6.58For thy name, which speaks of dawning, Thou shalt be the dawn of peace ;
6.59For thine eyes whose purple shadows tell of dawn,
6.60 My hate shall cease.
6.61"Dawendine, Child of Dawning, hateful are thy kin to me ;
6.62Red my fingers with their heart blood, but my heart is red for thee :
6.63Dawendine, Child of Dawning,
6.64 Wilt thou fail or follow me ? "
6.65And her kinsmen still are waiting her returning from the night,
6.66Waiting, waiting for her coming with her belt of wampum white ;
6.67But forgetting all, she follows,
6.68 Where he leads through day or night.
6.69There's a spirit on the river, there's a ghost upon the shore,
6.70And they sing of love and loving through the starlight evermore,
6.71As they steal amid the silence,
6.72 And the shadows of the shore.
7.2But such things happened often when I lived beyond the Soo."
7.3And the trapper tilted back his chair and filled his pipe anew.
7.4"I ain't thought of it neither fer this many 'n many a day,
7.5Although it used to haunt me in the years that's slid away ;
7.6The years I spent a-trappin' for the good old Hudson's Bay.
7.7"Wild ? You bet, 'twas wild then, an' few an' far between
7.8The squatter's shacks, for whites was scarce as furs when things is green,
7.9An' only reds an' `Hudson's' men was all the folk I seen.
7.10"No. Them old Indyans ain't so bad, not if you treat 'em square.
7.11Why, I lived in amongst 'em all the winters I was there,
7.12An' I never lost a copper, an' I never lost a hair.
7.13[page 25] "But I'd have lost my life the time that you've heard tell about ;
7.14I don't think I'd be settin' here, but dead beyond a doubt,
7.15If that there Indyan ` Wolverine ' jest hadn't helped me out.
7.16"'Twas freshet time, 'way back, as long as sixty- six or eight,
7.17An' I was comin' to the Post tht year a kind of late,
7.18For beaver had been plentiful, and trappin' had been great.
7.19"One day I had been settin' traps along a bit of wood,
7.20An' night was catchin' up to me jest faster 'an it should,
7.21When all at once I heard a sound that curdled up my blood.
7.22"It was the howl of famished wolves--I didn't stop to think
7.23But jest lit out across for home as quick as you could wink,
7.24But when I reached the river's edge I brought up at the brink.
7.25"That mornin' I had crossed the stream straight on a sheet of ice
7.26An' now, God help me ! There it was, churned up an' cracked to dice,
7.27The flood went boiling past--I stood like one shut in a vice.
7.28[page 26] "No way ahead, no path aback, trapped like a rat ashore,
7.29With naught but death to follow, and with naught but death afore ;
7.30The howl of hungry wolves aback--ahead, the torrent's roar.
7.31"An' then--a voice, an Indyan voice, that called out clear and clean,
7.32` Take Indyan's horse, I run like deer, wolf can't catch Wolverine.'
7.33I says, ` Thank Heaven.' There stood the chief I'd nicknamed Wolverine.
7.34"I leapt on that there horse, an' then jest like a coward fled,
7.35An' left that Indyan standin' there alone, as good as dead,
7.36With the wolves a-howlin' at his back, the swollen stream ahead.
7.37"I don't know how them Indyans dodge from death the way they do,
7.38You won't believe it, sir, bur what I'm tellin' you is true,
7.39But that there chap was 'round next day as sound as me or you.
7.40"He came to get his horse, but not a cent he'd take from me.
7.41Yes, sir, you're right, the Indyans now ain't like they used to be ;
7.42We've got 'em sharpened up a bit an' now they'll take a fee.
7.43[page 27] "No, sir, you're wrong, they ain't no ` dogs.' I'm not through tellin' yet ;
7.44You'll take that name right back again, or else jest our you get !
7.45You'll take that name right back when you hear all this yarn, I bet.
7.46"It happened that same autumn, when some Whites was comin' in,
7.47I heard the old Red River carts a-kickin' up a din,
7.48So I went over to their camp to see an English skin.
7.49"They said, ` They'd had an awful scare from Injuns,' an' they swore
7.50That savages had come around the very night before
7.51A-brandishing their tomahawks an' painted up for war.
7.52"But when their plucky Englishmen had put a bit of lead
7.53Right through the heart of one of them, an' rolled him over, dead,
7.54The other cowards said that they had come on peace instead.
7.55"` That they (the Whites) had lost some stores, form off their little pack,
7.56An' that the Red they peppered dead had followed up their track,
7.57Because he'd found the packages an' came to give them back.'
7.58[page 28] "` Oh ! ' they said, `they were quite sorry, but it wasn't like as if
7.59They had killed a decent Whiteman by mistake or in a tiff,
7.60It was only some old Injun dog that lay there stark an' stiff.'
7.61"I said, ` You are the meanest dogs that ever yet I seen,'
7.62Then I rolled the body over as it lay out on the green ;
7.63I peered into the face--My God ! 'twas poor old Wolverine."
8.2Crows, awingin your homeward way ?
8.3Went you far in carrion quest,
8.4Crows, that worry the sunless west ?
8.5Thieves and villains, you shameless things
8.6Black your record as black you wings.
8.7Tell me, birds of the inky hue,
8.8Plunderous rogues--to-day have you
8.9Seen with mischievous, prying eyes
8.10Lands where earlier suns arise ?
8.11Saw you a lazy beck between
8.12Trees that shadow its breast in green,
8.13Teased by obstinate stones that lie
8.14Crossing the current tauntingly ?
8.15Fields abloom on the farther side
8.16With purpling clover lying wide--
8.17Saw you there as you circled by,
8.18Vale-environed a cottage lie,
8.19[page 30] Girt about with emerald bands,
8.20Nestling down in its meadow lands ?
8.21Saw you this on you thieving raids ?
8.22Speak--you rascally renegades !
8.23Thieved you also away from me
8.24Olden scenes that I long to see ?
8.25If, O ! crows, you have flown since morn
8.26Over the place where I was born,
8.27Forget will I, how black you were
8.28Since dawn, in feather and character ;
8.29Absolve will I, your vagrant band
8.30Ere you enter your slumberland.
The Song my Paddle Sings9.1
9.2Blow from the mountains, blow from the west
9.3The sail is idle, the sailor too ;
9.4O ! wind of the west, we wait for you.
9.5Blow, blow !
9.6I have wooed you so,
9.7But never a favour you bestow.
9.8You rock your cradle the hills between,
9.9But scorn to notice my white lateen.
9.10I stow the sail, unship the mast :
9.11I wooed you long but my wooing's past ;
9.12My paddle will lull you into rest.
9.13O ! drowsy wind of the drowsy west,
9.15By your mountain steep,
9.16Or down where the prairie grasses sweep !
9.17Now fold in slumber your laggard wings,
9.18For soft is the song my paddle sings.
9.19August is laughing across the sky,
9.20Laughing while paddle, canoe and I,
9.22Where the hills uplift
9.23On either side of the current swift.
9.24The river rolls in its rocky bed ;
9.25My paddle is plying its way ahead ;
9.26[page 32] Dip, dip,
9.27While the water flip
9.28In foam as over their breast we slip.
9.29And oh, the river runs swifter now ;
9.30The eddies circle about my bow.
9.31Swirl, swirl !
9.32How the ripples curl
9.33In many a dangerous pool awhirl !
9.34And forward far the rapids roar,
9.35Fretting their margin for evermore.
9.37With a mighty crash,
9.38They seethe, and boil, and bound, and splash.
9.39Be strong, O paddle ! be brave, canoe !
9.40The reckless waves you must plunge into.
9.42On your trembling keel,
9.43But never a fear my craft will feel.
9.44We've raced the rapid, we're far ahead !
9.45The river slips through its silent bed.
9.47As the bubbles spray
9.48And fall in tinkling tunes away.
9.49And up on the hills against the sky,
9.50A fir tree rocking its lullaby,
9.52Its emerald wings,
9.53Swelling the song that my paddle sings.
10.2Naught but the starlight lies 'twixt heaven, and him.
10.3Of man no need has he, of God, no prayer ;
10.4He and his Deity are brothers there.
10.5Above his bivouac the firs fling down
10.6Through branches gaunt and black, their needles brown.
10.7Afar some mountain streams, rockbound and fleet,
10.8Sing themselves through his dreams in cadence sweet,
10.9The pine trees whispering, the heron's cry,
10.10The plover's passing wing, his lullaby.
10.11And blinking overhead the white stars keep
10.12Watch o'er his hemlock bed--his sinless sleep.
At Husking Time11.1
11.2To brown above the yellow blades,
11.3 Whose rustling sheath enswathes the corn
11.4 That bursts its chrysalis in scorn
11.5Longer to lie in prison shades.
11.6Among the merry lads and maids
11.7The creaking ox-cart slowly wades
11.8Twixt stalks and stubble, sacked and torn
11.9At husking time.
11.10The prying pilot crow persuades
11.11The flock to join in thieving raids ;
11.12The sly racoon with craft inborn
11.13His portion steals ; from plenty's horn
11.14His pouch the saucy chipmunk lades
11.15At husking time.
12.2To her 'tis little fortune ever gives ;
12.3Denied the wines of life, it puzzles me
12.4To know how she can laugh so cheerily.
12.5This morn I listened to her softly sing,
12.6And, marvelling what this effect could bring
12.7I looked : 'twas but the presence of a child
12.8Who passed her gate, and looking in, had smiled.
12.9But self-encrusted, I had failed to see
12.10The child had also looked and laughed to me.
12.11My lowly neighbour thought the smile God-sent,
12.12And singing, through the toilsome hours she went
12.13O ! weary singer, I have learned the wrong
12.14Of taking gifts, and giving naught of song ;
12.15I thought my blessings scant, my mercies few,
12.16Till I contrasted them with yours, and you ;
12.17To-day I counted much, yet wished it more--
12.18While but a child's bright smile was all your store,
12.19If I had thought of all the stormy days,
12.20That fill some lives that tread less favoured ways,
12.21How little sunshine through their shadows gleamed,
12.22My own dull life had much the brighter seemed ;
12.23If I had thought of all the eyes that weep
12.24Through desolation, and still smiling keep,
12.25[page 36] That see so little pleasure, so much woe,
12.26My own had laughed more often long ago ;
12.27If I had thought how leaden was the weight
12.28Adversity lays at my kinsman's gate,
12.29Of that great cross my next door neighbour bears,
12.30My thanks had been more frequent in my prayers ;
12.31If I had watched the woman o'er the way,
12.32Workworn and old, who labours day by day,
12.33Who has no rest, no joy to call her own,
12.34My tasks, my heart, had much the lighter grown.
Easter April 1, 188813.1
13.2 In her reluctant hands.
13.3Her beauty heightens, fairest in its fading,
13.4 As pensively she stands
13.5Awaiting Easter's benediction falling,
13.6 Like silver stars at night,
13.7Before she can obey the summons calling
13.8 Her to her upward flight,
13.9Awaiting Easter's wings that she must borrow
13.10 Ere she can hope to fly--
13.11Those glorious wings that we shall see to-morrow
13.12 Against the far, blue sky.
13.13Has not the purple of her vesture's lining
13.14 Brought calm and rest to all ?
13.15Has her dark robe had naught of golden shining
13.16 Been naught but pleasure's pall ?
13.17Who knows ? Perhaps when to the world returning
13.18 In youth's light joyousness,
13.19We'll wear some rarer jewels we found burning
13.20 In Lent's black-bordered dress.
13.21So hand in hand with firful March she lingers
13.22 To beg the crowning grace
13.23Of lifting with her pure and holy fingers
13.24 The veil from April's face.
13.25[page 38] Sweet, rosy April--laughing, sighing, waiting
13.26 Until the gateway swings,
13.27And she and Lent can kiss between the grating
13.28 Of Easter's tissue wings.
13.29Too brief the bliss--the parting comes with sorrow.
13.30 Good-bye dear Lent, good-bye !
13.31We'll watch your fading wings outlined to-morrow
13.32 Against the far blue sky.
14.2Wind-scattered and sun-tanned ;
14.3Some waves that curl and cream along the margin of the strand ;
14.4And, creeping close to these
14.5Long shores that lounge at ease,
14.6Old Erie rocks and ripples to a fresh sou'-western breeze.
14.7A sky of blue and grey ;
14.8Some stormy clouds that play
14.9At scurrying up with ragged edge, then laughing blow away,
14.10Just leaving in their trail
14.11Some snatches of a gale ;
14.12To whistling summer winds we lift a single daring sail.
14.13O ! wind so sweet and swift,
14.14O ! danger-freighted gift
14.15Bestowed on Erie with her waves that foam and fall and lift,
14.16We laugh in your wild face,
14.17And break into a race
14.18With flying clouds and tossing gulls that weave and interlace.
The Flight of the Crows15.1
15.2 The quiet western valley where I lie
15.3Beneath the maples on the river shore,
15.4 Where tinted leaves, blue waters and fair sky
15.5 Environ all ; and far above some birds are flying by
15.6To seek their evening haven in the breast
15.7 And calm embrace of silence, while they sing
15.8Te Deums to the night, invoking rest
15.9 For busy chirping voice and tired wing--
15.10 And in the hush of sleeping trees their sleeping cradles swing.
15.11In forest arms the night will soonest creep,
15.12 Where sombre pines a lullaby intone,
15.13Where Nature's children curl themselves to sleep,
15.14 And all is still at last, save where alone
15.15 A band of black, belated crows arrive from lands unknown.
15.16Strange sojourn has been theirs since waking day,
15.17 Strange sights and cities in their wanderings blend
15.18With fields of yellow maize, and leagues away
15.19 With rivers where their sweeping waters wend
15.20 Past velvet banks to rocky shores, in cañons bold to end.
15.21[page 41] O'er what vast lakes that stretch superbly dead,
15.22 Till lashed to life by storm-clouds, have they flown ?
15.23In what wild lands, in laggard flight have led
15.24 Their aërial career unseen, unknown,
15.25 'Till now with twilight come their cries in lonely monotone ?
15.26The flapping of their pinions in the air
15.27 Dies in the hush of distance, while they light
15.28Within the fir tops, weirdly black and bare,
15.29 That stand with giant strength and peerless height,
15.30 To shelter fairy, bird and beast throughout the closing night.
15.31Strange black and princely pirates of the skies,
15.32 Would that your wind-tossed travels I could know !
15.33Would that my soul could see, and, seeing, rise
15.34 To unrestricted life where ebb and flow
15.35 Of Nature's pulse would constitute a wider life below !
15.36Could I but live just here in Freedom's arms,
15.37 A kingly life without a sovereign's care !
15.38Vain dreams ! Day hides with closing wings her charms,
15.39 And all is cradled in repose, save where
15.40 Yon band of black, belated crows still frets the evening air.
16.2That waking murmur low,
16.3As some lost melody returning stirs
16.4The love of long ago ;
16.5And through the far, cool distance, zephyr fanned.
16.6The moon is sinking into shadow-land.
16.7The troubled night-bird, calling plaintively,
16.8Wanders on restless wing ;
16.9The cedars, chanting vespers to the sea,
16.10Await its answering,
16.11That comes in wash of waves along the strand,
16.12The while the moon slips into shadow-land.
16.13O ! soft responsive voices of the night
16.14I join your minstrelsy,
16.15And call across the fading silver light
16.16As something calls to me ;
16.17I may not all your meaning understand,
16.18But I have touched your soul in shadow-land.
17.2And meets with sun-lost lip the marsh's brim.
17.3The pools low lying, dank with moss and mould,
17.4Glint through their mildews like large cups of gold.
17.5Among the wild rice in the still lagoon,
17.6In monotone the lizard shrills his tune.
17.7The wild goose, homing, seeks a sheltering,
17.8Where rushes grow, and oozing lichens cling.
17.9Late cranes with heavy wing, and lazy flight,
17.10Sail up the silence with the nearing night.
17.11And like a spirit, swathed in some soft veil,
17.12Steals twilight and its shadows o'er the swale.
17.13Hushed lie the sedges, and the vapours creep,
17.14Thick, grey and humid, while the marshes sleep.
Joe an Etching18.1
18.2A zigzag fence is ambling ; here a wedge
18.3Of underbush has cleft its course in twain,
18.4Till where beyond it staggers up again ;
18.5The long, grey rails stretch in a broken line
18.6Their ragged length of rough, split forest pine,
18.7And in their zigzag tottering have reeled
18.8In drunken efforts to enclose the field,
18.9Which carries on its breast, September born,
18.10A patch of rustling, yellow, Indian corn.
18.11Beyond its shrivelled tassels, perched upon
18.12The topmost rail, sits Joe, the settler's son,
18.13A little semi-savage boy of nine.
18.14Now dozing in the warmth of Nature's wine,
18.15His face the sun has tampered with, and wrought,
18.16By heated kisses, mischief, and has brought
18.17Some vagrant freckles, while from here and there
18.18A few wild locks of vagabond brown hair
18.19Escape the old straw hat the sun looks through,
18.20And blinks to meet his Irish eyes of blue.
18.21Barefooted, innocent of coat or vest,
18.22His grey checked shirt unbuttoned at his chest,
18.23Both hardy hands within their usual nest--
18.24His breeches pockets--so, he waits to rest
18.25His little fingers, somewhat tired and worn,
18.26That all day long were husking Indian corn.
18.27[page 45] His drowsy lids snap at some trivial sound,
18.28With lazy yawns he slips towards the ground,
18.29Then with an idle whistle lifts his load
18.30And shambles home along the country road
18.31That stretches on, fringed out with stumps and weeds,
18.32And finally unto the backwoods leads,
18.33Where forests wait with giant trunk and bough
18.34The axe of pioneer, the settler's plough.
Shadow River Muskoka19.1
19.2Of filmy sun, and opal tinted skies ;
19.3Of warm midsummer air that lightly lies
19.4In mystic rings,
19.5Where softly swings
19.6The music of a thousand wings
19.7That almost tones to sadness.
19.8Midway 'twixt earth and heaven,
19.9A bubble in the pearly air I seem
19.10To float upon the sapphire floor, a dream
19.11Of clouds of snow,
19.13Drift with my drifting, dim and slow,
19.14As twilight drifts to even.
19.15The little fern-leaf, bending
19.16Upon the brink, its green reflection greets,
19.17And kisses soft the shadow that it meets
19.18With touch so fine,
19.19The border line
19.20The keenest vision can't define ;
19.21So perfect is the blending.
19.22[page 47] The far, fir trees that cover
19.23The brownish hills with needles green and gold,
19.24The arching elms o'erhead, vinegrown and old,
19.26Beneath me far,
19.27Where not a ripple moves to mar
19.28Shades underneath, or over.
19.29Mine is the undertone ;
19.30The beauty, strength, and power of the land
19.31Will never stir or bend at my command ;
19.32But all the shade
19.33Is marred or made,
19.34If I but dip my padle blade ;
19.35And it is mine alone.
19.36O ! pathless world of seeming !
19.37O ! pathless life of mine whose deep ideal
19.38Is more my own than ever was the real.
19.39For others Fame
19.40And Love's red flame,
19.41And yellow gold : I only claim
19.42The shadows and the dreaming.
20.2The 'waking wind pipes soft its rising note.
20.3From out the west, o'erhung with fringes grey,
20.4The wind preludes with sighs its roundelay,
20.5Then blowing, singing, piping, laughing loud,
20.6It scurries on before the grey storm-cloud ;
20.7Across the hollow and along the hill
20.8It whips and whirls among the maples, till
20.9With boughs upbent, and green of leaves blown wide,
20.10The silver shines upon their underside.
20.11A gusty freshening of humid air,
20.12With showers laden, and with fragrance rare ;
20.13And now a little sprinkle, with a dash
20.14Of great cool drops that fall with sudden splash ;
20.15Then over field and hollow, grass and grain,
20.16The loud, crisp whiteness of the nearing rain.
Under Canvas in Muskoka21.1
21.2And green and grey the rocks beneath our feet ;
21.3Above our heads the canvas stretching wide ;
21.4And over all, enchantment rare and sweet.
21.5Fair Rosseau slumbers in an atmosphere
21.6That kisses her to passionless soft dreams.
21.7O ! joy of living we have found thee here,
21.8And life lacks nothing, so complete it seems.
21.9The velvet air, stirred by some elfin wings,
21.10Comes swinging up the waters and then stills
21.11Its voice so low that floating by it sings
21.12Like distant harps among the distant hills.
21.13Across the lake the rugged islands lie,
21.14Fir-crowned and grim ; and further in the view
21.15Some shadows seeming swung 'twixt cloud and sky,
21.16Are countless shores, a symphony of blue.
21.17Some northern sorceress, when day is done,
21.18Hovers where cliffs uplift their gaunt grey steeps,
21.19Bewitching to vermilion Rosseau's sun,
21.20That in a liquid mass of rubies sleeps.
21.21[page 50] The scent of burning leaves, the camp-fire's blaze,
21.22The great logs cracking in the brilliant flame,
21.23The groups grotesque, on which the firelight plays,
21.24Are pictures which Muskoka twilights frame.
21.25And Night, star-crested, wanders up the mere
21.26With opiates for idleness to quaff,
21.27And while she ministers, far off I hear
21.28The owl's uncanny cry, the wild loon's laugh.
The Birds' Lullaby
22.29SING to us, cedars ; the twilight is creeping
22.30 With shadowy garments, the widerness through ;
22.31All day we have carolled, and now would be sleeping,
22.32 So echo the anthems we warbled to you ;
22.33 While we swing, swing,
22.34 And your branches sing,
22.35And we drowse to your dreamy whispering.
22.36Sing to us, cedars ; the night-wind is sighing,
22.37 Is wooing, is pleading, to hear you reply ;
22.38And here in your arms we are restfully lying,
22.39 And longing to dream to your soft lullaby ;
22.40 While we swing, swing,
22.41 And your branches sing.
22.42And we drowse to your dreamy whispering.
22.43Sing to us, cedars ; your voice is so lowly,
22.44 Your breathing so fragrant, your branches so strong ;
22.45[page 52] Our little nest-cradles are swaying so slowly,
22.46 While zephyrs are breathing their slumberous song.
22.47 And we swing, swing,
22.48 While your branches sing,
22.49And we drowse to your dreamy whispering.
23.2 Has passed me by :
23.3Afar I see her vesture, velvet-lined,
23.4 Float silently ;
23.5O ! Sleep, my tired eyes had need of thee !
23.6Is thy sweet kiss not meant to-night for me ?
23.7Peace, with the blessings that I longed for so,
23.8 Has passed me by ;
23.9Where'er she folds her loly wings I know
23.10 All tempests die ;
23.11O ! Peace, my tired soul had need of thee !
23.12Is thy sweet kiss denied alone to me ?
23.13Love, with her heated touches, passion-stirred,
23.14 Has passed me by.
23.15I called, "O stay thy flight," but all unheard
23.16 My lonely cry :
23.17O ! Love, my tired heart had need of thee !
23.18Is thy sweet kiss withheld alone from me ?
23.19Sleep, sister-twin of Peace, my waking eyes
23.20 So weary grow !
23.21O ! Love, thou wanderer from Paradise,
23.22 Dost thou not know
23.23How oft my lonely heart has cried to thee ?
23.24But Thou, and Sleep, and Peace, come not to me.
24.2Uplift the curtain with a weary hand,
24.3Look out while darkness overspreads the way,
24.4 And long for day.
24.5Calm peace is frighted with my mood to-night,
24.6Nor visits my dull chamber with her light,
24.7To guide my senses into her sweet rest
24.8 And leave me blest.
24.9Long hours since the city rocked and sung
24.10Itself to slumber : only the stars swung
24.11Aloft their torches in the midnight skies
24.12 With watchful eyes.
24.13No sound awakes ; I, even, breathe no sigh,
24.14Nor hear a single footstep passing by ;
24.15Yet I am not alone, for now I feel
24.16 A presence steal
24.17Within my chamber walls ; I turn to see
24.18The sweetest guest that courts humanity ;
24.19With subtle, slow enchantment draws she near,
24.20 And Sleep is here.
24.21[page 55] What care I for the olive branch of Peace ?
24.22Kind Sleep will bring a thrice-distilled release,
24.23Nepenthes, that alone her mystic hand
24.24 Can understand.
24.25And so she bends, this welcome sorceress,
24.26To crown my fasting with her light caress.
24.27Ah, sure my pain will vanish at the bliss
24.28 Of her warm kiss.
24.29But still my duty lies in self-denial :
24.30I must refuse sweet Sleep, although the trial
24.31Will reawaken all my depth of pain.
24.32 So once again
24.33I lift the curtain with a weary hand,
24.34With more than sorrow, silently I stand,
24.35Look out while darkness overspreads the way,
24.36 And long for day.
24.37"Go, Sleep," I say, "before the darkness die,
24.38To one who needs you even more than I,
24.39For I can bear my part alone, but he
24.40 Has need of thee.
24.41"His poor tired eyes in vain have sought relief,
24.42His heart more tired still, with all its grief ;
24.43His pain is deep, while mine is vague and dim,
24.44 Go thou to him.
24.45"When thou hast fanned him with thy drowsy wings,
24.46And laid thy lips upon the pulsing strings
24.47[page 56] That in his soul with fret and fever burn,
24.48 To me return."
24.49She goes. The air within the quiet street
24.50Reverberates to the passing of her feet ;
24.51I watch her take her passage through the gloom
24.52 To your dear home.
24.53Belovèd, would you knew how sweet to me
24.54Is this denial, and how fervently
24.55I pray that Sleep may lift you to her breast,
24.56 And give you rest--
24.57A privilege that she alone can claim.
24.58Would that my heart could comfort you the same,
24.59But in the censer Sleep is swinging high,
24.60 All sorrows die.
24.61She comes not back, yet all my miseries
24.62Wane at the thought of your calm sleeping eyes--
24.63Wane, as I hear the early matin bell
24.64 The dawn foretell.
24.65And so, dear heart, still silently I stand,
24.66Uplift the curtain with a weary hand,
24.67The long, long night has bitter been and lone,
24.68 But now 'tis gone.
24.69Dawn lights her candles in the East once more,
24.70And darkness flees her chariot before ;
24.71The Lenten morning breaks with holy ray,
24.72 And it is day !
25.2Nor follow star-directed ways, nor tread
25.3The paths wherein the shepherds walked, that led
25.4To Christ, and peace, and God's good will to men.
25.5I may not hear the Herald Angel's song
25.6Peal through the Oriental skies, nor see
25.7The wonder of that Heavenly company
25.8Announce the King the world had waited long.
25.9The manger throne I may not kneel before,
25.10Or see how man to God is reconciled,
25.11Through pure St. Mary's purer, holier child ;
25.12The human Christ these eyes may not adore.
25.13I may not carry frankincense and myrrh
25.14With adoration to the Holy One ;
25.15Nor gold have I to give the Perfect Son,
25.16To be with those wise kings a worshipper.
25.17Not mine the joy that Heaven sent to them,
25.18For ages since Time swung and locked his gates,
25.19But I may kneel without--the star still waits
25.20To guide me on to holy Bethlehem.
26.2In search of distant things)
26.3A dear dream lay--perchance to grow in dearness
26.4Had we but felt its wings
26.5Astir. The air our very breathing fanned
26.6It was so near at hand.
26.7Once, many days ago, we almost held it,
26.8The love we so desired ;
26.9But our shut eyes saw not, and fate dispelled it
26.10Before our pulses fired
26.11To flame, and errant fortune bade us stand
26.12Hand almost touching hand.
26.13I sometimes think had we two been discerning,
26.14Th by-path hid away
26.15From others' eyes had then revealed its turning
26.16To us, nor led astray
26.17Our footsteps, guiding us into love's land
26.18That lay so near at hand.
26.19So near at hand, dear heart, could we have known it !
26.20Throughout those dreamy hours,
26.21Had either loved, or loving had we shown it,
26.22Response had sure been ours;
26.23[page 59] We did not know that heart could heart command,
26.24And love so near at hand !
26.25What then availed the red wine's subtle glisten ?
26.26We passed it blindly by,
26.27And now what profit that we wait and listen
26.28Each for the other's heart beat ? Ah ! the cry
26.29Of love o'erlooked still lingers, you and I
26.30Sought heaven afar, we did not understand
26.31'Twas--once so near at hand.
27.2Full prodigal of heat,
27.3Full lavish of its lustre unrepressed ;
27.4But we have drifted far
27.5From where his kisses are,
27.6And in this landward-lying shade we let our paddles rest.
27.7The river, deep and still,
27.8The mpale-mantled hill,
27.9The little yellow beach whereon we lie,
27.10The puffs of heated breeze,
27.11All sweetly whisper--These
27.12Are days that only come in a Canadian July.
27.13So, silently we two
27.14Lounge in our still canoe,
27.15Nor fate, nor fortune matters to us now :
27.16So long as we alone
27.17May call this dream our own,
27.18The breeze may die, the sail may droop, we care not when or how.
27.19Against the thwart, near by,
27.20Inactively you lie,
27.21[page 61] And all too near my arm your temple bends.
27.22Your indolently crude,
27.24Is one of ease and art, in which a perfect languor blends.
27.25Your costume, loose and light,
27.26Leaves unconcealed your might
27.27Of muscle, half suspected, half defined ;
27.28And falling well aside,
27.29Your vesture opens wide,
27.30Above your splendid sunburnt throat that pulses unconfined.
27.31With easy unreserve,
27.32Across the gunwale's curve,
27.33Your arm superb is lying, brown and bare ;
27.34Your hand just touches mine
27.35With import firm and fine,
27.36(I kiss the very wind that blows about your tumbled hair).
27.37Ah ! Dear, I am unwise
27.38In echoing your eyes
27.39Whene'er they leave their far-off gaze, and turn
27.40To melt and blur my sight ;
27.41For every other light
27.42Is servile to your cloud-grey eyes, wherein cloud shadows burn.
27.43But once the silence breaks,
27.44But once your ardour wakes
27.45[page 62] To words that humanize this lotus-land ;
27.46so perfect and complete
27.47Those burning words and sweet,
27.48So perfect is the single kiss your lips lay on my hand.
27.49The paddles lie disused,
27.50The fitful breeze abused,
27.51Has dropped to slumber, with no after-blow ;
27.52And hearts will pay the cost,
27.53For you and I have lost
27.54More than the homeward blowing wind that died an hour ago.
28.2Its chalice overflows
28.3With pools of purple colouring the skies,
28.4Aflood with gold and rose ;
28.5And some hot soul seems throbbing close to mine,
28.6As sinks the sun within that world of wine.
28.7I seem to hear a bar of music float
28.8And swoon into the west ;
28.9My ear can scarcely catch the whispered note,
28.10But something in my breast
28.11Blends with that strain, till both accord in one,
28.12As cloud and colour blend at set of sun.
28.13And twilight comes with grey and restful eyes,
28.14As ashes follow flame.
28.15But O ! I heard a voice from those rich skies
28.16Call tenderly my name ;
28.17It was as if some priestly fingers stole
28.18In benedictions o'er my lonely soul.
28.19I know not why, but all my being longed
28.20And leapt at that sweet call ;
28.21My heart outreached its arms, all passion thronged
28.22And beat against Fate's wall,
28.23Crying in utter homesickness to be
28.24Near to a heart that loves and leans to me.
29.2To-night. My keenest longing is to be
29.3Alone, alone with God's grey earth that seems
29.4Pulse of my pulse and consort of my dreams.
29.5To-night my soul desires no fellowship,
29.6Or fellow-being ; crave I but to slip
29.7Thro' space on space, till flesh no more can bind,
29.8And I may quit for aye my fellow kind.
29.9Let me but feel athwart my cheek the lash
29.10Of whipping wind, but hear the torrent dash
29.11Adown the mountain steep, 'twere more my choice
29.12Than touch of human hand, than human voice.
29.13Let me but wander on the shore night-stilled,
29.14Drinking its darkness till my soul is filled ;
29.15The breathing of the salt sea on my hair,
29.16My outstretched hands but grasping empty air.
29.17Let me bur feel the pulse of Nature's soul
29.18Athrob on mine, let seas and thunders roll
29.19O'er night and me ; sands whirl ; winds, waters beat ;
29.20For God's grey earth has no cheap counterfeit.
30.2 Days marvellously fair,
30.3As lightsome as a skyward floating feather
30.4 Sailing on summer air--
30.5Summer, summer, that came drifting through
30.6Fate's hand to me, to you.
30.7What of the days, my dear ? I sometimes wonder
30.8 If you too wish this sky
30.9Could be the blue we sailed so softly under,
30.10 In that sun-kissed July ;
30.11Sailed in the warm and yellow afternoon,
30.12With hearts in touch and tune.
30.13Have you no longing to re-live the dreaming,
30.14 Adrift in my canoe ?
30.15To watch my paddle blade all wet and gleaming
30.16 Cleaving the waters through ?
30.17To lie wind-blown and wave-caressed, until
30.18Your restless pulse grows still ?
30.19Do you not long to listen to the purling
30.20 Of foam athwart the keel ?
30.21To hear the nearing rapids softly swirling
30.22 Among their stones, to feel
30.23[page 66] The boat's unsteady tremor as it braves
30.24The wild and snarling waves ?
30.25What need of question, what of your replying ?
30.26 Oh ! well I know that you
30.27Would toss the world away to be but lying
30.28 Again in my canoe,
30.29In listless indolence entranced and lost,
30.30Wave-rocked, and passion tossed.
30.31Ah me ! my paddle failed me in the steering
30.32 Across love's shoreless seas ;
30.33All reckless, I had ne'er a thought of fearing
30.34 Such dreary days as these,
30.35When through the self-same rapids we dash by,
30.36My lone canoe and I.
Brier Good Friday31.1
31.2 Bends back the brier that edges life's long way,
31.3That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,
31.4 I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.
31.5Because I never knew your care to tire,
31.6 Your hand to weary guiding me aright,
31.7Because you walk before and crush the brier,
31.8 It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.
31.9Because so often you have hearkened to
31.10 My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,
31.11That these harsh hands of mine add not unto
31.12 The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.
32.2Belovèd one, to know
32.3If you recall and crave again the dream
32.4That haunted our canoe,
32.5And wove its witchcraft through
32.6Our hearts as 'neath the northern night we sailed the northern stream.
32.7Ah ! dear, if only we
32.8As yesternight could be
32.9Afloat within that light and lonely shell,
32.10To drift in silence till
32.11Heart-hushed, and lulled and still
32.12The moonlight through the melting air flung forth its fatal spell.
32.13The dusky summer night,
32.14The path of gold and white
32.15The moon had cast across the river's breast,
32.16The shores in shadows clad,
32.17The far-away, half-sad
32.18Sweet singing of the whip-poor-will, all soothed our souls to rest.
32.19[page 69] You trusted I could feel
32.20My arm as strong as steel,
32.21So still your upturned face, so calm your breath,
32.22While circling eddies curled,
32.23While laughing rapids whirled
32.24From boulder unto boulder, till they dashed themselves to death.
32.25Your splendid eyes aflame
32.26Put heaven's stars to shame,
32.27Your god-like head so near my lap was laid--
32.28My hand is burning where
32.29It touched your wind-blown hair,
32.30As sweeping to the rapids verge, I changed my paddle blade.
32.31The boat obeyed my hand,
32.32Till wearied with its grand
32.33Wild anger, all the river lay aswoon,
32.34And as my paddle dipped,
32.35Thro' pools of pearl it slipped
32.36And swept beneath a shore of shade, beneath a velvet moon.
32.37To-night, again dream you
32.38Our spirit-winged canoe
32.39Is listening to the rapids purling past ?
32.40Where, in delirium reeled
32.41Our maddened hearts that kneeled
32.42To idolize the perfect world, to taste of love at last.
The Happy Hunting Grounds33.1
33.2World of the bison's freedom, home of the Indian's soul.
33.3Roll our, O seas ! in sunlight bathed,
33.4Your plains wind-tossed, and grass enswathed.
33.5Farther than vision ranges, farther than eagles fly,
33.6Stretches the land of beauty, arches the perfect sky,
33.7Hemm'd through the purple mists afar
33.8By peaks that gleam like star on star.
33.9Fringing the prairie billows, fretting horizon's line,
33.10Darkly green are slumb'ring wildernesses of pine,
33.11Sleeping until the zephyrs throng
33.12To kiss their silence into song.
33.13Whispers freighted with odour swinging into the air,
33.14Russet needles as censers swing to an altar, where
33.15The angels' songs are less divine
33.16Than duo sung twixt breeze and pine.
33.17Laughing into the forest, dimples a mountain stream,
33.18Pure as the airs above it, soft as a summer dream,
33.19[page 71] O ! Lethean spring thou'rt only found
33.20Within this ideal hunting ground.
33.21Surely the great Hereafter cannot be more than this,
33.22Surely we'll see that country after Time's farewell kiss.
33.23Who would his lovely faith condole ?
33.24Who envies not the Red-skin's soul,
33.25Sailing into the cloud land, sailing into the sun,
33.26Into the crimson portals ajar when life is done ?
33.27O ! dear dead race, my spirit too
33.28Would fain sail westward unto you.
In the Shadows34.1
34.2Where the current runs to seaward
34.3 Soft and slow,
34.4Where the sleeping river grasses
34.5Brush my paddle as it passes
34.6 To and fro.
34.7On the shore the heat is shaking
34.8All the golden sands awaking
34.9 In the cove ;
34.10And the quaint sand-piper, winging
34.11O'er the shallows, ceases singing
34.12 When I move.
34.13On the water's idle pillow
34.14Sleeps the overhanging willow,
34.15 Green and cool ;
34.16Where the rushes lift their burnished
34.17Oval heads from out the tarnished
34.18 Emerald pool.
34.19Where the very silence slumbers,
34.20Water lilies grow in numbers,
34.21 Pure and pale ;
34.22All the morning they have rested,
34.23Amber crowned, and pearly crested,
34.24 Fair and frail.
34.25[page 73] Here, impossible romances,
34.26Indefinable sweet fancies,
34.27 Cluster round ;
34.28But they do not mar the sweetness
34.29Of this still September fleetness
34.30 With a sound.
34.31I can scarce discern the meeting
34.32Of the shore and stream retreating,
34.33 So remote ;
34.34For the laggard river, dozing,
34.35Only wakes form its reposing
34.36 Where I float.
34.37Where the river mists are rising,
34.38All the foliage baptizing
34.39 With their spray ;
34.40There the sun gleams far and faintly,
34.41With a shadow soft and saintly,
34.42 In its ray.
34.43And the perfume of some burning
34.44Far-off brushwood, ever turning
34.45 To exhale
34.46All its smoky fragrance dying,
34.47In the arms of evening lying,
34.48 Where I sail.
34.49My canoe is growing lazy,
34.50In the atmosphere so hazy,
34.51 While I dream ;
34.52Half in slumber I am guiding,
34.53Eastward indistinctly gliding
34.54 Down the stream.
35.2Like priestly hands thy holy touch is lying
35.3Upon the world's wide brow ;
35.4God-like and grand all nature is commanding
35.5The "peace that passes human understanding " ;
35.6I, also, feel it now.
35.7What matters it to-night, if one life treasure
35.8I vocet, is not mine ! Am I to measure
35.9The gifts of Heaven's decree
35.10By my desires ? O ! life for ever longing
35.11For some far gift, where many gifts are thronging,
35.12God wills, it may not be.
35.13Am I to learn that longing, lifted higher,
35.14Perhaps will catch the gleam of sacred fire
35.15That shows my cross is gold ?
35.16That underneath this cross--however lowly,
35.17A jewel rests, white, beautiful and holy,
35.18Whose worth can not be told.
35.19Like to a scene I watched one day in wonder :--
35.20A city, great and powerful, lay under
35.21A sky of grey and gold ;
35.22The sun outbreaking in his farewell hour,
35.23Was scattering afar a yellow shower
35.24Of light, that aureoled
35.25[page 75] With brief hot touch, so marvellous and shining,
35.26A hundred steeples on thesky out-lining,
35.27Like network threads of fire ;
35.28Above them all, with halo far outspreading,
35.29I saw a golden cross in glory heading
35.30A consecrated spire :
35.31I only saw its gleaming form uplifting,
35.32Against the clouds of grey to seaward drifting,
35.33And yet I surely know
35.34Beneath the seen, a great unseen is resting,
35.35For while the cross that pinnacle is cresting,
35.36An Altar lies below.
35.37Night of Mid-June, so slumberous and tender,
35.38Night of Mid-June, transcendent in thy splendour
35.39Thy silent wings enfold
35.40And hush my longing, as at thy desire
35.41All colour fades from round that far-off spire,
35.42Except its cross of gold.
My English Letter36.1
36.2 Comes out to join the star night-watching band,
36.3Across the grey-green sea, a ship is bringing
36.4 For me a letter, from the Motherland.
36.5Naught would I care to live in quaint old Britain,
36.6 These wilder shores are dearer far to me,
36.7Yet when I read the words that hand has written,
36.8 The parent sod more precious seems to be.
36.9Within that folded note I catch the savour
36.10 Of climes that make the Motherland so fair,
36.11Although I never knew the blessed favour
36.12 That surely lies in breathing English air.
36.13Imagination's brush before me fleeing,
36.14 Paints English pictures, though my longing eyes
36.15Have never known the blessedness of seeing
36.16 The blue that lines the arch of English skies.
36.17And yet my letter brings the scenes I covet,
36.18 Framed in the salt sea winds, aye more in dreams
36.19I almost see the face that bent above it,
36.20 I almost touch that hand, so near it seems.
36.21[page 77] Near, for the very grey-green sea that dashes
36.22 'Round these Canadian coasts, rolls out once more
36.23To Eastward, and the same Atlantic splaches
36.24 Her wild white spray on England's distant shore.
36.25Near, for the same young moon so idly swinging
36.26 Her threadlike crescent bends the selfsame smile
36.27On that old land from whence a ship is bringing
36.28 My message from the transatlantic Isle.
36.29Thus loves my heart that far old country better,
36.30 Because of those dear words that always come,
36.31With love enfolded in each English letter
36.32 That drifts into my sun-kissed Western home.
37.2We are the pulse of Canada, its marrow and its blood ;
37.3And we, the men of Canada, can face the world and brag
37.4That we were born in Canada beneath the British flag.
37.5Few of us have the blood of kings, few are of courtly birth,
37.6But few are vagabonds or rogues of doubtful name and worth ;
37.7And all have one credential that entitles us to brag--
37.8That we were born in Canada beneath the British flag.
37.9We've yet to make our money, we've yet to make our fame,
37.10But we have gold and glory in our clean colonial name ;
37.11And every man's a millionaire if only he can brag
37.12That he was born in Canada beneath the British flag.
37.13[page 82] No title and no coronet is half so proudly worn
37.14As that which we inherited as men Canadian born.
37.15We count no man so noble as the one who makes the brag
37.16That he was born in Canada beneath the British flag.
37.17The Dutch may have their Holland, the Spaniard have his Spain,
37.18The Yankee to the south of us must south of us remain ;
37.19For not a man dare lift a hand against the men who brag
37.20That they were born in Canada beneath the British flag.
Where Leaps the Ste. Marie
38.21WHAT dream you in the night-time
38.22 When you whisper to the moon ?
38.23What say you in the morning ?
38.24 What do you sing at noon ?
38.25When I hear your voice uplifting,
38.26Like a breeze through branches sifting,
38.27And your ripples softly drifting
38.28 To the August airs a-tune.
38.29Lend me your happy laughter,
38.30 Ste. Marie, as you leap ;
38.31Your peace that follows after
38.32 Where through the isles you creep.
38.33Give to me your splendid dashing,
38.34Give your sparkles and your splashing,
38.35Your uphurling waves down crashing,
38.36 Then, your aftermath of sleep.
39.2Wrapped in her mantle of golden grain,
39.3Wearied of pleasuring weeks away,
39.4Summer is lying asleep to-day,--
39.5Where winds come sweet from the wild-rose briers
39.6And the smoke of the far-off prairie fires ;
39.7Yellow her hair as the golden rod,
39.8and brown her cheeks as the prairie sod ;
39.9Purple her eyes as the mists that dream
39.10At the edge of some laggard sun-drowned stream ;
39.11But over their depths the lashes sweep,
39.12For Summer is lying to-day asleep.
39.13The north wind kisses her rosy mouth,
39.14His rival frowns in the far-off south,
39.15And comes caressing her sunburnt cheek,
39.16And Summer awakes for one short week,--
39.17Awakes and gathers her wealth of grain,
39.18Then sleeps and dreams for a year again.
40.19LADY LORGNETTE, of the lifted lash,
40.20 The curling lip and the dainty nose,
40.21The shell-like ear where the jewels flash,
40.22 The arching brow and the languid pose,
40.23The rare old lace and the subtle scents,
40.24 The slender foot and the fingers frail,--
40.25I may act till the world grows wild and tense,
40.26 But never a flush on your features pale.
40.27The footlights glimmer between us two,--
40.28 You in the box and I on the Boards,--
40.29I am only an actor, Madame, to you,
40.30 A mimic king 'mid his mimic lords,
40.31For you are the belle of the smartest set,
40.32 Lady Lorgnette.
40.33Little Babette, with your eyes of jet,
40.34 Your midnight hair and your piquant chin,
40.35Your lips whose odours of violet
40.36 Drive men to madness and saints to sin,--
40.37I see you over the footlights' glare
40.38 Down in the pit 'mid the common mob,--
40.39Your throat is burning, and brown, and bare,
40.40 You lean, and listen, and pulse, and throb ;
40.41[page 86] The viols are dreaming between us two,
40.42 And my gilded crown is no make-believe,
40.43I am more than an actor, dear, to you,
40.44 For you called me your king but yester eve,
40.45And your heart is my golden coronet,
40.46 Little Babette.
Low Tide at St. Andrews (New Brunswick)41.1
41.2Breathing their moisture on the August air.
41.3The seaweeds cling with flesh-like fingers where
41.4The rocks give shelter that the sands deny ;
41.5And wrapped in all her summer harmonies
41.6St. Andrews sleeps beside her sleeping seas.
41.7The far-off shores swim blue and indistinct,
41.8Like half-lost memories of some old dream.
41.9The listless waves that catch each sunny gleam
41.10Are idling up the waterways land-linked,
41.11And, yellowing along the harbour's breast,
41.12The light is leaping shoreward from the west.
41.13And naked-footed children, tripping down,
41.14Light with young laughter, daily come at eve
41.15To gather dulse and sea clams and then heave
41.16Their loads, returning laden to the town,
41.17Leaving a strange grey silence when they go,--
41.18The silence of the sands when tides are low.
Beyond the Blue
42.19SPEAK of you, sir ? You bet he did. Ben Fields was far too sound
42.20To go back on a fellow just because he weren't around.
42.21Why, sir, he thought a lot of you, and only three months back
42.22Says he, "The Squire will some time come a-snuffing out our track
42.23And give us the surprise." And so I got to thinking then
42.24That any day you might drop down on Rove, and me, and Ben.
42.25And now you've come for nothing, for the lad has left us two,
42.26And six long weeks ago, sir, he went up beyond the blue.
42.27Who's Rove ? Oh, he's the collie, and the only thing on earth
42.28That I will ever love again. Why, Squire, that dog is worth
42.29More than you ever handled, and that's quite a piece, I know.
42.30Ah, there the beggar is !--come here, you scalawag ! and show
42.31[page 89] Your broken leg all bandaged up. Yes, sir, it's pretty sor ;
42.32I did it,--curse me,--and I think I feel the pain far more
42.33Than him, for somehow I just feel as if I'd been untrue
42.34To what my brother said before he went beyond the blue.
42.35You see, the day before he died he says to me, "Say, Ned,
42.36Be sure you take good care of poor old Rover when I'm dead,
42.37And maybe he will cheer your lonesome hours up a bit,
42.38And when he takes to you just see that you're deserving it."
42.39Well, Squire, it wasn't any use. I tried, but couldn't get
42.40The friendship of that collie, for I needed it, you bet.
42.41I might as well have tried to get the moon to help me through,
42.42For Rover's heart had gone with Ben, 'way up beyond the blue.
42.43He never seemed to take to me nor follow me about,
42.44For all I coaxed and petted, for my heart was starving out
42.45[page 90] For want of some companionship,--I thought, if only he
42.46Would lick my hand or come and put his head aside my knee,
42.47Perhaps his touch would scatter something of the gloom away.
42.48But all alone I had to live until there came a day
42.49When, tired of the battle, as you'd have tired too,
42.50I wished to heaven I'd gone with Ben, 'way up beyond the blue.
42.51One morning I took out Ben's gun, and thought I'd hunt all day,
42.52And started through the clearing for the bush that forward lay,
42.53When something made me look around--I scarce believed my mind--
42.54But, sure enough, the dog was following right close behind.
42.55A feeling first of joy, and than a sharper, greater one
42.56Of anger came, at knowing 'twas not me, but Ben's old gun,
42.57That Rove was after,--well, sir, I just don't mind telling you,
42.58But I forgot that moment Ben was up beyond the blue.
42.59Perhaps it was but jealousy--perhaps it was despair,
42.60But I just struck him with the gun and broke the bone right there ;
42.61[page 91] And then--my very throat seemed choked, for he began to whine
42.62With pain--God knows how tenderly I took that dog of mine
42.63Up in my arms, and tore my old red necktie into bands
42.64To bind the broken leg, while there he lay and licked my hands ;
42.65And though I cursed my soul, it was the brightest day I knew,
42.66Or even cared to live, since Ben went up beyond the blue.
42.67I tell you, Squire, I nursed him just as gently as could be,
42.68And now I'm all the world to him, and he's the world to me.
42.69Look, sir, at that big, noble soul, right in his faithful eyes,
42.70The square, forgiving honesty that deep down in them lies.
42.71Eh, Squire ? What's that you say ? He's got no soul ? I tell you, then,
42.72He's grander and he's better than the mass of what's called men ;
42.73And I guess he stands a better chance than many of us do
42.74Of seeing Ben some day again, 'way up beyond the blue.
43.75 [page 92] ONCE more adrift.
43.76O'er dappling sea and broad lagoon,
43.77O'er frowning cliff and yellow dune,
43.78The long, warm lights of afternoon
43.79 Like jewel dustings sift.
43.80 Once more awake.
43.81I dreamed an hour of port and quay,
43.82Of anchorage not meant for me ;
43.83The sea, the sea, the hungry sea
43.84 Came rolling up the break.
43.85 Once more afloat.
43.86The billows on my moorings press't,
43.87They drove me from my moment's rest,
43.88And now a portless sea I breast,
43.89 And shelterless my boat.
43.90 Once more away.
43.91The harbour lights are growing dim,
43.92The shore is but a purple rim,
43.93The sea outstretches grey and grim.
43.94 Away, away, away !
43.95 [page 93]Once more at sea,
43.96The old, old sea I used to sail,
43.97The battling tide, the blowing gale,
43.98The waves with ceaseless under-wail
43.99 The life that used to be.
Lullaby of the Iroquois44.1
44.2 Wrapped in your nest,
44.3 Strapped in your nest,
44.4Your straight little cradle-board rocks you to rest ;
44.5 Its hands are your nest ;
44.6 Its bands areyour nest ;
44.7It swings from the down-bending branch of the oak ;
44.8You watch the camp flame, and the curling grey smoke ;
44.9But, oh, for your pretty black eyes sleep is best,--
44.10Little brown nany of mine, go to rest.
44.11Little brown baby-bird swinging to sleep,
44.12 Winging to sleep,
44.13 Singing to sleep,
44.14Your wonder-black eyes that so wide open keep,
44.15 Shielding their sleep,
44.16 Unyielding to sleep,
44.17The heron is homing, the plover is still,
44.18The night-owl calls from his haunt on the hill,
44.19Afar the fox barks, afar the stars peep,--
44.20Little brown baby of mine, go to sleep.
The Corn Husker45.1
45.2 Breaks in a clearing, through ill-fashioned fields,
45.3She comes to labour, when the first still hush
45.4 Of autumn follows large and recent yields.
45.5Age in her fingers, hunger in her face,
45.6 Her shoulders stooped with weight of work and years,
45.7But rich in tawny colouring of her race,
45.8 She comes a-field to strip the purple ears.
45.9And all her thoughts are with the days gone by,
45.10 Ere might's injustice banished from their lands
45.11Her people, that to-day unheeded lie,
45.12 Like the dead husks that rustle through her hands.
46.13 [page 96] I SWING to the sunset land--
46.14The world of prairie, the world of plain,
46.15The world of promise and hope and gain,
46.16The world of gold, and the world of grain,
46.17 And the world of the willing hand.
46.18 I carry the brave and bold--
46.19The one who works for the nation's bread,
46.20The one whose past is a thing that's dead,
46.21The one who battles and beats ahead,
46.22 And the one who goes for gold.
46.23 I swing to the "Land to Be,"
46.24I am the power that laid its floors,
46.25I am the guide to its western stores,
46.26I am the key to its golden doors,
46.27 That open alone to me.
46.28 I swing to the land of morn ;
46.29The grey old east with its grey old seas,
46.30The land of leisure, the land of ease,
46.31The land of flowers and fruits and trees,
46.32 And the place where we were born.
46.33 [page 97] Freighted with wealth I come ;
46.34For he who many a moon has spent
46.35Far out west on adventure bent,
46.36With well-worn pick and a folded tent,
46.37 Is bringing his bullion home.
46.38 I never will be renouned,
46.39As my twin that swings to the western marts,
46.40For I am she of the humbler parts,
46.41But I am the joy of the waiting hearts ;
46.42 For I am the Homeward-bound.
Golden -- of the Selkirks47.1
47.2It leads to a land God only knows,
47.3To the land of eternal frozen snows,
47.4That trail unknown and olden.
47.5And they tell a tale that is strange and wild--
47.6Of a lovely and lonely mountain child
47.7That went up the trail from Golden.
47.8A child in the sweet of her womanhood,
47.9Beautiful, tender, grave and good
47.10As the saints in time long olden.
47.11And the days count not, nor the weeks avail ;
47.12For the child that went up the mountain trail
47.13Came never again to Golden.
47.14And the watchers wept in the midnight gloom,
47.15Where the cañons yawn and the Selkirks loom,
47.16For the love that they knew of olden.
47.17And April dawned, with its suns aflame,
47.18And the eagles wheeled and the vultures came
47.19And poised o'er the town of Golden.
47.20[page 99] God of the white eternal peaks,
47.21Guard the dead while the vulture seeks !--
47.22God of the days so olden.
47.23For only God in His greatness knows
47.24Where the mountain holly above her grows,
47.25On the trail that leads from Golden.
48.2 Of a plaintive note, and long ;
48.3'Tis a note no human throat could sing,
48.4No harp with its dulcet golden string,--
48.5Nor lute, nor lyre with liquid ring,
48.6 Is sweet as the robin's song.
48.7He sings for love of the season
48.8 When the days grow warm and long,
48.9For the beautiful God-sent reason
48.10 That his breast was born for song.
48.11Calling, calling so fresh and clear,
48.12 Through the song-sweet days of May ;
48.13Warbling there, and whistling here,
48.14He swells his voice on the drinking ear,
48.15On the great, wide, pulsing atmosphere
48.16 Till his music drowns the day.
48.17He sings for love of the season
48.18 When the days grow warm and long,
48.19For the beautiful God-sent reason
48.20 That his breast was born for song.
49.2The west lifts to the sun her longing lips,
49.3Her blushes stain with gold and garnet dye
49.4The shore, the river and the wide far sky ;
49.5Like floods of wine the waters filter through
49.6The reeds that brush our indolent canoe.
49.7I beach the bow where sands in shadows lie ;
49.8You hold my hand a space, then speak good-bye.
49.9Upwinds your pathway through the yellow plumes
49.10Of goldenrod, profuse in August blooms,
49.11And o'er its tossing sprays you toss a kiss ;
49.12A moment more, and I see only this--
49.13The idle paddle you so lately held,
49.14The empty bow your pliant wrist propelled,
49.15Some thistles purpling into violet,
49.16Their blossoms with a thousand thorns afret,
49.17And like a cobweb, shadowy and grey,
49.18Far floats their down--far drifts my dream away.
The Riders of the Plains50.1
50.2To whine and sneer that they do not fear the whelps in the Lion's lair ?
50.3But we of the North will answer, while life in the North remains,
50.4Let the curs beware lest the whelps they dare are the Riders of the Plains ;
50.5For these are the kind whose muscle makes the power of the Lion's jaw,
50.6And they keep the peace of our people and the honour of British law.
50.7A woman has painted a picture,--'tis a neat little bit of art
50.8The critics aver, and it roused up for her the love of the big British heart.
50.9'Tis a sketch of an English bulldog that tigers would scarce attack,
50.10And round and about and beneath him is painted the Union Jack,
50.11[page 103] With its blaze of colour, and courage, its daring in every fold,
50.12And underneath is the title, "What we have we'll hold."
50.13'Tis a picture plain as a mirror, but the reflex it contains
50.14Is the counterpart of the life and heart of the Riders of the Plains ;
50.15For like to that flag and that motto, and the power of that bulldog's jaw,
50.16They keep the peace of our people and the honour of British law.
50.17These are the fearless fighters, whose life in the open lies,
50.18Who never fail on the prairie trail 'neath the Territorial skies,
50.19Who have laughed in the face of the bullets and the edge of the rebels' steel,
50.20Who have set their ban on the lawless man with his crime beneath their heel ;
50.21These are the men who battle the blizzards, the suns, the rains,
50.22These are the famed that the North has named the "Riders of the Plains,"
50.23And theirs is the might and the meaning and the strength of the bulldog's jaw,
50.24While they keep the peace of the people and the honour of British law.
50.25These are the men of action, who need not the world's renown,
50.26[page 104] For their valour is known to England's throne as a gem in the British crown ;
50.27These are the men who face the front, whose courage the world may scan,
50.28The men who are feared by the felon, but are loved by the honest man ;
50.29These are the marrow, the pith, the cream, the best that the blood contains,
50.30Who have cast their days in the valiant ways of the Riders of the Plains ;
50.31And theirs is the kind whose muscle makes the power of old England's jaw,
50.32And they keep the peace of her people and the honour of British law.
50.33Then down with the cur that questions,--let him slink to his craven den,--
50.34For he daren't deny our hot reply as to "who are our mounted men."
50.35He shall honour them east and westward, he shall honour them south and north,
50.36He shall bare his head to that coat of red wherever that red rides forth.
50.37'Tis well that he knows the fibre that the great North-West contains,
50.38The North-West pride in her men that ride on the Territorial plains,--
50.39For of such as these are the muscles and the teeth in the Lion's jaw,
50.40And they keep the peace of our people and the honour of British law.
51.2Unbroken the horizon, saving where
51.3A wreath of smoke curls up the far, thin air,
51.4And points the distant lodges of the Sioux.
51.5Etched where the lands and cloudlands touch and die
51.6A solitary Indian tepee stands,
51.7The only habitation of these lands,
51.8That roll their magnitude from sky to sky.
51.9The tent poles lift and loom in thin relief,
51.10The upward floating smoke ascends between,
51.11And near the open doorway, gaunt and lean,
51.12And shadow-like, there stands an Indian Chief.
51.13With eyes that lost their lustre long ago,
51.14With visage fixed and stern as fate's decree,
51.15He looks towards the empty west, to see
51.16The never-coming herd of buffalo.
51.17Only the bones that bleach upon the plains,
51.18Only the fleshless skeletons that lie
51.19In ghastly nakedness and silence, cry
51.20Out mutely that naught else to him remains.
52.2 And you forgot me, other loves to learn ;
52.3Now through a wilderness of thorn and rue
52.4 Back to my God I turn.
52.5And just because my God forgets the past,
52.6 And in forgetting does not ask to know
52.7Why I once left His arms for yours, at last
52.8 Back to my God I go.
Through Time and Bitter Distance53.1
53.2 The cutting blast, the hurl of biting brine
53.3May freeze, and still, and bind the waves at war,
53.4 Ere you will ever know, O ! Heart of mine,
53.5That I have sought, reflected in the blue
53.6 Of these sea depths, some shadow of your eyes ;
53.7Have hoped the laughing waves would sing of you,
53.8 But this is all my starving sight descries--
53.9Far out at sea a sail
53.10 Bends to the freshening breeze,
53.11Yields to the rising gale
53.12 That sweeps the seas ;
53.13Yields, as a bird wind-tossed,
53.14 To saltish waves that fling
53.15Their spray, whose rime and frost
53.16 Like crystals cling
53.17To canvas, mast and spar,
53.18 Till, gleaming like a gem,
53.19She sinks beyond the far
53.20 Horizon's hem.
53.21Lost to my longing sight,
53.22 And nothing left to me
53.23Save an oncoming night,--
53.24 An empty sea.
54.2The greatest fellow you ever seen to racket an' raise a noise,--
54.3An' sing ! say, you never heard singing 'nless you heard Billy sing.
54.4I used to say to him, "Billly, that voice that you've got there'd bring
54.5A mighty sight more bank-notes to tuck away in your vest,
54.6If only you'd go on the concert stage instead of aranchin' West."
54.7An' Billy he'd jist go laughin', and say as I didn't know
54.8A robin' whistle in springtime from a barnyard rooster's crow.
54.9But Billy could sing, an' I sometimes think that voice lives anyhow,--
54.10That perhaps Bill helps with the music in the place he's gone to now.
54.11The last time that I seen him was the day he rode away ;
54.12He was goin' acrost the plain to catch the train for the East next day.
54.13[page 110] 'Twas the only time I ever seen poor Bill that he didn't laugh
54.14Or sing, an' kick up a rumpus an' racket around, and chaff,
54.15For he'd got a letter from his folks that said for to hurry home,
54.16For his mother was dyin' away down East an' she wanted Bill to come.
54.17Say, but the feller took it hard, but he saddled up right away,
54.18An' started across the plains to take the train for the East, next day.
54.19Sometimes I lie awake a-nights jist a-thinkin' of the rest,
54.20For that was the great big blizzard day, when the wind come down from west,
54.21An' the snow piled up like mountains an' we couldn't put foot outside,
54.22But jist set into the shack an' talked of Bill on his lonely ride.
54.23We talked of the laugh he threw us as he went at the break o' day,
54.24An' we talked of the poor old woman dyin' a thousand mile away.
54.25Well, Dan O'Connell an' I went out to search at the end of the week,
54.26Fer all of us fellers thought a lot,--a lot that we darsn't speak.
54.27We'd been up the trail about forty mile, an' was talkin' of turnin' back,
54.28[page 111] But Dan, well, he wouldn't give in, so we kep' right on to the railroad track.
54.29As soon as we sighted them telegraph wires says Dan, "Say, bless my soul !
54.30Ain't that there Bill's red handkerchief tied half way up that pole ?"
54.31Yes, sir, there she was, with her ends a-flippin' an' flyin' in the wind,
54.32An' underneath was the envelope of Bill's letter tightly pinned.
54.33"Why, he must a-boarded the train right here," says Dan, but I kinder knew
54.34That underneath them snowdrifts we would find a thing or two ;
54.35Fer he'd writ on that there paper, "Been lost fer hours,--all hope is past.
54.36You'll find me, boys, where my handkerchief is flyin' at half-mast."
The Sleeping Giant (Thunder Bay, Lake Superior)55.1
55.2 Out there in your thunder bed ?
55.3Where the tempests sweep,
55.4And the waters leap,
55.5 And the storms rage overhead.
55.6Were you lying there on your couch alone
55.7 Ere Egypt and Rome were born ?
55.8Ere the Age of Stone,
55.9Or the world had known
55.10 The Man with the Crown of Thorn.
55.11The winds screech down from the open west,
55.12 And the thunders beat and break
55.13On the amethyst
55.14Of your rugged breast,--
55.15 But you never arise or wake.
55.16You have locked your past, and you keep the key
55.17 In your heart 'neath the westing sun,
55.18Where the mighty sea
55.19And its shores will be
55.20 Storm-swept till the world is done.
The Quill Worker56.1
56.2To the north the open country, southward the Cyprus Hills ;
56.3Never a bit of woodland, never a rill that flows,
56.4Only a stretch of cactus beds, and the wild, sweet prairie rose ;
56.5Never a habitation, save where in the far south-west
56.6A solitary tepee lifts its solitary crest,
56.7Where Neykia in the doorway, crouched in the red sunshine,
56.8Broiders her buckskin mantle with the quills of the porcupine.
56.9Neykia, the Sioux chief's daughter, she with the foot that flies,
56.10She with the hair of midnight and the wondrous midnight eyes,
56.11She with the deft brown fingers, she with the soft, slow smile,
56.12She with the voice of velvet and the thoughts that dream the while,--
56.13"Whence come the vague to-morrows? Where do the yesters fly ?
56.14What is beyond the border of the prairie and the sky ?
56.15[page 114] Does the maid in the Land of Morning sit in the red sunshine,
56.16Broidering her buckskin mantle with the quills of the porcupine ?"
56.17So Neykia, in the westland, wonders and works away,
56.18Far from the fret and folly of the "Land of Waking Day."
56.19And many the pale-faced trader who stops at the tepee door
56.20For a smile from the sweet, shy worker, and a sigh when the hour is o'er.
56.21For they know of a young red hunter who oftentimes has stayed
56.22To rest and smoke with her father, tho' his eyes were on the maid ;
56.23And the moons will not be many ere she in the red sunshine
56.24Will broider his buckskin mantle with the quills of the porcupine.
Guard of the Eastern Gate57.1
57.2 In the might of her pride,--
57.3Invincible, terrible, beautiful, she
57.4 With a sword at her side.
57.5To right and to left of her, battlements rear
57.6 And fortresses frown ;
57.7While she sits on her throne without favour or fear
57.8 With her cannon as crown.
57.9Coast guard and sentinel, watch of the weal
57.10 Of a nation she keeps ;
57.11But her hand is encased in a gauntlet of steel,
57.12 And her thunder but sleeps.
At Crow's Nest Pass58.1
58.2Themselves apart, the rivers wend
58.3 A lawless course about their feet,
58.4 And breaking into torrents beat
58.5In useless fury where they blend
58.6 At Crow's Nest Pass.
58.7The nesting eagle, wise, discreet,
58.8Wings up the gorge's lone retreat
58.9And makes some barren crag her friend
58.10 At Crow's Nest Pass.
58.11Uncertain clouds, half-high, suspend
58.12Their shifting vapours, and contend
58.13 With rocks that suffer not defeat ;
58.14 And snows, and suns, and mad winds meet
58.15To battle where the cliffs defend
58.16 At Crow's Nest Pass.
'Give us Barabbas'59.1
59.2 But of the people--poor and lowly born,
59.3Accused of blasphemy of God, He stood
59.4 Before the Roman Pilate, while in scorn
59.5The multitude demanded it was fit
59.6 That one should suffer for the people, while
59.7Another be released, absolved, acquit,
59.8 To live his life out virtuous or vile.
59.9"Whom will ye have--Barabbas or this Jew ?"
59.10 Pilate made answer to the mob, "The choice
59.11Is yours ; I wash my hands of this, and you,
59.12 Do as you will." With one vast ribald voice
59.13The populace arose and, shrieking, cried,
59.14 "Give us Barabbas, we condone his deeds !"
59.15And He of Nazareth was crucified--
59.16 Misjudged, condemned, dishonoured for their needs.
59.17And down these nineteen centuries anew
59.18 Comes the hoarse-throated, brutalized refrain,
59.19"Give us Barabbas, crucify the Jew !"
59.20 Once more a man must bear a nation's stain,--
59.21[page 118] And that in France, the chivalrous, whose lore
59.22 Made her the flower of knightly age gone by.
59.23Now she lies hideous with a leprous sore
59.24 No skill can cure--no pardon purify.
59.25And an indignant world, transfixed with hate
59.26 Of such disease, cries, as in Herod's time,
59.27Pointing its finger at her festering state,
59.28 "Room for the leper, and her leprous crime !"
59.29And France, writhing from years of torment, cries
59.30 Out her anguish, "Let this Jew endure,
59.31Damned and disgraced, vicarious sacrifice.
59.32 The honour of my army is secure."
59.33And, vampire-like, that army sucks the blood
59.34 From out a martyr's veins, and strips his crown.
59.35Of honour from him, and his herohood
59.36 Flings in the dust, and cuts his manhood down.
59.37Hide from your God, O ! ye that did this act !
59.38 With lesser crimes the halls of Hell are paved.
59.39Your army's honour may be still intact,
59.40 Unstained, unsoiled, unspotted,--but unsaved.
Your Mirror Frame60.1
60.2 Ornate with photographs of them.
60.3Place mine therein, for, all the same,
60.4 I'll have my little laughs at them.
60.5For girls may come, and girls may go,
60.6 I think I have the best of them ;
60.7And yet this photograph I know
60.8 You'll toss among the rest of them.
60.9I cannot even hope that you
60.10 Will put me in your locket, dear ;
60.11Nor costly frame will I look through,
60.12 Nor bide in your breast pocket, dear.
60.13For none your heart monopolize,
60.14 You favour such a nest of them.
60.15So I but hope your roving eyes
60.16 Seek mine among the rest of them.
60.17For saucy sprite, and noble dame,
60.18 And many a dainty maid of them
60.19Will greet me in your mirror frame,
60.20 And share your kisses laid on them.
60.21[page 120] And yet, sometimes I fancy, dear,
60.22 You hold me as the best of them.
60.23So I'm content if I appear
60.24 To-night with all the rest of them.
The City and the Sea
61.25TO none the city bends a servile knee ;
61.26 Purse-proud and scornful, on her heights she stands,
61.27And at her feet the great white moaning sea
61.28 Shoulders incessantly the grey-gold sands,--
61.29One the Almighty's child since time began,
61.30 And one the might of Mammon, born of clods ;
61.31For all the city is the work of man,
61.32 But all the sea is God's
61.33And she--between the ocean and the town--
61.34 Lies cursed of one and by the other blest :
61.35Her staring eyes, her long drenched hair, her gown,
61.36 Sea-laved and soiled and dank above her breast.
61.37She, image of her God since life began,
61.38 She, but the child of Mammon, born of clods,
61.39Her broken body spoiled and spurned of man,
61.40 But her sweet soul is God's.
62.2 Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
62.3A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
62.4And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
62.5 It hides the scars with almost human hands.
62.6And only to the heart that knows of grief,
62.7 Of desolating fire, of human pain,
62.8There comes some purifying sweet belief,
62.9Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.
62.10 And life revives, and blossoms once again.
63.2 And there's warmth in my heart for you,
63.3While I drink to your health, your youth, and your wealth,
63.4 And the things that you yet will do.
63.5In a vintage rare and olden,
63.6 With a flavour fine and keen,
63.7Fill the glass to the edge, while I stand up to pledge
63.8 My faith to my western queen.
63.9Then here's a Ho ! Vancouver, in wine of the bonniest hue,
63.10 With a hand on my hip and the cup at my lip,
63.11And a love in my life for you.
63.12 For you are a jolly good fellow, with a great, big heart, I know ;
63.13So I drink this toast
63.14To the "Queen of the Coast".
63.15 Vancouver, here's a Ho !
63.16And here's to the days that are coming,
63.17 And here's to the days that are gone,
63.18And here's to your gold and your spirit bold,
63.19 And your luck that has held its own ;
63.20[page 124] And here's to your hands so sturdy,
63.21 And here's to your hearts so true,
63.22And here's to the speed of the day decreed
63.23 That brings me again to you.
63.24Then here's a Ho ! Vancouver, in wine of the bonniest hue,
63.25 With a hand on my hip and the cup at my lip,
63.26And a love in my life for you.
63.27 For you are a jolly good fellow, with a great, big heart, I know ;
63.28So I drink this toast
63.29To the "Queen of the Coast."
63.30 Vancouver, here's a Ho !
64.2And gleaming in the north-land, her pillow all aglow ;
64.3 For the frost has come and found her
64.4 With an ermine robe around her
64.5Where little Lady Icicle lies dreaming in the snow.
64.6Little Lady Icicle is waking in the north-land,
64.7And shaking in the north-land her pillow to and fro ;
64.8 And the hurricane a-skirling
64.9 Sends the feathers all a-whirling
64.10Where little Lady Icicle is waking in the snow.
64.11Little Lady Icicle is laughing in the north-land,
64.12And quaffing in the north-land her wines that overflow ;
64.13 All the lakes and rivers crusting
64.14 That her finger-tips are dusting,
64.15Where little Lady Icicle is laughing in the snow.
64.16Little Lady Icicle is singing in the north-land,
64.17And bringing from the north-land a music wild and low ;
64.18 And the fairies watch and listen
64.19 Where her silver slippers glisten,
64.20As little Lady Icicle goes singing through the snow.
64.21[page 126] Little Lady Icicle is coming from the north-land,
64.22Benumbing all the north-land where'er her feet may go ;
64.23 With a fringe of frost before her
64.24 And a crystal garment o'er her,
64.25Little Lady Icicle is coming with the snow.
The Legend of Qu'Appelle Valley65.1
65.2 Had watched her grow to sweet young womanhood ;
65.3Won the dear privilege to call her wife,
65.4 And found the world, because of her, was good.
65.5I am the one who heard the spirit voice,
65.6 Of which the paleface settlers love to tell ;
65.7From whose strange story they have made their choice
65.8 Of naming this fair valley the "Qu'Appelle."
65.9She had said fondly in my eager ear--
65.10 "When Indian summer smiles with dusky lip,
65.11Come to the lakes, I will be first to hear
65.12 The welcome music of thy paddle dip.
65.13I will be first to lay in thine my hand,
65.14 To whisper words of greeting on the shore ;
65.15And when thou would'st return to thine own land,
65.16 I'll go with thee, thy wife for evermore."
65.17Not yet a leaf had fallen, not a tone
65.18 Of frost upon the plain ere I set forth,
65.19Impatient to possess her as my own--
65.20 This queen of all the women of the North.
65.21[page 128] I rested not at even or at dawn,
65.22 But journeyed all the dark and daylight through--
65.23Until I reached the Lakes, and, hurrying on,
65.24 I launched upon their bosom my canoe.
65.25Of sleep or hunger then I took no heed,
65.26 But hastened o'er their leagues of waterways ;
65.27But my hot heart outstripped my paddle's speed
65.28 And waited not for distance or for days,
65.29But flew before me swifter that the blade
65.30 Of magic paddle ever cleaved the Lake,
65.31Eager to lay its love before the maid,
65.32 And watch the lovelight in her eyes awake.
65.33So the long days went slowly drifting past ;
65.34 It seemed that half my life must intervene
65.35Before the morrow, when I said at last--
65.36 "One more day's journey and I win my queen !"
65.37I rested then, and, drifting, dreamed the more
65.38 Of all the happiness I was to claim,--
65.39When suddenly from out the shadowed shore,
65.40 I heard a voice speak tenderly my name.
65.41"Who calls ? " I answered ; no reply ; and long
65.42 I stilled my paddle blade and listened. Then
65.43Above the night wind's melancholy song
65.44 I heard distinctly that strange voice again--
65.45A woman's voice, that through the twilight came
65.46 Like to soul unborn--a song unsung.
65.47[page 129] I leaned and listened--yes, she spoke my name,
65.48 And then I answered in the quaint French tongue,
65.49"Qu'Appelle ? Qu'Appelle ?" No answer, and the night
65.50 Seemed stiller for the sound, till round me fell
65.51The far-off echoes from the far-off height--
65.52 "Qu'Appelle ?" my voice came back, "Qu'Appelle ? Qu'Appelle ?"
65.53This--and no more ; I called aloud until
65.54 I shuddered as the gloom of night increased,
65.55And, like a pallid spectre wan and chill,
65.56 The moon arose in silence in the east.
65.57I dare not linger on the moment when
65.58 My boat I beached beside her tepee door ;
65.59I heard the wail of women and of men,--
65.60 I saw the death-fires lighted on the shore
65.61No language tells the torture or the pain,
65.62 The bitterness that flooded all my life,--
65.63When I was led to look on her again,
65.64 That queen of women pledged to be my wife.
65.65To look upon the beauty of her face,
65.66 The still closed eyes, the lips that knew no breath ;
65.67To look, to learn,--to realize my place
65.68 Had been usurped by my one rival--Death.
65.69A storm of wrecking sorrow beat and broke
65.70 About my heart, and life shut out its light
65.71Till through my anguish some one gently spoke,
65.72 And said, "Twice did she call for thee last night."
65.73[page 130] I started up--and bending o'er my dead,
65.74 Asked when did her sweet lips in silence close.
65.75"She called thy name--then passed away,: they said,
65.76 "Just on the hour whereat the moon arose."
65.77Among the lonely Lakes I go no more,
65.78 For she who made their beauty is not there ;
65.79The paleface rears his tepee on the shore
65.80 And says the vale is fairest of the fair.
65.81Full many years have vanished since, but still
65.82 The voyageurs beside the campfire tell
65.83How, when the moonrise tips the distant hill,
65.84 They hear strange voices through the silence swell.
65.85The paleface loves the haunted lakes they say,
65.86 And journeys far to watch their beauty spread
65.87Before his vision ; but to me the day,
65.88 The night, the hour, the seasons are all dead.
65.89I listen heartsick, while the hunters tell
65.90 Why white men named the valley The Qu'Appelle.
The Art of Alma-Tadema66.1
66.2 For all his art breathes melody, and tunes
66.3The fine, keen beauty that his brushes bring
66.4 To murmuring marbles and to golden Junes.
66.5The music of those marbles you can hear
66.6 In every crevice, where the deep green stains
66.7Have sunken when the grey days of the year
66.8 Spilled leisurely their warm, incessant rains
66.9That, lingering, forget to leave the ledge,
66.10 But drenched into the seams, amid the hush
66.11Of ages, leaving but the silent pledge
66.12 To waken to the wonder of his brush.
66.13And at the Master's touch the marbles leap
66.14 To life, the creamy onyx and the skins
66.15Of copper-coloured leopards, and the deep,
66.16 Cool basins where the whispering water wins
66.17Reflections from the gold and glowing sun,
66.18 And tints from warm, sweet human flesh, for fair
66.19And subtly lithe and beautiful, leans one--
66.20 A goddess with a wealth of tawny hair.
67.2 Sounds of the sands have sped ;
67.3The sweep of gales,
67.4The far white sails,
67.5 Are silent, spent and dead.
67.6Sounds of the days of summer
67.7 Murmur and die away,
67.8And distance hides
67.9The long, low tides,
67.10 As night shuts out the day.
In Grey Days68.1
68.2 Oil and red wine,
68.3Lips laugh and drink, but never
68.4 Are the lips mine.
68.5Worlds at the feet of others,
68.6 Power gods have known,
68.7Hearts for the favoured round me
68.8 Mine beats, alone.
68.9Fame offering to others
68.10 Chaplets of bays,
68.11I with no crown of laurels,
68.12 Only grey days.
68.13Sweet human love for others,
68.14 Deep as the sea,
68.15God-sent unto my neighbour--
68.16 But not to me.
68.17Sometime I'll wrest from others
68.18 More than all this,
68.19I shall demand from Heaven
68.20 Far sweeter bliss.
68.21What profit then to others,
68.22 Laughter and wine ?
68.23I'll have what most they covet--
68.24 Death, will be mine.
69.2Robed in the wealth of her wheat-lands, gift of her mothering soil,
69.3Affluence knocks at her gateways, opulence waits to be won.
69.4Nuggets of gold are her acres, yielding and yellow with spoil,
69.5Dream of the hungry millions, dawn of the food-filled age,
69.6Over the starving tale of want her fingers have turned the page :
69.7Nations will nurse at her storehouse, and God gives her grain for wage.
The Indian Corn Planter70.1
70.2 For mating game his arrows ne'er despoil,
70.3And from the hunter's heaven turn his face,
70.4 To wring some promise from the dormant soil.
70.5He needs must leave the lodge that wintered him,
70.6 The enervating fires, the blanket bed--
70.7The women's dulcet voices, for the grim
70.8 Realities of labouring for bread.
70.9So goes he forth beneath the planter's moon
70.10 With sack of seed that pledges large increase,
70.11His simple pagan faith knows night and noon,
70.12 Heat, cold, seedtime and harvest shall not cease.
70.13And yielding to his needs, this honest sod,
70.14 Brown as the hand that tills it, moist with rain,
70.15Teeming with ripe fulfilment, true as God,
70.16 With fostering richness, mothers every grain.
The Cattle Country71.1
71.2 Foot-falls, soft and sly,
71.3Velvet cushioned, wild and wary,
71.4 Then--the coyote's cry.
71.5Rush of hoofs, and roar and rattle,
71.6 Beasts of blood and breed,
71.7Twenty thousand frightened cattle,
71.8 Then--the wild stampede.
71.9Pliant lasso circling wider
71.10 In the frenzied flight--
71.11Loping horse and cursing rider,
71.12 Plunging through the night.
71.13Rim of dawn the darkness losing
71.14 Trail of blackened soil ;
71.15Perfume of the sage brush oozing
71.16 On the air like oil.
71.17Foothills to the Rockies lifting
71.18 Brown, and blue, and green,
71.19Warm Alberta sunlight drifting
71.20 Over leagues between.
71.21That's the country of the ranges,
71.22 Plain and prairie land,
71.23And the God who never changes
71.24 Holds it in His hand.
Autumn's Orchestra (Inscribed to One Beyond Seas)72.1
72.2This fragile web of cadences I spin,
72.3That I have only caught these songs since you
72.4Voiced them upon your haunting violin.
72.5October's orchestra plays softly on
72.6The northern forest with its thousand strings,
72.7And Autumn, the conductor wields anon
72.8The Golden-rod-- The baton that he swings.
72.9There is a lonely minor chord that sings
72.10Faintly and far along the forest ways,
72.11When the firs finger faintly on the strings
72.12Of that rare violin the night wind plays,
72.13Just as it whispered once to you and me
72.14Beneath the English pines beyond the sea.
72.15The lost wind wandering, forever grieves
72.16 Low overhead,
72.17Above grey mosses whispering of leaves
72.18 Fallen and dead.
72.19[page 140] And through the lonely night sweeps their refrain
72.20Like Chopin's prelude, sobbing 'neath the rain.
72.21The wild grape mantling the trail and tree,
72.22Festoons in graceful veils its drapery,
72.23Its tendrils cling, as clings the memory stirred
72.24By some evasive haunting tune, twice heard.
72.25It is the blood-hued maple straight and strong,
72.26Voicing abroad its patriotic song.
72.27Its daring colours bravely flinging forth
72.28The ensign of the Nation of the North.
72.29Elfin bell in azure dress,
72.30Chiming all day long,
72.31Ringing through the wilderness
72.32Dulcet notes of song.
72.33Daintiest of forest flowers
72.34Weaving like a spell--
72.35Music through the Autumn hours,
72.36Little Elfin bell.
72.37And then the sound of marching armies 'woke
72.38Amid the branches of the soldier oak,
72.39And tempests ceased their warring cry, and dumb
72.40The lashing storms that muttered, overcome,
72.41Choked by the heralding of battle smoke,
72.42When these gnarled branches beat their martial drum.
72.43A sweet high trible threads its silvery song,
72.44Voice of the restless aspen, fine and thin
72.45It trills its pure soprano, light and long--
72.46Like the vibretto of a mandolin.
72.47The cedar trees have sung their vesper hymn,
72.48And now the music sleeps--
72.49Its benediction falling where the dim
72.50Dusk of the forest creeps.
72.51Mute grows the great concerto--and the light
72.52Of day is darkening, Good-night, Good-night.
72.53But through the night time I shall hear within
72.54The murmur of these trees,
72.55The calling of your distant violin
72.56Sobbing across the seas,
72.57And waking wind, and star-reflected light
72.58Shall voice my answering. Good-night, Good-night.
The Trail to Lillooet73.1
73.2Calling through the seas and silence, from God's country of the west.
73.3Where the mountain pass is narrow, and the torrent white and strong,
73.4Down its rocky-throated cañon, sings its golden-throated song.
73.5You are singing there together through the God- begotten nights,
73.6And the leaning stars are listening above the distant heights
73.7That lift like points of opal in the crescent coronet
73.8About whose golden setting sweeps the trail to Lillooet.
73.9Trail that winds and trail that wanders, like a cobweb hanging high,
73.10Just a hazy thread outlining mid-way of the stream and sky,
73.11Where the Fraser River cañon yawns its pathway to the sea,
73.12But half the world has shouldered up between its song and me.
73.13[page 143] Here, the placid English August, and the sea-encircled miles,
73.14There--God's copper-coloured sunshine beating through the lonely aisles
73.15Where the waterfalls and forest voice for ever their duet,
73.16And call across the cañon on the trail to Lillooet.
74.2Atlantic and far Pacific sweeping her, keel to deck.
74.3North of her, ice and arctics ; southward a rival's stealth ;
74.4Aloft, her Empire's pennant ; below, her nation's wealth.
74.5Daughter of men and markets, bearing within her hold,
74.6Appraised at highest value, cargoes of grain and gold.
The Lifting of the Mist75.1
75.2 At blindfold in the city streets,
75.3Their elfin fingers caught and stayed
75.4 The sunbeams, as they wound their sheets
75.5Into a filmy barricade
75.6 'Twixt earth and where the sunlight beats.
75.7A vagrant band of mischiefs these,
75.8 With wings of grey and cobweb gown ;
75.9They live along the edge of seas,
75.10 And creeping out on foot of down,
75.11They chase and frolic, frisk and tease
75.12 At blind-man's buff with all the town.
75.13And when at eventide the sun
75.14 Breaks with a glory through their grey,
75.15The vapour-fairies, one by one,
75.16 Outspread their wings and float away
75.17In clouds of colouring, that run
75.18 Wine-like along the rim of day.
75.19Athwart the beauty and the breast
75.20 Of purpling airs they twirl and twist,
75.21Then float away to some far rest,
75.22 Leaving the skies all colour-kiss't--
75.23A glorious and a golden West
75.24 That greets the Lifting of the Mist.
The Homing Bee76.1
76.2 Yellow gold, like the sun
76.3That spills in the west, as a chalice of wine
76.4 When feasting is done.
76.5You are gossamer-winged, little brother of mine,
76.6 Tissue winged, like the mist
76.7That broods where the marshes melt into a line
76.8 Of vapour sun-kissed.
76.9You are laden with sweets, little brother of mine,
76.10 Flower sweets, like the touch
76.11Of hands we have longed for, of arms that entwine,
76.12 Of lips that love much.
76.13You are better than I, little brother of mine,
76.14 Than I human-souled,
76.15For you bring from the blossoms and red summer shine,
76.16 For others, your gold.
The Lost Lagoon77.1
77.2And we two dreaming the dusk away,
77.3Beneath the drift of a twilight grey,
77.4Beneath the drowse of an ending day,
77.5And the curve of a golden moon.
77.6It is dark in the Lost Lagoon,
77.7And gone are the depths of haunting blue,
77.8The grouping gulls, and the old canoe,
77.9The singing firs, and the dusk and--you,
77.10And gone is the golden moon.
77.11O ! lure of the Lost Lagoon,--
77.12I dream to-night that my paddle blurs
77.13The purple shade where the seaweed stirs,
77.14I hear the call of the singing firs
77.15In the hush of the golden moon.
The Train Dogs78.1
78.2 Savage of breed and of bone,
78.3Shaggy and swift comes the yelping band,
78.4Freighters of fur from the voiceless land
78.5 That sleeps in the Arctic zone.
78.6Laden with skins from the north,
78.7 Beaver and bear and raccoon,
78.8Marten and mink from the polar belts,
78.9Otter and ermine and sable pelts--
78.10 The spoils of the hunter's moon.
78.11Out of the night and the north,
78.12 Sinewy, fearless and fleet,
78.13Urging the pack through the pathless snow,
78.14The Indian driver, calling low,
78.15 Follows with moccasined feet.
78.16Ships of the night and the north,
78.17 Freighters on prairies and plains,
78.18Carrying cargoes from field and flood
78.19They scent the trail through their wild red blood,
78.20 The wolfish blood in their veins.
The King's Consort
79.21LOVE, was it yesternoon, or years agone,
79.22 You took in yours my hands,
79.23And placed me close beside you on the throne
79.24 Of Oriental lands ?
79.25The truant hour came back at dawn to-day,
79.26 Across the hemispheres,
79.27And bade my sleeping soul retrace its way
79.28 These many hundred years.
79.29And all my wild young life returned, and ceased
79.30 The years that lie between,
79.31When you were King of Egypt, and The East,
79.32 And I was Egypt's queen.
79.33I feel again the lengths of silken gossamer enfold
79.34My body and my limbs in robes of emerald and gold.
79.35I feel the heavy sunshine, and the weight of languid heat
79.36That crowned the day you laid the royal jewels at my feet.
79.37You wound my throat with jacinths, green and glist'ning serpent-wise,
79.38My hot, dark throat that pulsed beneath the ardour of your eyes ;
79.39[page 150] And centuries have failed to cool the memory of your hands
79.40That bound about my arms those massive, pliant golden bands.
79.41You wreathed around my wrists long ropes of coral and of jade,
79.42And beaten gold that clung like coils of kisses love-inlaid ;
79.43About my naked ankles tawny topaz chains you wound,
79.44With clasps of carven onyx, ruby-rimmed and golden bound.
79.45But not for me the Royal Pearls to bind about my hair,
79.46"Pearls were too passionless," you said, for one like me to wear,
79.47I must have all the splendour, all the jewels warm as wine,
79.48But pearls so pale and cold were meant for other flesh than mine.
79.49But all the blood-warm beauty of the gems you thought my due
79.50Were pallid as a pearl beside the love I gave to you ;
79.51O ! Love of mine come back across the years that lie between,
79.52When you were King of Egypt--Dear, and I was Egypt's Queen.
When George was King80.1
80.2That is a tale worth reading,
80.3An insult veiled, a downcast glove,
80.4And rapiers leap unheeding.
80.5 And 'tis O ! for the brawl,
80.6 The thrust, the fall,
80.7And the foe at your feet a-bleeding.
80.8Tales of revel at wayside inns,
80.9The goblets gaily filling,
80.10Braggarts boasting a thousand sins,
80.11Though none can boast a shilling.
80.12 And 'tis O ! for the wine,
80.13 The frothing stein,
80.14And the clamour of cups a-spilling.
80.15Tales of maidens in rich brocade,
80.16Powder and puff and patches,
80.17Gallants lilting a serenade
80.18Of old-time trolls and catches.
80.19 And 'tis O ! for the lips
80.20 And the finger tips,
80.21And the kiss that the boldest snatches.
80.22[page 152] Tales of buckle and big rosette,
80.23The slender shoe adorning,
80.24Of curtseying through the minuet
80.25With laughter, love, or scorning.
80.26 And 'tis O ! for the shout
80.27 Of the roustabout,
80.28As he hies him home in the morning.
80.29Cards and swords, and a lady's love,
80.30Give to the tale God-speeding,
80.31War and wassail, and perfumed glove,
80.32And all that's rare in reading.
80.33 And 'tis O ! for the ways
80.34 Of the olden days,
80.35And a life that was worth the leading.
81.2And when sleep wandered o'er the world that very thought she stole
81.3To fill my dreams with splendour such as stars could not eclipse,
81.4And in the morn I wakened with your name upon my lips.
81.5Awakened, my beloved, to the morning of your eyes,
81.6Your splendid eyes, so full of clouds, wherein a shadow tries
81.7To overcome the flame that melts into the world of grey,
81.8As coming suns dissolve the dark that veils the edge of day.
81.9Cool drifts the air at dawn of day, cool lies the sleeping dew,
81.10But all my heart is burning, for it woke from dreams of you ;
81.11And O ! these longing eyes of mine look out and only see
81.12A dying night, a waking day, and calm on all but me.
81.13[page 154] So gently creeps the morning through the heavy air,
81.14The dawn grey-garbed and velvet-shod is wandering everywhere
81.15To wake the slumber-laden hours that leave their dreamless rest,
81.16With outspread, laggard wings to court the pillows of the west.
81.17Up from the earth a moisture steals with odours fresh and soft,
81.18A smell of moss and grasses warm with dew, and far aloft
81.19The stars are growing colourless, while drooping in the west,
81.20A late, wan moon is paling in a sky of amethyst.
81.21The passing of the shadows, as they waft their pinions near,
81.22Has stirred a tender wind within the night-hushed atmosphere,
81.23That in its homeless wanderings sobs in an undertone
81.24An echo to my heart that sobbing calls for you alone.
81.25The night is gone, belovèd, and another day set free,
81.26Another day of hunger for the one I may not see.
81.27What care I for the perfect dawn ? the blue and empty skies ?
81.28The night is always mine without the morning of your eyes.
82.29STRIPPED to the waist, his copper-coloured skin
82.30Red from the smouldering heat of hate within,
82.31Lean as a wolf in winter, fierce of mood--
82.32As all wild things that hunt for foes, or food--
82.33War paint adorning breast and thigh and face,
82.34Armed with the ancient weapons of his race,
82.35A slender ashen bow, deer sinew strung,
82.36And flint-tipped arrow each with poisoned tongue,--
82.37Thus does the Red man stalk to death his foe,
82.38And sighting him strings silently his bow,
82.39Takes his unerring aim, and straight and true
82.40The arrow cuts in flight the forest through,
82.41A flint which never made for mark and missed,
82.42And finds the heart of his antagonist.
82.43Thus has he warred and won since time began,
82.44Thus does the Indian bring to earth his man.
82.45Ungarmented, save for a web that lies
82.46In fleecy folds across his impish eyes,
82.47A tiny archer takes his way intent
82.48On mischief, which is his especial bent.
82.49[page 156] Across his shoulder lies a quiver, filled
82.50With arrows dipped in honey, thrice distilled
82.51From all the roses brides have ever worn
82.52Since that first wedding out of Eden born.
82.53Beneath a cherub face and dimpled smile
82.54This youthful hunter hides a heart of guile ;
82.55His arrows aimed at random fly in quest
82.56Of lodging-place within some blameless breast.
82.57But those he wounds die happily, and so
82.58Blame not young Cupid with his dart and bow :
82.59Thus has he warred and won since time began,
82.60Transporting into Heaven both maid and man.
83.2He ventures forth along the edge of night ;
83.3With silent foot he scouts the coulie's rim
83.4And scents the carrion awaiting him.
83.5His savage eyeballs lurid with a flare
83.6Seen but in unfed beasts which leave their lair
83.7To wrangle with their fellows for a meal
83.8Of bones ill-covered. Sets he forth to steal,
83.9To search and snarl and forage hungrily ;
83.10A worthless prairie vagabond is he.
83.11Luckless the settler's heifer which astray
83.12Falls to his fangs and violence a prey ;
83.13Useless her blatant calling when his teeth
83.14Are fast upon her quivering flank--beneath
83.15His fell voracity she falls and dies
83.16With inarticulate and piteous cries,
83.17Unheard, unheeded in the barren waste,
83.18To be devoured with savage greed and haste.
83.19Up the horizon once again he prowls
83.20And far across its desolation howls ;
83.21Sneaking and satisfied his lair he gains
83.22And leaves her bones to bleach upon the plains.
The Man in Chrysanthemum Land Written for 'The Spectator'84.1
84.2At the opposite side of the earth ;
84.3Of the White, and the Black, and the Tan,
84.4He's the smallest in compass and girth.
84.5O ! he's little, and lively, and Tan,
84.6And he's showing the world what he's worth.
84.7For his nation is born, and its birth
84.8Is for hardihood, courage, and sand,
84.9 So you take off your cap
84.10 To the brave little Jap
84.11Who fights for Chrysanthemum Land.
84.12Near the house that the little man keeps,
84.13There's a Bug-a-boo building its lair ;
84.14It prowls, and it growls, and it sleeps
84.15At the foot of his tiny back stair.
84.16But the little brown man never sleeps,
84.17For the Brownie will battle the Bear--
84.18He has soldiers and ships to command ;
84.19 So take off you cap
84.20 To the brave little Jap
84.21Who fights for Chrysanthemum Land.
84.22[page 159] Uncle Sam stands a-watching near by,
84.23With his finger aside of his nose--
84.24John Bull with a wink in his eye,
84.25Looks round to see how the wind blows--
84.26O ! jolly old John, with his eye
84.27Ever set on the East and its woes.
84.28More than hoeing their own little rows
84.29These wary old wags understand,
84.30 But they take off their caps
84.31 To the brave little Japs
84.32Who fight for Chrysanthemum Land.
84.33Now he's given us Geishas, and themes
84.34For operas, stories, and plays,
84.35His silks and his chinas are dreams,
84.36And we copy his quaint little ways ;
84.37O ! we look on his land in our dreams,
84.38But his value we failed to appraise,
84.39For he'll gather his laurels and bays--
84.40His Cruisers and Columns are manned,
84.41 And we take off our caps
84.42 To the brave little Japs
84.43Who fight for Chrysanthemum Land.
Calgary of the Plains85.1
85.2Their fetid airs, their reeking streets, their dwarfed and poisoned lives,
85.3Not of the buried yesterdays, but of the days to be,
85.4The glory and the gateway of the yellow West is she.
85.5The Northern Lights dance down her plains with soft and silvery feet,
85.6The sunrise gilds her prairies when the dawn and daylight meet ;
85.7Along her level lands the fitful southern breezes sweep,
85.8And beyond her western windows the sublime old mountains sleep.
85.9The Redman haunts her portals, and the Paleface treads her streets,
85.10The Indian's stealthy footstep with the course of commerce meets,
85.11And hunters whisper vaguely of the half forgotten tales
85.12Of phantom herds of bison lurking on her midnight trails.
85.13[page 161] Not hers the lore of olden lands, their laurels and their bays ;
85.14But what are these, compared to one of all her perfect days ?
85.15For naught can buy the jewel that upon her forehead lies--
85.16The cloudless sapphire Heaven of her territorial skies.
The Ballad of Yadda (A Legend of the Pacific Coast)86.1
86.2 With the pearl and purple tinting from the smouldering of peat.
86.3And the Dream Hills lift their summits in a sweeping, hazy crescent,
86.4 With the Capilano cañon at their feet.
86.5There are fires on Lulu Island, and the smoke, uplifting, lingers
86.6 In a faded scarf of fragrance as it creeps across the day,
86.7And the Inlet and the Narrows blur beneath its silent fingers,
86.8 And the cañon is enfolded in its grey.
86.9[page 163] But the sun its face is veiling like a cloistered nun at vespers ;
86.10 As towards the altar candles of the night a censer swings,
86.11And the echo of tradition wakes from slumbering and whispers,
86.12 Where the Capilano river sobs and sings.
86.13It was Yaada, lovely Yaada, who first taught the stream its sighing,
86.14 For 'twas silent till her coming, and 'twas voiceless as the shore ;
86.15But throughout the great forever it will sing the song undying
86.16 That the lips of lovers sing for evermore.
86.17He was chief of all the Squamish, and he ruled the coastal waters--
86.18 And he warred upon her people in the distant Charlotte Isles ;
86.19She, a winsome basket weaver, daintiest of Haida daughters,
86.20 Made him captive to her singing and her smiles.
86.21Till his hands forgot to havoc and his weapons lost their lusting,
86.22 Till his stormy eyes allured her from the land of Totem Poles,
86.23Till she followed where he called her, followed with a woman's trusting,
86.24 To the cañon where the Capilano rolls.
86.25[page 164] And the women of the Haidas plied in vain their magic power,
86.26 Wailed for many moons her absence, wailed for many moons their prayer,
86.27"Bring her back, O Squamish foeman, bring to us our Yaada flower ! "
86.28 But the silence only answered their despair.
86.29But the men were swift to battle, swift to cross the coastal water,
86.30 Swift to war and swift of weapon, swift to paddle trackless miles,
86.31Crept with stealth along the cañon, stole her from her love and brought her
86.32 Once again unto the distant Charlotte Isles.
86.33But she faded, ever faded, and her eyes were ever turning
86.34 Southward toward the Capilano, while her voice had hushed its song,
86.35And her riven heart repeated words that on her lips were burning :
86.36 "Not to friend--but unto foeman I belong.
86.37"Give me back my Squamish lover--though you hate, I still must love him.
86.38 "Give me back the rugged cañon where my heart must ever be--
86.39Where his lodge awaits my coming, and the Dream Hills lift above him,
86.40 And the Capilano learned its song from me."
86.41[page 165] But through long-forgotten seasons, moons too many to be numbered,
86.42 He yet waited by the cañon--she called across the years,
86.43And the soul within the river, though centuries had slumbered,
86.44 Woke to sob a song of womanly tears.
86.45For her little, lonely spirit sought the Capilano cañon,
86.46 When she died among the Haidas in the land of Totem Poles,
86.47And you yet may hear her singing to her lover-like companion,
86.48 If you listen to the river as it rolls.
86.49But 'tis only when the pearl and purple smoke is idly swinging
86.50 From the fires on Lulu Island to the hazy mountain crest,
86.51That the undertone of sobbing echoes through the river's singing,
86.52 In the Capilano cañon of the West.
`And He Said, Fight On' (Tennyson)87.1
87.2 Have compassed me about,
87.3Have massed their armies, and on battle bent
87.4 My forces put to rout ;
87.5But though I fight alone, and fall, and die,
87.6 Talk terms of Peace ? Not I.
87.7They war upon my fortress, and their guns
87.8 Are shattering its walls ;
87.9My army plays the cowards' part, and runs,
87.10 Pierced by a thousand balls ;
87.11They call for my surrender. I reply,
87.12 "Give quarter now ? Not I."
87.13They've shot my flag to ribbons, but in rents
87.14 It floats above the height ;
87.15Their ensign shall not crown my battlements
87.16 While I can stand and fight.
87.17I fling defiance at them as I cry,
87.18 "Capitulate ? Not I."
1.23] *God, in the Mohawk language. Back to Line
50.1] *The above is the Territorial pet name for the North-West Mounted Police, and is in general usage throughout Assiniboia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. At a dinner party in Boston the writer was asked, "Who are the North-West Mounted Police?" and when told that they were the pride of Canada's fighting men the questioner sneered and replied, "Ah ! then they are only some of your British Lion's whelps. We are not afraid of them." His companions applauded the remark. Back to Line
53.1] *For this title the author is indebted to Mr. Charles G. D. Roberts. It occurs in his sonnet, "Rain." Back to Line
59.1] * Written after Dreyfus was exiled Back to Line
86.1] *"The Ballad of Yaada " is the last complete poem written by the author. It was placed for publication with the "Saturday Night " of Toronto, and did not appear in print until several months after Miss Johnson's death. The publishers express their gratitude to the "Saturday Night " for permission to include this poem in the revised edition of "Flint and Feather." Back to Line
87.1] * E.Pauline Johnson died March 7th, 1913. Shortly after the doctors told her that her illness would be her final one, she wrote the above poem, taking a line from Tennyson as her theme. Back to Line
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