The Departing of Gluskâp

Original Text: 
Selected Poems of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts (Toronto: Ryerson, 1936): . PS 8485 O22A17 Robarts Library.
2Forget what gladness was, and how the earth
3Gave corn in plenty, and the rivers fish,
4And the woods meat, before he went away.
5His going was on this wise.
6                                             All the works
7And words and ways of men and beasts became
8Evil, and all their thoughts continually
9Were but of evil. Then he made a feast.
10Upon the shore that is beside the sea
11That takes the setting sun, he ordered it,
12And called the beasts thereto. Only the men
13He called not, seeing them evil utterly.
14He fed the panther's crafty brood, and filled
15The lean wolf's hunger; from the hollow tree
16His honey stayed the bear's terrific jaws;
17And the brown rabbit couched at peace, within
18The circling shadow of the eagle's wings.
19And when the feast was done he told them all
20That now, because their ways were evil grown,
21On that same day he must depart from them,
22And they should look upon his face no more.
23Then all the beasts were very sorrowful.
24It was near sunset, and the wind was still,
25And down the yellow shore a thin wave washed
26Slowly; and Gluskâp launched his birch canoe,
27And spread his yellow sail, and moved from shore,
28Though no wind followed, streaming in the sail,
29Or roughening the clear waters after him.
30And all the beasts stood by the shore, and watched.
31Then to the west appeared a long red trail
32Over the wave; and Gluskâp sailed and sang
33Till the canoe grew little, like a bird,
34And black, and vanished in the shining trail.
35And when the beasts could see his form no more,
36They still could hear him, singing as he sailed,
37And still they listened, hanging down their heads
38In long row, where the thin wave washed and fled.
39But when the sound of singing died, and when
40They lifted up their voices in their grief,
41Lo! on the mouth of every beast a strange
42New tongue! Then rose they all and fled apart,
43Nor met again in council from that day.


1] Gluskâp, also known as Glooscap (and Clote Scarp to the Melicites), is a giant and a cultural hero of the eastern woodlands Indians, including the Micmacs. Legend tells that Gluskâk slept across Nova Scotia, with his head pillowed on Prince Edward Island, and that he defeated his evil twin brother who insisted that all rivers go crookedly and all mountains be impassable (Carole H. Carpenter, "Glooscap," Canadian Encyclopedia [Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988]: II, 906). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
In Divers Tones (1896)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.