[2 blank pages]
J. E. Wetherell, B.A.
“But thou, my Country, dream not thou!
How on thy breast, and o’er thy brow,
Bursts the uprising sun!”
—C. G. D. ROBERTS.
THE COPP, CLARK COMPANY, LIMITED.
Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one thousand eight hundred a ninety-three, by
THE COPP, CLARK COMPANY, (LIMITED), Toronto, Ontario, in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture.
The title of this little anthology suggests the scope and limitations of the book. It contains selections from the productions of the best known of our younger Canadian poets. The volume, it is believed, contains no poem published before the year 1880.
The supplement, which is an addition to the original plan of the book, represents within somewhat narrow limits the notable work produced in recent years by some of our women writers.
Grateful acknowledgements are due to the authors represented in this collection for kind permission to use their poems and for the generous aid which they have given me. The poems that represent the work of the late George Frederick Cameron, are here published through the courtesy of his brother, the Rev. C. J. Cameron, M.A., of Brockville. To Mrs. Crawford of Toronto I am indebted for the use of the two poems of her daughter, the late Isabella Valancy Crawford.
J. E. W.[unnumbered page]
[2 blank pages]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: GEORGE FREDERICK CAMERON.]
LATER CANADIAN POEMS
George Frederick Cameron.
In After Days.
I will accomplish this and this, And make myself a thorn to Things— Lords, councillors and tyrant kinds— Who sit upon their thrones and kiss The rod of Fortune; and are crowned The sovereign masters of the earth To scatter blight and death and dearth Wherever mortal man is found. I will do this and that, and break The backbone of their large conceit, And loose the sandals from their feet, And show ‘tis holy ground they shake. So sang I in my earlier days, Ere I had learned to look abroad [page 1] And see that more than monarchs trod Upon the form I fain would raise. Ere I, in looking toward the land That broke a triple diadem, That grasped at Freedom’s garment hem, Had seen her, sword and torch in hand, A freedom-fool: ere I had grown To know that Love is freedom’s strength— France taught the world that truth at length!— And Peace her chief foundation stone. Since then, I temper so my song That it may never speak for blood; May never say that ill is good; Or say that right may spring from wrong: Yet am what I have ever been— A friend of Freedom, staunch and true, Who hate a tyrant, be he—you— A people,—sultan, czar, or queen. And then the Freedom-haters came And questioned of my former song, If now I held it right, or wrong: And still my answer was the same:— [page 2] The good still moveth towards the good: The ill still moveth towards the ill: But who affirmeth that we will Not form a nobler brotherhood When communists, fanatics, those Who howl their “wives” to Freedom’s name And yet betray her unto shame, Are dead and coffined with her foes.
The Defeat of Love.
“I go,” said Love to his friends one day, “To a balmy island known to me, To a happy island leagues away Set star-fair far in a Southern sea. For there the mate that affection means To give my heart has waited long: She calls—I go to those sweeter scenes Of life and love and summer and song. Those sweeter scenes where the wild grape grows To thrill the throat of the land with wine: [page 3] Where all is sweet as is the rose To the bee that hangs to its heart divine!” He built a boat of deep-sea shell, Or meet for calm, or common gale; He bade us all a kind farewell, Then took the tiller and spread the sail. We watched him off—the wind blew free, Like electric spark he sped from the shore; He crossed the bar; he won the sea; The night came down and closed him o’er. * * * * * Well, days and weeks and months grew old, A year grew perfect and complete, Ere to our ears the tidings rolled Of Love and Love’s too dark defeat. The maiden wearied of his delay,— For adverse grew both wind and tide,— And said, “I will meet him on the way And guide him here!” She smiled in pride; For she was royal, and had ships And men to mark her least command; [page 4] And ere the word had left her lips, Her barge was ready to leave the land. * * * * * And she sailed Northward far and fast, And he sailed Southward steady and true: They came together at length, but passed Each other one night, and neither knew. So he sailed Southward o’er the main, And she sailed towards the Pole-star fair, Till storms arose and wrecked them twain, And no one knows the when or where! Ah, me! How often, or first or last, The lover and lover—the fitting two— Have met on Life’s large sea, and passed Each other forever, while neither knew! [page 5]
Yes, love of mine, and fair as any fair— Song of my soul, and soul of all this song! I will forgive thee, though thou makest bare And bleak my life:—yea, by thy glorious hair And violet eyes, I will forgive the wrong. I will forgive thee, even as I expect To be forgiven of all my own ill deeds By Him who holds all people His elect,— Who judges kindly, caring not for creeds. I do forgive! Albeit it hurts the heart To say—It might have been!—still o’er and o’er; To ask, yet find no aid in any art, To know that we must walk life’s ways apart— O lovelessness of love!—for evermore. [page 6]
Ah, love is deathless! we do cheat Ourselves who say that we forget Old fancies: last love may be sweet, First love is sweeter yet. And day by day more sweet it grows Forevermore, like precious wine, As Time’s thick cobwebs o’er it close, Until it is divine. Grows dearer every day and year, Let other loves come, go at will: Although the last love may be dear, First love is dearer still. [page 7]
Standing on Tiptoe.
Standing on tiptoe ever since my youth Striving to grasp the future just above, I hold at length the only future—Truth, And Truth is Love. I feel as one who being awhile confined Sees drop to dust about him all his bars:— The clay grows less, and, leaving it, the mind Dwells with the stars. [page 8]
“Ah Me! The Mighty Love.”
Ah, me! the mighty love that I have borne To thee, sweet Song! A perilous gift was it My mother gave me that September morn When sorrow, song, and life were at one altar lit. A gift more perilous than the priest’s: his lore Is all of books and to his books extends; And what they see and know he knows—no more, And with their knowing all his knowing ends. A gift more perilous than the painter’s: he In his divinest moments only sees The inhumanities of color, we Feel each and all the inhumanities. [page 9]
Wisdom immortal from immortal Jove Shadows more beauty with her virgin brows Than is between the pleasant breasts of Love Who makes at will and breaks her random vows, And hath a name all earthly names above: The noblest are her offspring; she controls The times and seasons—yea, all things that are— The heads and hands of men, their hearts and souls, And all that moves upon our mother star, And all that pauses ‘twixt the peaceful poles. Nor is she dark and distant, coy and cold,— But all in all to all who seek her shrine In utter truth, like to that king of old Who wooed and won—yet by no right divine. [page 10]
Past and Future.
The Past!—In even our oldest songs Regret for older past appears,— The Past with all is bitter wrongs, And bitter, buried years: With all its woes and crimes and shames,— Its rule of sword, and king, and cowl— Its scourges, tortures, axes, flames, And myriad murders foul! The Future! To our latest lays A common strain of longing clings For future nights, and future days, And future thoughts and things. The Future! Who of us will see This Future,—in its brightness bask? Ye ask the Future?—Let it be! Ye know not what ye ask. The Present! Ah, the mightiest mind Holds only that. We may not see The dim days, or the undefined And unformed ages yet to be: Enough for us that if we do The present deed that should be done, The three shall open to our view— Past, Present, Future—One!” [page 11]
On Life’s Sea.
On Life’s sea! Full soon The evening cometh—cheerless, sad and cold; Past is the golden splendor of the noon, The darkness comes apace—and I grow old. Yet the ship of Fate Drives onward o’er the waters mountain high! And now the day goes out the western gate And not a star is smiling in the sky. Gloom before—behind! Rude billows battling with an iron shore On either hand: anon, the chilling wind Smiting the cordage with an angry roar. Then the compass veers And doth avail not: for the dust of earth Hath marred its beauty, and the rust of years Hath made its mechanism of little worth. And tho’ oft I gaze Into the lost, yet ever lovely Past, And strive to call a power from perished days With which to dare the midnight and the blast, [page 12] The power flies my hand; And my sad heart grows wearier day by day, Beholding not the lights which line the land And throw their smile upon the desert way: For the star of Hope Shed but one beam along the lonely path, Then slid behind the clouds adown the slope, And set forever in a sea of wrath! Yet the ship moves on— Aye, ever on! still drifting with the tide, With Faith alone to look or lean upon, As pilot o’er the waters wild and wide. Yet for all, I feel My bark shall bound on billows gentler rolled. Be Faith my pilot, then, until the keel Shall kiss and clasp the glittering sands of gold! [page 13]
The Golden Text.
You ask for fame or power? Then up, and take for text:— This is my hour, And not the next, nor next! Oh, wander not in ways Of ease or indolence! Swift come the days, And swift the days go hence. Strike! while the hand is strong: Strike! while you can and may: Strength goes ere long,— Even yours will pass away. Sweet seem the fields, and green, In which you fain would lie: Sweet seems the scene That glads the idle eye: Soft seems the path you tread, And balmy soft the air,— Heaven overhead And all the earth seems fair: [page 14] But, would your heart aspire To noble things,—to claim Bard’s, statesman’s fire— Some measure of their fame; Or, would you seek and find The secret of success With mortal kind? Then, up from idleness! Up—up! all fame, all power Lies in this golden text:— This is my hour— And not the next, nor next! [page 15]
To the West Wind.
West wind, come from the west land, Fair and far! Come from the fields of the best land Upon our star! Come, and go to my sister Over the sea: Tell her how much I have missed her, Tell her for me! Odors of lilies and roses— Set them astir; Cull them from gardens and closes,— Give them to her! Say I have loved her, and love her: Say that I prize Few on the earth here above her, Few in the skies! Bring her, if worth the bringing, A brother’s kiss: Should she ask for a song of his singing, Give her this! [page 16]
The Way of the World.
We sneer and we laugh with the lip—the most of us do it, Whenever a brother goes down like a weed with the tide; We point with the finger and say—Oh, we knew it! we knew it! But, see! we are better than he was, and we will abide. He walked in the way of his will—the way of desire, In the Appian way of his will without ever a bend; He walked in it long, but it led him at last to the mire,— But we who are stronger will stand and endure to the end. His thoughts were all visions—all fabulous visions of flowers, Of bird and song and of soul which is only a song; His eyes looked all at the stars in the firmament, ours Were fixed on the earth and at our feet, so we stand and are strong. He hated the sight and the sound and the sob of the city; He sought for his peace in the wood and the musical wave; He fell, and we pity him never, and why should we pity— Yea, why should we mourn for him—we who still stand, who are brave? [page 17] Thus speak we and think not, we censure unheeding, unknowing,— Unkindly and blindly we utter the words of the brain; We see not the goal of our brother, we see but his going, And sneer at his fall if he fall, and laugh at his pain. Ah, me! the sight of the sod on the coffin lid, And the sound, and the sob, and the sight of it as it falls! Ah, me! the beautiful face forever hid By four wild walls! You hold it a matter of self-gratulation and praise To have thrust to the dust, to have trod on a heart that was true,— To have ruined it there in the beauty and bloom of its days? Very well! There is somewhere a Nemesis waiting for you. [page 18]
“What Though, My Brother?”
What though, my brother, to-day be drear And dark and sad? To-morrow, to-morrow will soon be here— Perchance to make thee glad. Sorrow and heaviness—these are things That come to men: They come to the commons, they come to kings, They come to go again. Why should a season of bitterness bear Thee down to dust? To-day may be foul yet to-morrow be fair; Trust in to-morrow—trust! And if to-morrow be darker yet With pain and ill, Though the heart be dry and the eyelids wet, Trust in to-morrow still! [page 19]
“Can it be good to die?” you question, friend; “Can it be good to die, and move along Still circling round and round, unknowing end, Still circling round and round amid the throng Of golden orbs attended by their moons— To catch the intonation of their song As on they flash, and scatter nights, and noons, To worlds like ours, where things like us belong?” To me ‘tis idle saying, “He is dead,” Or, “Now he sleepeth and shall wake no more; The little flickering, fluttering life is fled, Forever fled, and all that was is o’er.” I have a faith—that life and death are one, That each depends upon the self-same thread, And that the seen and unseen rivers run To one calm sea, from one clear fountain-head. I have a faith—that man’s most potent mind May cross the willow-shaded stream nor sink; I have a faith—when he has left behind His earthly vesture on the river’s brink, [page 20] When all his little fears are torn away, His soul may beat a pathway through the tide, And, disencumbered of its coward-clay, Emerge immortal on the sunnier side. So, say:—It must be good to die, my friend! It must be good and more than good, I deem; ‘Tis all the replication I may send— For deeper swimming seek a deeper stream. It must be good, or reason is a cheat, It must be good, or life is all a lie, It must be good and more than living sweet, It must be good—or man would never die.
What Matters It.
What reck we of the creeds of men?— We see them—we shall see again. What reck we of the tempest’s shock? What reck we where our anchor lock? On golden marl or mould— In salt-sea flower or riven rock— What matter—so it hold? [page 21]
What matters it the spot we fill On Earth’s green sod when all is said?— When feet and hands and heart are still And all our pulses quieted? When hate or love can kill nor thrill,— When we are done with life and dead?
So we be haunted night nor day By any sin that we have sinned, What matter where we dream away The ages?—In the isles of Ind, In Tybee, Cuba, or Cathay, Or in some world of winter wind?
It may be I would wish to sleep Beneath the wan, white stars of June, And hear the southern breezes creep Between me and the mellow moon: But so I do not wake to weep At any night or any noon, [page 22]
And so the generous gods allow Repose and peace from evil dreams, It matters little where or how My couch be spread:—by moving streams, Or on some eminent mountain’s brow Kist by the morn’s or sunset’s beams.
For we shall rest; the brain that planned, That thought or wrought or well or ill, At gaze like Joshua’s moon shall stand, Not working any work or will, While eye and lip and heart and hand Shall all be still—shall all be still!
[illustration: WILLIAM WILFRED CAMPBELL.] [unnumbered page]
William Wilfred Campbell.
(These Poems are taken from “Lake Lyrics” only).
O Father Abram, I can never rest, Here in thy bosom in the whitest heaven, Where love blooms on through days without an even; For up through all the paradises seven, There comes a cry from some fierce, anguished breast. A cry that comes from out of hell’s dark night, A piercing cry of one in agony, That reaches me here in heaven white and high; A call of anguish that doth never die; Like dream-waked infant wailing for the light. O Father Abram, heaven is love and peace, And God is good; eternity is rest. Sweet would it be to lie upon thy breast And know no thought but loving to be blest— Save for that cry that never more will cease. It comes to me above the angel-lyres, The chanting praises of the Cherubim; [page 25] It comes between my upward gaze and Him, All-blessed Christ,—a voice from the vague dim, “O Lazarus, come and ease me of these fires.” “O Lazarus, I have called thee all these years, It is so long for me to reach to thee, Across the ages of this mighty sea, That loometh dark, dense, like eternity; Which I have bridged by anguished prayers and tears. “Which I have bridged by knowledge of God’s love, That even penetrates this anguished glare; A gleaming ray, a tremulous, star-built stair, A road by which love-hungered souls may fare Past hate and doubt, to heaven and God above.” So calleth it ever upward unto me: It creepeth in through heaven’s golden doors; It echoes all along the sapphire floors; Like smoke of sacrifice, it soars and soars; It fills the vastness of eternity. Until my sense of love is waned and dimmed, The music-rounded spheres do clash and jar: No more those spirit-calls from star to star, The harmonies that float and melt afar, The belts of light by which all heaven is rimmed. [page 26] No more I hear the beat of heavenly wings, The seraph chanting in my rest-tuned ear; I only know a cry, a prayer, a tear, That rises from the depths up to me here; A soul that to me suppliant leans and clings. O, Father Abram, thou must bid me go Into the spaces of the deep abyss; Where far from us and our God-given bliss, Do dwell those souls that have done Christ amiss; For though my rest I hear that upward woe. I hear it crying through the heavenly night, When curvéd, hung in space, the million moons Lean planet-ward, and infinite space attunes Itself to silence, as from drear gray dunes A cry is heard along the shuddering light. Of wild dusk-bird, a sad, heart-curdling cry, So comes to me that call from out hell’s coasts; I see an infinite shore with gaping ghosts; This is no heaven with all its shining hosts; This is no heaven until that hell doth die. So spake the soul of Lazarus, and from thence, Like new-fledged bird from its sun-jewelled nest, Drunk with the music of the young year’s quest; [page 27] He sank out into heaven’s gloried breast, Spaceward turned, toward darkness dim, immense. Hellward he moved like radiant star shot out From heaven’s blue with rain of gold at even, When Orion’s train and that mysterious seven Move on in mystic range from heaven to heaven, Hellward he sank, followed by radiant rout. The liquid floor of heaven bore him up, With unseen arms, as in his feathery flight He floated down toward the infinite night; But each way downward, on the left and right, He saw each moon of heaven like a cup Of liquid, misty fire that shone afar From sentinel towers of heaven’s battlements; But onward, winged by love’s desire intense, And sank, space-swallowed, into the immense, While with him ever widened heaven’s bar. ‘Tis ages now long-gone since he went out, Christ-urged, love-driven, across the jasper walls But hellward still he ever floats and falls, And ever nearer come those anguished calls; And far behind he hears a glorious shout. [page 28]
Ode to Thunder Cape.
Storm-beaten cliff, thou mighty cape of thunder; Rock-Titan of the north, whose feet the waves beat under; Cloud-reared, mist-veiled, to all the world a wonder, Shut out in thy wild solitude asunder, O Thunder Cape, thou mighty cape of storms. About thy base, like woe that naught assuages, Throughout the years the wild lake raves and rages; One after one, time closes up weird pages; But firm thou standest, unchanged, through the ages, O Thunder Cape, thou awful cape of storms. Upon thy ragged front, the storm’s black anger, Like eagle clings, amid the elements’ clangor; About thee feels the lake’s soft sensuous languor; But dead alike to loving and to anger, Thou towerest bleak, O mighty cape of storms. Year in, year out, the summer rain’s soft beating, Thy front hath known, the winter’s snow and sleeting; But unto each thou givest contemptuous greeting. These hurt thee not through seasons fast and fleeting; O proud, imperious, rock-ribbed cape of storms. [page 29] In August nights, when on thy under beaches, The lake to caverns time-weird legends teaches; And moon-pearled waves to shadowed shores send speeches Far into heaven thine awful darkness reaches, O’ershadowing night; thou ghostly cape of storms. In wild October, when the lake is booming Its madness at thee, and the north is dooming The season to fiercest hate, still unconsuming, Over the strife thine awful front is looming; Like death in life, thou awful cape of storms. Across thy rest the wild bee’s noonday humming, And sound of martial hosts to battle drumming, Are one to thee—no date knows thine incoming; The earliest years belong to thy life’s summing, O ancient rock, thou aged cape of storms. O thou so old, within thy sage discerning, What sorrows, hates, what dead past loves still-burning, Couldst thou relate, thine ancient pages turning; O thou who seemest ever new lores learning, O unforgetting, wondrous cape of storms. O tell me what wild past lies here enchanted; What borders thou dost guard, what regions haunted? What type of man a little era flaunted, [page 30] Then passed and slept? O tell me thou undaunted, Thou aged as eld, O mighty cape of storms. O speak, if thou canst speak, what cities sleeping, What busy streets, what laughing and what weeping, What vanished deeds and hopes like dust up-heaping, Hast thou long held within thy silent keeping? O wise old cape, thou rugged cape of storms. These all have passed, as all that’s living passes; Our thoughts they wither as the centuries’ grasses, That bloom and rot in bleak, wild lake morasses: But still thou loomest where Superior glasses Himself in surge and sleep, O cape of storms. And thou wilt stay when we and all our dreaming Lie low in dust. The age’s last moon-beaming Will shed on thy wild front its final gleaming; For last of all that’s real and all that’s seeming, Thou still wilt linger, mighty cape of storms. [page 31]
The Winter Lakes.
Out in a world of death, far to the northward lying, Under the sun and the moon, under the dusk and the day; Under the glimmer of stars and the purple of sunsets dying, Wan and waste and white, stretch the great lakes away. Never a bug of spring, never a laugh of summer, Never a dream of love, never a song of bird; But only the silence and white, the shores that grow chiller and dumber, Wherever the ice-winds sob, and the griefs of winter are heard. Crags that are black and wet out of the gray lake looming, Under the sunset’s flush, and the pallid, faint glimmer of dawn; Shadowy, ghost-like shores, where midnight surfs are booming Thunders of wintry woe over the spaces wan. Lands that loom like spectres, whited regions of winter, Wastes of desolate woods, deserts of water and shore; A world of winter and death, within these regions who enter, Lost to summer and life, go to return no more. [page 32] Moons that glimmer above, waters that lie under, Miles and miles of lake far out under the night; Foaming crests of waves, surfs that shoreward thunder, Shadowy shapes that flee, haunting the spaces white. Lonely hidden bays, moon-lit, ice-rimmed, winding, Fringed by forests and crags, haunted by shadowy shores; Hushed from the outward strife, where the mighty surf is grinding Death and hate on the rocks, as sandward and landward it roars.
In the River Bay.
Alone I pause in morning dream Upon the border of the stream Where all the summer melts away, In mists of wood and sky and bay; And voices of the morning wake In whispers from the distant lake. With dews down fallen from the night, The alders scintillate in light. Reflected in the river pool, [page 33] The woods bend restful, sweet and cool. And hidden in their heart away, A thrush sends forth his roundelay, Echo’d in the airs above, Filling all heaven and earth with love. Above me in the darkling wood, Through dusks of morning solitude, Drifting in many a watery moon, The river chants a sleepy tine. Far out in front, in shining curves, Where, sun-cuirassed, his soft tide swerves, And all the dreams of morning brood, His shores wind, mirroring in his flood. With half-shut eyes I muse and see This morning picture dreamily. Then throbbeth up within my heart (Which seemeth nature’s counterpart), A wish to stay and dream for aye, The morning by this river-bay, To stay forever and forget The new desire and old regret, The doubt, the sorrow, and the curse, The passions that our spirits nurse; Never to dream in morning’s fires. [page 34] The ghosts of vanished, dead desires; Never to read in kindling skies The sadness of reproachful eyes: Refined, removed of all earth’s dross, Its strife, its sorrow, and its loss, To be a little child for aye, Mist-cradled in this river-bay. The dream is sweet but all too soon, Is lost its vision, hushed its rune; For up along the river-wall I hear my comrades gaily call: The dream is broken, life reclaims, To darker fancies, sterner aims. I leave my restful river bay, And worldward once more wend my way. [page 35]
The Heart of the Lakes.
There are crags that loom like spectres Half under the sun and the mist; There are beaches that gleam and glisten, There are cars that open to listen And lips held up to be kissed. There are miles and miles of waters That throb like a woman’s breast, With a glad harmonious motion Like happiness caught at rest, As if a heart beat under In love with its own glad rest, Beating and beating forever, Outward to east and to west. There are forests that kneel forever, Robed in the dreamiest haze That God sends down in the summer To mantle the gold of its days, Kneeling and leaning forever In winding and sinuous bays. There are birds that like smoke drift over, With a strange and bodeful cry, [page 36] Into the dream and the distance Of the marshes that southward lie, With their lonely lagoons and rivers, Far under the reeling sky.
How Spring Came to the Lake Region.
No passionate cry came over the desolate places, No answering call from iron-bound land to land; But dawns and sunsets fell on mute, dead faces, And noon and night, death crept from strand to strand. Till love breathed out across the wasted reaches, And dipped in rosy dawns from desolate deeps; And woke with mystic songs the sullen beaches, And flamed to life the pale, mute, death-like sleeps. Then the warm south, with amorous breath inblowing, Breathed soft o’er breast of wrinkled lake and mere; And faces white from scorn of the north’s snowing, Now rosier grew to greet the kindling year. [page 37]
A Lake Memory.
The lake comes throbbing in with voice of pain Across these flats, athwart the sunset’s glow. I see her face, I know her voice again, Her lips, her breath, O God, as long ago. To live the sweet past over I would fain, As lives the day in the red sunset’s fire, That all these wild, wan marshlands now would stain, With the dawn’s memories, loves and flushed desire. I call her back across the vanished years, Nor vain—a white-armed phantom fills her place; Its eyes the wind-blown sunset fires, its tears This rain of spray that blows about my face. [page 38]
[illustration: BLISS CARMAN.] [unnumbered page]
The Yule Guest.
And Yanna by the yule log Sat in the empty hall, And watched the goblin firelight Caper upon the wall: The goblins of the hearthstone, Who teach the wind to sing, Who dance the frozen yule away And usher back the Spring; The goblins of the Northland, Who teach the gulls to scream, Who dance the Autumn into dust, The ages into dream. Like the tall corn was Yanna, Bending and smooth and fair,— His Yanna of the sea-gray eyes And harvest-yellow hair. [page 39] Child of the low-voiced people Who dwell among the hills, She had the lonely calm and poise Of life that waits and wills. Only to-night a little With grave regard she smiled, Remembering the morn she woke And ceased to be a child. Outside, the ghostly rampikes, Those armies of the moon, Stood while the ranks of stars drew on To that more spacious noon,— While over them in silence Waved on the dusk afar The gold flags of the Northern light Streaming with ancient war. And when below the headland The riders of the foam Up from the misty border rode The wild gray horses home, And woke the wintry mountains With thunder on the shore, [page 40] Out of the night there came a weird And cried at Yanna’s door. “O Yanna, Adrianna, They buried me away In the blue fathoms of the deep, Beyond the outer bay. “But in the yule, O Yanna, Up from the round dim sea, And reeling dungeons of the dog, I am come back to thee!” The wind slept in the forest, The moon was white and high, Only the shifting snow awoke To hear the yule guest cry. “O Yanna, Yanna, Yanna, Be quick and let me in! For bitter is the trackless way And far that I have been!” Then Yanna by the yule log Starts from her dream to hear A voice that bids her brooding heart Shudder with joy and fear. [page 41] The wind is up a moment And whistles at the eaves, And in his troubled iron dream The ocean moans and heaves. She trembles at the door-lock That he is come again, And frees the wooden bolt for one No barrier could detain. “O Garvin, bonny Garvin, So late, so late you come!” The yule log crumbles down and throws Strange figures on the gloom; But in the moonlight pouring Through the half-open door Stands the gray guest of yule and casts No shadow on the floor. The change that is upon him She knows not in her haste; About him her strong arms with glad Impetuous tears are laced. She’s led him to the fireside, And set the wide oak chair, [page 42] And with her warm hands brushed away The sea-rime from his hair. “O Garvin, I have waited,— Have watched the red sun sink, And clouds of sail come flocking in Over the world’s gray brink, “With stories of encounter On plank and mast and spar; But never the brave barque I launched And waved across the bar. “How come you so unsignalled, When I have watched so well? Where rides the Adrianna With my name on boat and bell?” “O Yanna, golden Yanna, The Adrianna lies With the sea dredging through her ports, The white sand through her eyes. “And strange unearthly creatures Make marvel of her hull, Where far below the gulfs of storm There is eternal lull. [page 43] “O Yanna, Adrianna, This midnight I am here, Because one night of all my life At yuletide of the year, “With the stars white in heaven, And peace upon the sea, With all my world in your white arms You gave yourself to me. “For that one night, my Yanna, Within the dying year, Was it not well to love, and now Can it be well to fear?” “O Garvin, there is heartache In tales that are half told; But ah, thy cheek is pale to-night, And thy poor hands are cold! “Tell me the course, the voyage, The ports, and the new stars; Did the long rollers make green surf On the white reefs and bars?” “O Yanna, Adrianna, Though easily I found [page 44] The set of those uncharted tides In seas no line could sound, “And made without a pilot The port without a light, No log keeps tally of the knots That I have sailed to-night. “It fell about mid-April; The Trades were holding free; We drove her till the scuppers hissed And buried in the lee. * * * * * “O Yanna, Adrianna, Loose hands and let me go! The night grows red along the East, And in the shifting snow. “I hear my shipmates calling, Sent out to search for me In the pale lands beneath the moon Along the troubling sea.” “O Garvin, bonny Garvin, What is the booming sound [page 45] Of canvas, and the piping shrill, As when a ship comes round?” “It is the shadow boatswain Piping his hands to bend The looming sails on giant yards Aboard the Nomansfriend. “She sails for Sunken Harbor And ports of yester year; The tern are shrilling in the lift, The low wind-gates are clear. “O Yanna, Adrianna, The little while is done. Thou wilt behold the brightening sea Freshen before the sun. “And many a morning redden The dark hill slopes of pine; But I must sail hull-down to-night Below the gray sea-line. “I shall not hear the snowbirds Their morning litany, For when the dawn comes over dale I must put out to sea.” [page 46] “O Garvin, bonny Garvin, To have thee as I will, I would that never more on earth The dawn came over hill.” * * * * * Then on the snowy pillow, Her hair about her face, He laid her in the quiet room, And wiped away all trace Of tears from the poor eyelids That were so sad for him, And soothed her into sleep at last As the great stars grew dim. Tender as April twilight He sang, and the song grew Vague as the dreams which roam about This world of dust and dew: “O Yanna, Adrianna, Dear Love, look forth to sea, And all year long until the yule, Dear Heart, keep watch for me! [page 47] “O Yanna, Adrianna, I hear the calling sea, And the folk telling tales among The hills where I would be. “O Yanna, Adrianna, Over the hills of sea The wind calls and the morning comes, And I must forth from thee. “But Yanna, Adrianna, Keep watch above the sea; And when the weary time is o’er, Dear Life, come back to me!” “O Garvin, bonny Garvin—” She murmurs in her dream, And smiles a moment in her sleep To hear the white gulls scream. Then with the storm foreboding Far in the dim gray South, He kissed her not upon the cheek Nor on the burning mouth, But once above the forehead Before he turned away; [page 48] And ere the morning light stole in, That golden lock was gray. “O Yanna, Adrianna—” The wind moans to the sea; And down the sluices of the dawn A shadow drifts alee.
Low Tide on Grand-Pré.
The sun goes down, and over all These barren reaches by the tide Such unelusive glories fall, I almost dream they yet will bide Until the coming of the tide. And yet I know that not for us, By any ecstasy of dream, He lingers to keep luminous A little while the grievous stream, Which frets, uncomforted of dream,— A grievous stream, that to and fro Athrough the fields of Acadie [page 49] Goes wandering, as if to know Why one beloved face should be So long from home and Acadie! Was it a year or lives ago We took the grasses in our hands, And caught the summer flying low Over the waving meadow lands, And held it there between our hands? The while the river at our feet— A drowsy inland meadow stream— At set of sun the after-heat Made running gold, and in the gleam We freed our birch upon the stream. There down along the elms at dusk We lifted dripping blade to drift, Through twilight scented fine like musk, Where night and gloom awhile uplift, Nor sunder soul and soul adrift. And that we took into our hands— Spirit of life or subtler thing— Breathed on us there, and loosed the bands Of death, and taught us, whispering, The secret of some wonder-thing. [page 50] Then all your face grew light, and seemed To hold the shadow of the sun; The evening faltered, and I deemed That time was ripe, and years had done Their wheeling underneath the sun. So all desire and all regret, And fear and memory, were naught; One to remember or forget The keen delight our hearts had caught; Morrow and yesterday were naught! The night has fallen, and the tide . . . Now and again comes drifting home, Across these aching barrens wide, A sigh like driven wind or foam; In grief the flood is bustling home!
In Apple Time.
The apple harvest days are here, The boding apple harvest days, And down the flaming valley ways The foresters of time draw near. Through leagues of bloom I went with Spring, To call you on the slopes of morn, Where in imperious song is born The wild heart of the golden wing. I roved through alien summer lands, I sought your beauty near and far; To-day, where russet shadows are, I hold your face between my hands. On runnels dark, by slopes of fern, The hazy undern sleeps in sun; Remembrance and desire, undone, From old regret to dream return. The apple harvest time is here, The tender apple harvest time; A sheltering calm, unknown at prime, Settles upon the brooding year. [page 52]
Carnations in Winter.
Your carmine flakes of bloom to-night The fire of wintry sunsets hold; Again in dreams you burn to light A far Canadian garden old. The blue north summer over it Is bland with long ethereal days; The gleaming martins wheel and flit Where breaks your sun down orient ways. There, where the gradual twilight falls, Through quietudes of dusk afar, Hermit antiphonal hermit calls From hills below the first pale star. Then, in yon passionate love’s foredoom, Once more your spirits stir the air, And you are lifted through the gloom To warm the coils of her dark hair! [page 53]
In the Heart of the Hills.
In the warm blue heart of the hills My beautiful beautiful one Sleeps where he laid him down Before the journey was done. All the long summer day The ghosts of noon draw nigh, And the tremulous aspens hear The footing of winds go by. Down to the gates of the sea, Out of the gates of the west, Journeys the whispering river Before the place of his rest. The road he loved to follow When June came by his door, Out through the dim blue haze Leads, but allures no more. The trailing shadows of clouds Steal from the slopes and are gone; The myriad life in the grass Stirs, but he slumbers on; [page 54] The inland-wandering tern Skriel as they forage and fly; His loons on the lonely reach Utter their querulous cry; Over the floating lilies A dragon-fly tacks and steers; Far in the depth of the blue A martin settles and veers; To every roadside thistle A gold-brown butterfly clings; But he no more companions All the dear vagrant things. The strong red journeying sun, The pale and wandering rain, Will roam on the hills together And find him never again. Then twilight falls with the touch Of a hand that soothes and stills, And a swamp-robin sings into light The lone white star of the hills. Alone in the dusk he sings, And a burden of sorrow and wrong [page 55] Is lifted up from the earth And carried away in his song. Alone in the dusk he sings, And the joy of another day Is folded in peace and borne On the drift of years away. But there in the heart of the hills My beautiful weary one Sleeps where he laid him down; And the long sweet night is begun.
The Last Watch.
Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the sea, With the flag across my breast And my sword upon my knee. Steering out from vanished headlands For a harbor on no chart, With the winter in the rigging, With the ice-wind in my heart, [page 56] Down the bournless slopes of sea room, With the long gray wake behind, I have sailed my cruiser steady With no pilot but the wind. Battling with relentless pirates From the lower seas of Doom, I have kept the colors flying Through the roar of drift and gloom. Scudding where the shadow foemen Hang about us grim and stark, Broken spars and shredded canvas, We are racing for the dark. Sped and blown abaft the sunset Like a shriek the storm has caught; But the helm is lashed to windward, And the sails are sheeted taut. Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the night. I can hear the bell-buoy calling Down below the harbor light. Steer in shoreward, loose the signal, The last watch has been cut short; [page 57] Speak me kindly to the islesmen, When we make the foreign port. We shall make it ere the morning Rolls the fog from strait and bluff; Where the offing crimsons eastward There is anchorage enough. How I wander in my dreaming! Are we northing nearer home, Or outbound for fresh adventure On the reeling plains of foam? North I think it is, my comrades, Where one heart-beat counts for ten, Where the loving hand is loyal, And the women’s sons are men; Where the red auroras tremble When the polar night is still, Lighting home the worn sea farers To their haven in the hill. Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the North. Lower me the long-boat, stay me In your arms, and bear me forth; [page 58] Lay me in the sheets and row me, With the tiller in my hand, Row me in below the beacon Where my sea-dogs used to land. Has your captain lost his cunning After leading you so far? Row me your last league, my sea-kings; It is safe within the bar. Shoulder me and house me hillward, Where the field-lark makes his bed, So the gulls can wheel above me All day long when I am dead; Where the keening wind can find me With the April rain for guide, And come crooning her old stories Of the kingdoms of the tide. Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the sun; I have carried my sealed orders Till the last command is done. Kiss me on the cheek for courage, (There is none to greet me home,) [page 59] Then farewell to your old lover Of the thunder of the foam; For the grass is full of slumber In the twilight world for me, And my tired hands are slackened From their toiling on the sea.
A lonely sail in the vast sea-room, I have put out for the port of gloom. The voyage is far on the trackless tide, The watch is long, and the seas are wide. The headlands blue in the sinking day Kiss me a hand on the outward way. The fading gulls, as they dip and veer, Lift me a voice that is good to hear. The great winds come, and the heaving sea, The restless mother, is calling me. [page 60] The cry of her heart is lone and wild, Searching the night for her wandered child. Beautiful, weariless mother of mine, In the drift of doom I am here, I am thine. Beyond the fathom of hope or fear, From bourn to bourn of the dusk I steer, Swept on in the wake of the stars, in the stream Of a roving tide, from dream to dream.
πνεύμα кνρίσν ‘επ’ ‘εμε.
Lord of the grass and hill, Lord of the rain, White overlord of will, Master of pain, I, who am dust and air, Blown through the halls of death Like a pale ghost of prayer, I am thy breath. [page 61] Lord of the blade and leaf, Lord of the bloom, Sheer overlord of grief, Master of doom, Lonely as wind or snow, Through the vague world and dim, Vagrant and glad I go I am thy whim. Lord of the storm and lull, Lord of the sea, I am thy broken gull Blown out alee. Lord of the harvest dew, Lord of the dawn, Star of the paling blue Darkling and gone, Lost on the mountain height Where the first winds are stirred, Out of the wells of night I am thy word. Lord of the haunted hush Where raptures throng, [page 62] I am thy hermit thrush Ending no song. Lord of the frost and cold, Lord of the north, When the red sun grows old And day goes forth, I shall put off this girth— Go glad and free, Earth to my mother earth, Spirit to thee. [page 63]
[2 blank pages]
[illustration: ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN.] [unnumbered page]
Among the Millet.
The dew is gleaming in the grass, The morning hours are seven, And I am fain to watch you pass, Ye soft white clouds of heaven. Ye stray and gather, part and fold; The wind alone can tame you; I think of what in time of old The poets loved to name you. They called you sheep, the sky your sward, A field without a reaper; They called the shining sun your lord, The shepherd wind your keeper. Your sweetest poets I will deem The men of old for moulding In simple beauty such a dream, And I could lie beholding. [page 65] Where daisies in the meadow toss, The wind from morn till even Forever shepherd you across The shining field of heaven.
Pale season, watcher in unvexed suspense, Still priestess of the patient middle day, Betwixt wild March’s humoured petulance And the warm wooing of green-kirtled May, Maid month of sunny peace and sober grey, Weaver of flowers in sunward glades that ring With murmur of libation to the spring: As memory of pain, all past, is peace, And joy, dream-tasted, hath the deepest cheer, So art thou sweetest of all months that lease The twelve short spaces of the flying year. The bloomless days are dead, and frozen fear No more for many moons shall vex the earth, Dreaming of summer and fruit-laden mirth. [page 66] The grey song-sparrows, full of spring, have sung Their clear thin silvery tunes in leafless trees; The robin hops and whistles, and among The silver-tassled poplars the brown bees Murmur faint dreams of summer harvestries; The creamy sun at even scatters down A gold-green mist across the murmuring town. By the slow streams the frogs all day and night Dream without thought of pain or heed of ill, Watching the long warm silent hours take flight, And ever with soft throats that pulse and thrill, From the pale-weeded shallows trill and trill, Tremulous sweet voices, flute-like, answering One to another glorying in the spring. All day across the ever-cloven soil Strong horses labour, steaming in the sun, Down the long furrows with slow straining toil, Turning the brown clean layers; and one by one The crows gloom over them, till daylight done Finds them asleep somewhere in duskèd lines Beyond the wheat-lands in the northern pines. The old year’s cloaking of brown leaves that bind The forest floor-ways, plated close and true— The last love’s labour of the autumn wind—[page 67] Is broken with curled flower buds, white and blue, In all the matted hollows, and speared through With thousand serpent-spotted blades upsprung, Yet bloomless, of the slender adder-tongue. In the warm noon the south wind creeps and cools, Where the red-budded stems of maples throw Still tangled etchings on the amber pools, Quite silent now, forgetful of the slow Drip of the taps, the troughs, and trampled snow, The keen March mornings, and the silvering rime, And mirthful labour of the sugar prime. Ah, I have wandered with unwearied feet All the long sweetness of April day, Lulled with cool murmurs and the drowsy beat Of partridge wings in secret thickets grey, The marriage hymns of all the birds at play, The faces of sweet flowers, and easeful dreams Beside slow reaches of frog-haunted streams; Wandered with happy feet, and quite forgot The shallow toil, the strife against the grain, Near souls that hear us call, but answer not,— The loneliness, perplexity and pain, And high thoughts cankered with an earthly stain; [page 68] And then, the long draught emptied to the lees, I turn me homeward in slow-pacing ease, Cleaving the cedar shadows and the thin Mist of grey gnats that cloud the river shore, Sweet even choruses, that dance and spin Soft tangles in the sunset; and once more To its hot heart I pass, untroubled yet, Fed with calm hope, without desire or fret. So to the year’s first altar step I bring Gifts of meek song, and make my spirit free With the blind working of unanxious spring, Careless with her, whether the days that flee Pale drouth or golden-fruited plenty see, So that we toil, brothers, without distress, In calm-eyed peace and godlike blamelessness.
From plains that reel to southward, dim, The road runs by me white and bare; Up the steep hill it seems to swim Beyond, and melt into the glare. [page 69] Upward half way, or it may be Nearer the summit, slowly steals A hay-cart, moving dustily With idly clacking wheels. By his cart’s side the wagoner Is slouching slowly at his ease, Half-hidden in the windless blur Of white dust puffing to his knees. This wagon on the height above, From sky to sky on either hand, Is the sole thing that seems to move In all the heat-held land. Beyond me in the fields the sun Soaks in the grass and hath his will; I count the marguerites one by one; Even the buttercups are still. On the brook yonder not a breath Disturbs the spider or the midge. The water-bugs draw close beneath The cool gleam of the bridge. Where the far elm-tree shadows flood Dark patches in the burning grass, The cows, each with her peaceful cud, Lie waiting for the heat to pass. [page 70] From somewhere on the slope near by Into the pale depth of the noon A wandering thrush slides leisurely His thin revolving tune. In intervals of dreams I hear The cricket from the droughty ground; The grasshoppers spin into mine ear A small innumerable sound. I lift mine eyes sometimes to gaze: The burning sky-line blinds my sight: The woods far off are blue with haze: The hills are drenched in light. And yet to me not this or that Is always sharp or always sweet; In the sloped shadow of my hat I lean at rest, and drain the heat; Nay more, I think some blessèd power Hath brought me wandering idly here: In the full furnace of this hour My thoughts grow keen and clear.
Out of the heart of the city begotten Of the labour of men and their manifold hands, Whose souls, that were sprung from the earth in her morning, No longer regard or remember her warning, Whose hearts in the furnace of care have forgotten Forever the scent and the hue of her lands; Out of the heat of the usurer’s hold, From the horrible crash of the strong man’s feet; Out of the shadow where pity is dying; Out of the clamour where beauty is lying, Dead in the depth of the struggle for gold; Out of the din and the glare of the street; Into the arms of our mother we come, Our broad strong mother, the innocent earth, Mother of all things beautiful, blameless, Mother of hopes that her strength makes tameless, Where the voices of grief and battle are dumb, And the whole world laughs in the light of her mirth. Over the fields, where the cool winds sweep, Black with the mould and brown with the loam, [page 72] Where the thin green spears of the wheat are appearing, And the high-ho shouts from the smoky clearing; Over the widths where the cloud shadows creep; Over the fields and the fallows we come; Over the swamps with their pensive noises, Where the burnished cup of the marigold gleams; Skirting the reeds, where the quick winds shiver On the swelling breast of the dimpled river, And the blue of the kingfisher hangs and poises, Watching a spot by the edge of the streams; By the miles of the fences warped and dyed With the white-hot noons and their withering fires, Where the rough bees trample the creamy bosoms Of the hanging tufts of the elder blossoms, And the spiders weave, and the grey snakes hide, In the crannied gloom of the stones and the briers; Over the meadow lands sprouting with thistle, Where the humming wings of the blackbirds pass, Where the hollows are banked with the violets flowering, And the long-limbed pendulous elms are towering, Where the robins are loud with their voluble whistle, And the ground sparrow scurries away through the grass, Where the restless bobolink loiters and woos Down in the hollows and over the swells, [page 73] Dropping in and out of the shadows, Sprinkling his music about the meadows, Whistles and little checks and coos, And the tinkle of glassy bells; Into the dim woods full of the tombs Of the dead trees soft in their sepulchres, Where the pensive throats of the shy birds hidden Pipe to us strangely entering unbidden, And tenderly still in the tremulous glooms The trilliums scatter their white-winged stars; Up to the hills where our tired hearts rest, Loosen, and halt, and regather their dreams; Up to the hills, where the winds restore us, Clearing our eyes to the beauty before us, Earth with the glory of life on her breast, Earth with the gleam of her cities and streams. Here we shall commune with her and no other; Care and the battle of life shall cease; Men her degenerate children behind us, Only the might of her beauty shall bind us, Full of rest, as we gaze on the face of our mother, Earth in the health and the strength of her peace. [page 74]
From where I sit I see the stars, And down the chilly floor The moon between the frozen bars Is glimmering dim and hoar. Without, in many a peakèd mound The glinting snowdrifts lie; There is no voice or living sound; The embers slowly die. Yet some wild thing is in mine ear; I hold my breath and hark; Out of the depth I seem to hear A crying in the dark: No sound of man or wife or child, No sound of beast that groans, Or of the wind that whistles wild, Or of the trees that moans: I know not what it is I hear; I bend my head and hark: I cannot drive it from mine ear, That crying in the dark. [page 75]
All day upon the garden bright The sun shines strong, But in my heart there is no light, Nor any song. Voices of merry life go by, Adown the street; But I am weary of the cry And drift of feet. With all dear things that ought to please The hours are bless’d. And yet my soul is ill at ease, And cannot rest. Strange spirit, leave me not too long, Nor stint to give, For if my soul have no sweet song, It cannot live. [page 76]
Oh night and sleep Ye are so soft and deep, I am so weary, come ye soon to me. Oh hours that creep, With so much time to weep, I am so tired, can ye no swifter be? Come, night, anear; I’ll whisper in thine ear What makes me so unhappy, full of care; Dear night, I die For love that all men buy With tears, and know not it is dark despair. Dear night, I pray, How is it that men say That love is sweet? It is not sweet to me. For one boy’s sake A poor girl’s heart must break; So sweet, so true, and yet it could not be! Oh, I loved well, such love as none can tell: It was so true, it could not make him know: [page 77] For he was blind, All light and all unkind: Oh, had he known, would he have hurt me so? Oh night and sleep, Ye are so soft and deep, I am so weary, come ye soon to me. Oh hours that creep, With so much time to weep, I am so tired, can ye no swifter be?
What Do Poets Want With Gold?
What do poets want with gold, Cringing slaves and cushioned ease; Are not crusts and garments old Better for their souls than these? Gold is but the juggling rod Of a false usurping god, Graven long ago in hell With a sombre stony spell, Working in the world forever. Hate is not so strong to sever [page 78] Beating human heart from heart. Soul from soul we shrink and part, And no longer hail each other With the ancient name of brother. Give the simple poet gold, And his song will die of cold. He must walk with men that reel On the rugged path, and feel Every sacred soul that is Beating very near to his. Simple, human, careless, free, As God made him, he must be: For the sweetest song of bird Is the hidden tenor heard In the dusk, at even-flush, From the forest’s inner hush, Of the simple hermit thrush. What do poets want with love? Flowers that shiver out of hand, And the fervid fruits that prove Only bitter broken sand? Poets speak of passions best When their dreams are undistressed; And the sweetest songs are sung, E’er the inner heart is stung. [page 79] Let them dream; ‘tis better so; Ever dream, but never know. If their spirits once have drained All that goblet crimson-stained, Finding what they dream divine, Only earthly, sluggish wine, Sooner will the warm lips pale, And the flawless voices fail, Sooner come the drooping wing, And the afterdays that bring No such songs as did the spring.
In his dim chapel day by day The organist was wont to play, And please himself with fluted reveries; And all the spirit’s joy and strife, The longing of a tender life, Took sound and form upon the ivory keys; And though he seldom spoke a word, The simple hearts that loved him heard His glowing soul in these. [page 80] One day as he was wrapped, a sound Of feet stole near; he turned and found A little maid that stood beside him there. She started, and in shrinking wise Besought him with her liquid eyes And little features, very sweet and spare. “You love the music, child,” he said, And laid his hand upon her head, And smoothed her matted hair. She answered, “At the door one day I sat and heard the organ play; I did not dare to come inside for fear; But yesterday, a little while, I crept half up the empty aisle And heard the music sounding sweet and clear: To-day I thought you would not mind, For, master dear, your face was kind, And so I came up here.” “You love the music, then,” he said, And still he stroked her golden head, And followed out some winding reverie; “And you are poor?” said he at last; The maiden nodded, and he passed His hand across his forehead dreamingly; [page 81] “And you will be my friend?” he spake, “And on the organ learn to make Grand music here with me?” And all the little maiden’s face Was kindled with a grateful grace; “Oh, master, teach me; I will slave for thee!” She cried; and so the child grew dear To him, and slowly, year by year, He taught her all the organ’s majesty; And gave her from his slender store Bread and warm clothing, that no more Her cheeks were pinched to see. And year by year the maiden grew Taller and lovelier, and the hue Deepened upon her tender cheeks untried. Rounder, and queenlier, and more fair Her form grew, and her golden hair Fell yearly richer at the master’s side. In speech and bearing, form and face, Sweeter and graver, grace by grace, Her beauties multiplied. And sometimes at his work a glow Would touch him, and he murmured low, “How beautiful she is!” and bent his head; [page 82] And sometimes when the day went by And brought no maiden, he would sigh, And lean and listen for her velvet tread; And he would drop his hands and say, “My music cometh not to-day; Pray God she be not dead!” So the sweet maiden filled his heart, And with her growing grew his art, For day by day more wondrously he played. Such heavenly things the master wrought, That in his happy dreams he thought The organ’s self did love the gold-haired maid: But she, the maiden, never guessed What prayer for her in hours of rest The sombre organ prayed. At last, one summer morning fair, The maiden came with braided hair And took his hands, and held them eagerly. “To-morrow is my wedding day; Dear master, bless me that the way Of life be smooth, not bitter, unto me.” He stirred not; but the light did go Out of his shrunken cheeks, and oh! His head hung heavily. [page 83] “You love him, then?” “I love him well,” She answered, and a numbness fell Upon his eyes and all his heart that bled. A glory, half a smile, abode Within the maiden’s eyes and glowed Upon her parted lips. The master said, “God bless and bless thee, little maid, With peace and long delight,” and laid His hands upon her head. And she was gone; and all that day The hours crept up and slipped away, And he sat still, as moveless as a stone. The night came down, with quiet stars, And darkened him. In colored bars Along the shadowy isle the moonlight shone. And then the master woke and passed His hands across the keys at last, And made the organ moan. The organ shook, the music wept; For sometimes like a wall it crept In broken moanings down the shadows drear; And otherwhiles the sound did swell, And like a sudden tempest fell Through all the windows wonderful and clear. [page 84] The people gathered from the street, And filled the chapel seat by seat— They could not choose but hear. And there they sat till dawning light, Nor ever stirred for awe. “To-night The master hath a noble mood,” they said. But on a sudden ceased the sound: Like ghosts the people gathered round, And on the keys they found his fallen head. The silent organ had received The master’s broken heart relieved, And he was white and dead. [page 85]
Friend, though thy soul should burn thee, yet be still. Thoughts were not made for strife, nor tongues for swords. He that sees clear is gentlest of his words, And that’s not truth that hath the heart to kill. The whole world’s thought shall not one truth fulfil. Dull in our age, and passionate in youth, No mind of man hath found the perfect truth, Nor shalt thou find it; therefore, friend, be still. Watch and be still, nor hearken to the fool, The babbler of consistency and rule: Wisest is he, who, never quite secure, Changes his thoughts for better day by day: To-morrow some new light will shine, be sure, And thou shalt see thy thought another way. [page 86]
Oh earth, oh dewy mother, breathe on us Something of all thy beauty and thy might, Us that are part of day, but most of night, Not strong like thee, but ever burdened thus With glooms and cares, things pale and dolorous, Whose gladdest moments are not wholly bright; Something of all thy freshness and thy light, Oh earth, oh mighty mother, breathe on us. Oh mother, who wast long before our day, And after us full many an age shalt be, Careworn and blind, we wander from thy way: Born of thy strength, yet weak and halt are we; Grant us, oh mother, there, us who pray, Some little of thy light and majesty. [page 87]
What is more large than knowledge and more sweet; Knowledge of thoughts and deeds, of rights and wrongs, Of passions, and of beauties, and of songs; Knowledge of life; to feel its great heart beat Through all the soul upon her crystal seat; To see, to feel, and evermore to know; To till the old world’s wisdom till it grow A garden for the wandering of our feet. Of for a life of leisure and broad hours, To think and dream, to put away small things, This world’s perpetual leaguer of dull naughts; To wander like the bee among the flowers Till old age find us weary, feet and wings Grown heavy with the gold of many thoughts. [page 88]
The world is bright with beauty, and its days Are filled with music; could we only know True ends from false, and lofty things from low; Could we but tear away the walls that graze Our very elbows in life’s frosty ways; Behold the width beyond us with its flow, Its knowledge and its murmur and its glow, Where doubt itself is but a golden haze. Ah brothers, still upon our pathway lies The shadow of dim weariness and fear, Yet if we could but lift our earthward eyes To see, and open our dull ears to hear, Then should the wonder of this world draw near And life’s innumerable harmonies. [page 89]
Move on, light hands, so strongly tenderly, Now with dropped calm and yearning undersong, Now swift and loud, tumultuously strong, And I in darkness, sitting near to thee, Shall only hear, and feel, but shall not see, One hour made passionately bright with dreams, Keen glimpses of life’s splendour, dashing gleams Of what we would, and what we cannot be. Surely not painful ever, yet not glad, Shall such hours be to me, but blindly sweet, Sharp with all yearning and all fact at strife, Dreams that shine by with unremembered feet, And tones that like far distance make this life Spectral and wonderful and strangely sad. [page 90]
The Railway Station.
The darkness brings no quiet here, the light No waking: ever on my blinded brain The flare of lights, the rush, and cry, and straight, The engine’s scream, this hiss and thunder smite: I see the hurrying crowds, the clasp, the flight, Faces that touch, eyes that are dim with pain: I see the hoarse wheels turn, and the great train Move labouring out into the bourneless night. So many souls within its dim recesses, So many bright, so many mournful eyes: Mines eyes that watch grow fixed with dreams and guesses; What threads of life, what hidden histories, What sweet or passionate dreams and dark distresses, What unknown thoughts, what various agonies! [page 91]
Not to be conquered by these headlong days, But to stand free: to keep the mind at brood On life’s deep meaning, nature’s altitude Of loveliness, and time’s mysterious ways; At every thought and deed to clear the haze Out of our eyes, considering only this, What man, what life, what love, what beauty is, This is to live, and win the final praise. Though strife, ill fortune, and harsh human need Beat down the soul, at moments blind and dumb With agony; yet, patience—there shall come Many great voices from life’s outer sea, Hours of strange triumph, and, when few men heed, Murmurs and glimpses of eternity. [page 92]
Charles G. D. Roberts.
O Child of Nations, giant-limbed, Who stand’st among the nations now, Unheeded, unadorned, unhymned, With unanointed brow,— How long the ignoble sloth, how long The trust in greatness not thine own? Surely the lion’s brood is strong To front the world alone! How long the indolence, ere thou dare Achieve thy destiny, seize thy fame— Ere our proud eyes behold thee bear A nation’s franchise, nation’s name? The Saxon force, the Celctic fire, These are thy manhood’s heritage! Why rest with babes and slaves? Seek higher The place of race and age. [page 93] I see to ever wind unfurled The flag that bears the Maple-Wreath; Thy swift keels furrow round the world Its blood-red folds beneath; Thy swift keels cleave the furthest seas; Thy white sails swell with alien gales; To stream on each remotest breeze The black smoke of thy pipes exhales O Falterer, let thy past convince The future,—all the growth, the gain, The fame since Cartier knew thee, since Thy shores beheld Champlain! Montcalm and Wolfe! Wolfe and Montcalm! Quebec, thy storied citadel Attest in burning song and psalm How here thy heroes fell! O Thou that bor’st the battle’s brunt At Queenston, and at Lundy’s Lane,— On whose scant ranks but iron front The battle broke in vain!— Whose was the danger, whose the day, From whose triumphant throats the cheers, [page 94] At Chrysler’s Farm, at Chateauguay, Storming like clarion-bursts our ears? On soft Pacific slopes,—beside Strange floods that northward rave and fall,— Where chafes Acadia’s chainless tide— Thy sons await thy call. They wait; but some in exile, some With strangers housed, in stranger lands;— And some Canadian lips are dumb Beneath Egyptian sands. O mystic Nile! Thy secret yields Before us; thy most ancient dreams Are mixed with far Canadian fields And murmur of Canadian streams. But thou, my Country, dream not thou! Wake, and behold how night is done,— How on thy breast, and o’er thy brow, Bursts the uprising sun?
In the Afternoon.
Wind of the summer afternoon, Hush, for my heart is out of tune! Hush, for thou movest restlessly The too light sleeper, Memory! Whate’er thou hast to tell me, yet ‘Twere something sweeter to forget,— Sweeter than all thy breath of balm An hour of unremembering calm! Blowing over the roofs, and down The bright streets of this inland town, These busy crowds, these rocking trees— What strange note hast thou caught from these? A note of waves and rushing tides, Where past the dikes the red flood glides. To brim the shining channels far Up the green plains of Tantramar. Once more I snuff the salt, I stand On the long dikes of Westmorland; [page 96] I watch the narrowing flats, the strip Of red clay at the water’s lip; Far off the net-reels, brown and high, And boat-masts slim against the sky; Along the ridges of the dikes Wind-beaten scant sea-grass, and spikes Of last year’s mullein; down the slopes To landward, in the sun, thick ropes Of blue vetch, and convolvulus, And matted roses glorious. The liberal blooms o’erbrim my hands; I walk the level, wide marsh-lands; Waist-deep in dusty-blossomed grass I watch the swooping breezes pass In sudden, long, pale lines, that flee Up the deep breast of this green sea. I listen to the bird that stirs The purple tops, and grasshoppers Whose summer din, before my feet Subsiding, wakes on my retreat. [page 97] Again the droning bees hum by; Still-winged, the gray hawk wheels on high; I drink again the wild perfumes, And roll, and crush the grassy blooms. Blown back to olden days, I fain Would quaff the olden joys again; But all the olden sweetness not The old unmindful peace hath brought. Wind of this summer afternoon, Thou hast recalled my childhood’s June; My heart—still is it satisfied By all the golden summer-tide? Hast thou one eager yearning filled, Or any restless throbbing stilled, Or hast thou any power to bear Even a little of my care?— Ever so little of this weight Of weariness canst thou abate? Ah, poor thy gift indeed, unless Thou bring the old child-heartedness,— [page 98] And such a gift to bring is given, Alas, to no wind under heaven! Wind of the summer afternoon, Be still; my heart is not in tune. Sweet is thy voice; but yet, but yet— Of all ‘twere sweetest to forget!
On the Creek.
Dear Heart, the noisy strife And bitter carpings cease. Here is the lap of life, Here are the lips of peace. Afar from stir of streets, The city’s dust and din, What healing silence meets And greets us gliding in! Our light birch silent floats; Soundless the paddle dips. Yon sunbeam thick with motes Athro’ the leafage slips, [page 99] To light the iris wings Of dragon-flies alit On lily-leaves, and things Of gauze that float and flit. Above the water’s brink Hush’d winds make summer riot; Our thirsty spirits drink Deep, deep, the summer quiet. We slip the world’s gray husk, Emerge, and spread new plumes; In sunbeam-fretted dusk, Thro’ populous golden glooms, Like thistledown we slide, Two disembodied dreams,— With spirits alert, wide-eyed, Explore the perfume-streams. For scents of various grass Stream down the veering breeze; Warm puffs of honey pass From flowering linden-trees; And fragrant gusts of gum, From clammy balm-tree buds, [page 100] With fern-brake odors, come From intricate solitudes. The elm-tops are astir With flirt of idle wings. Hark to the grackles’ chirr Whene’er an elm-bough swings! From off yon ash-limb sere Out-thrust amid green branches, Keen like an azure spear A kingfisher down launches. Far up the creek his calls And lessening laugh retreat; Again the silence falls, And soft the green hours fleet. They fleet with drowsy hum Of insects on the wing;— We sigh—the end must come! We taste our pleasure’s sting. No more, then, need we try The rapture to regain. We feel our day slip by, And cling to it in vain. [page 101] But, Dear, keep thou in mind These moments swift and sweet! Their memory thou shalt find Illume the common street; And thro’ the dust and din, Smiling, thy heart shall hear Quiet waters lapsing thin, And locusts shrilling clear.
The Silver Thaw.
There came a day of showers Upon the shrinking snow; The south wind sighed of flowers, The softening skies hung low. Midwinter for a space Foreshadowing April’s face, The white world caught the fancy And would not let it go. [page 102] In reawakened courses The brooks rejoiced the land; We dreamed the spring’s shy forces Were gathering close at hand. The dripping bugs were stirred, As if the sap had heard The long-desired persuasion Of April’s soft command. But antic Time had cheated With hope’s elusive gleam; The phantom spring defeated Fled down the ways of dream. And in the night the reign Of winter came again, With frost upon the forest And stillness on the stream. When morn in rose and crocus Came up the bitter sky, Celestial beams awoke us To wondering ecstasy. The wizard winter’s spell Had wrought so passing well That earth was bathed in glory As if God’s smile were nigh. [page 103] The silvered saplings bending Flashed in a rain of gems; The statelier trees attending Blazed in their diadems. White fire and amethyst All common things had kissed, And chrysolites and sapphires Adorned the bramble stems. In crystalline confusion All beauty came to birth; It was a kind illusion To comfort waiting earth— To bid the buds forget The spring so distant yet, And hearts no more remember The iron season’s dearth.
O rivers rolling to the sea From lands that bear the maple tree, How swell your voices with the strain Of loyalty and liberty! [page 104] A holy music, heard in vain By coward heart and sordid brain, To whom this strenuous being seems Naught but a greedy race for gain. O unsung streams,—not splendid themes Ye lack to fire your patriot dreams! Annals of glory gild your waves, Hope freights your tides, Canadian streams! St. Lawrence, whose wide water laves The shores that ne’er have nourished slaves! Swift Richelieu of lilied fame! Niagara of glorious graves! Thy rapids, Ottawa, proclaim Where Daulac and his heroes came! Thy tides, St. John, declare La Tour, And, later, many a loyal name! Thou inland stream, whose vales, secure From storm, Tecumseh’s death made poor! And thou small water, red with war, ‘Twixt Beaubassin and Beawséjour! Dread Saguenay, where eagles soar, What voice shall from the bastioned shore [page 105] The tale of Roberval reveal Or his mysterious fate deplore? Annapolis, do thy floods yet feel Faint memories of Champlain’s keel, Thy pulses yet the deeds repeat Of Poutrincourt and d’Iberville? And thou far tide, whose plains now beat With march of myriad westering feet, Saskatchewan, whose virgin sod So late Canadian blood made sweet! Your bulwark hills, your valleys broad, Streams where de Salaberry trod, Where Wolfe achieved, where Brock was slain,— Their voices are the voice of God! O sacred waters, not in vain, Across Canadian height and plain, Ye sound us in triumphant tone The summons of your high refrain.
A Blue Blossom.
A small blue flower with yellow eye Hath mightier spell to move my soul Than even the mightiest notes which roll From man’s most perfect minstrelsy. A flash, a momentary gleam, A glimpse of some celestial dream, And tears alone are left to me. Filled with a longing vague and dim, I hold the flower in every light; To purge my soul’s redarkened sight, I grope till all my sense swim. In vain; I feel the ecstasy Only when suddenly I see This pale star with the sapphire rim. Nor hath the blossom such strange power Because it saith “Forget me not” For some heart-holden, distant spot, Or silent tongue, or buried hour. Methinks immortal memories Of some past scenes of Paradise Speak to my spirit through the flower. [page 107] Forgotten is our ancient tongue; Too dull our ears, our eyes too blind, Even quite to catch its notes, or find Its symbols written bright among All shapes of beauty. But ‘tis hard, When one can hear, to be debarred From knowledge of the meaning sun.
I am the spirit astir To swell the grain, When fruitful suns confer With laboring rain; I am the life that thrills In branch and bloom; I am the patience of abiding hills, The promise of masked in doom. [page 108]
When the sombre lands are wrung, And storms are out, And giant woods give tongue, I am the shout; And when the earth would sleep, Wrapped in her snows, I am the infinite gleam of eyes that keep The post of her repose.
I am the hush of calm, I am the speed, The flood-tide’s triumphing psalm, The marsh-pool’s heed; I work in the rocking roar Where cataracts fall; I flash in the prismy fire that dances o’er The dew’s ephemeral ball.
I am the voice of wind And wave and tree, Of stern desires and blind, Of strength to be; [page 109] I am the cry by night At point of dawn, The summoning bugle from the unseen height, In cloud and doubt withdrawn.
I am the strife that shapes The stature of man, The pang no hero escapes, The blessing, the ban; I am the hammer that moulds The iron of our race, The omen of God in our blood that a people beholds, The foreknowledge veiled in our face.
Oh, purple hang the pods On the green locust tree, And yellow turn the sods On a grave that’s dear to me; And blue, softly blue, The hollow Autumn sky, With its birds flying through To where the sun-lands lie! In the sun-lands they’ll bide While Winter’s on the tree;— And oh, that I might hide The grave that’s dear to me!
Epitaph for a Sailor Buried Ashore.
He who but yesterday would roam Careless as clouds and currents range, In homeless wandering most at home, Inhabiter of change; Who wooed the west to win the east, And named the stars of North and South, And felt the zest of Freedom’s feast Familiar in his mouth; Who found a faith in stranger speech, And fellowship in foreign hands, And had within his eager reach The relish of all lands— How circumscribed a plot of earth Keeps now his restless footsteps still, Whose wish was wide as ocean’s girth, Whose will the water’s will! [page 112]
Gray Rocks and Grayer Sea.
Gray rocks, and grayer sea, And surf along the shore— And in my heart a name My lips shall speak no more. The high and lonely hills Endure the darkening year— And in my heart endure A memory and a tear. Across the tide a sail That tosses and is gone— And in my heart the kiss That longing dreams upon. Gray rocks, and grayer sea, And surf along the shore— And in my heart the face That I shall see no more. [page 113]
A Song of Growth.
In the heart of a man Is a thought upfurled: Reached its full span It will shake the world,— And to one high thought Is a whole race wrought. Not with vain noise The great work grows, Nor with foolish voice,— But in repose; Not in the rush, But in the hush! From the cogent lash Of the cloud-herd wind The low clouds dash, Blown headlong, blind; But beyond, the great blue Looks moveless through. O’er the loud world sweep The scourge and the rod: But in deep beyond deep Is the stillness of God,— At the fountains of Life No cry, no strife! [page 114]
Stumps, and harsh rocks, and prostrate trunks all charred, And gnarled roots naked to the sun and rain,— They seem in their grim stillness to complain, And by their plaint the evening peace is jarred. These ragged acres fire and the ax have scarred, And many summers not assuaged their pain. In vain the pink and saffron light, in vain The pale dew on the hillocks stripped and marred. But here and there the waste is touched with cheer Where spreads the fire-weed like a crimson flood, And venturous plumes of golden-rod appear; And round the blackened fence the great boughs lean With comfort; and across the solitude The hermit’s holy transport peals serene. [page 115]
A brown sad-colored hillside, where the soil, Fresh from the frequent harrow, deep and fine, Lies bare; no break in the remote sky-line, Save where a flock of pigeons streams aloft, Startled from feed in some low-lying croft, Or far-off spires with yellow of sunset shine; And here the Sower, unwittingly divine, Exerts the silent forethought of his toil. Alone he treads the glebe, his measured stride Dumb in the yielding soil; and tho’ small joy Dwell in his heavy face, as spreads the blind Pale grain from his dispensing palm aside, This plodding churl grows great in his employ;— Godlike, he makes provision for mankind. [page 116]
The Waking Earth.
With shy, bright clamor the live brooks sparkle and run; Freed flocks confer about the farmstead ways; The air’s a wine of dreams and shining haze Beaded with bird-notes thin—for spring’s begun. The sap flies upward. Death is over and done. The glad earth wakes; the glad light breaks, the days Grow round, grow radiant. Praise for the new life! Praise For bliss of breath and blood beneath the sun! What potent wizardry the wise earth wields, To conjure with a perfume! From bare fields The sense drinks in a breath of furrow and sod, And lo! the bound of days and distance yields; And fetterless the soul is flown abroad, Lord of desire and beauty like a god. [page 117]
When Milking Time is Done.
When milking time is done, and over all This quiet Canadian inland forest home And wide, rough pasture-lots the shadows come, And dews, with peace and twilight voices, fall, From moss-cool watering trough to foddered stall The tired plough-horses turn,—the barn-yard loam Soft to their feet,—and in the sky’s pale dome Like resonant chords the swooping night-jars call; The frogs, cool-fluting ministers of dream, Make shrill the slow brook’s borders; pasture bars Down clatter, and the cattle wander through,— Vague shapes amid the thickets; gleam by gleam Above the wet grey woods emerge the stars, And through the dusk the farmstead fades from view. [page 118]
In the Wide Awe and Wisdom of the Night.
In the wide awe and wisdom of the night I saw the round world rolling on its way, Beyond significance of depth or height, Beyond the interchange of dark and day. I marked the march to which is set no pause, And that stupendous orbit round whose rim The great sphere sweeps, obedient unto laws That utter the eternal thought of Him. I compassed time, outstripped the starry speed, And in my still soul apprehended space, Till, weighing laws which these but blindly heed, At last I came before Him face to face; And knew the universe of no such span As the august infinitude of Man. [page 119]
The Night Sky.
O Deep of Heaven, ‘tis thou alone art boundless, ‘Tis thou alone our balance shall not weigh, ‘Tis thou alone our fathom-line finds soundless, Whose infinite our finite must obey! Thro’ thy blue realms and down thy starry reaches Thought voyages forth beyond thy furthest fire, And homing from no sighted shoreline, teaches Thee measureless as is the soul’s desire. O Deep of Heaven! No beam of Pleiad ranging Eternity may bridge thy gulf of spheres; The ceaseless hum that fills thy sleep unchanging Is rain of the innumerable years; Our worlds, our suns, our ages,—these but stream Through thine abiding like a dateless dream! [page 120]
[illustration: DUNCAN CAMPBELL SCOTT.] [unnumbered page]
Duncan Campbell Scott.
Above St. Irénée.
I rested on the breezy height, In cooler shade and clearer air, Beneath a maple tree Below, the mighty river took Its sparkling shade and sheeny light Down to the sombre sea, And clustered by the leaping brook, The roofs of white St. Irénée. The sapphire hills on either hand Broke down upon the silver tide, The river rain in streams, In streams of mingled azure-grey With here a broken purple band, And whorls of drab, and beams Of shattered silver light astray, Where far away the south shore gleams. [page 121] I walked a mile along the height Between the flowers upon the road, Asters and golden-rod; And in the gardens pinks and stocks, And gaudy poppies shaking light, And daisies blooming near the sod, And lowly pansies set in flocks With purple monkshood overawed. And there I saw a little child Between the tossing golden-rod, Coming along to me; She was a tender little thing. So fragile-sweet, so Mary-mild, I thought her name was Marie; No other name methought could cling To any one so fair as she. And when we came at last to meet, I spoke a simple word to her, “Where are you going, Marie?” She answered and she did not smile But oh, her voice,—her voice so sweet, “Down to St. Irénée,” And so passed on to walk her mile, And left the lonely road to me. [page 122] And as the night came on apace With stars above the darkened hills, I heard perpetually, Chiming along the falling hours, On the deep dusk that mellow phrase, “Down to Saint Irénée:” It seemed as if the stars and flowers Should all go there with me.
The End of the Day.
I hear the bells at eventide Peal slowly one by one, Near and far off they break and glide, Across the stream float faintly beautiful The antiphonal bells of Hull; The day is done, done, done, The day is done. The dew has gathered in the flowers Like tears from some unconscious deep, The swallows whirl around the towers, The light runs out beyond the long cloud bars, [page 123] And leaves the single stars; ‘Tis time for sleep, sleep, sleep, ‘Tis time for sleep. The hermit thrush begins again, Timorous eremite, That song of risen tears and pain, As if the one he loved was far away: “Alas! another day—” “And now Good Night, Good Night,” Good Night.”
The Fifteenth of April.
Pallid saffron glows the broken stubble, Brimmed with silver lie the ruts, Purple the ploughed hill; Down a sluice with break and bubble Hollow falls the rill; Falls and spreads and searches, Where, beyond the wood, Starts a group of silver birches, Bursting into bud. [page 124] Under Venus sings the vesper sparrow, Down a path of rosy gold Floats the slender moon; Ringing from the rounded barrow Rolls the robin; hark! Quivering silver-strong From the field a hidden shore-lark Shakes his sparkling song. Now the dewy sounds begin to dwindle, Dimmer grow the burnished rills, Breezes creep and halt, Soon the guardian night shall kindle In the violet vault, All the twinkling tapers Touched with steady gold, Burning through the lawny vapors Where they float and fold.
The morns are grey with haze and faintly cold, The earl sunsets are the west with red, The stars are misty silver overhead, Above the dawn Orion lies outrolled. Now all the slopes are slowly growing gold, And in the dales a deeper silence dwells; The crickets mourn with funeral flutes and bells For days before the summer had grown old. Now the night gloom with hurrying wings is stirred, Strangely the comrade pipings rise and sink, The birds are following in the pathless dark The footsteps of the pilgrim summer. Hark! Was that the redstart of the bobolink? That lonely cry the summer-hearted bird? [page 126]
City about whose brow the north winds blow, Girdled with woods and shod with river foam, Called by a name as old as Troy or Rome, Be great as they but pure as thine own snow; Rather flash up amid the auroral glow, The Lamia city of the northern star, Than be so hard with craft or wild with war, Peopled with deeds remembered for their woe. Thou art too bright for guile, too young for tears, And thou wilt live to be too strong for time; For he may mock thee with his furrowed frowns, But thou wilt grow in calm throughout the years, Cinctured with peace and crowned with power sublime, The maiden queen of all the towered towns. [page 127]
At Les Éboulements.
The bay is set with ashy sails, With purple shades that fade and flee, And curling by in silver wales, The tide is straining from the sea. The grassy points are slowly drowned, The water laps and overrolls The wicker pêche; with shallow sound A light wave labours on the shoals. The crows are feeding in the foam, They rise in crowds tumultuously, “Come home,” they cry, “come home,—come home,” “And leave the marshes to the sea.” [page 128]
Life and Death.
I thought of death beside the lonely sea That went beyond the limit of my sight, Seeming the image of his mastery, The semblance of his huge and gloomy might. But firm and beneath the sea went the great earth, With sober bulk and adamantine hold, The water but a mantle for her girth, That played about her splendour fold on fold. And life seemed like this dear familiar shore That stretched from the wet sand’s last wavy crease, Beneath the sea’s remote and sombre roar, To inland stillness and the wilds of peace. Death seems triumphant only here and there; Life is the sovereign presence everywhere. [page 129]
It would be sweet to think when we are old Of all the pleasant days that came to pass, That here we took the berries from the grass, There charmed the bees with pans, and smoke unrolled, And spread the melon-nets when nights were cold, Or pulled the blood-root in the underbrush, And marked the ringing of the tawny thrush, While all the west was broken burning gold. And so I bind with rhymes these memories, As girls press pansies in the poet’s leaves And find them afterward with sweet surprise; Or treasure petals mingled with perfume, Loosing them in the days when April grieves; A subtle summer in the rainy room. [page 130]
By a dim shore where water darkening Took the last light of spring, I went beyond the tumult, harkening For some diviner thing. Where the bats flew from the black elms like leaves, Over the ebon pool Brooded the bittern’s cry, as one the grieves Lands ancient, bountiful. I saw the fire-flies shine below the wood Above the shallows dank, As Uriel from some great altitude, The planets rank on rank. And now unseen along the shrouded mead One went under the hill; He blew a cadence on his mellow reed, That trembled and was still. It seemed as if a line of amber fire Had shot the gathered dusk, As if had blown a wind from ancient Tyre Laden with myrrh and musk. [page 131] He gave his luring note amid the fern Its enigmatic fall, Haunted the hollow dusk with golden turn And argent interval. I could not know the message that he bore, The springs of life from me Hidden; his incommunicable lore As much a mystery. And as I followed far the magic player He passed the maple wood, And when I passed the stars had risen there, And there was solitude.
Sing me a song of the Autumn clear, With the mellow days and the ruddy eves; Sing me a song of the ending year, With the piled-up sheaves. Sing me a song of the apple bowers, Of the great grapes the vine-field yields, [page 132] Of the ripe peaches bright as flowers, And the rich hop-fields. Sing me a song of the fallen mast, Of the sharp odor the pomace sheds, Of the purple beets left last In the garden beds. Sing me a song of the toiling bees, Of the long flight and the honey won, Of the white hives under the apple-trees In the hazy sun. Sing me a song of the thyme and the sage, Of sweet marjoram in the garden grey Where goes my love Armitage Pulling the summer savory. Sing me a song of the red deep, The long glow the sun leaves, Of the swallows taking a last sleep, In the barn eaves.
Here’s the last rose, And the end of June, With the tulips gone, And the lilacs strewn; A light wind blows From the Golden West, The bird is charmed To her secret nest: Here’s the last rose— In the violet sky A great star shines, The gnats are drawn To the purple pines; On the magic lawn A shadow flows From the summer moon: Here’s the last rose, And the end of the tune. [page 134]
Off Rivière du Loup.
Oh, ship incoming from the sea, With all your cloudy tower of sail, Dashing the water to the lee, And leaning grandly to the gale; The sunset pageant in the West Has filled your canvas curves with rose, And jewelled every toppling crest That crashes into silver snows. You know the joy of coming home, After long leagues to France or Spain, You feel the clear Canadian foam, And the gulf water heave again. Between the sombre purple hills That cool the sunset’s molten bars, You will go on as the wind wills Beneath the river’s roof of stars. You will toss onward towards the lights That spangle over the lonely pier, By hamlets glimmering on the heights, By level islands black and clear. [page 135] You will go on beyond the tide, Through brimming plains of olive sedge, Through paler shallows light and wide, The rapids piled along the ledge. At evening off some reedy bay You will swing slowly on your chain, And catch the scent of dewy hay Soft blowing from the pleasant plain.
[illustration: FREDERICK GEORGE SCOTT.] [unnumbered page]
Frederick George Scott.
Those killed in the Canadian North-West, 1885.
Growing to full manhood now, With the care-lines on our brow, We, the youngest of the nations, With no childish lamentations, Weep, as only strong men weep, For the noble hearts that sleep, Pillowed where they fought and bled, The loved and lost, our glorious dead! Toil and sorrow come with age, Manhood’s rightful heritage; Toil our arms more strong shall render, Sorrow make our hearts more tender, In the heartlessness of time; Honour lays a wreath sublime— Deathless glory—where they bled, Our loved and lost, our glorious dead! Wild the prairie grasses wave O’er each hero’s new-made grave; [page 137] Time shall write such wrinkles o’er us, But the future spreads before us Glorious in that sunset land— Nerving every heart and hand, Comes a brightness none can shed, But the dead, the glorious dead! Lay them where they fought and fell; Every heart shall ring their knell, For the lessons they have taught us, For the glory they have brought us. Tho’ our hearts are sad and bowed, Nobleness still makes us proud— Proud of light their names shall shed In the roll-call of our dead! Growing to full manhood now, With the care-lines on our brow, We, the youngest of the nations, With no childish lamentations, Weep, as only strong men weep, For the noble hearts that sleep Where the call of duty led, Where the lonely prairies spread, Where for us they fought and bled, Our loved, our lost, our glorious dead. [page 138]
The Two Mistresses.
Ah woe is me, my heart’s in sorry plight, Enamoured equally of Wrong and Right; Right hath the sweeter grace, But Wrong the prettier face: Ah woe is me, my heart’s in sorry plight. And Right is jealous that I let Wrong stay; Yet Wrong seems sweeter when I turn away. Right sober is, like Truth, But Wrong is in her youth; So Right is jealous that I let Wrong stay. When I am happy, left alone with Right, Then Wrong flits by and puts her out of sight; I follow and I fret, And once again forget That I am happy, left alone with Right. Ah God! do Thou have pity on my heart! A puppet blind am I, take Thou my part! Chasten my wandering love, Set it on things above: Ah God! do Thou have pity on my heart! [page 139]
The Frenzy of Prometheus.
The ocean beats its noontide harmonies Upon the sunlit lines of cragged coast, And a wild rhythm pulses thro’ my brain With pauses and responsive melodies, And sky and ocean, air and day and night Topple and reel upon my burning blood, Run to and fro, whirl round and round and round, Till, lo! the cosmic madness breathes a strain Of perfect music thro’ the universe. I hear it with my ears, eyes, hands and feet, I drink it with my breath, my skin sucks in At every fevered pore fine threads of sounds, Which plunge vibrations of the wind-swept harp Of earth and heaven, deep into my soul, Till each sense kindles with a freshened life, And thoughts arise which bring me ease from pain. O peace, sweet peace! I melt and ebb away, On softened rocks outstretch relaxed limbs, With half-shut eyes deliciously enthralled. What passion, what delight, what ecstasies! Joy fills my veins with rivers of excess; I rave, I quiver, as with languid eyes [page 140] I see hot air dance upon the rocks, And sky, sea, headlands that blend in murmurous haze. Now grander, with the organ’s bass that rolls The under-world in darkness thro’ despair Of any day-dawn on its inky skies, The music rolls around me and above, From shattered cliffs, from booming caverns’ mouths, Pierced by the arrow-screams of frightened gulls. Now strength subdued, but waxing more and more, Reanimates my limbs; I feel my power Full as the flooding ocean, or the force Which grinds the glaciers on their boulder feet. My hands could pluck up mountains by the roots, My arm could hurl back ocean from the shore To wallow in his frothy bed. What hate! What scorn! What limitless imaginations stretch And burst my mind immense; I stand apart, I am alone, all-glorious, supreme; My huge form like a shadow sits and broods Upon the globe, gigantic as the shade Eclipsing moons. With bowed head on my hand In gloom excessive, now, behold, I see Beneath my feet the stream of human life, The sad procession of humanity. [page 141] They come, the sons of Hellas, beautiful, Swift-minded, lithe, with luscious laughing lips, That suck delight from every tree of life; Born of the sunshine, winds and sounding sea. They pass, and, lo, a mightier nation moves In stern battalions trampling forests down, Cleaving the mountains, paving desert lands With bones that e’en when bleaching face the foe: Welding soft outskirt nations into iron, An iron hand to grasp and hold the world. Now dust, like smoke, from Asia’s central steppes Darkened the rigid white of mountain peaks, And the plains bristle with the Tartar hordes, Suckled of mares, flat-faced, implacable, Deadly in war, revengeful, treacherous, Brown as the craggy glens of Caucasus. They pass, and nations pass, and like a dream A throne emerges from the western sea,— The latest empire of a dying world. E’en as I look its splendor melts away, And round me, gathering volume, music rolls, Till sinews crack and eyes are blind with power, Till struggles, battles mixed with smoke and blood, Men, nations, life and death, and desolate cries, [page 142] Melt in the inner pulses in my ears And a wild tempest blows the daylight out. And now I am alone beneath the stars, Alone, in infinite silence. Am I God, That I am so supreme? Whence is this power? Cannot my will repeople these waste lands? I cry aloud, the vault of space resounds, And hollow-sounding echoes, from the stars Rebounding, shake the earth and crinkle up The sea in million furrows. Lo, the stars Now fade, the sun arises, it is day, Half day, half night; the sun hath lost his strength. I am his equal, nay I am his king! I rise and move across the earth, the seas Have vanished, and I tread their empty beds, And crush down continents of powdered bones. O great light, late supreme, what need of thee? For all are dead, men, nations, life and death, And God is dead and here alone am I, I, with strong hands to pluck thee from the sky, Boundless in passions, will, omnipotent. The impulses concentre in my heart Which erstwhile shook the universe. O Sun, Acknowledge now thy king, put down thy head Beneath my feet, and lift me higher still [page 143] To regions that out-top the adoring spheres, And bask in primal thought, too vast to shape Into similitude of earthly things. I would have all, know all. I thirst and pant And hunger for the universe. Now from the earth, Beneath thy rays, O Sun, the steams arise, Sheeting the world’s dead face in film of cloud, The voices of the dead. Peace, let me be, Go on thy way, spent power, leave me here To reign in silence, rave and scorn and hate, To glory in my strength, tear down the skies, Trample the crumbling mountains under foot, Laugh at the tingling stars, burn with desire Unconquerable, till the universe Is shattered at the core, its splinters flung By force centrifugal beyond the light, Until the spent stars from their orbits reel, And hissing down the flaming steeps of space With voice of fire proclaim me God alone.
Imperial city, slumb’ring on the throne Of vanished empire, once thy voice and hands Rocked the wide world; thy fingers wove the lands Into thy girdle; who for crown alone Didst wear the stars. Yet still in undertone Man hears thy deathless utterance, tho’ Time’s sands Roll centuries; thou clasp’st the earth with bands Of speech, art, law, and subtle powers unknown. Thou wast not meant to die; thy mighty heart Pulsed with the universe. Thy deeds of old Flame like the sunset skies thro’ clouds which throng; They blazon on thy throne a name apart In red of mighty victories, in gold Of all things valorous and great and strong. [page 145]
Unseen in the great minster dome of time, Whose shafts are centuries, its spangled roof The vaulted universe, our master sits, And organ-voices like a far-off chime Roll thro’ the aisles of thought. The sunlight flits From arch to arch, and, as he sits aloof, Kings, heroes, priests, in concourse vast, sublime, Glances of love and cries from battle-field, His wizard power breathes on the living air. Warm faces gleam and pass, child, woman, man, In the long multitude; but he, concealed, Our bard eludes us, vainly each face we scan, It is not he; his features are not there; But, being thus hid, his greatness is revealed. [page 146]
He caught the words which ocean thunders hurled On heedless eastern coasts, in days gone by, And westward with the stars on midnight sky His strong thought travelled ‘gainst the moving world. So, onward to the line of mist which curled Around the setting sun, with steadfast eye, He pushed his course, and trusting God on high Threw wide the portals of a larger world. The heart that watched through those drear autumn nights The wide dark sea, and man’s new empire sought Alone, uncheered, hath wrought a deed sublime, Which, like a star behind the polar lights, Will shine through splendours of man’s utmost thought Down golden eras to the end of time. [page 147]
I saw Time in his workshop carving faces; Scattered around his tools lay, blunting griefs, Sharp cares that cut out deeply in reliefs Of light and shade; sorrows that smooth the traces Of what were smiles. Nor yet without fresh graces His handiwork, for ofttimes rough were ground And polished, oft the pinched made smooth and round; The calm look, too, the impetuous fire replaces. Long time I stood and watched; with hideous grin He took each heedless face between his knees, And graved and scarred and bleached with boiling tears. I wondering turned to go, when, lo! my skin Feels crumpled, and in glass my own face sees Itself all changed, scarred, careworn, white with years. [page 148]
“I hear a cry from the Sansard cave, O mother, will no one hearken? A cry of the lost, will no one save? A cry of the dead tho’ the oceans rave, And the scream of a gull as he wheels o’er a grave, While the shadows darken and darken.”— “Oh hush thee, child, for the night is wet, And the cloud-caves split asunder,— With lightning in a fagged fret, Like the gleam of a salmon in the net, When the rocks are rich in the red sunset And the stream rolls down in thunder.”— “Mother, O mother, a pain at my heart, A pang like the pang of dying.”— “Oh hush thee, child, for the wild birds dart Up and down and close and pat, Wheeling round where the black cliffs start, And the foam at their feet is flying.”— “O mother, a strife like the black clouds’ strife, And a peace that cometh after.”— “Hush, child, for peace is the end of life, [page 149] And the heart of a maiden finds peace as a wife, But the sky and the cliffs and the ocean are rife With the storm and thunder’s laughter.— Come in, my sons, come in and rest, For the shadows darken and darken, And your sister is pale as the white swan’s breast, And her eyes are fixed and her lips are pressed In the death of a name ye might have guessed Had ye twain been here to hearken.”— “Hush, mother, a corpse lies on the sand, And the spray is round it driven; It lies on its face, and one white hand Points thro’ the mist on the belt of strand To where the cliffs of Sansard stand And the ocean’s strength is riven.”— “Was it God, my sons, who laid him there? Or the sea that left him sleeping?”— “Nay, mother, our dirks where his heart was bare, As swift as the rain thro’ the teeth of the air; And the foam-fingers play in the Saxon’s hair, While the tides are round him creeping.”— “Oh, curses on you, hand and head, Like the rains in this wild weather, [page 150] The guilt of blood is swift and dread, Your sister’s face is cold and dead, Ye may not part whom God would wed And love hath knit together.”
Plunged in night, I sit alone Eyeless on this dungeon stone, Naked, shaggy and unkempt, Dreaming dreams no soul hath dreamt. Rats and vermin round my feet Play unharmed, companions sweet, Spiders weave me overhead Silken curtains for my bed. Day by day the mould I smell Of this fungus-blistered cell; Nightly in my haunted sleep O’er my face the lizards creep. Gyves of iron scrape and burn Wrists and ankles when I turn, [page 151] And my collared neck is raw With the teeth of brass that gnaw. God of Israel, canst thou see All my fierce captivity? Do thy sinews feel my pains? Hearest thou the clanking chains? Thou who madest me so fair, Strong and buoyant as the air, Tall and noble as a tree, With the passions of the sea, Swift as horse upon my feet, Fierce as lion in my heat, Rending, like a wisp of hay, All that dared withstand my way, Canst thou see me through the gloom Of this subterranean tomb,— Blinded tiger in is den, Once the lord and prince of men? Clay was I; the potter Thou With Thy thumb-nail smooth’dst my brow, Roll’dst the spital-moistened sands Into limbs between Thy hands. [page 152] Thou didst pour into my blood Fury of the fire and flood, And upon the boundless skies Thou didst first unclose my eyes. And my breath of life was flame God-like from the source it came, Whirling round like furious wind Thoughts upgathered in the mind. Strong Thou mad’st me, till at length All my weakness was my strength; Tortured am I, blind and wrecked, For a faulty architect. From the woman at my side, Was I woman-like to hide What she asked me, as if fear Could my iron heart come near? Nay, I scorned and scorn again Cowards who their tongues restrain; Cared I no more for Thy laws Than a wind of scattered straws. When the earth quaked at my name And my blood was all aflame, [page 153] Who was I to lie, and cheat Her who clung about my feet? From thy open nostrils blow Wind and tempest, rain and snow; Dost thou curse them on their course For the furry of their force? Tortured am I, wracked and bowed, But the soul within is proud; Dungeon fetters cannot still Forces of the tameless will. Israel’s God come down and see All my fierce captivity; Let thy sinews feel my pains, With thy fingers lift my chains. Then, with thunder loud and wild, Comfort thou thy rebel child, And with lightning split in twain Loveless heart and sightless brain. Give me splendour in my death, Not this sickening dungeon breath, Creeping down my blood like slime, Till it wastes me in my prime. [page 154] Give me back, for one blind hour, Half my former rage and power, And some giant crisis send Meet to prove a hero’s end. Then, O God, Thy mercy show— Crush him in the overthrow At whose life they scorn and point, By its greatness out of joint.
In Via Mortis.
O ye great company of dead that sleep Under the world’s green rind, I come to you, With warm, soft limbs, with eyes that laugh and weep, Heart strong to love, and brain pierced through and through With thoughts whose rapid lightnings make my day— To you my life-stream courses on its way Through margin-shallows of the eternal deep. And naked shall I come among you, shorn Of all life’s vanities, it’s light and power, Its earthly lusts, its petty hate and scorn, The gifts and gold I treasured for an hour; [page 155] And even from this house of flesh laid bare, A soul transparent as heat-quivering air, Into your fellowship I shall be born. I know you not, great forms of giant kings Who held dominion in your iron hands, Who toyed with battles and all valorous things, Counting yourselves as gods when on the sands Ye piled the earth’s rock fragments in an heap To mark and guard the grandeur of your sleep, And quaffed the cup which death, our mother, brings. I know you not, great warriors, who have fought When blood flowed like a river at your feet, And each death which your thunderous swordstrokes wrought, Than love’s wild rain of kisses was more sweet. I know you not, great minds, who with the pen Have graven on the fiery hearts of men Hopes that breed hope and thoughts that kindle thought. But ye are there, ingathered in the realm Where tongueless spirits speak from heart to heart, And eyeless mariners without a helm Steer down the seas where ever close and part The windless clouds; and all ye know is this, But a strange numbness doth all thought o’erwhelm. [page 156] And I shall meet you, O ye mighty dead, Come late into your kingdom through the gates Of one fierce anguish whitherto I tread, With heart that now forgets, now meditates Upon the wide fields stretching far away Where the dead wander past the bounds of day, Past life, past death, past every pain and dread. Oft, when the winter sun slopes down to rest Across the long, crisp fields of gilded white, And without sound upon earth’s level breast The grey tide floods around of drowning night, A whisper, like a distant battle’s roll Heard over mountains, creeps into my soul And there I entertain it like a guest. It is the echo of your former pains, Great dead, who lie so still beneath the ground, Its voice is as the night wind after rains, The flight of eagle wings which once were bound, And as I listen in the starlit air My spirit waxeth stronger than despair Till in your might I break life’s prison chains. Then mount I swiftly to your dark abodes Invisible, beyond sight’s reach, where now ye dwell In houses wrought of dreams on dusky roads [page 157] Which lead in mazes wither none may tell, For they who thread them faint beside the way And ever as they pass through twilight grey Doubt walks beside them and a terror goads. And there the great dead welcome me and bring Their cups of tasteless pleasure to my mouth. Here am I little worth, there am I king, For pulsing life still slakes my spirit’s drouth And he who yet doth hold the gift of life Is mightier than the heroes of past strife Who have been mowed in death’s great harvesting. And here and there along the silent streets I see some face I knew, perchance I loved; And as I call it each blank wall repeats The uttered name, and swift the form hath moved And heedless of me passes on and on, Till lo, the vision from my sight hath gone Softly as night at touch of dawn retreats. Yet must life’s vision fade and I shall come, O mighty dead, into your hidden land, When these eyes see not and these lips are dumb, And all life’s flowers slip from this neverless hand; Then will ye gather round me like a tide [page 158] And with your faces the strange scenery hide While your weird music doth each sense benumb. So would I live this life’s brief span, great dead, As ye once lived it, with an iron will, A heart of steel to conquer, a mind fed On richest hopes and purposes, until Well pleased ye set for me a royal throne, And welcome as confederate with your own The soul gone from me on my dying bed.
[2 blank pages]
[illustration: E. PAULINE JOHNSON.] [unnumbered page]
As Redmen Die.
Captive! Is there a hell to him like this? A taunt more galling than the Huron’s hiss? He—proud and scornful, he—who laughed at law, He—scion of the deadly Iroquois, He—the bloodthirsty, he—the Mohawk chief, He—who despises pain and sneers at grief, Here in the hated Huron’s vicious clutch, That even captive, he disdains to touch. Captive! But never conquered! Mohawk brave Stoops not to be to any man a slave; Least, to the puny tribe his soul abhors, The tribe whose wigwams sprinkle Simcoe’s shores. With scowling brow he stoically stands by, Watching, with haughty and defiant eye, His captors, as they counsel o’er his fate, Or strive his boldness to intimidate. Then fling they unto him the choice: [page 161] “Wilt thou Walk o’er the bed of fire that waits thee now— Walk with uncovered feet upon the coals Till thou dost reach the ghostly Land of Souls, And with Thy Mohawk death-song please our ear? Or wilt thou with the women rest thee here? His eyes flash like the eagle’s, and his hands Clench at the insult. Like a god he stands. “Prepare the fire!” he scornfully demands. He knoweth not that soon this jeering band Will bite the dust—will lick the Mohawk’s feet; Will shrink when Mohawk war-drums wildly beat. His death will be avenged with hideous hate By Iroquois swift to annihilate His vile, detested captors that now flaunt Their war-clubs in his face with sneer and taunt, Nor thinking soon that reeking, red and raw, Their scalps will deck the belts of Iroquois. The path of coals outstretches, white with heat, A forest fir’s length—ready for his feet. Unflinching as a rock he steps along The burning mass—and sings his fierce war-song— Sings as he sang when once he used to roam Throughout the forests of his southern home, [page 162] Where down the Genesee the water roars, Where gentle Mohawk purls atween its shores,— Songs that of exploits and of prowess tell,— Songs of the Iroquois invincible. Up the long trail of fire he boasting goes, Dancing a war-dance to defy his foes. His flesh is scorched, his muscles burn and shrink, But still he dances to death’s awful brink. The eagle plume that crests his haughty head Will never droop until his heart be dead. Slower and slower yet his footstep swings, Wilder and wilder still his death-song rings, Fiercer and fiercer thro’ the forest sounds His voice, that leaps to Happier Hunting Grounds. One savage yell— Then, loyal to his race, He bends to death—but never to disgrace. —E. PAULINE JOHNSON.
In Northern Skies.
Webs of silver, spun in the twilight’s travail, Spring into sight when the orange rim has pass’d Silver webs that a diamond dew-world spangles, Webs of crystal glittering at glowing angles Flash into flame at the zenith, rosily massed; Crowns of silver, colossal, shining, mighty, Serenely set upon brows, straight, bright, and bland; Girdles that grace a priestess high in the azure, Zones that encircle a queen in her safe embrasure, Gleam on the verge of midnight’s velvet strand; Shields of silver, studded with fires of topaz, Harps that are silver-strung, rimm’d pure with pearls; Rapiers rich with gems that the gloom encrusteth, Scythes and scabbards that never a wet moon rusteth, Wheels of gold that a tireless helmsman twirls; Sails of silver, spread to the silent ether, Ships of state that ride with a burnished keel; Galleys grand the sparkle to magic measure, Dipping divinely down in a radiant pleasure, Hulls of gold that round with the star-worlds wheel— [page 164] All go by—sails, shields, crowns, gems and girdles. Hearken the ring of the mighty silvern chains! Hearken the clang and the clash, the reverberations, The golden din, as the shining constellations Slowly swing and sink to the dusky plains! —S. FRANCES HARRISON (Seranus).
Where close the curving mountains drew, To clasp the stream in their embrace, With every outline, curve and hue Reflected in its placid face, The ploughman stopped his team to watch The train, as swift it thundered by; Some distant glimpse of life to catch, He strains his eager, wistful eye. The morning freshness lies on him, Just wakened from his balmy dreams; The travellers, begrimed and dim, Think longingly of mountain streams. [page 165] Oh, for the joyous mountain air, The fresh, delightful autumn day Among the hills! The ploughman there Must have perpetual holiday! And he, as all day long he guides His steady plough, with patient hand, Thinks of the flying train that glides Into some new, enchanted land, Where, day by day, no plodding round Wearies the frame and dulls the mind— Where life thrills keen to sight and sound, With ploughs and furrows left behind. Even so, to each the untrod ways Of life are touched by fancy’s glow, That ever sheds its brightest rays Upon the path we do not know. —AGNES MAULE MACHAR. (Fidelis).
What of the days when we two dreamed together? Days marvellously fair, As lightsome as a skyward-floating feather Sailing on summer air— Summer, summer, that came drifting through Fate’s hand to me and you/ What of the days, my dear? I sometimes wonder If you too wish this sky Could be the blue we sailed so softly under In that sun-kissed July; Sailed in the warm and yellow afternoon, With hearts in touch and tune. Have you no longing to relive the dreaming Adrift in my canoe? To watch my paddle blade all wet and gleaming Cleaving the waters through? To lie wind-blown and wave-caressed until Your restless pulse grows still? Do you not long to listen to the purling Of foam athwart the keel? To hear the nearing rapids softly swirling [page 167] Among their stones, to feel The boat’s unsteady tremor as it braves The wild and snarling waves? What need of question, what of your replying? Oh! well I know that you Would toss the world away to be but lying Again in my canoe, In listless indolence entranced and lost, Wave-rocked and passion-tossed. Ah me! my paddle failed me in the steering Across love’s shoreless seas; All reckless, I had ne’er a thought of fearing Such dreary days as these, When through the self-same rapids we dash by, My lone canoe and I. —E. PAULINE JOHNSON.
The Wind of Death.
The wind of death, that softly blows The last warm petal from the rose, The last dry leaf from off the tree, To-night has come to breathe on me. There was a time I learned to hate, As weaker mortals learn to love; The passion held me fixed as fate, Burned in my veins early and late, But now a wind falls from above— The wind of death, that silently Enshroudeth friend and enemy. There was time my soul was thrilled By keen ambition’s whip and spur; My master forced me where he willed, And with his power my life was filled, But now the old-time pulses stir. How faintly in the wind of death, That bloweth lightly as a breath! [page 169] And once, but once, at Love’s dear feet, I yielded strength, and life, and heart; His look turned bitter into sweet, His smile made all the world complete; The wind blows loves like leaves apart— The wind of death, that tenderly Is blowing ‘twixt my love and me. O wind of death, that darkly blows Each separate ship of human woes Far out on a mysterious sea, I turn, I turn my face to thee. —ETHELWYN WETHERALD.
The City Tree.
I stand within the stony, arid town, I gaze for ever on the narrow street; I hear for ever passing up and down, The ceaseless tramp of feet. I know no brotherhood with far-lock’d woods, Where branches bourgeon from a kindred sap; Where o’er moss’d roots, in cool, green solitudes, Small silver brooklets lap. No em’rald vines creep wistfully to me, And lay their tender fingers on my bark; High may I toss my boughs, yet never see Day’s first most glorious spark. When to and fro my branches wave and sway, Answ’ring the feeble wind that faintly calls, They kiss no kindred boughs but touch always The stones of climbing walls. My heart is never pierc’d with song of bird; My leaves know nothing of that glad unrest, Which makes a flutter in the still woods heard, When wild birds build a nest. [page 171] There never glance the eyes of violets up, Blue into the deep splendour of my green: Nor falls the sunlight to the primrose cup, My quivering leaves between. Not mine, not mine to turn from soft delight Of woodbine breathings, honey sweet, and warm; With kin embattl’d rear my glorious height To greet the coming storm! Not mine to watch across the free, broad plains The whirl of stormy cohorts sweeping fast; The level, silver lances of great rains, Blown onward by the blast. Not mine the clamouring tempest to defy, Tossing the proud crest of my dusky leaves: Defender of small flowers that trembling lie Against my barky greaves. Not mine to watch the wild swan drift above, Balanced on wings that could not choose between The wooing sky, blue as the eye of love, And my own tender green. And yet my branches spread, a kingly sight, In the close prison of the drooping air: [page 172] When sun-vex’d noons are at their fiery height, My shade is broad, and there Come city toilers, who their hour of ease Weave out to precious seconds as they lie Pillow’d on horny hands, to hear the breeze Through my great branches die. I see no flowers, but as the children race With noise and clamour through the dusty street, I see the bud of many an angel face— I hear their merry feet. No violets look up, but shy and grave, The children pause and lift their crystal eyes To where my emerald branches call and wave— As to thy mystic skies. —ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD.
At Husking Time.
At husking time the tassel fades To brown above the yellow blades Whose rustling sheath enswathes the corn That bursts its chrysalis in scorn Longer to lie in prison shades. Among the merry lads and maids The creaking ox-cart slowly wades ‘Twixt stalks and stubble, sacked, and torn At husking time. The prying pilot crow persuades The flock to join in thieving raids; Thy sly racoon with craft inborn His portion steals—from plenty’s horn His pouch the saucy chipmunk lades At husking time. —E. PAULINE JOHNSON. [page 174]
Drifting Among the Thousand Islands.
Never a ripple upon the river, As it lies like a mirror, beneath the moon, —Only the shadows tremble and quiver, ‘Neath the balmy breath of a night in June! All dark and silent, each shadowy island Like a silhouette lies on its silver ground, While, just above us, a rocky highland Towers, grim and dusk, with its pine-trees crowned. Never a sound save the wave’s soft plashing, As the boat drifts idly the shore along,— And the darting fire-flies, silently flashing, Gleam, living diamonds, the woods among; And the night-hawk flits o’er the bay’s deep bosom, And the loon’s laugh breaks through the midnight calm, And the luscious breath of the wild vine’s blossom Wafts from the rocks like a tide of balm. —Drifting! Why may we not drift forever? Let all the world and its worries go! Let us float and float with the flowing river, Whither—we neither care nor know! [page 175] Dreaming a dream, might we ne’er awaken; There is joy enough in this passive bliss,— The wrestling crowd and its cares forsaken,— Was ever Nirvana more blest than this? Nay! but our hearts are ever lifting The screen of the present, however fair; No long, not long, can we go on drifting,— Not long enjoy surcease from care! Ours is a nobler task and guerdon Than aimless drifting, however blest; Only the heart that can bear the burden Shall share the joy of the victor’s rest. —AGNES MAULE MACHAR. (Fidelis.)
How said to gaze on thee and find In thy stern eyes no answer kind, No langorous liftings of those lovely lids, That tell me love half wishes, half forbids; To know henceforth we are estranged, That much is past and all is changed. [page 176] And though, for your dear sake, I know It is but right it should be so, How said to gaze on thee and find In thy stern eyes no answer kind— Alas! How sad it is—Alas—how sad! How hard to leave thy hand unclasped, The hand which mine so oft hath grasped, To watch thy upturned delicate white wrist, And watching wearily, leave it unkissed! To gaze with longing evermore, And yearn to be as once before; O, though for your dear sake I dare Not show my grief and my despair, How hard to leave thy hand unclasped— Alas! How hard it is—Alas—how hard! —S. FRANCES HARRISON. (Seranus.)
To-night the west o’erbrims with warmest dyes, Its chalice overflows With pools of purple coloring the skies, Aflood with gold and rose, And some hot soul seems throbbing close to mine, As sinks the sun within that world of wine. I seem to hear a bar of music float, And swoon into the west, My ear can scarcely catch the whispered note, But something in my breast Blends with that strain, till both accord in one, As cloud and color blend at set of sun. And twilight comes with gray and restful eyes, As ashes follow flame, But oh! I heard a voice from those rich skies Call tenderly my name; It was as if some priestly fingers stole In benediction o’er my lonely soul. I know not why, but all my being longed And leapt at that sweet call, [page 178] My heart reached out its arms, all passion-thronged, And beat against Fate’s wall, Crying in utter homesickness to be Near to a heart that loves and leans to me. —E. PAULINE JOHNSON.
“O Love Builds on the Azure Sea”
O, Love builds on the azure sea, And Love builds on the golden sand; And Love builds on the rose-wing’d cloud, And sometimes Love builds on the land. O, if Love build on sparkling sea— And if Love build on golden strand— And if Love build on rosy cloud— To Love these are the solid land. O, Love will build his lily walls, And Love his pearly roof will rear,— On cloud or land, or mist or sea— Love’s solid land is everywhere! —ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD. [page 179]
The Song My Paddle Sings.
West wind, blow from your prairie nest, Blow from the mountains, blow from the west. The sail is idle, the sailor too; Oh! wind of the west, we wait for you. Blow, blow! I have wooed you so, But never a favor you bestow. You rock your cradle the hills between, But scorn to notice my white lateen. I stow the sail and unship the mast: I wooed you long, but my wooing’s past; My paddle will lull you into rest: O drowsy wind of the drowsy west, Sleep, sleep! By your mountains steep, Or down where the prairie grasses sweep, Now fold in slumber your laggard wings, For soft is the song my paddle sings. August is laughing across the sky, Laughing while paddle, canoe and I [page 180] Drift, drift, Where the hills uplift On either side of the current swift. The river rolls in its rocky bed, My paddle is plying its way ahead, Dip, dip, When the waters flip In foam as over their breast we slip. And oh, the river runs swifter now; The eddies circle about my bow: Swirl, swirl! How the ripples curl In many a dangerous pool awhirl! And far to forward the rapids roar, Fretting their margin for evermore; Dash, dash, With a mighty crash, They seethe and boil and bound and splash. Be strong, O paddle! be brave, canoe! The reckless waves you must plunge into. Reel, reel, On your trembling keel, But never a fear my craft will feel. [page 181] We’ve raced the rapids; we’re far ahead: The river slips through its silent bed. Sway, sway, as the bubbles spray And fall in tinkling tunes away. And up on the hills against the sky, A fir tree rocking its lullaby Swings, swings, Its emerald wings, Swelling the song that my paddle sings. —E. PAULINE JOHHNSON.
Sometime, I Fear.
Sometime, I fear, but God alone knows when, Mine eyes shall gaze on your unseeing eyes, On your unheeding ears shall fall my cries, Your clasp shall cease, your soul go from my ken, Your great heart be a fire burned out; ah, then, What shall remain for me beneath the skies Of glad or good, of beautiful or wise, That can relume and thrill my life again? This shall remain, a love that cannot fail, A life that joys in your great joy, yet grieves In memory of sweet days fled too soon; Sadness divine! as when November pale Sits broken-hearted ‘mong her withered leaves, And feels the wind about her warm as June. —ETHELWYN WETHERALD. [page 183]
The Swiftest Thought.
Oh, sounding wind, that tirelessly are blowing Through the wide star-lit spaces of the night! Oh, eager rains, that sweep the distant height, And restless streams impetuously flowing, And clouds that will delay not in your going, And ships that sail, and vanish from the sight, And happy birds that stay not in your flight, And suns upon your skyey pathway glowing:— Poor laggards all! One tender thought outstrips you: Go, little thought, and tell my love from me I care for him to-day as yesterday; Ah, how its strength and swiftness doth eclipse you, For now the answer comes invisibly And instantly—and in the surest way! —ETHELWYN WETHERALD. [page 184]
Good-by! good-by! my soul goes after thee, Quick as a bird that quickens on the wing, Softly as winter softens into spring, And as the moon sways to the swaying sea, So is my spirit drawn resistlessly; Good-by! yet closer round my life shall cling Thy tenderness, the priceless offering That drifts through distance daily unto me. O eager soul of mine, fly fast! fly fast! Take with thee hope and courage, thoughts that thrill The heart with gladness under sombre skies; O living tenderness! that no sharp blast Of bitter fate or circumstance can chill, My life with thine grows strong—or fails—or dies. —ETHELWYN WETHERALD. [page 185]
A Forgotten Grief.
In the silence of the morning, while the dews are yet leaf-hidden, And all the rare pale lilies lift their faces to the sun, And the birds are singing madly, all unbidden, all unchidden, And the morning glories echo the sweet chorus when ‘tis done,— My Heart and I sit singing too for very joy of being— So bright the yellow sunlight through the leafy boughs above— For ver joy of knowing, and for very joy of seeing, My Heart and I sit singing too for very joy of love. And one by one the bright-winged hours dally and fly over, And not a cloud in all the golden day can we espy, For all the world’s in love with us, the world that loves a lover, And we’re in love with all the world, my happy Heart and I. And the lambeth air is thrilling with a passionate desire: “To love and live, to live and love, and this is all,” we sing; [page 186] And our song is sweet with laughter and in triumph waxes higher, As it floats across the garden where our hopes are blossoming. Oh, strange! A sound of measured feet that trample on our gladness— I will not look, I will not know, I will not turn my head! But my Heart will see despite me, and with sudden sighing sadness She tells me that the measured feet are following the dead. A hush upon the bird-notes and a shadow on the flowers, And an ancient Grief upspeaks to us and chides our joyous song, And spreads abroad her mantle clouding all the golden hours, And sits with us, and talks with us, so long—so long! For love and life, for sun and flower, we have but sorry greeting: “To love and live, to live and love!” O foolish roundelay! Ah, happiness! thou laggard dove, swift only in the fleeting! Ah, dolor! thy dark pinions bear thee never far away! —SARA JEANNETTE DUNCAN. [page 187] [blank page]