Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
Silver Arrows
4th Jun 2014Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0

Silver Arrows
NOËL H. WILCOX

[2 blank pages]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

SILVER ARROWS
By NOEL H. WILCOX

Contents copyright, Canada, 1930.
500 copies printed.
Weeks Printing Co., Ltd., Halifax.
Also “Piper of Dreams”, 1927.
[unnumbered page]

 SILVER ARROWS

Beneath the trees of April
   I am searching everywhere
For pixie birds that pounce on leaves
   And kick them in the air.

I know I’ll know the birds from leaves—
   All fluttering on the ground—
For leaves can never hope to give
   Such silvery April sound.

And when there falls around me
   A flight of silver arrows,
My heart is taken captive
   By the song of the fox sparrows. [page 5]

THE WOODLAND TRAIL

Tired of this trail shall I never be
   That leads to the land of old, grey boulders:
The smell of the woods incredibly
   Lightens the pack to my burdened shoulders.
      The leaf-green lane goes quietly on,
      But every care in the world is gone.

So softly the fronds of fern unfold
   The snap of a twig invades the hush,
And the moose that tracks this damp leaf-mould
   May hear the song of that hermit thrush,
      While the scarlet buds of each maple tree
      Enhance the sky-blue canopy.

Airily now by a glimmering brook
   Sweet brooklet music enchants the air;
Whisking out from a mossy nook
   A cascade goes dancing down a stair.
      The trail is fey with its wild caprice,
      But I love it best for the gift of peace. [page 6]

THOUGHTS

When hardwood flames into gold
   And the soft blue smoke clouds come,
A camp, depressing and cold,
   A fire transforms to a home.

The quick sparks wander away
   And lose themselves in the woods,
Like thoughts that love to stray
   Among the solitudes.

Away to the streams they fly
   Alit by the little embers,
To the lake and the evening sky
   And the beauty the heart remembers. [page 7]

FAIRY BIRD

Once upon a time when
   The world seemed worlds away,
I heard a little fairy bird
   Singing to the day.

Where sunlight, sifting through the trees,
   Made pools of sunny air,
Blithe notes as light as thistledown
   Went floating everywhere.

All the other woodland birds
   Were stilled to ecstasies
While waiting for the fluting sounds
   To curve around the trees.

I looked up with the violets—
   And looked, and looked again,
And once I thought I saw the bird
   That sang the sweet refrain.

But when I feared that nothing real
   Could thus entrance my ear,
“See me? I see you.”
   Came magically clear.

If all the silken floss were mine
   Which all the spiders do,
I’d catch the fairy’s fleeting song
   And bring it home to you. [page 8]

TROUT TODAY

Fish as scarce as hen’s teeth—
Woods-birds silent underneath
Clouds ash-grey and ominous
That shroud the hills around us;
Air refreshing, though it chills—
Rain in sudden, fitful spills,
Pattering on the trilliums;
Camp to make before it comes.

When the forest cracks like thunder
And an easterly drives under,
(poison to every fish that swims
Says a guide who knows their whims),
Bunks are snug in a fishing-camp
Lit by the glow of a candle-lamp,
Listening to teeming, rapid rain
Breaking its crystal spears on the pane.

With our log walls nogged with moss
What care we if the forest toss!
Let the winds go roaring by,
Night-long inky be the sky!
If the morning dawns in gold and blue
And the lake be dimpled too,
Luck will hold in its lucky way,
Trout for breakfast! Trout today! [page 9]

A FISH STORY

With sporty rod and waders
   And tackle extra fine,
I found a likely-looking lake
   In the proper fishing time.

A rock well-placed—a famous stand—
   Was waiting there for me,
But the first exciting cast I made
   I hooked a maple tree.

While I was swearing up the branch
   That held my leader firm,
I saw a little coloured boy
   Fishing with a worm.

Every time his cork would bob
   He’d give it a mighty yank
And out would come a speckled trout
   To wriggle on the bank.

I am a dry-fly fisherman,
   I thought my technique right,
But when it came to catching fish
   They wouldn’t even bite.

All the flies that seemed so fine,
   I tried them one by one,
But thought I knew just what to do,
   The boy had all the fun.

So with an artful silver hook
   My creel caught all his trout,
Then back to town, to show my fare,
   And settle any doubt. [page 10]

QUESTIONS

Do bumble-bees bend down the blooms
   To make themselves a swing?
Are butterflies all muddled up
   When they fly staggering?

I never ever hear a worm,
   They seem to me quite quiet;
But robins often listen for them,
   Have you thought to try it?

A tree can make the wind by shaking,
   Though I forget what shakes it.
And when you hear the grasses sing
   Of course you know what makes it.

Why does the sun when I have looked,
   Put green ones all around?
And where do great big shadows go
   When they have left the ground. [page 11]

THE OLD MILL

In the dip of the dell
   An old mill hides,
And memories cling
   To its weathered sides
And mossy roof.

As shadows deepen,
   I come once more,
By a leafy road,
   From the sounding shore
Of a summer sea.

The wheel is still,
   For the long flume waits
Till a rain may loosen
   The pent flood-gates,
And freshen the stream.

No thunder of logs,
   Nor screaming saw,
No rumbling belts,
   Nor sawdust raw
From new-cut boards.

I listen awhile
   On the doorless sill,
And seem to hear,
   All hushed and still,
Muted voices. [page 12]

If my call is heard
   It brings no reply;
But a bat coming out
   Swoops silently by
Twitching the sky.

Eerie and cold
   The silences creep;
I’m glad to hear singing
   Himself to sleep
A brave little bird.

CLOUD MOUNTAINS

What snowy peaks
   The clouds have piled
Against the blue,
   That a little child
May look at mountains
   Built of dream,
And far Vancouver
   Suddenly seem
With all its lovely
   Distant hills
      A dream
         Come true. [page 13]

THE MOON LADY

Swift as a driven cloud is blown,
      The vibrant motor sped;
The moon, delightful chaperone,
      Her net of lovelight spread.
   I wonder what the moon-lady
   Imagined, as she smiled to me?

For often when I glanced her way,
      She hid behind a tree;
But quickly peeked, as if to say—
      “I’m watching, dear, you see!”
   The moon-lady was very bright
   And kept me closely in her sight.

I loved the road that seemed to wind
      Itself into my heart,
While fields and trees were left behind,
      And still the hills spread apart;
   But all the way the moon-lady
   Kept following my love and me. [page 14]

FAIR FIELDS

Very fair were the fields
   The Acadians won
From the sway of the forest—
   From shade to sun;
While the old French potter
   Down by the bay
Worked to his wheel
   Pliable clay.

Time with his noiseless foot
   Still wanders on,
Men who have loved the fields
   Have come and gone.

Today a hale farmer
   Fallows by toil
With plough and harrow,
   Arable soil.
Very fair are the fields
   Sundrenched and sweet,
Which yield to his labour
   Clover and wheat. [page 15]

SAND PEEP

Here on this quiet half-tide stone
I thought to be awhile alone,
But with a swish and a startled cheep
The whole sky seemed awhirr with birds
Brushing with wings the very air
I breathe, and thick as drifted stars,
But darkened stars across the blue.
Then all, as one, I see them swerve,
The stars are white and twinkle too.
White as foam they flutter and curve
Over the old wave-bitten rocks.
I watch them alight upon the mud
And run with little eager feet,
Searching for some lost precious thing
They cannot find; so away they chase
To dry their feet in the easy air,
Before they search some other place
And leave their little footprints there. [page 16]

CLIFFS

Red the cliffs of Cobequid—
   Red as porphyry—
Glow beneath the low sun
   Dipping to the sea.
Tenecape and Portapique,
   Rosy as romance,
Stain the Bay of Cobequid,
   Colchester and Hants.

Blue the cliffs of Blomidon,
   (Glooscap’s naive whim)
Rise above the blue bay,
   Tameless, old and grim;
Across from hills of Cumberland
   His traprock rampart flings,
Shielding from the north wind
   Orchard vales of Kings.

White the cliffs of Lunenburg
   Watch the seagulls soar,
White as where the long surf
   Gaily leaps ashore;
Headlands heaped with granite,
   Brittle white they gleam,
As the eye roves seaward
   Sentinels they seem. [page 17]

MY BOAT

A memory sails again my little boat
   That first taught me the wonder of the sea;
Aslant the spray-drenched air once more we tack,
   And fling a foaming furrow down the lee.

The bending canvas draws the breath of heavens;
   The splashing bow intones a chanty song;
Adventure holds the tiller in its grip,
   While happy clouds sweep carelessly along.

The wind-ript waves of tameless tides we counter—
   White horses of the waters leaping high;
My little boat and I are boon companions,
   And vagabonds of every sea and sky.

Serene within my heart that friendship lingers
   Like the beauty of a seagull’s wing
Sailing into the salt air it remembers,
   Instant at youth’s quick beckoning. [page 18]

THE CALL

The forest holds its breath
   Through the shivering gulfs of night;
The moon like some old hollow ghost
   Half hides a pallid light.

A few leaves fidget and are still;
   The hushed pines heave a sigh;
Above the stark and ebony trees
   An owl wing brushes by.

Then slow upon the wizard air
   Where night-frosts wrap the fall,
There cuts the dark like agony
   A long-drawn hunter’s call.

And hope and fear are mingled,
   And still hearts scarcely beat,
Lest some proud moose be cheated—
   Whose roving days are sweet.

But silence answers silence,
   Far wilds the wildlings keep,
The world turns over on its side
   And quietly goes to sleep. [page 19]

DAWN

The moon’s ice mountains dip where west winds sigh,
   The summer stars have vanished from the night,
Before the dawn glows in the orient sky
   To turn the tingling silence into light.
But now the winter’s glinting stars begem
   The east above the tranced and pointing firs,
Aldebaran and Sirius with them—
   Orion and Pleiades are hers.
All these that quiver from infinity,
   And burn beyond the boundaries of thought,
And echo tones of deep divinity,
   Pale when the first bird’s morning lilt is caught;
And day, slight as some cloud, drifts over hills,
And all the east with silvery curtains fills. [page 20]

OLD WALLS

Here are some primitive ashlars,
   Built by the old pioneers,
Grim, undisturbed and enduring,
   Grey with the lichen of years;
Rocks that would hinder their ploughing,
   Close-piled in rambling walls,
Dividing the pastures and meadows
   And riddling the land of its spalls.

Walls that were meant not for beauty,
   But beauty rewarding the toil
Laid her lovely wand on the rockpiles
   And blossoms sprang up from the soil:
Here with an artless profusion
   Wild-cherry, goldenrod, ferns,
Daphne, rhodora, sweetbrier,
   Each in its season returns.

Here is a dwelling for beauty
   Close to the arable fields,
Shelter and happy protection
   For all which the wildwood yields;
And on through the coming ages,
   As long as these walls endure,
Beauty need never be homeless,
   A place for her children is sure. [page 21]

CHILDREN OF EARTH

When sunset colours stain October hills,
There comes a time to tuck my daffodils
And other precious bulbs in cosy beds,
And snuggle down their sleepy little heads.

Secure, while sleepless snowstorms howl around,
They’ll weave a web of dreams about the ground;
But when some springbird banishes the night,
Gaily they’ll rise—a vision of delight.

THE COMMAND

Right in the midst of life’s small work and play
I hear a gentle patter come my way;
I turn, but ere I spy the curls’ red gold
These words betray the youngest of the fold—
           “Ginkie water Mum.”

The house is still and Bobs and all the rest
Are cuddled down, like birdies in a nest;
But when the dawn peers through the window-pane
Will come those same words confident again—
           “Ginkie water Mum.”
N. K. W. [page 22]

THE SPIRIT OF THE BELL

Time out of mind a clear-tone bell
   Among Ionian pillars moved,
And hour by hour called out to tell
   Its rule to all who learned and loved.

Swift the sweet years have come and gone,
   Leaving strong links of loyalty;
And metal mixed with myrrh rings on
   Vibrating in the memory.

When younger sons with pride can feel
   What binds us to our heritage,
A fellowship is forged like steel—
   The forging welds both youth and age.

What recks we of the bitter flame!
   The spirit of the bell lives on:
And King’s arising guards the name
   And spirit of the King’s that’s gone. [page 23]

ÆNEAS AND ANCHISES

 I.

High in a gable wall there long remained
A time-worn token of some craftsman’s art—
Æneas’ far-famed flight from burning Troy.
Many forget this finely chiselled stone,
A few recalled great Vergil’s epic song,
And happy years moved quietly along.

Was it fell chance of bodeful oracle
That set a prophecy of future fate
High in a gable wall where casual eyes
Returned anon with wondering surprise?

For time unleashed a day when we beheld
The topless towers of Ilion alit
With lurid glare, and all about beset
By fire devouring slow but ruthlessly;
And through an avenue of stately elms
The classic scene of meadowland and mountain
Draped with a sombre pall of baleful smoke.
Then seemed a prophecy indeed fulfilled—
Then forth Æneas with Anchises wandered—
Æneas with a heart now turned to stone,
His aged father on his shoulder borne,
Whilst by his side his son Iulus strode
Forsaking Troy to seek some new abode. [page 24]

Of King’s I sing, and of the men whom Fate
First drove from Troy to the Lavinian shore.
And like the Bard of Mantua’s deathless hero
Forth have we fared, our ancient fane destroyed,
To meet vicissitude with level eye
Firmly resolved to brook adversity.

II

The shade of Hector to Æneas came
Bidding him rise from sleep and haste away
For Troy was burning and would be destroyed:
Nor could the hand of man ever rebuild
Its walls, except in some far distant land
Wherein a greater Troy in time would stand.

He woke to find the old ancestral walls
Enveloped in a mass of sheeting flames
That cut the crackling air like very swords.
Gone was the time of studious quietude
Which once was only broken by applause
Betokening the prowess of an athlete;
Instead wild clamour and commotion. [page 25]

He rushed upon the melancholy scene,
Revenge and bitterness searing his mind.
Tradition said that Troy could not be burned.
Was this some false, unfounded faith? It seemed
Impossible that this event could be—
Great Troy burning, and he so powerless!

A bell fell somewhere with a sobbing sound,
And when its melting metal struck the ground
At once immortal Venus straight appeared
Who showed him all the Gods were with the Greeks
And called to mind an ancient prophecy
That “Troy the gods would once destroy.”

Persuaded of the sad futility
Of saving Troy, or even being avenged
Because of its complete destruction, he
Resolved to leave at once and having found
His father, urged him to select a few
Small household gods, and then prepare for flight.
Anchises trenchantly refused to go. [page 26]

To disregard the unpropitious fates
And linger now in fire-enveloped Troy
Æneas knew would be to perish there.
Perchance calamity conceals, within
Itself, a rich and unforseen reward.
The mountains beckon their security.
These he must cross and seek another place
Where he could build a new and nobler state
And there his sons would dwell inviolate.

III.

Anchises is the spirit of the past—
Of loyalty to proud tradition.
Dear are his memories of vanished days.
The home he cherished long and loyally
Is gone. The very soil is sacred still
And every tree a friend. The long outline
Of Academic hills he will not leave.
Surely he may remain and build in time
A peaceful habitation here again
In such a suitable and broad domain. [page 27]

Iulus is the hope of future years—
The youth of all the ages yet to be.
It is for him Æneas volunteers
To sacrifice with equanimity.
A lambent flame above his boyish head
Is understood to augur well success,—
“Old Troy may be by flame destroyed,
   But flame shall light the lamp of truth,
   And flame shall never conquer youth
   But shall by youth be conquered.”

Anchises hails the protent and entreats
Æneas now to carry him away
Towards the dayspring of a greater day.

IV.

The Trojans after fateful wandering
For seven adventurous years and more,
Decide to build their permanent abode
Beside the old Atlantic’s sounding shore,
Where from foundations deeply laid and strong
Arises now that new and nobler home,
Wherein the sons of King’s may proudly dwell,
And praise Æneas and his story tell. [page 28]

A CAROL

Deep through the silent night
      Stars wheeling slowly—
Watch keeping in the fields
      Shepherds lone and lowly—
   Hear the song the angels sing,
   Tidings of great joy they bring,
   Glory to the new-born King
         Of Israel.

God’s glory from on high
      Cleaves night asunder,
Peace, peace, an angel cries—
      Shepherds rapt in wonder
   Hear the song the angels sing,
   Tidings of great joy they bring,
   Glory to the new-born King
         Of Israel.

Christ, Saviour of the world,
      (Can sign be stranger?)
Born now in Bethlehem
      Cradled in a manger;
   Hear the song the angels sing,
   Tidings of great joy they bring,
   Glory to the new-born King
         Of Israel. [page 29]

AN EVENING HYMN

 “He departed into a mountain to pray . . . when evening was come.”

Come ye apart and rest awhile—
   We hear the Master say:
Come gather strength of many a trial
   As evening crowns the day.

Come where the path oft used before 
   Leads on beside the sea,
Whose gleaming ripples lave the shore
   Of holy Galilee.

Come to the mountain wilderness,
   Where quiet sounds subdue,
And leafy zephyr’s cool caress
   Moves grasses bowed with dew.

Come ye to Me—receive the power
   To help along life’s way;
Will ye not watch with Me one hour?
   I bid you—watch and pray.

We come Lord Jesus, at Thy word,
   For help and strength we long;
Forgive if we have careless heard
   Thy call at evensong. [page 30]

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