Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
Firelight Fancies
1st Aug 2014Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0

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FIRELIGHT FANCIES Lereine Ballantyne]
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Firelight Fancies
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Firelight Fancies
BY
Lereine Ballantyne

McClelland & Stewart, Limited Publishers Toronto, Canada, 1926
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PRINTED IN CANADA PRESS OF THE HUNTER-ROSE CO., LIMITED

Firelight Fancies
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CONTENTS

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PAGE
MEMORIES 1
GOLD AND LAUGHTER 2
THE LOOM OF THE MOON 3
MOONLIGHT AND MELODIES 4
THE ECSTASY OF THE MORN 5
THE SILENT PLACES 6
THE PIONEERS 8
CANADIAN TRAILS 10
CANADIAN RIVERS 11
DOMINION DAY 13
AN APRIL DAY 14
AUTUMN FIELDS 15
A HOUSE ABOVE THE SEA 16
THERE IS A WAY 17
AT TWILIGHT TIME 18
FAR LANDS 19
WITH YOU 20
SOME DAY 21
THE HILL-TOPS 22
FREEDOM 23
THE CALL OF THE SEA 24
SING, HEART OF MINE 25
THE DEEP SEA LURE 26
FRIENDSHIP 27
A GOOD FRIEND 28
HOSPITALITY 29
WHEN MY LADDIE SAYS GOOD NIGHT 30
BABY FROCKS 31
BEDTIME VALLEY 32
HUSH-A-BYE 33
A MOTHER’S MEDITATION 34
THE LITTLE CHURCH 35
MY OFFERING 36
WHEN FAITH IS SURE 37
HARMONY 38
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MEMORIES

We two have seen the world 
In amber glory, 
Where far skies 
Flamed with gold. 
We two have watched 
Vermillion turn to twilight, 
and felt its peace unfold.

We two have known 
The glory of the sunlight—
Yet feared not 
Shadows grey. 
We two have lived, 
And living, planted memories, 
Night cannot take away. [page 1]

GOLD AND LAUGHTER

A caravan of gold comes in 
Each morn at break of day. 
I see it filter through the trees 
And drink the dews away. 
Yet some there be 
Who only see 
Gold in a purse of grey.

The songs of all the stars were sung, 
Within my heart to-day, 
When from my tree an oriole sang
   His tender spring-time lay. 
And yet the gold I think must be 
An echo of your thoughts to me;
The song, your laughter gay. [page 2]

THE LOOM OF THE MOON

The moon is weaving away up in high, 
A magical web across the sky. 
The threads are all of a silver sheen, 
In yellow, crimson, gold and green. 
He weaves the dreams that the children see, 
   In delicate skeins of filigree.

He weaves the hopes of the lovers gay, 
Who seek at twilight his dim-lit way; 
And filling the corners here and there 
Are stories of wrecks and bleak despair; 
But lest we grieve where the shadows fall, 
He has a white warp over it all.

The little clouds are his spinning wheels; 
He winds on them his magical reels. 
The night winds spin them to finest threads,  
And shadows color the browns and leads. 
When he peeps down with his prying eyes, 
Would you ever dream he is half so wise?

He patterns the cool, white milky way, 
Which binds the earth till the dawn of day. 
The stars are pins to fasten it tight, 
And stretch it over the dome of night. 
Oh, wise old Moon, on your loom of blue 
Make all the dreams of the world come true. [page 3]

MOONLIGHT AND MELODIES

Moonlight and melodies, and sounds of distant spheres, 
Come up to me at twilight through the dew, 
When white mists trail their bridal veils across the hills 
As though the clouds came down from out the blue.

Moonlight and melodies, and trees which softly sway, 
Crooning a lullaby to little birds, 
That swing in cozy cradles ‘mid the forest leaves, 
And whisper secrets, far too sweet for words.

Moonlight and melodies, while nature vigil keeps, 
All things beat in the pulse of one great scheme, 
And like a messenger of love, the wind comes up, 
Bearing the scent of flowers that sleep and dream. [page 4]

THE ECSTASTY OF THE MORN

The Master painted the sky-to-day, 
With a great long sweeping brush, 
And he woke the ecstasy of the morn 
With the song of a hermit-thrush.

I heard it ringing across the hills, 
Just after the dawn came through, 
With a mantle of pink thrown far and wide, 
O’er sparkling pearls of dew.

I wanted to fly to the highest hill 
To lift up a voice of praise, 
But I have no wings of golden brown, 
Not a throat for bird-like lays.

Bur I’ve carried the vision through the day, 
And a song in my heart was born, 
For I caught the glory of God’s own robe 
In the ecstasy of the morn. [page 5]

THE SILENT PLACES

When the warm spring call is heeded, 
And you hasten to the north; 
When the river gliding onward 
Clear and swiftly, takes you forth 
Through the lovely silent places 
Where the unknown holds her sway, 
And you camp mid soft grey shadows 
In the wake of ebbing day;

When the vast, mysterious forest gives to you her virgin heart, 
And responds to your deep yearnings 
If you’ve learned to play the part; 
If you’ve learned to pack on long trails, 
If you’ve learned to pitch a tent, 
If your paddle dips correctly, 
And you won’t admit you’re spent;

If your eye is clear and steady, 
And your arm is strong and sure, 
Then the forest draws you to her with a yearning deep and pure, 
Through the smoky haze of campfire 
And content of leisure Won, 
When the long black shadows lengthen 
To the bright flame and are gone. [page 6]

You can feel the living silence 
Of a lonely, backward place, 
Where the Great Spirit confronts you 
With His presence, face to face. [page 7]

THE PIONEERS

There are many, many heroes in our annals, 
Men and women brave and true, and strong, 
And not the least among them are the settlers 
Those who came when Canada was young.

United Empire Loyalists that ever 
Clung to Britain and the British land, 
And the pioneers who clear the forests 
Mile on mile, where now fair homesteads stand.

These men came with just a yoke of oxen, 
A pack-horse, or a birch canoe, 
Just a bit of grain, and high, young spirits— 
Nothing else to see their venture through.

Race of faints were they in their labor, 
Toiling all day long till set of sun, 
Wrestling meager crops from this vast wild-wood, 
Risking forest fires when this was done. 

Hale and hearty, full of joy and laughter, 
When they all forgathered for a bee, 
Each man striving To outdo his neighbor 
At ploughing, building, or to fell a tree. [page 8]

And the womanhood brought constant love-light; 
They were stars agleaming through the gloom,  
Toiling, sewing, baking, mending, knitting, 
Weaving even cloth upon the loom.

Canada! In little lonely corners, 
Crumbling slabs in churchyards we may see, 
‘Neath them sleep the heroes of our country— 
Pioneers who toiled for you and me.

But to their sweet names, memorials greater 
On every hill and dale around us stand, 
These the vanguard of our fair young nation, 
Made a Canaan of this forest-land. [page 9]

CANADIAN TRAILS

Follow the trails—
Canadian trails— 
As far as man may go. 
Follow the winds blowing over them that only northlands know. 
Follow the streams to their silent heads 
Down to the land where no man treads, 
And the Arctic is your foe.

Follow the trails that the redman trod 
In moccasins swift and sure; 
Follow them where the lone deer herds 
Browse by the rivers pure. 
Ninook the bear, and the Arctic fox 
Watch by their dens where danger stalks 
And only the strong endure.  

Follow the trails through the deep pine gloom, 
The trails of romance and strife, 
Where the keen air whets the hunger pangs 
Sharp as the hunter’s knife; 
Far to the top of the lonely world where the banners of dawn have their lights unfurled 
In beauty, splendor and life. [page 10]

CANADIAN RIVERS

Our broad Canadian rivers 
Are swiftly clear and sure, 
I’d follow them to anywhere 
And everywhere. They lure 
They call, and beckon me 
To drift upon their breast, 
To follow their meanderings 
To northward, east and west.

The little songs they sing to me, 
So low and softly sweet, 
Are soothing and caressing 
And happily complete; 
The perfume of the spruce-woods 
Drifts on the lazy wind, 
With all the foolish cares of life 
Serenely left behind

The blue haze of the hill-tops 
The white mist of the glen, 
The henna spikes of sumach 
All beckon me again. 
The curling smoke of camp-fire 
The far-call of the loon, 
The holy hush of twilight, 
And then the golden moon. [page 11]

 The wholesome sleep unbroken 
In the vast cathedral aisles, 
And my boat upon the river 
Waiting till the morning smiles. 
Oh, each Canadian river 
Has a charm that’s all its own, 
If you dream and drift upon in, 
In the twilight hour— alone. [page 12]

DOMINION DAY

So few her birthdays, yet so great her promise 
In woodland, hill, and shimmering silver lake; 
So great is her achievement that we give her 
All honor, for her own sweet sake.

Fairest of maiden nations, this Dominion 
Whose gown is broidered with blue seas and streams, 
Whose jewels are fair cities, new, majestic, 
Surpassing even her most hopeful dreams.

Her arms are open and she fain would welcome 
Those of her kin who come with truth and love— 
God grant they will not spurn her gentle offerings, 
But ever seek for wisdom from above.

So few her birthdays, yet so great her promise 
That we who claim her as a mother, stand, 
O’erwhelmed with love and trustful adoration 
Before our own, our own Canadian Land. [page 13]

AN APRIL DAY

O’er the naked, waking woodlands 
Comes the call of wild geese flying; 
Blue-birds sweep again o’er meadows brown; 
There are water-willows budding 
With their furry little kittens 
And a warm rain’s gently falling, falling down.

There are white stars in the grasses, 
And hepaticas are peeping, 
While the sun rides higher on his eager way; 
And like gold that he has scattered 
The march-marigolds are laughing 
With the Gladness of an early April day.

Oh, it’s good to see the breaking 
Of the chains of icebound winter, 
When the maple-twigs are flushed with ruddy bloom, 
And the brooks go leaping madly 
To the dancing of the wild winds, 
And Nature weaves a green gown on her loom. [page 14]

AUTUMN FIELDS

The smoking fields in autumn’s warm embrace 
Lie sleepily beneath the golden sun. 
In spring did nature wake, know life, and now 
Grows mellow in a rest, that’s scarce begun.

So life goes on, as swift the seasons pass;— 
The laughter of the springtime young and free; 
The heightened hopes of summer with green fields; 
Then harvest-time when man give thanks to Thee;

At last the autumn, when the green grass fades, 
And withering soon, is buried deep with leaves; 
Each mortal blade may die and waste away, 
But from its death, new life, next year retrieves. [page 15]

A HOUSE ABOVE THE SEA

Some day I’ll build a friendly house, 
That looks out to the sea, 
With great old trees on either side, 
A-whispering to me.

Far out at eve I’ll see the ships, 
Like weary birds come home, 
Where silver water shimmers neath
The great blue-spangled dome.

And there I’ll dream the same sweet dreams 
You painted once for me, 
When hand in hand we visited 
The house above the sea.

And if wild storms sweep down and toss 
The blue waves into foam, 
I’ll simply light a fire of logs, 
And keep you sage at home.

Yes. O must dwell upon a hill, 
That overlooks the sea, 
For there the heart of me would live, 
And there the soul be free. [page 16]

THERE IS A WAY

There is a way: 
Strive well and you may find it. 
What more can mortal ask 
Than tackle with the ardor of the artist,
Even an humble task.

There is a way: 
If first you do not find it 
Pull down the work and start again. 
Consider well, and try some other tactics— 
From base discouragement refrain.

There is a way: 
And God loves honest workers, 
Assisting them in ways unknown. 
And those who lift their eyes for help to Heaven 
Find that they do not stand alone.

There is a way: 
When it has been discovered, 
Oh heights of happiness they should 
Stand like their God, when He, the earth completed, 
Saw that his work was good. [page 17]

AT TWILIGHT TIME

There is a soft note struck 
At twilight-time; 
That quiet caressing hour 
When shadows reach out gently
O’er every vale and flower.

And we who love the beauty 
Of twilight-time, 
The restful solitude, 
Have woven bonds of friendship 
No other times include.

Out from the blearing highways 
At twilight-time, 
Where eager crowds are teeming, 
We two have walked apart, 
In silence, dreaming. [page 18]

FAR LANDS

When in the evening 
Ere the shadows fell 
We sat in that dear spot 
We loved so well; 
You talked about the world 
And strange far seas, 
Where tropic palms are swayed 
By southern breeze, 
Until the maples faded 
With the lilacs too, 
And I was in new lands 
Alone with you.

So I who longed to travel, 
Yet needs must stay, 
In dreams went journeying 
Far, far away. [page 19]

WITH YOU

O take me where the sky is powdered 
With the dust of gold, 
And where the evening star o’erhead 
Shines clear and bold, 
Out where the hills are strewn with jeweled dew 
O take me there, dear heart, with you.

Where in the dim white rays of perfect love 
When soul shall melt in soul 
unlocking all the depths of love complete 
With paradise the goal; 
Where love is life, and life is true, 
O take me there, dear heart, with you. [page 20]

SOME DAY

Some day I’ll seek you out 
On Life’s great highway, 
And tell you secrets that 
Your heart would know. 
Some day you’ll find the sunlight follows after 
The palest flowers 
Struggling while they grow.

Some day the whisper 
In the trees low-stirring 
Will bring again, 
Remembered touch and word; 
Old songs will leap to life 
Renewed, immortal Like spring songs 
from a bird. [page 21]

THE HILL-TOPS

One day, I walked with you 
Upon the hill-tops, 
And saw the sunrise fair, 
Far down beneath us, in the valleys 
Many slumbered, 
Nor dreamed of all 
The glories painted there.

Waking they turned 
Each morn to toil and labor; 
With striving bargained o’er their wares— 
Yet we who danced 
On rose-kissed clouds of sunlight 
Ignored those petty cares.

The vixen worry, 
With her grey gaunt shadow, 
May follow after— and she will— 
But we who  know 
The sunlight and the laughter, 
Choose life upon the hill. [page 22]

FREEDOM

I knew that you would wait for me 
Beyond the turning, 
To take the high-path, that so few may find, 
Forever spurning The valley-ways, that are alas, too kind.

There may be dangers on the ledges, 
There may be pain, 
But we shall see far lands, and far blue spaces, 
And shall not climb in vain 
To where the clouds with sunlight interlaces.

And there perhaps we’ll stay, 
To live forever 
Upon the mountains, in the clean air and free. 
For Life’s endeavor is 
After all, the finding of a freedom 
That only gives to God the mastery. [page 23]

THE CALL OF THE SEA

I heard in the grey dim distance, 
The thunderous boom of the sea; 
I felt it was calling, calling, 
   Aye, calling the soul of me.

I wanted to leave the daisies 
That cling to my peaceful path, 
To plunge for a high adventure 
In the whip of the hurricane’s wrath.

With sails of a white sheen o’er me 
To flit neath the moon’s pale light, 
Like a spirit across the billows 
Riding the haunts of night.

And it’s oh! For the dance of the whitecaps, 
The swish and swirl of the foam— 
I hear in the grey dim distance 
The sea, and its calling me home. [page 24]

SING, HEART OF MINE

Sing, heart of mine, sing by the swaying sea; 
Tell me what’s left, when love has gone from me 
Life still goes on, as breaks the blue waves there 
But life no rhythm finds in empty air.

Listening I pray to hear again the voice 
That once so soothed my heart, made me rejoice, 
I only hear afar, a wild sea-cry— 
A grey gull flying ‘twixt the sea and the sky.

Sing, heart of mine— find me a song to-day: 
Joy in the storm, a mad, enchanting lay 
Of rushing waves that charge upon the beach, 
The sagas of all life and power they teach.

I like not quiet shores, bestrewn with shells, 
The empty cask of death their message tells. 
Sing, heart of mine, a song of life and power, 
Give me new strength for life’s tempestuous hour.

The moonbeams dance to me, all blue and white, 
They come with beauty through the silent night. 
Is hope the theme you sing for beauty’s wraith? 
Sing, heart, the song I need of hope and faith. [page 25]

THE DEEP SEA LURE

Drifting in with the tide, 
Out of the blue and the green, 
Riding with sails of gold 
That flash with the sunset sheen,

Out of a mystic sea,— 
Spices and gems in the hold,— 
Sailors come riding home 
With adventure to be told.

Love awaits on the shore, 
Bids them rest from the main— 
But sure they will turn to sea, 
When the ships ride out again. [page 26]

FRIENDSHIP

Friendship is a sacred thing, 
Fragile in its beauty; 
Lovely as a garden walk 
E’en though walled by Duty.

I have known such garden walks, 
Fragrant with white flowers, 
Soothed by their sweet solitudes, 
Finding in their bowers,

Comfort for a weary soul, 
Courage for to-morrow,— 
Faith, because your strength is there, 
Shielding me from sorrow. [page 27]

A GOOD FRIEND

It’s hard to make the climb alone,
To take the upward trend, 
If no one understands you— 
No sympathetic friend.

The cup of fame is hollow, 
Though it be burnished bright, 
Unless one sees reflected 
A face within its light.

If someone loves to listen, 
To weep when you weep too— 
And shares your own ambition 
In harmony with you.

If someone takes an interest, 
And soul goes forth with soul, 
The struggle seems so different 
More worth while then the goal.

The hearth leaps high with courage, 
New plans with visions blend— 
You would not dare to disappoint 
The hopes of one true friend. [page 28]

HOSPITALITY

You say; “Don’t mention I; 
‘Twas nothing—
Just a cup of tea.” 
My friend you do not understand, 
What you have given me.

The quiet, homey air 
Of your bright room, 
So sociable and free, 
Has soothed my very soul, 
And given peace to me.

The glowing coals, and light, 
Of your warm fire,— 
In dreams I still can see 
You there beside it, as 
You talked with me.

And then the feeling that 
You understand, 
The errant heart of me. 
Ah, friend! ‘Tis much I owe
Your hospitality. [page 29]

WHEN MY LADDIE SAYS GOOD NIGHT

There’s nothing in the whole, wide world 
So lovely in my sight, 
As when my ladle in his gown 
Comes in to say good night.

He bounds upon my knee and laughs, 
And cuddles in so tight. 
He squeezes me with chubby arms 
And whispers, “Nighty night.”

Sometimes he begs a little tale 
Of fairies, gold and white— 
But he himself’s fairy elf, 
When he says; “Tiss, dood night.” [page 30]

BABY FROCKS

I sit and sew the little frocks, 
And weave such magic dreams, 
I sit and piece the little parts, 
And stitch the tiny seams,
Ah! Wondrous hopes oft come to me 
When I sew here alone. 
Sweet, sacred thoughts that take me to 
The foot of God’s great throne.

May I not at 
His footstool kneel 
And touch creation’s pride, 
When Destines I have from Him,
To bear, to love, to guide. [page 31]

BEDTIME VALLEY

With fleecy clouds comes to the moon-man, 
Spilling his silver light, 
Into the valleys of bedtime 
And over the hills of night.

Out of the soft, grey shadows 
Come crowds of dimpled dears, 
Stumbling along the wayside 
Dropping some pearly tears;

Nodding with eye-lids heavy, 
A quaint little white-robed band, 
And digging with dimpled fingers 
The Sandman’s sleepy sand.

They take the way of the star-dreams 
To realms of daffodils, 
Where lullaby chimes are ringing 
Over the dewy hills.

Down to the bedtime valley 
They sink in the clouds of down, 
Till the fairy Queen swings open 
   The gates of sunrise town. [page 32]

HUSH-A-BYE

Baby of mine, the white dew falls, 
Go to sleep my precious lamb, 
The sandman calls.

Shut your eyes, pretty eyes, 
Eyes that sparkle like the stars 
In moonlit skies.

Snuggle close within my arms. 
Fairies ne’er have had one half 
Your dimpled charms.

Sleepy-sand, a little sigh, 
And my darling is away 
To hush-a-bye. [page 33]

A MOTHER’S MEDITATION

His head is nestled on my breast, 
His eyes are blue and fair: 
I love to run my fingers through 
And toss his curly hair.

He walks of late a different path 
And seems so wild and free. 
He only comes at twilight now 
To sit awhile with me.

And even then I bribe him with 
Some wild and woolly tale, 
Of pirate hip that sailed afar 
Through storm and furious gale.

A miracle it seems to me 
That he should grow so big— 
Yet who on earth had power to stay 
The slender, growing twig!

He’s ten— when twice that age is reached 
I wonder where he’ll be— 
And if I’ll be aboard his ship 
On life’s uncertain sea. [page 34]

THE LITTLE CHURCH

At night it stands alone, 
In mystic stillness, 
And listens for the sounds, 
It loves so well, 
The wheels that rattled o’er 
The country roadside, 
The half-caught distant note 
Of echoed bell.

Austere and white it is 
Upon the hill-top, 
Its belfry pointing upward 
To the sky, 
Catching the thoughts of weary 
Toil-worn mortals, 
Reminding them of God 
As they pass by.

The evening wind goes through 
The open window, 
But pauses at the hush 
That greets it there; 
The sacred silence of 
True benedictions, 
Pulsating from long years 
Of faithful prayer. [page 35]

MY OFFERING

I have no altar built 
To burn my incense sweet, 
No pile of rugged stones 
My worship to complete.

But sometimes in the morn 
Or at the close of day 
A little kindly thought 
to you shall find its way:

A little service done, 
A gift to please a friend— 
And somehow to my soul 
His blessing doth descend.

I have no altar built, 
But God comes very near, 
So close, that love alone 
To Him my gifts endear. [page 36]

WHEN FAITH IS SURE

Live by your faith, 
And for it you must pray, 
In that last quiet hour 
At close of day. 
Care laid aside, 
The mind to sleep addressed, 
Lift up thine heart to God; 
He giveth rest.

Then too at dawn, 
When song-birds swell their praise, 
Reach up to him for strength 
Through tedious ways. 
Assurance sweet 
Will fill thee for the morn, 
And in the breast, high hope 
Shall be reborn.

Be not afraid; 
God’s presence is so strong, 
It will high courage give, 
Daybreak till evensong. 
‘Twill lift thee up To heights serene and pure. 
Oh, happy is the heart, 
Whose faith is sure. [page 37]

HARMONY

God spake; 
And out of chaos rose 
The deep, deep mighty sea. 
He touched the coral floor and make 
Dry land for flower and tree, 
With mountains steep, magnificent, 
Snow-crowned, aloof and free.

God said; 
“Let there be light,” and lo! 
A million planets spun afar,
 In scintillating glow 
Each was begun, 
With every orbit perfectly 
Rotating to a sun.

God smiled; 
In tender harmony 
The universe was wrought, 
And not a single little star 
Created was forgot; 
To each in its own special sphere 
He did a task allot.

God sighed; 
And formed a simple soul, 
With foolish, conscious pride. [page 38]

He gave him all the world to use 
Including wave and ride, 
The headland, forest, stream and hill, 
The air and cloud beside.

God watched: 
And saw him climb and grope 
From cruel narrow greed 
By labor hard, and Struggle fierce, 
With work and Art to lead 
The Spark divine, from brutal earth, 
To seek the higher creed.

God waited; 
For he knew the way 
Would travail be and pain; 
The secret of his mighty power 
Man still pursued in vain, 
For envy, pride and deep desire 
Were born in sons of Cain.

God wearied: 
Of the secret rare, 
And gave the golden key 
To those who see the mountain-tops, 
   And visions far and free.
They looked and found, that, God is
Love, His Power, is Harmony. [page 39]

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