BOOKS BY ARTHUR S. BOURINOT
Laurentian Lyrics, 1915. Poems, 1921. Lyrics from the Hills, 1923. Puttering Feet, 1925. Ottawa Lyrics and Verses for Children, 1929. Sonnets in Memory of My Mother, 1931.
This volume consists of selections from Laurentian Lyrics, Poems, Lyrics from the Hills, Ottawa Lyrics and eight sonnets from a Sonnet Sequence of 18 Sonnets in Memory of My Mother, published privately in 1931.
A. S. B., Ottawa,
1935 [unnumbered page]
ARTHUR S. BOURINOT
WITH A NOTE BY
SIR ANDREW MACPHAIL
TORONTO: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF
CANADA LIMITED, AT ST. MARTIN’S HOUSE
TO MY WIFE
TO THE READER
Once more, it is my privilege to commend a book of poems, Canadian in spirit but with that element of the universal which gives to them a sure place in the poetry of the world. This book by Arthur S. Bourinot is the mature result of his literary life which I have observed from the beginning, from the day twenty years ago when I published his “Dusk in the Laurentians”:
The hills stretch forth their strong, unwieldy arms. Browned in the heat of summer suns, to grasp The robes of Day, enamoured of her charms; But jealous night bends swiftly down to clasp Them to her breast, lets loose her raven locks, Laughing at Day, who blushes as she mocks.
That close scrutiny of Nature, selection of the beautiful, largeness of idea, depth of emotion, and delicacy of phrase, is developed in all his subsequent writing.
The sonnets in memory of his mother, eight in number, are a worthy “monument” to her: they are more than an act of private piety; by skill in that most exacting craft they command a place in the poetry arising from the inmost heart. The author has fulfilled his early promise.
—Andrew Macphail. [unnumbered page]
SONNETS IN MEMORY OF MY
IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER
Long had my muse been silent, like a stream Frozen and bound by fetters of the frost, So was pent up the wonder and the dream When all the loveliness of you was lost. But Spring must come; the freshest of my grief Released in song emotions tempest tossed, And whirling doubts, holding a lawyer’s brief For death, went to defeat; the chasmic void was crossed. And so I weave these sonnets in the trust Perchance the faltering numbers may ring true And bring to mind the one her friends well knew Until the day God raises from the dust, I sing as one who sings because he must, These sonnets are my monument to you. [page 3] HERE to the hills you loved I come once more, Those old blue hills, ageless, serene from strife, And years long past returned, as though a door Had opened on the corridors of life.— A great hearth glowed with an autumn heat, Casting its shimmerings in the quiet room, A little lad sat nestled at your feet Comforted by your presence in the gloom. And then you turned to him with laughing eyes And witchery of fire-light on your hair, Telling him tales of fairyland that lies Beyond the turning of life’s farthest stair. And sleep with shuttering silence, love that stills, Unlocked the age-old secret of the hills. [page 4] WELL I recall how much you loved the earth, Admiring every little thing that grows, And how you loved great books, the quiet mirth Of friends, soft fire-light at the long day’s close, The Trilliums dancing in the leaf-strewn wood, Nodding their pale white faces as you passed, And the strange, pale Indian Pipes that stood Like sentinels, were loved until the last. The loveliness of earth was dear to you; The beauty of good pictures, music’s voice And the myriad coloured wings that flew Gladdened your heart, making it swift rejoice. And now the loved earth folds you to her breast And the deep silence of imperishable rest. [page 5] THE leaves are falling in the woods to-day, Falling, falling, like rain-drops from the eaves, And the wind, the old earth mother, moans and grieves Through the trees that solemnly toss and sway Their branches where the deft frost quietly weaves A coat of many colours to array The procreant earth for the ultimate day When winter comes and victory achieves. Upon the earth the leaves lie soft and deep; Often you watched them whirl in Dervish bands And gathered them and held them in your hands, Loving the way their beauty passed death’s keep. And lest you feel a stranger in strange lands To-day they come to cover you asleep. [page 6] How brave the face you turned towards the world, Smiling, laughing, to stem the starting tears, And courage like a banner was unfurled, Triumphantly you bore it all the years. Great sorrow never daunted you, nor pain, The loss of loved ones found you greatly strong, Life struck you but you always rose again And sadness turned to laughter, tears to song. And when Death came for you there was no fear. You welcomed him as you would greet a friend, Or little children when they gathered near To hear the story read at daylight’s end. Facing them both you lived courageously, Life had no triumph, Death no victory. [page 7] SOME say the dead are lonely where they lie Deep in the earth far from the wind and rain; Over their heads the friendly feet go by, They do not know that they have come again. And lost to them life’s laughter and the pain Which strikes at those they left upon the earth, And past for them life’s anguish, falls no dearth, The sorrows and the sadness all are slain. How can the dead be lonely when they rest Amongst the innumerable hosts of earth? The grave’s unutterable silence holds them lest They miss their friends above and friendship’s mirth; How can the dead be lonely when they sleep Lost in a dream beyond a boundless deep? [page 8] HOW like a mighty mother doth the earth Receive into her arms her children who After long years of labour and of mirth Of weariness with having much to do, Return once more to her from whom they drew The breath of life, who gave them suck at birth, Who folds them in her breasts’ gigantic girth And seals their eyes with darkness and the dew. No favourites hath the earth; the poor and spent, The little child who died upon the breast, And they who strode the world magnificent High blazoned with the pride of princely crest Must lay them down together when they rest, And Love alone will stand omnipotent. [page 9] BEAUTIFUL ’neath the bosom of the night Sleeps the phantom city, lost in a dream Of greatness yet to be; the tall spires seem To touch the distant stars; beneath their light Beats the strong pulsing heart whose growing might Feeds with its current half a continent, And the whirling spheres of the firmament Circle above in ecstasy of flight. How often in the evening from your bed You watched the twilight in profusion fling Her colours round the one huge star who led His hosts against the city like a king; To-night they throng to give you welcoming, As Lazarus was welcomed from the dead. [page 10]
They are not dead, the soldier and the sailor, Fallen for Freedom’s sake; They merely sleep with faces that are paler Until they wake. They will not weep, the mothers, in the years The future will decree; For they have died that the battles and the tears Should cease to be. They will not die, the victorious and the slain, Sleeping in foreign soil; They gave their lives, but to the world is the gain Of their sad toil. They are not dead, the soldier and the sailor, Fallen for Freedom’s sake; They merely sleep with faces that are paler Until they wake. [page 13]
THE CANADIAN SKI SONG
The hills lie white and silent sleeping in the snow, The trail lies tracked before us, tramped by other skis. The sky is blue above us, urging us to go And glide the mantled meadows, breast the upland breeze. The Sumac cones glow crimson, red against the white, A Blue-Jay blue and brilliant screams across the trail, The snow beneath us crunches, faster grows our flight, As swiftly o’er the waters glide the ships full-sail. The energy of freedom fills the veins with fire, The heart beats fast untrammelled, free as clouds that race We climb and glide the uplands, found the heart’s desire, The rush of air around us, the wind against the face. [page 14] The iron hills surround us, solemn in their sleep, The susurrus of swishing skis fills the atmosphere, As rhythmically gliding, swift where slopes are steep We rush the narrow speedway, dropping sudden, sheer. The ancient and eternal lure of snow and hill, Now calls and ever will call, stir out lethargy, Until we glide the ski-trail free of heart and will, Free of the earth’s great uplands, free as the winds are free. [page 15]
NIGHT ON THE OTTAWA RIVER
Down the river slowly drifting Float the rafts of river-men, While the light is slowly shifting Backward o’er the hills again. ’Mid the silence rings their singing, Voicing low the old refrain, But the chanson gay beginning Ends “Mironton, mirontaine”. Now the myriad lights are glowing Whitely where the city sleeps, While the plashing drip of rowing Upward from the river creeps. Low the water murmur falling, Moaning through the Chaudière, Like a whispered, ghostly calling, Voicing deep their wild despair. Fade the distant voices singing, Faint recurs the low refrain, Still the chanson gay beginning, Dies “Mironton, mirontaine”. [page 16]
When the snow has left the hollows And the birds are flying North, When the winds are warm with April and the rain, Oh, it’s then the footsteps falter and the weary eyesight follows The ways that to the wilderness lead forth. Then the heart longs for the river With its chanting choral song And the chain of inland waters without end. Oh, it’s then the pulses quicken and the nerves are all a-quiver To take the trail and trek among the strong. And the fellowship of faring Is the lure the wills you on With the call to which you never answer no. So it’s then you’ll take the high-road and the free road, never caring, And life will lead you out to meet the dawn. [page 17] When the wilderness is calling To the broad, untrodden floor, And the heart responds with fervour to the wind, Oh, it’s then you’ll sing the trek song, to the lilt of water falling, And Wanderlust will open wide the door. [page 18]
WHEN I WAS A LITTLE LAD
When I was a little lad I slept in a tent in the orchard Where the pink-white apple blossoms bloomed And all day long the mad bees boomed, And when the dusk came quietly still Heard the voice of the Whip-poor-will Far away in the thickets. When I was a little lad My tent was pitched in the orchard And the white-faced moon came up at night And drenched the trees with silver light, And peered inside the opened tent To say “good-night” before he went On again on his journey. [page 19]
There is a window in a house I know Through which I watched the wind so softly blow The dew-wet lilacs that they swayed as though By spirit moved; to me, at break of day There stole a haunting breath, a roundelay Charming the lattice with the lure of May. And one there was who loved the lilacs too, And so I picked them wet with morning dew And gave them for their beauty’s thrilling hue; The lilacs now are dreams of long ago; Yet still is seen their dew-impassioned glow Watched from a window in a house I know. [page 20]
THE WORLD AWAKES
The world wakes from her sleep; The soft, sweet coverlet of white Slips down her breast, to creep Where morning mists, as light As visions, cloud and sea And leaves her naked land and tree. The southern wind’s warm sigh Arouses life, and at the dawn The birds, with joyous cry, Sweep past and on and on; Love stirs to touch the earth With flowers, dreams and all new birth. [page 21]
No matter where I go your beauty will go with me, Haunting my heart as Echo haunts the hills, No matter where I am your beauty dwells there also, Calling my soul, O voice that never stills. What matter that we pass, your beauty will not perish That thrilled my heart and filled the nights with joy, What matter that we pass, your beauty is immortal, Lovely as Truth that death cannot destroy. [page 22]
Sad death will come for one of us some day, And standing on the threshold, enter by The portal which was once the wondrous way The wings of Love were wont to flutter nigh— And O, my love, when he has entered thus, I only ask that I shall be the one He chooses, when he comes to sunder us Until we meet beyond the mortal sun. [page 23]
Wind-blown hair about your face, Diana of the skiing chase, Up the hill you come to me Lithe of limb and laughingly; Deep blue sky above your head Deep white snow for you to tread; Red as sumachs by the trail Shone your lips without avail, Up the hill you came to me Rising from a snowy sea, Up the hill you came then, lo, You vanished in a swirl of snow. [page 24]
I cannot rest For the Swallow’s flying, And Blue-birds with saffroned breasts Blue the lea; How can I rest? Earth with night is lying, And the white star of the west Guides to Thee. I cannot stay While the winds are calling And the wild white horses play O’er the sea; How can I stay With the red leaves falling, And ways in their windings stray But to Thee? [page 25]
I rose from dreams of thy lost lips. While shy dawn smiled through leaves of trees, Gold where the dancing sunlight trips, And breathed of thee the wastrel breeze. I wandered through the fields of morn, Beneath the blue-eyed, laughing sky, But on the winds thy voice was borne And in my dreams thou coulds’t not die. [page 26]
O where are you, beloved, This pallid autumn day? The white mists of autumn Are resting on the bay, The white mists of autumn— O white were you as they, O where are you, beloved, This pallid autumn day? O where are you, beloved, Now gold has touched the wheat? And red leaves of autumn Are whirling at our feet, The red leaves of autumn— O red thy lips and sweet, O where are you, beloved Now gold has touched the wheat? O where are you, beloved, Now trees are gaunt and bare, And first snows of winter Are pelting through the air? The first snows of winter— O white were you and fair, [page 27] O where are you, beloved, Now trees are gaunt and bare? O where are you, beloved, Now April bursts the bud, And wanderlust of spring-time Brings fever to the blood, The wanderlust of spring-time, And passion at its flood, O where are you beloved, Now April bursts the bud? [page 28]
A Moon That Shines Tonight
O moon that shines to-night, So softly, whitely bright, Come to me over the hills of light Over the hills of dream, Into the land of love’s delight, Out of everlasting night, Over the hills of dream. O moon that shines to-night With softly whitening light, Bring to me beauteous dreams and bright Over the hills of rest; Bearing the wished and longed-for sight Out of everlasting night Over the hills of rest. [page 29]
Love in the world of old Fashioned in his house with pride Deep in the heart of a wood, High on the lone hill-side, Building the laughter and song, Forming the mirth and the fears, Giving the gifts of the heart Into the hands of the years. Love in the world of old Fashioned his faery shrine, White for the hope of the years Tall as the towering Pine; Weaving the shadowy dreams, Dowering the earth with desire, Lifting the soul of a man Out of the depths of the mire. [page 30]
Lying in No Man’s Land, he sleeps, Sleeps as well as they who rest In the gardens by the sea, In the grave-yards of the west. Sleeping in No Man’s land, he dreams, Dreams of those in other lands; Friends he left with pensive lips, Those he left with waiting hands. Dreaming beneath a foreign sky, Death was but the evening star, Setting now to rise again Past the Paradisal bar. Lying in No Man’s Land, he sleeps, Sleeps as well as they who rest In the gardens by the sea, In the grave-yards of the west. [page 31]
Glory of sunrise and sunset, Glory of night and the dawn, Glorious flood of the moonlight Washing with silver the lawn, These have bound me and chained me, Held my heart in the hills, These will envelop, surround me, Hold my heart when it stills. Wonder of birches at twilight, Wonder of lights that enmesh, Wondrous coolth of the waters Caressing the swimmer’s flesh, These have conquered me, won me, Held my heart all the years, To these I will go on departure, Burying bodily fears. Beauty of light on the waters, Beauty of hills in their strength, Beauty of wind on the corn-fields Rippling length on length, These are the things I cleave to, These will endure to the end; Beauty, the quest of the ages, Waits where the lost roads wend. [page 32]
The Harvest Wind
Last night the wind swept swiftly o’er the fields, Where late the wheat swayed golden in the sun, And where no more the singing reaper wields His scythe, for now the harvest toil is done. The wind stole quietly, but with chilling breath, And voice as seeking, seeking without end, And low its murmur said, “I bring not Death But only Sleep, the lover and the friend.” The wind swept past and onward o’er the hills, With restless pace, unwearying in its quest, And in my heart I felt the fear that stills, For swift I heard its beating in my breast. The whispering of strange voices filled the night; I dreamed the dead were drifting on the wind, Returning to this land with hastening flight; And still I hear the words the wind’s voice dinned. [page 33]
Out of the thoughts of the present, Out of the dreams of the past, Shaped by the omnipresent Our future deeds are cast. Spun in a woof of the mystic, Spanned by the light of the stars, Hurled from the parent, plastic, Into the mould that mars. Out of the acts of the present, Out of the deeds of the past, Shaped by the omnipresent Our future deeds are cast. [page 34]
THE LITTLE INNS OF ENGLAND
The roads and lanes of England Are linked by little inns, To welcome you at evening And when the day begins. The lanes are lined with hedge-rows The Lilac scents the air, While later on the roses Will flaunt their crimson flare. So when the roads are dusty And travellers come foot-sore, They’ll find at every cross-road The welcoming inn-door. The White Fox, Black Swan, Willow, The Mermaid, Maypole, Trout, Will serve you silver tankards Of mellow ale or stout. Once more the Inns of England With worn and polished floors Will welcome weary strangers And open wide their doors. [page 35]
Old, leering gargoyle looking down, Perched, leaning out from Notre Dame, When Paris was a little town You grinned and leered and looked the same. Half man, half daemon, wrought in stone, Some worker dreamed you long ago, And set you leering there alone To watch the world of men below. A monk who thought the air was full Of daemons, chimaeras and gnomes Crowned your head with horns of a bull To fright your kindred from men’s homes. And we can fancy how he worked With cunning hand your fiendish face, While one eye twinkled or there lurked A smile, the day you took your place. And that was centuries ago: Your maker monk sleeps well, no doubt, And you have watched great Paris grow Beyond her gates the walls without. [page 36] You thrust your tongue out at the world, Clutching the parapet, the while Your wings of stone forever furled, Iconoclastically you smile. New generations come, depart, And progress builds your city great, But you leer down at Louvre and mart And we must wonder what you wait. [page 37]
THE WORLD IS FULL OF BEAUTY
The world is full of beauty That stirs the heart of me, White-limbed girlish Birches Bathing nakedly; A yawning April Tulip, A Pine tree’s winter stole, The speckled red trout spawning Upon a sunny shoal, All these are full of beauty That stirs the hearts of men, The ageless heart of Helen, Dies and is born again. The world is full of beauty That stirs the heart of me; The rushing of the cataract Straining to be free; Recurrent roar of rapids Beyond a river’s curve, The tossing mane of waters That test the arm and nerve; The tom-tom of the partridge Upon a pine tree stump, A white star hanging lonely Above a fir tree clump; [page 38] O world so full of beauty That stirs the heart of me, The splendour of the heavens’ Galactic pageantry, The wisdom of the ages, May perish in time’s dust, But beauty lives immortal Despite the years that rust. The world is full of beauty That stirs the heart of me; The world is full of beauty And immortality. [page 39]
The sun sleeps cradled behind the hills, The little bird’s safe in her nest, A warm wind runes with a voice that stills The old earth’s weary breast; The Nicotine now opes her eyes, White as a winter star, And my little one on her journey flies To slumberland afar. The great, round moon climbs over the wall, Creeps through the curtained window pane, Covers her head with a silver shawl And journeys on again. “Slumber and dream” the dream wind sings So softly rustling by, And low and soft is the rush of her wings Murmuring a lullaby. To the land of dreams the dream wind takes Sleepy one in her rumpled bed, To rest and dream till the sunlight wakes Her golden tousled head; The journey lasts the whole night through, Swift sailing back with dawn, [page 40] O’er beautiful lands where little Boy Blue Blows on his elfin horn. The dawn wind bugles his waking song, The little bird stirs in her nest, The great, red sun awakening strong Flashes his flaming crest; And sweet the note the dawn wind blows Flinging her curtains wide, “Wake up, wake up, with the opening rose, “Wake up, my sleepy-eyed.” [page 41]
Her little silver slippers Are like the crescent moon, Who walks the starry heavens In silver buckled shoon. Her little silver slippers Go dancing merrily As do the swift Sand Pipers That dance beside the sea. Her little silver slippers That grace her little feet Tread like the rain at even That patters down the street. Her little silver slippers Go pattering all day long, Till night comes, O so softly, And stills their silver song. [page 42]
A VISION OF BEAUTY
Here in the cool of the deep, dim woods Where the Indian Pipes life their pale phantom throats From the moist leaf mould, and the wild Orchids’ Pendent honey cups, pink as the skies of dawn, Peer through the gloom, their breath perfumed, exotic, Exhaling odours of the East, of the Inde and Araby; Here where the Dog Rose flaunts its crimson petals And the berried Borealis strews the ground With a fairy carpet of broad green leaves, Here dwells the Spirit of Eternal Beauty. One day I spied her poised on the brink Of a lake that sleeps amongst the timeless hills; I watched; she poised herself, then raised her white, Round arms and headlong plunged into the depths And the lake rippled, was still, and she was gone. So she vanished and all around was silence Save for a Loon that laughed with rident scorn. [page 43] Tall, lithe and fair she was with full round breasts And firm that shone upon her form as shines The moon upon the breast of night; her hair Was brown as the river waters that wake The night with their murmur, and rippled Down her back and round her breasts as though It loved to cling there nestling close to rest. The magic of the meadows touched her feet Bidding them tread as trip the winds of dawn, And her eyes were haunted with the deep dark Of a pool in the wood where the shadows Lurk in the depths and an unknown light Shines like a white flower blooming in the night. Her voice was the far threnody the Thrush Thrills through the woods when the Dusk Star glows; Her lips were eager parted to greet life With rich laughter and love with the red warmth And clinging passion that fires the veins of youth. [page 44]
The earth is bathed in moonlight, The moonlit waters gleam, The pines are touched with silver White cones and needles gleam. White birches tall and slender Like nymphs and naiads stand Or sway along the water In rhythmic saraband. The world is bathed in moonlight, In moonlight sleeps the lake, The stars in milk-white pageant Their magic courses take. The world is touched with splendour, A mystery and delight Takes hold upon the senses Beneath the hallowed night. The moon’s great silver galleon, Her prow lit by a star, Sails down a silver pathway To dock at wharves afar. [page 45]
THE HAUNTED HOUSE AND THE MEADOW
It’s set beside a meadow wild Amongst a thousand hills; The meadow listens like a child Whom some strange wonder stills. The whispering winds of dawn sweep by, The winds of night bow low; The meadow listening hears them sigh A haunting tale of woe. Some gnarled old apple trees are near, Twisted and black they stand, A little brook with hurried fear Hastes through the meadow land. The house stands spectre-like and bare, A skeleton of beams; The windows gaze with vacant stare When the white moonlight gleams. Great shadows walk between the walls, Great shadows stalk the stair, And hauntingly a soft voice calls “Who’s there, who’s there, who’s there?” [page 46]
TREES AFTER SNOW
All silver traceried stand the trees, Nude maidens on a sculptured frieze, Whose white arms reach towards the sky And common supplication cry; And some crouch mute on bended knees, The timid child-like shrubberies; The ancient Pines, scarce bent at all, Stand solemn at a funeral. And when their lord the sun appears And looks upon them while he leers, The maidens flee before his gaze And leave him sulking in a haze; So naked, spectre-like, the trees, I’m sure that Death resembles these. [page 47]
A FLOWER IN THE CITY STREET
I found a flower in the city street, Crumpled and crushed it lay, Trodden down by the careless feet Of all who passed that way. Its colour was not of the fairy green, Grey was its gypsy face, But still it wore a wisp of sheen The world could not efface. It fell like a gem from a woman’s breast, Loosed like a frightened thing, And I recalled the haunting rest Of meadows in the Spring. I found a flower in the city street With red heart crushed to grey, And life to me seemed sweet, so sweet, Bright as the break of day. [page 48]
Gypsy April Came a-straying Swiftly o’er the fields and hills; Gypsy April Came a-maying Racing with the running rills. Gypsy April Kissed the Tulips, Till they flushed a crimson flame; Gypsy April Touched her red lips To the flowers as she came. Gypsy April Came a-straying, Tripping shod with sandals white; Gypsy April Came a-maying With low laughter of delight. [page 49]
DUSK IN THE LAURENTIANS
The hills stretch forth their strong, unwieldy arms. Browned in the heat of summer suns, to grasp The robes of Day, enamoured of her charms; But jealous night bends swiftly down to clasp Them to her breast, lets loose her raven locks, Laughing at Day, who blushes as she mocks. [page 50]
Visions of unuttered thought, Burdened with fears of falling, Breaking the fetters that bound them Back with ancestral man, Pounding into the present With fugitive feet In the brain of man. [page 51]
An apple hanging On the end of the bough Shrivelled and crinkled and wrinkled Dried with the suns of the long swooning summer Ready to fall with the touch Of the cold wind of death From the end of the bough. [page 52]
(After the French of Charles D’Orleans, 1391-1465).
The world has changed her coverlet Of winds that blew so bitterly, Donning her April drapery Of laughing sunlight, flower-inset. And all the birds and beasts now let Their voices praise the panoply: The world has changed her coverlet. The river, fountain, rivulet Disport in jocund livery With drops of silver jewelry: Earth’s creatures fairer garments get, The world has changed her coverlet. [page 53]
WHITELY COMES THE DAY
Blackness changes grey Greyness silvers white, Whitely comes the day, Goes the passing night; Birds in clamorous cry, Glorious comes the sun, A wagon rattles by, Now the day’s begun. [page 54]
O come once more, calm days of autumn, come, To this our land where summer’s splendour goes The way of all the winding, wayward years And life is cool and tranquil, calmly dim. Among the mountains, valleys, woods, O move, Thou spirit white of everlasting sleep, Casting the spell of silence, rest and peace And folding wearied hearts unto thy breast. O still the soul of earth with thy repose, Burning the leaves of maple fiery red, Tingeing the hills a rainbow afterglow, And spreading wings o’ershadowing this our land, O burst the bonds of earth’s eternal woe, Leave us no vestige of the vaunted past, When pomp and pageant filled the summer hours, For we are tired of revel, carnival, Wanting the languor, wistful loveliness Which thou dost bring with passiveness benign. And we will heap with pine the huge stone hearth [page 55] Where all the long, dark, solemn autumn eves The resinous logs will render warmth and dreams, And love will haunt the ingle’s hushing light. O shed around us days with silence dim, Thou spirit white of everlasting sleep. [page 56]
As I came down to Chelsea, The Kingsmere road along I saw the wild blue Asters In starry clusters throng The wayside and the meadows, And stretching far away They crowded to the hill-top A dwarfish milky way. Their round and star-like faces Were twinkling in the fields As do the constellations When day to darkness yields, Or like the circled snow-flake Formed by the winter’s frost, Their aureoled blue faces Were nodding zephyr-tossed. As I came down to Chelsea Along the Kingsmere road, I saw the wild blue Asters Beside the way I strode, Blue mantling the meadows Faint morning mists they shone, Blue haze upon the hill-side, Blue mantle of the dawn. [page 57]
Mere of my heart, I’ve seen you lie Blue as the blue of a summer sky; Mere of my heart, I’ve seen you still, Fallen asleep with the Whip-poor-will. Mere of my heart, I’ve watched you hush, Thrill to the note of the Hermit Thrush; Mere of my heart, I’ve seen you cold, Burdened with planets and stars untold. Mere of my heart, I’ve watched you wake, Rise and the mist from your shoulders shake; Mere of my heart, I’ve seen you creep, Beneath the snows for your winter sleep. Mere of my heart, when earth was planned, God grasped you, drank, and then uncupp’d His hand, Blue hills sprang to hem you, lest you part, Mere of my heart, Mere of my heart. [page 58]
The lake shines green as a cat’s eye; If leaves of trees could liquify And slowly spill Great vats of molten chlorophyll It would not greener show Than the slow Green shadows creeping o’er the lake That soon will take The distant stars and moon to rest Upon her breast. The lake’s green is the liquid note The Thrush thrills in a wood remote At eventide; Long the cadences flow and glide Through the listening wood Like a flood Of shadows pouring o’er the mere That soon will hear Far chanting of the Whip-poor-will And then be still. [page 59]
CITY of towers and turrets Upon the cliffs you dwell With spires that point to heaven And many a pealing bell. City of russet rivers, Their burden songs of thee, City of singing rivers That tramp down to the sea. City of falling waters, That turn the mills of man, Make room for other toilers, The dreamer, artisan. Remember that the mill wheel Sometimes grinds more than grain, Remember that thy children Are flesh and blood and brain. City with brow of beauty Turned to the hills of old, City with eyes untroubled Build with a vision bold. [page 60] Build with a vision splendid, Build with a sense divine, Until immortal beauty Says proudly “Thou art mine.” Until thy towers and turrets And spires that dream in space Stand as a mighty symbol The symbol of our race. City of towers and turrets Upon the cliffs you dwell With spires that point to heaven And many a pealing bell. [page 61]
THE CANADIAN CONFEDERATION
(Written on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, 1927.)
Forged with a vision splendid, Cast with a faith sublime, Tried and finely tempered Upon the anvil Time. Land of a hundred peoples From far and wide they came Merged in the mighty cauldron, One people and one name. From sea to sea one people, By choice and name and deed, Great union of the spirit That sowed a nation’s seed. Fired with a common purpose, Dowered with a touch divine, This people will not perish Unless their faith decline. One creed above all others, One heart beat at the core, Fulfill the wondrous vision That linked them shore to shore. [page 62] Remember that thy people Live not by bread alone, And that the dreamer’s spirit Outlasts the strongest stone. Forget not that the ages Have touched the false with rust And that the Godless nations Lie prostrate in the dust. See with a sense prophetic Build for the years to be, Wrought on the forge of Wisdom, Awaits thy destiny. Forged with a vision splendid, Cast with a faith sublime Tried and finely tempered Upon the anvil Time. [page 63]
TO THE OTTAWA RIVER
Great river flowing broad and free Around our city’s rock-hemmed base, O road that marches to the sea In powerful, rhythmic pulsing pace, I hear your voice majestically Above the strife of creed and place Chanting a nation’s minstrelsy, O lyric singer of our race. Bold voyageurs have braved thy stream Le Caron, Champlain, Vérendrye, Discoverers driven by the dream A pathway to Pacific’s sky; Immortally your paddles gleam In unison you singing cry Old Chansons, and the waters seem Faint echoes when your voices die. Where Champlain stood and watched below The Chaudière’s cauldron seethe and boil A city stands, where long ago The settler cleared and tilled the soil. The falls are harnessed and their flow Turns great wheels in their endless toil; [page 64] By night the factory chimneys glow And vomit flames that writhe and coil. Upon the cliffs the towers and spires Like legendary dream come true Limned in the sunset’s lingering fires Lift faint outlines toward the blue. The city sleeps that from our sires Visions and dreams in beauty grew, Fulfillment of their best desires, The city sleeps in sabled hue. Great river flowing broad and free Around our country’s massive heart, A silvery artery of the sea Singing great songs as you depart, Chant us your mighty minstrelsy Until your songs of wonder start Our dreams of immortality, Our country to a greater part. [page 65]
EVENING ON THE MOOR
Remember, Love, that evening on the Moor When June had fired our veins with her rich wine. The mountain, like some gorgeous tower of Tours Far Carcasonne, great castle on the Rhine, Loomed to the sky and shut the sun from view And soon the night came down, long shadows stole Across gold fields, the stars began to strew Their largess in the mere, the moon her scroll Unrolled and Venus’ fire kindled into flame. We felt the throbbing beauty of the night Filling our hearts and minds as sudden fame Makes men forget their former lowly plight, And a great splendour haunts the memory Of beauty touched with immortality. [page 69]
I did not know the first time when we met, That in you I should find my life’s ideal, And that my heart should ever after feel No sorrow in your presence, no regret. For in the past I ever loved to let Mine eyes find their delight where eagles wheel Above the cliffs, seeing the slow night steal From deep, abysmal caverns dewy-wet. I loved the sun, the stars which strew the floor Of night, the sweetness of gold summer fields, And incense which the twining wild flower yields, Till dreaming by the lintel of Love’s door I saw thee with thy down-fallen hair so sweet And laid my love with longing at thy feet. [page 70]
I came once more midst the Laurentian Hills Where Love and I with laughter used stray, And wandered o’er green uplands where life stills, And fauns and fairies dance at dying day. The pallid Trilliums nodded fast asleep, Their pale, white faces peering through the gloom; A sweet and subtle incense seemed to creep Across the silence of the world’s broad room, And breath of dusk was sweet in Lilac time And dark, brown-throated birds burst forth in song, While through the valley rang the evening chime, And little stars flowered the skies ere long; Dreaming, I trod the shadowed, dusty way; Alas, with Dawn, my dreams were dimmed and grey. [page 71]
I often wonder if when I am dead I’ll know that, swift with full approaching dawn, The sun glides up with glory o’er her head Spreading her golden tresses on the lawn; Or wading through broad lakes with sandalled feet And scent of all the south winds in her hair, Caresses with ambrosial arms and sweet The glowing waters laving limbs so fair; Or that dark woods will thrill to sad, far note Of wakened Thrush or straying Owl of white, In seasons when the Indian Pipe’s white throat Is dimly seen amid the forest light; I often wonder if when I am dead I’ll know the flowers are waving overhead. [page 72]
Life, O life, thou hast immortal beauty, Reaching from birth to death and far beyond To halcyon realms of earth’s eternity Which man knows not till the last day has dawned. Silence of fields where verdant grasses sway, Bent in the wind laden with scent of rose, Or where the young-eyed Spring will swiftly stray, Kissing the vernal buds which soon unclose; O loveliness of Dawn and Night who sweeps O’er the hills, her mantle drenched in the dews Of Acheron, dewing the bloom which sleeps; You are the soul which Earth shall never lose. Year after year snows clothe the gelid earth But Love ne’er fails to rouse anew life’s birth. [page 73]
We who are left must wait the years’ slow healing, Seeing the things they loved, the life they lost— The clouds that out the east come, huge, concealing The angry sunset, burnished, tempest-tossed. How will we bear earth’s beauty, visions, wonder, Knowing they loved them in the self-same way— Th’ exulting lightning followed by deep thunder, Th’ exhilaration of each dawning day? Banners of northern lights for them loom greener, Waving as waves the sea-weed’s streamered head; Where bent the swaying wheat, the sun-burned gleaner Will find in their remembrance flowers of red. Oh, life must be immortal for their sake: Oh, earth will rest them gently till they wake. [page 74]
TO THE MEMORY OF RUPERT BROOKE
He loved to live his life with laughing lips, And ever with gold sunlight on his eyes, To dream on flowered uplands as they rise, O’er which the Moon like burnished metal slips; To hear the gypsy song in sails of ships, And wander o’er the waves ’neath azure skies, Seeing the splendour of tired day which dies And into lone oblivion slowly dips. But suddenly his country clashed in arms, And Peace was crushed and trampled like pale bloom Beneath the careless feet of man and beast,— The world was turmoil, stirred from west to east, And song and gladness had no longer room, For drum and bugle called with loud alarms. [page 75]
How well I know that in the months to be Pale Proserpine will blow the buds to fire, And frost-bound hills will don their new attire; Along the lanes the poet’s eye will see A dash of blue where swift the bluebirds flee, And all the world will rouse at Love’s desire, And Winter at her bidding will retire, But all this beauty will be lost to me. Sweet April and the red-lipped, dream-eyed May Will wander through the meadows with the breeze, But how can Love and Beauty bear the day When death and sorrow reign across the seas? Sad thoughts will still my heart to old delights, And blind mine eyes to former beauteous sights. [page 76]
Slowly the Sun rose like a ball of flame Above the hills, hid in a mist of dream, And from the rows of round, white tents there came The murmur of men’s voices through the gleam Of Dawn, and then across the morning air Swept the shrill bugle’s warning, waking sound, Drowning the dreams of men with clarion blare, And ushering them again into Life’s round Of preparation for great Freedom’s cause For which their hearts and strength are steeled and strong; All eager to uphold down-trodden laws, E’er rising to their tasks with laugh and song, And willing if the need should ever be To give their lives, their all for liberty. [page 77]
How still the quiet fields this autumn day, The piled-up sheaves no more retain their gold, And ploughman drive their horses o’er the mould, While up into the hills and far away The white road winds to where the sun’s last ray Mantles the heavens in a scarlet fold Of glorious colour, of radiance untold, And then the twilight turns the red to grey. How still the quiet fields this autumn eve; And yet we know that here, in other lands, Red war still causes mothers’ hearts to grieve And lives are spent as countless as the sands. O God, we ask that Thou wilt put to flight The shadows of this quiet autumn night. [page 78]
In France the fields are brown with new-turned earth, The trees stand bare and gaunt before the breeze, Which blows across the country mad with mirth With wailings through the silhouetted trees. The long roads reach across the furrowed ground And silence holds the land within her spell; The creaking carts of peasants homeward bound Jolt towards Vendôme’s ringing vesper bell. A Poilu in his coat once splendid blue, Trudges to his home, returned on leave, And all seems peace and quiet; O how few Would think within this land that many grieve. O France, thy strength lies not in boast or show But silence is thy grandeur, sure and slow. [page 79]
WHEN PEACE HAS COME
When peace has come, and I return from France, I know the places that I’ll long to see: Those hunch-backed hills so full of old romance, Where first frail beauty’s visions dawned for me, And April comes, swift, dancing like a girl, With golden tresses flowing in the breeze, And where swart, autumn leaves disport and whirl, In maudlin dance beneath the naked trees. And I shall see the cottage on the hill, With all the loveliness of summer days, Whose memories to me are haunted still By love’s sweet voice, the witchery of her ways. And I shall climb the path and ope the gate, When peace has come, if peace comes not too late. [page 80]
Here in the shadows of our cloistered walk, Where all out life is narrowed to a square, We prisoners sit; we sleep or read or talk, Dreaming of halcyon summers spent elsewhere. The towering trees strive upward to the sky In semblance of our spirits’ liberty, Which lives on recollections ne’er to die, Although the earthly body be not free. And sometimes through the vaulted, cloudless blue There dives with thundering engine, swift as light, An albatross, all painted, yellow, new, Volplaning housetops, vanishing in flight. Thus do we pass our close-sequestered life, Hoping the hopes of freedom, following strife. [page 81]
NIGHT AT HOLZMINDEN
The drummer sounds the summons to our room, The light-encircled spiel-platz soon lies bare And desolate, except where buildings loom, Limning their shadows on the vacant square. A gramophone grinds out a raucous song, And boisterous laughs resound along the halls; Now comes the muffling silence, slowly throng The multitude of stars where darkness falls. Inside the room stentorian breathings sound, Or preparations made for nightly rest; Without the windows silence sleeps profound; Now comes the moon above the far hill’s crest. Asleep the buildings seem in pallid light; Adream, we prisoners pass the peaceful night. [page 82]
I could not sleep last night for wondrous, pale, The waning moon rose through a maze of blue, Out of a void beyond our human hail, And all the sleepless hours I longed for you. For vibrant through the mystery of the night, Swift surging from the past departed years, There swept the consciousness of lost delight The loneliness and longing nothing clears. Soft distant sounds of night revived the past, For sleep denied the oblivion of her veil, Bestowing thoughts of you, until the last Lone star was dimmed, until the East grew pale. I could not sleep last night and with the morn Returned the dull routine that must be borne. [page 83]
I saw you standing midst the golden-rod That filled the fields with swaying dew-lit ore, And marvellous was the message that you bore Standing alone amid the flowers of God. For Beauty dawned for me as at the nod Of old magician learned in ancient lore, And ever after Beauty more and more Kept calling from the boundless spaces broad. And sometimes when the path of life loomed steep Or bitterness seemed doomed to fill the day This memory came as turn the tides that creep Back to the solitude of shore and bay; And sorrow fled as the renascent sweep Of recollection glorified the day. [page 84]
THE SNAKE FENCE
Fast disappearing emblem of old days When man first trod the frontier wilderness Sowing the seed which later grew to dress The axe-cleared land, with miles of sunlit maize. Along haphazard windings, zig-zag ways, In April bluebirds flew all azure plumed, Beside the lowest logs the Blood-root bloomed Unconscious of the brilliant noontide blaze. But now the logs lie rotting in the grass Or feed the fires of chill October eves; Of former landscapes progress only leaves A vestige which eventually will pass. Thus gradually the old-time glamour fades And fading, dies, as wind through forest glades. [page 85]
THE LAKE EVENING
The lake lies calm and beautiful at eve, The hills arise and cover up the sun; Along the shores the shadows slowly wreathe Obscuring distant islands one by one; Four crows, their homeward journey lazily make, Winging where pines stand sentinel on high; Wraith of the hills the new moon scans the lake And a star drops down the deep abyss of sky. My love and I beneath the darting light Of dancing constellations drift and dream, And all of wonders of the August night So stir imagination we do seem To know the Master-mind that making, fills With everlasting Beauty all the hills. [page 86]
WHEN YOU ARE OLD
(After the French of Pierre de Ronsard.)
When you are old and comes the evening time Spinning by candle light, the fire before, Marvelling, you’ll say, droning low my rhyme, Once Ronsard sand the loveliness I wore: Your only auditor a sleepy girl Drowsy from work and huddled, half asleep, At my name’s sound she’ll never stir, uncurl: Chanting thy praises immortally and deep. Nothing but dust I’ll be beneath earth’s breast, Myrtles will shadow the place of my rest; An old crone crouched at the hearth you will then Regret my love and your too high disdain; Take heed, be wise, the years are on the wane, Life’s roses will not bloom for you agen. [page 87]
THE city shrills a symphony in steel. Aladdin lamps drip golden light and shower Dim faery palaces and magi towers; Great Broadway with its million lights that reel Glows golden in perpetual pageantry; The stars are dimmed and scarcely seen from earth And men who walk these streets heed not the mirth Shaking the spheres who laugh sardonically. Beneath these towers has flourished high romance; Deep tragedy that waits a poet’s pen Stalks through the streets and the grim tenements. “O’Henry” knew them both; his pregnant glance Saw all, probed deep the very hearts of men And touched life with a starry wonderment. [page 88]
WHITE TRILLIUM TIME
It’s Trillium time, white Trillium time, They dance the woodland floor, It’s Trillium time, white Trillium time, And summer’s at the door. The Trilliums come a nomad band, With gypsy tents they dot the land; Or sometimes joining hand in hand, Dance the stately saraband. O, light, light is their foot-fall, O, white, white, each gypsy shawl, O, low, low, faint voices call, Murmuring through the waterfall: “Come and join our gypsy folk, Drop the harrow and drop the yoke, See how the blossomed plum-trees’ smoke Covers the clearing with a cloak. Now’s no time to tarry, delay, Come, for the world is white with may, Dance with a heart that is light and gay; Dance for summer is on her way. Children, come to the open air; Leave the city and leave all care. Come out, come out, the earth is fair, [page 89] The world is his to him who’ll dare, Life has little enough of song; Come out, come out and swell the throng, Come out and foot it with the strong, The joys of youth to youth belong.” O low, low, faint voices call, Murmuring through the water-fall; “Come and join our gypsy folk; Drop the harrow and drop the yoke, See how the blossomed plum-trees’ smoke Covers the clearing with a cloak.” It’s Trillium time, white Trillium time, They dance the woodland floor, It’s Trillium time, white Trillium time, And summer’s now before. [page 90]
PRESS COMMENTS ON MR. BOURINOT’S
VERSES FOR CHILDREN
“These verses . . . . place him definitely among the writers of children’s verse, a field in which he assumes leadership in Canada.”—Halifax Herald.
“This is pre-eminently a book to be kept in mind throughout the coming year when birthdays are due. It will provide entertainment on rainy days and prove its value at the bedtime story hour.”—World Wide.
“In Pattering Feet he has shown he has that most divine gift, the understanding of children.”—Times-Journal, Fort William.
“Mr. Bourinot writes from the grown-up’s and the child’s point of view and, on the whole, writes charmingly of both characters. . . . He is never guilty, too, of sacrificing simplicity and action to sentiment alien to the child’s mind.”—London, Eng., Times (Literary Supplement).
“Among the books written about children which they enjoy and books for children which they more than enjoy may be classed a little Canadian Volume of Verse, Pattering Feet. This is a little volume that librarians can recommend to mothers in answer the question what books to read to children, with the assurance that satisfaction will be the result. There is a reminiscent touch of Riley, or Milne, and of Eugene Field in these poems and withal a definite flavour of Canadian Literature.”— Libraries, Chicago.
“Pattering Feet comes tripping along from Canada and has childhood penetration. The poems are quite simple, and the reader sees and feels with a little Canadian child whose pleasures and wonderings are natural and unspoilt.”—Mary Graham Bonner, in The Literary Digest, International Book Review. [unnumbered page]
“The combination of simplicity of material with complication of form is most agreeable to children, and Pattering Feet is recommended to parents who like children’s verse which a child, after a few preliminary readings, can operate.”—Fred C. Nelson, in Hartford, Conn., Times.
“Mr. Bourinot’s name is the latest to be added to the list of writers of children’s verse. It is a charming collection.”—Ontario Library Review.
“In Pattering Feet, the author of Lyrics from the Hills has broken new ground and for the most part, returns from his venture with something worth while… The contents of the book will appeal to children, and especially Canadian children, for the subjects are in a number of instances familiar only to them.”—The Citizen, Ottawa, Ont.
“Here the author of Laurentian Lyrics reveals himself as a student and lover of child lore, which he has turned most merrily to rhyme.”—The Evening Telegram, Toronto, Ont.
“A charming book of Childhood Verses, by Arthur S. Bourinot, whose Laurentian Lyrics and Lyrics from the Hills are well known. His reputation will certainly not suffer by the examples in this book.”—The Province, Vancouver, B.C.
“They are the sort of childhood rhymes that will be understood and appreciated by children.”—The Herald, Calgary, Alta. [unnumbered page]