Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
15th Aug 2013Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0
The Piper of Dreams

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The Piper of Dreams
Noël H Wilcox

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Piper of Dreams


Dartmouth Lakes


The Little Rivers




The Awakening


Echo Mountain




Woodland Lullaby






The Trail


Fisherman’s Luck


The Medway


The Squirrel’s Daisy




The Fish Weir


Avonian Hills


The Swamp


To an Aster


Rainbow Gold


The Three Elms


The Apple Harvest




Kempt Shore




Peggy’s Cove


Castle Wait and See


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Pipe to me, piper of beautiful dreams,
Pensive you sit by the bole of a tree,
Light and delightful your melody seems;
Piper, my piper, pipe blithely to me!

Charm to my vision blue nymphs from the rivers
Momently hovering, mistlike and frail;
Call all the loveliness nature delivers,
Shyly, my piper, her beauties unveil!

Open my lips with the sweetness of earth—
Open my ears to the songs of the air—
I, too, would sing of the land of my birth,
Lend me a reed and its secrets declare!

Pipe to me, piper of beautiful dreams.
Pensive you sit by the bole of a tree,
Light and delightful your melody seems;
Piper, my piper, pipe blithely to me! [page 5]



Across this drifted mantle on the lake
   The crunching snowshoes print their stencilled track
   With swinging stride, where dinghys used to tack,
Swift paddles dip, and curling wavelets break.
Only the fairy zephyrs seem awake
   To romp around the islands’ sleeping trees,
   For where they touch them in their revelries
The air is starred with many a glittering flake.

More beauty can no other season show
   Or moonlit magic, than winter, when her sway
      Holds firm the locks and stills the forest stream
      That fain would murmur in a wintry dream,
   And summer glades, the haunts of holiday,
Are wrapped in silvery silence deep as snow. [page 6]



The little rivers safely flow
Beneath their coverlet of snow,
   From hidden chime of icy bells
   The muffled music faintly wells
And tinkles from the rills below.
Content are they, for well they know
The rains that drenched gay autumn’s glow
   Have fed the streams in all the dells,
         The little rivers.

Happy they murmur as they go
Their wintry lilt, a glad rondeau
   Inspired by hope, which now foretells
Blithe spring’s return, whose magic spells
Will free them all, they love her so,
         The little rivers. [page 7]



Drenched with showers, dappled with clouds, elusive,
Dawns the springtime, bursting with buds and sunshine
Over every meadow and hill and woodland,
               Always capricious.

Feed from iron bondage of northern silence,
Strewn with sodden remnants of autumn’s grandeur,
Down their courses, murmuring pebbly music,
               Sparkle the brooklets.

Back to loved lands, valiantly building new homes,
Feathered folk, now mated and hopeful, pour out
Limpid notes, enrapturing all who listen,
               Breathing forth beauty.

Here among the mosses and bracken nestling,
Frail and fragrant mayflowers lift their faces,
Now no longer veiled with the hood of winter,
               Wistful and winsome.

Man, too, taught the mystery that enfolds life,
Wakening it to meaningful love and beauty,
Knows the heart of spiritual purpose living,
               Ceaselessly throbbing. [page 8]



There sighs a wind that blows the world awake
And breaks the grip of winter’s icy thrall;
It waves a wand o’er garden, stream and lake,
And breathes to restless birds a welcome call.
Then bulbs begin to stir in thawing beds;
From dayless chill so glad to find day warm,
The snowdrops lift their brave and dainty heads
And give a friendly nod to every storm;
Then crocuses, their shell-like petals preen,
And then the scillas—clear, cerulean blue;
Soon thoughtful pansies peer amid the green
Of lupin leaves held out to catch the dew;
And colour every tulip chalice fills
When golden trumpets grace the daffodils. [page 9]



               Athwart our lake
Long shadows, light as a caress are sweeping.
The hermit thrush is sleeping.
   A frowning hill whose granite crags now make
   A deep reflection, seems to dare me break
The solitude. My challenge call is heard:
At once returns: and then the echoing word
   Reverberates to whip the hills awake.

               It echoes on
From ridge to ridge and sets the forest ringing,
But far and fainter winging,
   Until so far no ear is sure it hears
   The voiceless voice is hushed in distant spheres
               And then is gone. [page 10]



I listen alone beside a lake
That’s full of stars which quietly take
Their light from heaven, where drifted deep
They glimmer above the woodland sleep.
Afar there sounds a sleepy note,
Blown from the nest of the sweet white-throat,
That sings just once in feathered dream
Beyond some shadowy wildwood stream
That dances down the crystal stairs.
A breathless breeze brings piny airs
Upgathered in a forest dale,
And leaves them here beside the trail.
With measured pulse the silence beats
His muffled drum, while quiet entreats
From star and tree, from heart and sod—
“Be still and know that I am God!” [page 11]



Sleep, little breeze, lie down and sleep,
For you danced with the waves all day,
Your soft melodies entranced the trees,
But the woods are now quiet and grey.
Sleep, sleep, where ferns are deep;
The vesper bells of the thrush chime,
Sleep, little breeze, sleep.

Rest, little breeze, the day goes west
And the leaves no longer desire to leap;
The tired wings rest in the cosy nest
And flowers are nodding themselves to sleep.
Rest, rest, the birds know best,
And the fragrant forest lulls to rest.
Rest, little breeze, rest. [page 12]



I have found a fairy palace
   Where fairies surely dwell,
But an arching dome of azure
   Seems to hide them well.

I am sure some elves have built it
   With silks from Samarcand,
Starred with golden dust of Ophir
   Washed from magic sand.

For they made the stairs of amber,
   The walls of summer sky,
Cut gems from every rainbow
   For the canopy.

With swords they still protect it,
   Lest unenchanted see
Where happy little fairies
   Dwell in secrecy. [page 13]



They skim the skies all day—
My lovely, leaping swallows.
On lithe and daring wings
They luff and dart; away
Beyond far grassy hollows
And back they swerve
As swift as sight,
But make the pure air purer
For their flight—
My faithful, friendly swallows. [page 14]



Guide me through a rugged trail
   Where woods-birds are moving,
Where I find some flowers frail
   And the moose go roving,
Show their tracks on leaves still damp
   O’er wet mosses striding,
Take me to a friendly camp
   In the forest hiding. [page 15]



The clouds bend low to wrap the hills about
With fleecy folds. Straight falls my lissom line
Toward the run-in of a little brook	
That surely cherishes some wily trout
Which glide somewhere beneath, but now decline
The taunting dare to touch my hopeful hook.

Can this be fishing when no avid fish
Would seem to want the fly I think he ought
To want? Yet I persist and cast again
And yet again, until my jaded wish
Be charged with secret tumult, and far thought
Surprised will leap to meet the sudden strain. [page 16]



I sat beside the Medway,
   And heard the Medway flow,
Its tinkling trebles playing
   Like pan-pipes soft and low;
And the river seemed to linger
   Where the lordly maples grow.

To the far sound of an anthem
   The lithesome ripple calls,
While golden shallows glitter
   Below the foam-flecked falls;
And the grilse hide in the shadows
   Beneath high silvan walls.

I watched the sunlit river
   With many a curve and cove
Glide grandly by the shadows
   That fall from woods and grove;
And a perfect web of beauty
   Their lights and shades inwove. [page 17]



There’s a little red squirrel—
   A quick, jumpy one—
That sits under his tail
   And frisks in the sun.
I went with my daddy
   For a walk in the wood,
And there my red squirrel
   Sat still as he could,
Hunched on a stump.
   And what do you think
The mischief was doing?
   As quick as a wink
He was biting off pieces
   From a dried-up spruce cone
Which he grabbed in his hands
   And gnawed to the bone.
First he said “she loves me!”
   Then “she loves me not!”
He must have meant someone—
   I wonder what he thought!
For when he had finished
   He looked mad at me,
Swore worse than anything
   And ran up a tree. [page 18]



I got a cent for the cold toad
   That I put in the garden;
I found him hopping on the road;
   He seems to like our garden,
And hides beneaf a shady leaf
   And doesn’t want to hop,
But when some fly or bug comes by
   He makes his tongue go—plop—
And eats the fly. So that is why
   My daddy likes cold toads.

I fink I’ll find a hundred toads
   And then I’ll get a dollar,
‘Cause I’m not scared of catching warts,
   But sister starts to holler
Every time I pick up mine,
   But when she sees my dollar
She’ll wish she liked cold toads. [page 19]



Away to the weir I go today
   At the ebb of the tide,
Where I often got a bass or shad
   When I tried.

For a sudden impulse urges me—
   A whim I’ll not resist,
To hear the mutter of gulls again
   Through the mist:

And feel the mud on my naked feet
   Refreshing once more,
While plodding steps to the weir progress
   From the shore:

To smell the tang of the salty flats
   On the floor of the sea:
And glean some dulse from the dripping brush

When teasing winds from the meadowlands
   Pursue the flying scud
Far away to the hills of Cobequid
   Till the flood.

And when from the weir the tide recedes,
   I hope to fulfill a wish,
And capture glittering on the sands
   A silvery fish. [page 20]



I’m lonely for my hills again—
The hills that lift from Avon plain,
Blue forests which climb up so high,
They silhouette against the sky—
The hills that guard wide meadowlands
That hold securely in their hands
The love-built homes and fruitful farms
Embraced by Avon’s sunbrown arms.

I’m lonely for my hills again—
Or sunny hills or sweet with rain,
Dear hills that had I but the art
I’d paint forever in my heart
With sunset colours, heather blue
And pearly clouds that bid adieu,
But leave their love in all the rills
To sing sweet music to my hills.

I’m lonely for my hills again,
Where every trail’s a lovers’ lane
From Fall Brook’s hemlock-limbed ravine
To Dumpling Mountain, and between,
The heights where Blomidon will show
Beyond the river’s ebb and flow.
Dear hills childhood mystery,
Avonian Hills are still to me. [page 21]



Here is a place where wine-veined pitcherplants
   Hide cups of water all the summer days,
And rose pogonias trembling peer askance
   Lest he who finds their native home betrays.
It is a garden, called in a scorn a swamp,
   And hated still by men who team and drive;
Yet here come roving moose to wade and romp,
   And here shy nature’s rarest flowers thrive.

When cricket fifing fills the August air
And flocking birds upon ripe berries fare,
   A nearby tarn mirrors bright goldenrod
And azure asters line the little stream,
All this haphazard beauty seems a dream
   Of loveliness—the handiwork of God. [page 22]



Within my study’s cosy little world
A light falls on your petals wreathed and curled,
Serene, yet deftly poised like feathery wings
Awaiting motion for their flutterings.
Fair flower, with wonder have I watched you lead
To this perfection from a tiny seed
That scarce would seem to hold within its shell
The promise of September’s asphodel.

But when, as now, you lift your tousled head
And toss these tints of azure touched with red,
You seem to me so friendly and so fair
That other blossoms, winsome, too, and rare,
Must envy you this beauty, charm and grace,
Yet love the haunting sweetness of your face. [page 23]



Golden, glittering through the cloud
Bursts the sun from his thunder shroud,

Flooding the rain-sweet afternoon
With glowing gold, by magic rune;

Then golden fruit immediately
Bends the bough of an apple tree;

Grain is nodding from stooks of gold
In fields that run to the ferny wold

Where golden sheep on a green-gold hill
Are cropping the glistening grass at will,

And the golden note of a pastoral bell
Tinkles an angelus far in the dell;

But the sparkling smile of a child we befriend
Is the gold that is found at the rainbow’s end. [page 24]



The blue forsakes the hills and darkness falls
   Around your home, but steadfast you abide
   And lisp your leafy whispering denied
To those who never love heeds not. It calls
To mind past years—a song of happy halls
   And chapel bells, of cricket fields and mirth,
   Of men and books and love and autumn earth.
And daunts the fate that felled our ancient walls.

Old Elms, sing softly in my longing ear:
   Your paean tells of strange vicissitude
      Since first you marked the travellers’ resting place:
To you the tramp of student feet was dear
   Who now fret restlessly in solitude,
      And guard the thoughts which time will not efface. [page 25]



The racy air brings apple-time again.
   Long since the beauty cast o’er vale and dune
   By fairy blossoms, myriad in June
Has bid adieu; for then on greening grain
That broke the soil there fell a dainty rain
   Of shell-like petals, fluttering down the breeze;
   Maturing time now fruits the gracious trees
With this rich benison their boughs sustain.

While Autumn paints with matchless artifice
   October hills, far seen through orchard lanes,
      And barrels waiting by each grassy road
      Receive their gift—a fragrant, ruddy load,
   The year is crowned—the apple harvest reigns
In vales of Avon and Annapolis. [page 26]



Old hulks whose splendid day is done,
   Here they are leaning on a beach,
Forlorn, bereft of shroud and spar,
With hollow holds where echoes are,
   And giant bones now left to bleach.

And then I see them sail away
   The pride of Avon’s famous fleet,
Aloft all set for sovereign seas,
A canvas cloud from truck to trees,
   With sheet and tackle taut and neat.

They clear for cargoes in the East,
   Their royals are sighted down the West,
They glide by tropic everglades,
   The typhoon’s blackened storm they breast,
While holding to the steady trades
   They rip the sea-leagues in their quest.

For years our forests built such ships
   And hearths gave men to man them
   Whose hardihood and stratagem
In ship or barque or barquentine
Was famed wherever they have been
From Singapore to Argentine.

The ships are hulks, gone are the men
   Who roved undaunted on the mains,
But never shall their fame recede
While we, the sons, a sailor breed
   Can feel the salt within our veins. [page 27]



The tide ebbs slowly from a friendly beach,
And hour by hour brown flats show more and more,
And yet, the change from surf that strives to reach
High-water mark and curls along the shore
Which pearly birds sheer past, to mucky clay
And rocky reefs, that form the sea’s vast floor
Is beautiful; for now across the bay
The noble bluffs of Blomidon assume
A hue as if rare amethysts which lay
Prisoned in stone, have broken forth to loom
With purple light on misty craggs and dells;
And rosy petals of a sunset bloom
Are flung to tint each cloud where beauty dwells
And flutter over reefs and flats and fells. [page 28]



Beautiful Cape, tameless as Fundy’s tide
   That romps around your shores, tell me
   The secret of your charm, the mystery
Those azure ramparts always seem to hide.

When yet a child I loved to lie all day
   Watching pale wisps of summer cloud asleep
   Upon high forests, wake from dreams and leap
Sheer off the cliff into a sunbright bay.

Then from warm meadows, sweet with ripening hay,
   I used to gaze toward that rugged steep
   Until you taunted me to sail the deep
I knew rolled on beyond and far away.

And now when far and foreign ports I’ve won,
   And past strange capes and headlands I am blown,
   My longing thoughts wing homeward to my own
Still standing blue beneath the crimson sun.

And when this voyage port to port is run
   I mean to sail around the craggs whose stone
   Will melt into a scene I’ve ever known,
To be, from happy fields, my Blomidon. [page 29]



There is a road that leads me to the sea,
A beckoning road that calls insistently
From hill to hill and on until
It shows the way to a demure bay
Where dories bide and the tired tide
Has an interlude of quietude.
It climbs a path where terraces between
Outcropping stone make little lawns of green,
And many a cosy cottage knows the men
Who fill the drying flakes with fish; and then
There rolls toward me long, moving miles of sea
From the rim of the world to these rocks hurled..

No longer do I hear dull, hollow thunder
Coming as if from caverns buried under
The ground thudding in my wondering ear;
For now, through salt-edged air, I see the sheer,
Steep, rising walls of water, crumple and crash
In baffled surf upon the roaring rocks.
And that tall ship—a dream of canvas and oak—
How very soon the sea with his wild will
Could break her beauty into driftwood smoke,
When blind fogs sweep the deep
And every crevice of this granite bastion
Is drenched with bitter brine. [page 30]



Out of a silent, silvery cloud,
   Where nothing but love can be,
Through air that none can buy or bind,
   There comes in a dream to me
The whim to go on a journey slow
   To a castle called Wait and See.

A woodsy world with summer is filled,
   On, on my pathway guides,
While sweet winds leap from leaf to leaf
   And crisp the brook that glides
From sunny pool to shady pool
   As it wends its way to the tides.

A poet’s rhymes are spun from dreams,
   And happy his thoughts may be
As he trudges along the brightening road
   Of lyric minstrelsy;
But who can foretell of the future well,
   Or the castle called Wait and See? [page 31]

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