Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
17th Dec 2013Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0
Thoughts in Verse

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Thoughts in Verse


With a Preface by
of Trinity University, Toronto

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Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one thousand nine hundred and six, by J. CASTELL HOPKINS, at the Department of Agriculture. [unnumbered page]

My Mother
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   THIS little volume needs no commendation from an outsider. It will speak for itself to those who have ears to hear and hearts to feel. It will answer to the first demand of poetry by giving pleasure; but, beyond this, it will prove a true interpreter of nature and of human experience. We shall not regret the moments spent in its perusal.

Xmas, 1905. [unnumbered page]

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[page viii]

Thoughts in Verse


O ANGEL of Sleep, with the fair white wings,
          Come to me now;
Tenderly loosen the tired heart-strings,
          Breathe on my brow.

Lift up, I pray you, the burden of care,
          Just for one night;
Speed the long hours with pain that they bear
On to the light.

‘Neath thy kind dream-wings I fain would repose,
          There to find rest,
While gladly and softly my eyelids now close,
          By thy lips pressed.

Out to the peace of the bygone days
          My soul shall flee,
Lightly treading the mystic ways
          That used to be. [page 9]


OH! Love is the dream of a summer’s night,
That fades not away at the morning’s light,
But lingers and lives in the darkest hours,
And scatters abroad its fadeless flowers
On Life’s tossed sea.

Oh! Love is the emblem of youth and age,
But it has its own great war to wage
Against the demons of doubt and despair,
And the bended bows of sorrow and care
          That still must be.

The wars are bitter, the wars are long,
And often is heard the wild death-song
Of a vanquished hope, as it flees away
Into the dusk of the endless day
Of “Might-Have-Been.”

But the joy that lives in a love-lit soul
Is itself a part of which heaven is whole,
And life seems fairer, the path more bright,
While stars of grace, once far from sight,
Are clearly seen. [page 10]


LIKE some great shield of purest, glittering gold
   Held up against the western sunset sky,
   To catch the roseate beauty ere it passes by,
Loath to let the sun-jewels leave its eager hold,
It throws the withering roses to the dead day, icy cold,—
   So glory is: men seize the shield and die
   With one triumphant smile and one deep sigh,
Killed by the radiance of God’s wealth untold.
     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
And lying dead, with stiffened hands and chill
   Clasping the shield they died for to their breast,
The golden beauty lingering on them still,
   They give the glory for eternal rest:
And knowing ‘tis another’s higher will,
   They take Death’s hand, and smiling deem it best. [page 11]


‘TIS  a night of dreams, and my weary eyes
   Watch each frail form of the Spirit Land
   Pass through the gloom, a mystic band:
And one is born as another dies;
While the night is full of their phantom cries
   As the hour-glass frees each grain of sand;
And one by one their white arms rise
In grave salute to my soul’s command.

I scan them all for my own fond dream,
Till I see her face and the dark eyes gleam.
   Lo! sudden my heart breaks into song,
   For she has come to my waiting long,
And fairer than day the night doth seem. [page 12]


MOONLIGHT over the sea! oh, the infinite peace and the calm,
The wash of the murmuring flow that gives to the heart-weary balm.
The silvery path of the moon and the grace of a drifting sail,
A night such as this full of peace; and surely my heart shall not fail.

The dip of the sea-bird’s wing as it speeds on its unknown way
From the gates of the rosy East to the verge of the dying day;
On, on, in its eager haste, with neither rest nor sleeping,
Still on, when over the water the moonlight comes softly creeping;
And then in the midst of the shadows the bird has settled to rest
On a rock that in solitary grandeur is facing the darkening West. [page 13]

And so when Life’s journey is over, at last! at last!
May it be when the daytime has faded, and the sunset hour has passed,
And only the peace of the moonlight is shedding its glory afar;
While on high, gazing tenderly earthward, is ever the evening star.
And just as to-night, a bird shall flit o’er the silvery way,
A moment outlined and then lost in the midst of the shadowy grey. [page 14]


THERE is an hour when shades of night
   Steal over earth and sea,
Not yet to bring the hour of rest,
   But fraught with memory;
For with the whisper from the hills
   You come once more, dear heart;
All time slips back, and stealthily
The chains of thraldom part.
Then am I free to clasp again
   The form I loved of old,
The smile-wreathed lips are freed from pain,
   The sunlight gleams with gold. [page 15]


PEACE to thy slumbers! the Queen of the Night
Wafts thee a dream from her infinite height!

The breath of the midnight is still on thy brow,
And away on the wings of a dream-bird art thou.

Away and away, through measureless space,
I track thee anon by the smile on thy face;

While ever and ever the voice of the sea
Flows through thy dreamland a glad memory. [page 16]


O’ER the lovely realms of daylight
   Comes the night all robed in shadow,
Stealing softly through the twilight,
Over field and over meadow.

One by one the stars are peeping
   In the vast blue dome above,
And the great pale moon is rising
To its nightly work of love.

Softly shining on the river,
   Making it a trail of light,
As it wends through marsh and woodland
Or adown some rocky height.

And a whisper, sweet and holy
   Spreads throughout the balmy air,
As though Nature, tired and weary,
Chants aloud her evening prayer. [page 17]


UNFALTERING, I place my hand
   Within the clasp of thine,
The future that we two have planned,
   I make more truly mine;
And softly falls each golden sand
From out the glass of Time.

If there are tear-drops in my eyes,
   No pain is in my heart,
The past has gone, and joys arise
To bid the night depart.
And swiftly each moment flies
A love-dream to impart.

All that I ask throughout the years
   Is that our love may last,
Then can we easier cope with fears
   That pain and sorrow cast,
And sooner dry misfortune’s tears,
   If but our love is fast. [page 18]

And if in the gloom of sorrow’s night,
   I turn for help to thee,
Strong be thy hand to hold the light,
   Enabling me to see;
For in the doing of the right
   True happiness shall be.

And if, perchance, thy feet shall stray
   Into the shade of ill,
Quick be my hand to point the way,
   And steadfast my good-will
To lead thee back. And thus we may
   The power of light instill.

Through light and shade, through joy and pain,
   Let us together move;
Sharing alike earth’s loss and gain,
   Love’s loyalty we prove;
Trust in each other, and attain
The fullest joy of love. [page 19]


TELL me, O Night, for my soul has said
   That wisdom dwells with thee;
Tell me if ever that soul be dead
In the vast Eternity.

Tell me if ever the sealed door
   Is opened to those of earth,
Who, tasting knowledge, crave for more
   That grows from the inner birth.

Tell me if e’er the repentant cry
   From a sinner in his pain
Is heard by the God beyond the sky,
Or if it is all in vain.

Tell me if ever a pitying ear
   Is moved by the earth-bound woe;
Tell me this, and my trust draws near
While Heaven has bent so low.

Tell me if what is beyond our thought
   Is nearing us every day,
And then, perchance, the haven sought
   Will appear an open way; [page 20]

And the timid life and the wavering soul
   Shall much the stronger be,
For the doors apart reveal the goal,
   And earth-born eyes may see.

Tell me these things, O thou silent Night.
   With the myriad star-lit eyes,
Tell me, for I shall discern the right
   If thou wilt make me wise.

Whisper it ever so low to my heart,
   And straightway I shall hear;
Push just for once the truth-gates apart
That the Light of Faith may appear. [page 21]


ALONE ‘mid the shadows of evening I ponder,
   While out of the starlight a dreamland I weave,
To people with fancies that ever grow fonder,
   And somehow my heart has forgotten to grieve.

Closer they press, the sweet dreams of my childhood,
   Crude as they are, yet so beautiful still,
Gently I gather, then, flowers of my wildwood,
   Bend them and twist to my indolent will.

Over the skies which of late have been stormy,
   Fair moonbeams are creeping, and in the soft light
The scenes I so loved are passing before me,
A brief hour of triumph that lives in the night.

Out of the sea waves dim voices are speaking,
   Lost to the world, yet alive to my heart,
From the deep shadows in vain are they seeking
A past that has played forever its part.

When all-impatient, I fain would be rending
   The veil that obscures and yet darkens my sight,
One whom I loved from the dreamland is bending,
And points me the way that I know to be right. [page 22]


THE withered leaves of red and brown
          Fall from the trees,
Softly, sadly fluttering down,
Stirred by the breeze.

Tenderly moved by the zephyr’s breath
          As it goes by,
Mourning to see their early death,
          It breathes a sigh.

Yet still they cling with dying touch
          To the old brown tree,
As loath to leave what they love so much;
Sad to be free.

And soon the outstretched arms of brown
          Will be quite bare,
Till Winter comes with snowy crown,
And lingers there.

Then Autumn with her store of gold
          Must flee away, [page 23]
And dead leaves rustling in her fold
          Hear and obey.

Oh! loath to let the russet leaves
          So sadly die,
I fain would keep the golden sheaves,
          Nor question, Why? [page 24]


THO’ far away, I shall be near
          To thee in thought,
And treasure still the memory dear
          Thy love has wrought.

What tho’ the skies are bright above?
          The clouds will rise,
And mar the dreamy day of love,
          Which gone, we prize.

I give thee at this last fond hour
          In which we part,
The best of gifts within my power,
A loving heart. [page 25]


EARTH’S mysteries around us lie,
The puzzling where, the whence, the why;
They crowd the world, they block the way
That leads us onward to the day
In mystic revelry.

The skies above are deep and dark,
And mortals bear the bitter mark
That ages gone belonged to Cain,
The symbol of eternal pain,
Unending misery.

Lift up the clouds, oh, Arm of Light!
Reject the wrong, renew the right,
That long ago was given to man
Before the reign of sin began,
     And truth was free. [page 26]


OH! eyes so wildly staring back from yon glass to-night,
Is this the prayer you carry to a soul bereft of light?

“Break from the bonds of sorrow—speed to the Great Unknown;
What matters now the verdict to a heart so long alone?

“For the light of love has faded, the world is bleak and dark,
And a heart’s last hope lies strangled where sin has set its mark.”

Oh! heart so strongly pleading for the rest that will not come,
Thy longing is the greater that the broken chords are dumb.

And the breath of by-gone gladness can stir them nevermore.
“Oh, enter then the closèd, withal the unlatched door. [page 27]

“What! shrinking from the shadow of the drooping wings of sin?
‘Tis folly to be vanquished by the thoughts of ‘might have been.’

“Choose, then—the bitter present with its heavy bond of woe—
Or the sleep of a phantom future that thy soul may never know;

“Sleep that is still and dreamless, as the unlit midnight sky,
With naught to wake thy slumber: It is so hard to die?

“Choose, then—the lifted dream-cup is close to thy trembling lips,
See, from thy shaking body the chain of thraldom slips!

“Quick, for the time of choosing is already on the wane;
Why hesitate, oh, mortal, ‘twixt the freedom and the pain?”

“Tempt me not, oh, tempter,” “The coward’s words are these:
Still hesitant? Thou hast but thy erring self to please.” [page 28]

“I choose at last, not freedom, through forbidden, unlatched door;
So plead no longer, tempter, I will not hear these more.

“I choose the present rather, e’entho’ fraught with misery,
For only death unsought can set the captive free.

“Plead then no more, for strengthened I lift again my cross,
And even in the stooping I know ‘tis not my loss;

“For the heavens are gently lighting the upward-leading road,
While the bonds of pain are loosened from the soul’s o’er-heavy load.” [page 29]


SILENT and sad the Old Year lay, with the snow upon his hair,
And the brow of the passing monarch was furrowed with lines of care:

His eyes were dim with a sorrow born of the days gone by,
And the pallid lips were open to breathe a passing sigh.

In his right hand lay the blessings that had lived in his own short life,
And the other grasped the sorrows born of his sin and strife.

From his right there came a radiance that lit the deepening gloom,
But the left was hid in darkness that told of an endless tomb. [page 30]

He lingered till the New-born Year came on the wings of day,
And stole with his rosy footsteps to where the Old Year lay,

To seal with lips of carmine the faded, sightless eyes,
Then up from the cold, grey death-bed a new-born king to rise. [page 31]


TREMBLING, I lift the Future’s veil,
     And watch her eyes,
Cold, dark, mysterious, as the dale
Ere morning’s rise.

No token on her still white face
     Of life or love;
No lifted finger can I trace,
Pointing above.

Is there no promise of a better life,
     Love everywhere?
With not a sign of hate or strife,
     Nor hint of care?

Tell me, O dumb and mystic fate,
     May we yet stay
With those we love, beyond the gate
     That bars the way?

Or is the Afterward all dark?
The path all lone. [page 32]
With none to help, and naught to mark
     Save one white stone?

No word comes to my earnest prayer,
     No “yea” or “nay”
And blind I wander here and there
     Nor know my way. [page 33]


A SOUL stood trembling at the Border Gate
That leads beyond, where Good and Evil wait;
And he was troubled, for the passing life
Knew less of Good than bitterness and strife.
Then wearied, pained, the wandering spirit fell
Before the gate which leads to heaven or hell;
When lo! upon the dimmed and fading eyes
A sudden darkness fell; he struggled to arise,
But great and gloomy wings beat on the fearful soul,
And looking up in terror he watched the fiend’s eyes roll.
He felt the eager grasp, and heard a wild voice say:
“Mine, mine, and only mine forever and for aye.”
The lips of the pilgrim faltered, “Then tell me who art thou?”
And the fiend’s voice made answer, “Methought I saw ye bow
To the dusky form of Evil and kiss her lavish hand:
Perchance thou hast forgotten the heedless merry band?”
The soul was grave and silent; but in aching pain he thought
Of the resting-place he longed for, the prize that he had sought, [page 34]
And he prayed as he had never in the dead and by-gone days,
Till fainter grew the fiend’s voice, and dimmer was its gaze;
And out of the gloom and darkness a white-robed figure grew,
Which shone with a heavenly radiance and the pilgrim nearer drew.

As he stood in the golden glory the black robes turned to white,
And a star fell on his forehead as he passed from dusk to light. [page 35]


IF SORROW should come in her garment of ill,
And close to the border thy life-cup should fill,
          Dear heart, do not quail:
There’s One who is watching beyond the star-shine,
As immortal love is to human, divine,
          This love cannot fail.

Whatever thy pleasure, whatever thy woe
This love is steadfast, and ever is so
Through sunlight and shade.
If they whom you trusted have false been to you
The light of this love will pilot you through
The darkening glade.

Though friends may desert you, though clouds gather fast
Forever and ever this great love shall last
Both for you and for me.
Like unto the love of a parent for a child,
Only a thousand times greater, more pure, undefiled,
          This love is for thee. [page 36]


Written on the tragic death of a young man, who blew his brains out while gazing in a mirror.

O HEART! the wild plea that you treasure to-night
   Is fraught with a frantic despair,
And the lips fail to utter what, far from the right
   Your feverish throbbing will dare.

What is the prayer that the eyes carry out
   To the eyes that gaze back from the glass?
‘Tis plainly read, but a lingering doubt
Is barring the thoughts as they pass.

Oh, plead then no more with a world-weary heart
   That earth’s sorrows have broken in twain;
The chords all lie mute, for wrench them apart,
   How can they vibrate again? [page 37]


FEEBLY I strive to pierce the clinging mist
     That envelops me;
Bound as I am and fettered, hand and wrist,
     So long I to be free.

Loudly I cry to the great and dim Unseen
     With pain-drawn breath,
Through all the years no harvest can I glean
Save promises of Death.

They say that Faith will lead us to our goal;
     The blind point out the way
In which is lost so many a wandering soul
     How can this be, oh, say?

Thus must I question till the earth-bonds break
     At touch of finite hands,
And questioning still my faltering way I make
Amid the silent bands.

Yet in the faces that have naught of speech
     The fervent answer lies,
That all through life was far beyond my reach
     Now am I doubly wise? [page 38]

There is a God; no question should there be;
     A God of life and love;
Oh! argue not, blind as thou art, yet see
The God of all, above.

So would I think, but a questioning thought
     Is clamoring still—
Would He allow earth’s misery wrought
     And countenance such ill?

If he were just, or kind, or good,
     How could this be?
Answer: I cannot if I would;
     My eyes refuse to see.

Yet better that I am so blind,
     If, having sight,
The unseen way I fail to find
In striving after light.

So let it be: no longer now
     The darkness palls;
Obediently my head I bow
Within life’s thralls. [page 39]


THE years roll on; alike in weal and woe,
   Freighted with burdens of much unanswered prayer,
   And souls that perish with earth’s weight of care;
All shall go forth,—blessed and unblessed they go,
As some vast river in its sweeping tidal flow
   That rushes madly on, it knows not whence or where,
   Nor in its seething hurry reckons if it bear
Those of the mighty—or the quite as mighty low.

So will it be until the ages past
   Loom in the shadows of dim Eternity:
Then shall the evil from the good be cast,
   The right and unright from the “yet to be,”
The bands be loosened from the great amassed,
   And the captive and the wanderer both go free. [page 40]


THE gold of the sunset faded
   Into the paling West
As a voice came o’er the waters,
“Rest to the weary, rest!”

And the dusky shadows mingled
   With the light of a dying day,
O’er the blood-red lips of sunset
   There stole a pallor grey.

White wings in the mellow twilight
   Lay on the rising swell,
And the murmur spread and echoed
   Like the peal of some fairy bell.

Again and again it floated
   Far over the weary world,
“Rest to the many workers!
   The banner of day is furled.”

And my heart was full of gladness,
   I longed for the resting hour,
To lose myself in slumber
Beneath an unseen power. [page 41]


THE day’s a dream; and the silent dusky night
   Flies like a shadow across the short-lived gold,
Where sunset lay a little while agone,
Clasped in the arms of the dead day’s fold.

A moment gone—the snow-white wings of birds
   Flashed in the sunlight of the onward passing day;
‘Tis dead now—and the last faint rosy glow
Lingers a moment, then sadly drifts away.

Still nearer comes the swiftly-flying form,
Shading the beauty of a scarcely by-gone dream.
‘Tis dark now;—yet the first fair evening star
Shines in the West with pure and holy gleam. [page 42]


‘TIS resting-time; a welcome shade
   Creeps o’er the purple hills,
And softly touching weary hearts
   A sense of peace instills.

O tender heart! O loving hands!
   Be with me once again,
Just you and I together, love,
When day-time glories wane.

When the shadows fall around me,
   To have you by my side,
Oh, then, the past is nearer, dear,
   The gulf seems not so wide! [page 43]


FROM the shadows of the past, love,
   Once again thou com’st to me,
Waking all the songs of old, love,
   Touching chords of memory;
And my heart is full of longing
For the time when I’ll be free.

Closer yet I bid thee come, love.
   Place thy hand upon my heart,
Calm the pulse-beat’s quivering clamor,
   Echoes of thy love impart,
And again I shall be happy
When the shades of night depart. [page 44]


I KNOW not whence it came, this love of mine!
   Perchance from out some shadow of the past
Wherein its warmth once fed the light of thine
   With flame too eager and too bright to last.

For when the gloom that lay all thickly round
   Closed in—the love-light died away—
It folded us in darkness so profound
   We could not see the once-familiar way.

And so we strayed; and as my eyes were blind,
   I lost you on the border-land of “Doubt”;
What tho’ I knew some day that I should find
   The path again;—you would not point it out.

Another, and a stranger, came to me,
   And from the tireless working of his skill
The film has left my sight, so that I see
   The future fair;—the past lies cold and still. [page 45]


DEEP in the sea a memory lies
Asleep, asleep, with fast-closed eyes;
          It will not wake,
Save when the storm-waves lash the beach,
And circling birds with piercing screech
          Mad turmoil make.

Then—then it stirs from its silent sleep,
And its eyes gaze upward through the deep
          To mine above,
For this memory wakes when a storm is nigh
To strike in my heart—I know not why—
Lost chords of love.

And back and back through the roll of years,
I see a face that is marred with tears
          And once loved well;
The waves have smoothed the brow of pain.
Why the deep reproach should yet remain
          I cannot tell.

Through summer’s heat and winter’s blast,
As long as a storm on the sea doth last,
          That face I see; [page 46]
The eyes are blurred and the woe is there,
While the sea-weeds play with the flowing hair
Of a memory.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
They who once loved are far away,
Beyond the limits of the day,
          And I alone
Peer through the watches of the night
For the pale rays of morning light,
Till day has grown. [page 47]


ALL unknown, the future lying
   Lifts its languid eyes to me,
And the lips that slowly widen
   Speak again, dear love, of thee
Tho’ the past has fled forever,
   Yet our love shall ever be.

Far, oh, far away, thou’rt sleeping
   In a sport I do not know.
Yet my love, instead of dying,
   Ever seems in strength to grow;
And I know ‘tis not forgotten
That my love was ever so.

Strong, far stronger than my being,
   To the heart that beats for thee;
For the faith is not the lesser
   When the eyesight fails to see,
And beyond, thy spirit seeking
Speaks again of love to me. [page 48]


THE gull’s white wing and the water’s swing
   With the sobbing ebb and flow,
All speak of a day that has passed away
With its hours of joy and woe.

And the tears will rise to my longing eyes
   For the day that I loved so well;
The aching heart is so far apart
From the tale that the waters tell.

Oh! to sail away on the silvery grey
   Of a sea that I do not know,
Where the gull’s white wing and the water’s swing
   No longer speak of woe.

Where the dancing gleam of sunlit stream
   Means happiness to me,
And the sweet, low word of a song unheard
   That I only dreamt to be.

Rings from the rocks, and straightway knocks
   At the heart that opens wide. [page 49]
And the golden light breaks on my sight
For all time to abide.

And the old, old sea has long ceased to be,
   With its murmuring of pain,
For I stand once more where in dreams before
   I lived, and I love again. [page 50]


OH! frail little life, on my heart at rest,
Thou of all treasures art ever the best
And the dearest of all.
The exquisite joy that has risen in thee,
The love that is stronger than life is in me,
          Awake at thy call.

Oh! dream on, my little one, watch I shall keep
Naught shall disturb thine innocent sleep—
Dream, softly dream.
The shadows creep closer, the night hour is nigh,
The white-wingèd birds more lazily fly
Athwart the gleam.

And while thou art sleeping, I’ll build in the air
A castle that’s furnished with visions so fair,
          And all waiting for thee;
For queen thou art e’er of my heart and my thought,
And the swift-glowing dreams with love’s shuttle are wrought
From the dim “to be.” [page 51]

And the dreams that I dream are all golden and bright,
For I weave in the sunbeams, and cast out the night
With its shadowy pain.
I gather the sweetest of life’s fragrant flowers,
And festooned high on the dream-castle walls,
          They may wither in vain. [page 52]


SLEEP on, tired heart, the evening shades
   Are full of peace to thee;
Live in thy dream until it fades,
   For it must cease to be.

Yet while it lasts, the passing hours
   Are traced in threads of gold;
Live on amid the wondrous flowers,
Enriched a thousand fold.

The joys thy earth-life cannot give
   For this brief space are thine;
Sleep, then and in thy dream-life live,
Awhile thou need’st not pine.

     Sleep, for the ills of daytime
        Have drifted far away,
     Thy dreamland barque is moving
        To the sweetest, softest lay.

The hand of Sleep is on thy brow,
   And pain-lines quickly fade,
The lips smile from the heart-depths now,
   For life’s regret is stayed. [page 53]

Now all thy hopes seem truth at last,
   One well-loved waits for thee
With hand outheld to guide thee past
The dream-bars of the sea.

Sleep on until the shafts of day
   Pierce through the veil of sleep,
Rest till thy dreamland fades away
Into thy memory’s keep.

     Sleep, for the ills of daytime
        Have drifted far away,
     Thy dreamland barque is moving
        To the sweetest, softest lay. [page 54]

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