[5 blank pages]
[illustration: Burnham Beeches Forest, 27th April, 1908.]
A FOREST IDYLL
WM. KING BAKER
GASPEREAU, CUMBERLAND PARK,
|A Forest Idyll||3|
|Dora L. W.||40|
|To G. W.||67|
|To Dr. D. W. W. W.||73|
|The Falls of Lodore||78|
|An Oak Town||86|
|A Forest Queen||100|
|G. T. in the Forest||25|
|School on the hill||45|
|The Crescent Shore||51|
|The Harbour Gate||51|
|Shooting an Eagle||61|
|An Old Apple Tree||71|
|Dark defile of rock||79|
|Falls of Lodore||83|
|The Queen Beech||101|
A FOREST IDYLL
Deathless, imperishable Love, Effulgence of earth’s earliest time, Dispenser of God’s essence in the world, Great arbiter of our destiny, And mightiest power in human life, To-day thy presence filled the wood, Oft with the rhododendron crowned, Now sad with sense of mystery Where late last year the woodman died, Who often walked along this path Near where we passed this Sabbath Eve— The pathway by the lonely pine. [page 3] Last there we met at setting sun As lone beside the way he stood, And gently, as his custom, kindly said: “Good evening, Sir!” with whitening hair And beard about the eyes of gray That in the late advancing light Seemed blue, as in days of his youth. ‘Twas ever pleasant to my soul When he, too soon grown old, came near; And from the first day that we met,— When at my word he felled a tree, And on and off for years would come When other work had failed him, Join in our task to clear a forest plot,— I had a fellowship beyond paid toil And rendered labour; and had known That he too, long ago had known of thee, Deathless, imperishable Love. [page 4]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: THE WOODMAN]
O sanctity of Sabbath eve! Soft murmuring breezes over head, Like those that once inspired the soul Of young Bartholdy Mendelssohn, As prone he lay along the slope Hard by, across the deep ravine, And heard their going, mirth and moans Among the trees, then smiling said: “I think I could set this to music”. Ow we to this the deathless songs He breathed out on a restless world, Rustlings of comfort, soft and sweet, Cadences that catch each airy motion Of gentle breeze, sweet as Aeolian harp, Vibrating, quivering, thrills that rise and fall For ever with remembrance of sad undertones That make the heart love melancholy? I know not,—but full well I know I never pass along his walk [page 7] That runs above the valley road Named after our great Queen, Victoria, But grateful praises rise within, E’en tho’ no motion moves the lips, And stillness tells alone the tale Of stirrings, strivings, soothing sent Thro’ his immortal “songs without words." And this sweet sabbath eve, Deep in the stillness of the wood, Is strange in contrast to the strife Of world conflicting rumoured war. The very stone that marked the spot Of his sweet musings long ago Became, ‘tis said, a cause of strife! No place so sacred, but some tare Is quickly sown, e’en in good ground, When vacant found of heavenly seed: And so tonight the world is sown With armed battalions, khaki clad, And mighty warships’ blackened walls, Made ready for destruction, death, [page 8] And devastation’s murderous work. O God, how shall Thy church fulfil Thy message of goodwill to men And have her merchandize in these? Forgive us Lord, now shamed indeed That in our days such things should be: Where we have failed give victory To children rising in our stead; Make their great quest to find in Thee Full answer to the world’s great need: And if at times the life must flow Through hidden channels, like the stream Hard by, that leaves its sunlit course, Sweeps headlong ‘neath obstructing bank To reappear a mile below,— Let each obstruction swell the flood Of deep conviction’s chastened power, [page 9] And make them strong in Thee to stand, Die rather than to stain the hand In brother’s blood for whom Christ died. How mellow is the evening breeze That plays so softly midst the ferns, That border now the woodman’s path, Like that sad sabbath silence felt In French Arcadia long ago Along the land-locked Minas shore Midst tragedy of love and war. As backward near the pine we passed Deep was the hush upon our hearts, Yet, mingling with life’s lighter play, Came words that covered o’er sad thought: For thou, imperishable love, had touched Pale Annie till the colour rose And crimsoned over either cheek. [page 10] And there were fancies, fairy bowers Reminders of the glorious day Beyond the walls of Hurstmonceaux, Where, long ago, our darling girl Beneath the canopy of ferns, Through with the broken sunlight stole, Thought she had found the fairies’ home. Nay, farther back in thought we went To that sweet song of fairy land Once heard at dawn by the blue lake, Half dream, half waking song of birds, Foreshadowing all that came from thee, Deathless, imperishable love. She, fairest ever in this wood, Whose girlhood passed beyond the sea, Where sweet salt breezes o’er Grand Prè Still waft the fragrance and the fame Of brave and loyal Evangeline, Kept pace with me this Sabbath eve When we returned, who part way went [page 11] With friends and children as they sought To worship in the house of God: She stood beside me in the way And back there rushed the tale he told, To whom our thoughts for ever turn When walking past the lonesome pine: The woodman’s tale of long ago, And how thou camest unto him, Deathless, imperishable love! I know not if her eyes were blue, Or gray, or black, who long ago Looked into his love’s ageless light, Made him still hers when two score years Had o’er his life its sorrows traced, Made muscles twitch about his face With effort not to show past pain While telling how he loved this girl, And how she died when he was young, Left him alone; nor with another could he go. [page 12] How much the simple words revealed, An aching void in heart and soul, A chastened outlook on this life, A hopeless aspect o’er the world, Its light gone out, heaven’s dimly known, Shown most in kindness unto men, Aye, e’en to cats that ate his crumbs And ever lingered near his seat Upon a log when noontide came And he his lonely meal partook. He loved this ancient forest air, And oft in summer time would lay Beside the furze upon the moor, Or ‘neath the rhododendron’s shade,— His chosen place for life’s last sleep, And where they found him cold in death: Joined at the last to his heart’s choice, Thy humble, but true follower, Deathless, imperishable Love. [page 13] I know he was not praised by men: What’s that, if truth but live within? What’s blamed today, tomorrow’s praised, Tho’ praises may not change us then; And he had faults, aye, who has not? Great faults it may be, but who sinned The most—this soul where hope was dead— All earthly hope to lift his head And make him what a man should be,— Or they who daily passed him by, Nor strove with might to mend the man, With love inspire, till life’s short span Had given to him heart’s joy again? They did not know!—‘tis ever so, How foolish and unwise we are— And when we do, we let life go Filled to the brim and overflow With nameless nothings in our sin, While heaven’s great gift, a heart to love, Is starved and famished, withered, dead [page 14] To all sweet sacrifice within, And self and meanness reign instead. How swift to say, ‘’tis he, ‘tis she Is in the wrong!’ Ah, is it so? When deep within our soul we know ‘I’m in the wrong, to let this grow— This mean low thought of one God made!’ O God, forgive us, we are wrong, More wrong than words can tell to Thee, That we in blindness fail to see What Thou didst show,—aye we were wrong. We pride ourselves we love Thee so: What in ourselves might pass, in men Must not find place, nor utterance know, Lest in dishonour Thy great name! We love our earthly dearest best We say, when we must give them pain; It may be so, but gentle rain Oft melts, and words may wound the breast. [page 15] And we are human, yet the brute Given space within us strives for more; We hold ourselves in check at first, Then pride and passion overpower Till our old nature conquers all— Christ looks in pain at our base fall. What I have said, ‘tis true indeed, O God, I would it were not so: How often Thou hast had to seek The soul from this sin’s overthrow: But Thou hast shown a better plan, To live, to labour here midst men, As those new risen live again, Not in themselves, but let Christ reign In mortal body and in soul— Not held in part, but through the whole, To shape, to fashion in thy will;— Nay more, with utter gladness give Our dearest, deepest, and our all, [page 16] Not merely waiting for Thy call, But longing, since we want with Thee To walk, to be from sin set free,— To live e’en as the Christ Who gave Deathless, imperishable love. We may not label ill as good, And truth forbids death’s flattery, But we may well probe deep our soul If we to judgment much are prone. One sits on high, unerring, sure, Whom lower motives ne’er o’ercame, Whose judgment seeks all true and pure, Knows evil under every name, Sees when we have the single eye, When, in God’s poor, we pass Him by. But this old woodman, whither gone? We may not say, God only knows: He sinned, he sometimes begged for bread, He had not where to lay his head: [page 17] Who knew, tho’ knowledge seemed not much; Who strove, and fell, o’erborne by such To whom much given would not touch His need, or e’en cold water give. Yet at the last ‘tis good to know Two kindly hearts stretched kindly aid, When, with pale trembling lip he said: “I’m done,” two days before he died. They little knew how true the words Of this old toiler, slow indeed, So slow that few unto his need Would give employment for his bread: Who found them few who for him cared, And yet whose spirit e’er was kind— O God, I would he had been spared Such lonesome deathbed in this wood. He’s gone,—and yet there lives within This glorious forest where he toiled [page 18] A sense of resurrection’s song, The cleansing of atoning blood, Light that sometimes within him shone, From blue gray eye, through kindly tongue. O Saviour, was this not from Thee? For Thine he said he wished to be, Deathless, imperishable Love. We left the saddened wood behind, A glory touched its limbs with light As slanting shafts from setting sun Pierced through the evening’s gathering shade. And now we reached the forest plot First cleared two centuries ago: When tillage stopped “New Coppice” called, Because again it soon returned To forest land, grew thick with trees Of oak and beech, a century and a quarter old. Thus it remained till ten years past, [page 19] When, from the minister of war, A London Quaker bought the ground And once again a clearing made, Room for a woodman’s hut of logs. Here he, who oft on Marlow bells Rang old year out and New Year in, And out upon the mellow air Made melody in merry chimes, Built round the plot this barbèd fence: And when in London work was slack Gave eighteen campers happy toil, Made glad with songs at close of day, Helped rear the cabin of tree trunks, And cared for all until there came A Scottish woodman and his wife And took his place, who later passed To Canada across the sea,— He loved, he served, he honoured Thee, Who served so well within this wood, [page 20]
[illustration: The Cabin]
Swift to each call whene’er it came; Lord, ready too to do Thy will. And they who o’er the border came, And long had lived beside the Spey, From service and from city life Longed once again for country air, Found freedom in this forest plot, Learned here the parents’ grateful joy In sweet firstborn God-given girl, Babe Leonora, goodly, fair, And firstborn in this forest shade. But these, too, passed beyond the sea To ocean bound Dominions wide. And then there came one strangely planned To meet the varied needs of life, [page 23] Self taught, in countless things most miss, Thro’ sight more keen, more thoughtful mind; And here seven years of life he spent, Saw tree stumps rolled in serried rank Along the border of the wood And round the paddock by the gate, Rude fencing, used in newer lands: And thus the clearing came to be Again for corn or pasture grown, For flocks, and Flora, now months gone From fame of kindest mare e’er known. And he the truth exemplified How wide the range of things they know Who never in the schools were taught, When keen to see, compare, retain, Miss not life’s purpose in the main, When common sense controls their view, And they use well what thus they know: Experience gained, results reviewed, [page 24]
[illustration: G. T. in the Forest.]
Faith leading into untried paths, What’s known held fast, tenacious, true, They win their way, may overpass Those more advantaged in life’s race. And what his childhood lacked he sought To gain for his five girls and boy; I ne’er knew prouder father’s joy Than his in all his children gained. But why these humble annals tell? And how the dog, great Dane, lived here And loved the lady of this wood With dog devotion, ne’er excelled, Played “hide”, and sought her midst the trees, Watched for her coming at the gate, And none would follow with her near; And cats, which had but kindness known, Let play about him without fear, E’en though his deep bay shook the wood. [page 27] These are the humble tales of life Lived simply, as in earlier times, And tell of thee, O source of light, Deathless, imperishable Love. Yes, annals these of humble souls Who made no world commotion, good or ill, Nor grew to fame or greatness in men’s minds, Tho’ many such came here as well:— As Gray, who to this forest stole, Beneath the great beech finding rest, Where still it wreathes its roots on high Beside the outlet of the upper pool; Or brilliant Sheridan, of tragic fame, Who hither brought his stolen bride; Or Landseer, who with matchless brush Immortalized his canine friends; Historian Grote, famed for his ‘Greece,’ Who from its proceeds built the house [page 28] A mile beyond where then he dwelt, Upon the confines of this wood, And by him called his ‘History hut’; And his famed consort, author too Of chronicles about this land, Who strove to keep the common rights, And, when the great musician died, To Mendelssohn memorial raised And railed it round within the wood. And here came friend of his and hers, Famed Jenny Lind, the pure and good, Whose soul went out through wondrous voice, First found when singing to her cat; Tho’ destined to move crownèd heads, To bless her race with boundless joy, And her great talents multiply As she used all to serve mankind. And famous singers here have sought Refreshment when the springtime came, [page 29] And listened to the liquid notes At night of countless nightingales. They come within the clearing shade And on the forest’s southern slope Near Grenville Lodge, their favourite haunt, Outpour their notes when all is still In song that seems to fill the wood, Melodious, yet with mystic thrill, As if a new world it revealed. He who has listened to their song Should ne’er again be found untrue, Should bow with shame to utter wrong, Should see the stars of heaven look down Should feel the blanching of heaven’s blue Ere he thought ill toward fellow man, Dishonoured thee and heaven above, Deathless, imperishable Love. [page 30]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: Mr. Titus Jones and the broken Mendelssohn Memorial Stone.]
Out from these narrow borders look, Out on the larger world of men, Out through the gloom that o’er us hangs, Portentous, heavy clouds that bank With serried folds of dark o’er gray, Like massing armies rank on rank Doomed to their death ere close of day: A world in agonies of strife, Nations in bloody sweat of war, The deadly arms, the murderous guns, The great black ships, and floating mines,— Look down on these, may they be Thine, To cease for ever through Thy law, Deathless, imperishable Love. Last month in merrie England met The rich and gay from all the world, Proud luxury passed in selfish haste, Their dust clouds filled e’en country lanes, [page 33] St. Swithin’s rain scarce cleared the leaves Grown green again these sombre days; The river with gay launches flashed, Sport spread unchecked on every hand, Thy quiet Sabbaths spoiled of late, Heedless of every old command; Nor care for Thee, O God on high, Nor for the warnings Thou has planned: Have we dethroned Thee, Lord and King, Despised Thee, and our self ease sought? Hast Thou brought judgment swift and sure, When men thought there was nought to fear? And over Europe spread the bier To pile in heaps her massèd dead? O Father, for Thy dear Son’s sake, And of His grace, who for us died, That we in Thee should e’er abide, And all men for our brothers’ take, We pray Thee come with healing hand [page 34] And bid us all once more be whole; Take from us war’s foul, leprous touch That leaves its poison in the soul, Makes lands unclean, breathes pestilence, Prevents Christ’s reign beneficent. Old forest, wrapped in tender green, A wonder in mid August days, May there in thee new hope be seen, World promise for Christ’s sweeter ways: To send through all old failing creeds— That oft the Christ fresh crucified,— The sap, the blood of brotherhood, The kindling light of common good, Man meeting man in life’s great needs, As God meets man, he daily feeds With heaven’s satisfying bread. Then shall the woodman’s life be sweet, The toiler’s lot full of content, The artist’s mind at east to paint, [page 35] The poet’s soul no longer pent, The singer free to pour her song, The trees to teach their Mendelssohn, And music claim our God her own. Strong men of England in your might, And men of Bucks, again be strong, Rise in your holy honest right To claim of God that you belong To no poor craven-hearted stock, Swayed hither thither at man’s word, But hose of old who roused the land— And all things dare for Christ the Lord: So live and love, so toil and strive, In power of God for truth and right, A kingdom and a world may know Christ’s better way, Christ’s nobler plan, Nor longer wage war’s wicked wrong. And in His might, who on a cross The victory won for all this world, [page 36] Make Britain great before you die,— Nay, her dominions over sea; Then if thou diest, or dost live, Men praise or shall dishonour thee, God shall in thee his promise prove, And angels sing in heaven above Deathless, imperishable Love. O pale, pale sun, anaemic, bled, By dark eclipse of yesterday, Ashamed today that earth should see War’s carnage, heaping dead on dead, I look unblanched on thy white face, Gone all the crimson and the blood, The draping white mists give no grace, They make thee sickly, pale as death. [page 37] O God, if victory in this war Be swiftly given, or thro’ defeat Thou givest soul clearness in our land To see Thy will, bow at Thy feet, Even sacrificial nation be, That we may rise in heaven’s power Purged from our sin, in Thee made strong, Stretch helping hands across the sea, To nations glad deliverance bring, To think, to act for God alone, Two thousand years of wrong atone, Show there should, there must, there shall be, O Lord of Peace, Thy better way. Breathe softly spirit of the night, Shine out ye stars and sailing moon, Light, through the trees, that dimly shone, And flood all earth with heaven’s light. [page 38] Send down the spirit of Thy peace, Thy gift the world cannot bestow, Take Thou each heart tonight in woe For loved ones gone, and let all know Thy throne is set in heaven on high, Thy Kingdom reigneth over all, Thou hearest each prayer, each sob, each sigh, Thy heart has pity for us all: For Thou art Christ, the gift of God, Deathless, imperishable Love. [page 39]
In the month of perfection we saw her June’s fairest full rose of the year, And the house she had plan ned Glenn had built her— Had built for sweet Dora Lazier. Over head the pale crescent moon sailing Like a cradle seemed swinging on high, And the stars from their eyelids were peeping Through her casement out of the sky. They saw the young wife, while her lover Swung the nest of the bridling to be, And told how she planned for its coming— Her baby—she was not to see! But never a voice in the twilight Gave warning or whisper of fear, And our hearts were all beating in gladness With our sweet fairest Dora Lazier. [page 40]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: Dora.]
The song birds had never sung sweeter To welcome a stranger to earth, Nature’s plans had ne’er been completer To bless a dear child at its birth. And over the tent in the garden, And over the cottage so fair We looked,—and we praised Thee our Father In the sweet hallowed hour of prayer.
* * * * *
O God, with what wings of the morning Came Death’s messenger out of the blue! We scarcely seem yet to have seen him, Our hearts cannot deem it all true That our Dora has been taken from us— That our sad hearts must be reconciled To hold the fond memories she left us, And the sweet baby boy—Dora’s child.
* * * * *
We have heard the pine trees that once murmured Over Dora at school on the hill, We have seen the blue Lake that once taught her That smile, which stays with us still,— We have passed by the home of her childhood— We have stood by the graves of the three:— All Thou gavest, O Lord, to her parents, Whose stricken hearts still lean on Thee. They have given first fruits early gathered, Much precious first fruit of the year, Highly prized up in Heaven,—dear Father Tell father and mother Lazier.
* * * * *
And now the deep stillness has fallen, We have laid all of earth to its rest— And her love, which twined so around us, Seems drawing us, Lord, to thy breast. [page 44]
[illustration: School on the Hill.]
[illustration: Home of her Childhood.]
May we all who tonight are grief stricken, And all who stood round her today Hear Thy call—by our Dora—dear Father, And gladly Thy sweet will obey.
* * * * *
And often she still will come to us Whenever the pale crescent moon Over head swings again her low cradle, The birds sing, the Lake smiles at noon. And oft when the pines softly murmur And the sound stills our sorrow and pain, We shall know thou hast been near us, Dora, And see thy sweet smile once again, And Glenn,—‘twas His finger that beckoned— The same Hand once stricken for thee, And the soul-calmness sent in the night time Was His message, by Dora, to thee. [page 47] Need Thou hadst of our Dora in Heaven, Back again we can not call her here, But, O God, spare the child of our Dora, Spare the life of her sweet babe, “Lazier”. And be with us still when we mourn her, And be with him chiefly bereft, And be with her parents, O Father, And be with the child Thou hast left. And be with the grandmother, sailing Swiftly homeward over the sea, And when our life-voyage is over Take us all safely home unto Thee. 22nd. July 1911. [page 48]
God in Thy Majesty Lord in Thy might Father of earth and sea Dwelling in light All life has come from Thee,— Lives in Thy sight. Break on the crescent Shore Ceaseless the waves, In creeps the rising tide, Mocks at the blaze Of the great drift wood fire, Burning like an Indian pyre. [page 49] In creeps the rising tide Round the long pier, Behind on the farther side Home from afar, Vessels at moorings ride, Care not what storms betide. Out in the darkening night, Like a lone star, Shines out the Island light Over Fundy, afar, And as her bosom heaves A long line of crystal weaves. Nearer the motor boats Flash to and fro,— Gleaming they pass from sight, Swiftly come, swiftly go Into mysterious night,— Lord God, is it so [page 50]
[illustration: The Crescent Shore.]
[illustration: The Harbour Gate.]
That this our life goes out On shores of Time? That fond hearts questioning, As I do mine, Why life which Thou didst make Thou didst so swiftly take? May we Thy meaning read In that blue star, Which o’er the hill declines To shine other where,— Fulfilling plan of Thine That it should ever shine? Up o’er the deep ravine Sails the pale moon Veiling her face in cloud, Mourning one soon Called to death’s passage make, Swiftly as these white billows break. [page 53] Now round the fire they curl, While, wreathed on high, It is changed to cloud of light Ere it, too, die,— And from mist pass into air, As souls made white transfigured are. Friendship of a single day Made me sharer of thy grief; At thy father’s call away Can a heart’s prayer bring relief? At his post, life’s duty done,— Earth completed, heaven begun. Sweet Kathleen, thy “Daddy’s girl,” Give him back to God Who gave, Let God loudly through him call This land he loved, and ocean wave Bear the word the wide world through, That God would have us all stand true. [page 54] Shines soft light upon the stream, Flooding through the harbour gate Where two hours ago I walked, And the moonbeams seem to wait Like angel sentinels of night, To bear him word, on left and right. Kathleen, dying ‘tis we live In the fulness of God’s day; Great it is so much to give,— Truly from our hearts to say, ‘Father, let Thy will be done, E’en the calling father home.’ God be near Thy child to-night Whom Thou has so soon bereft, Hold her hand, lead her aright, Let her comfort mother left Alone to seek the Eternal shore Where love’s light shines for evermore. [page 55] Go forth, Kathleen, bind hearts that break, Give solace, tho’ thy own may bleed, Heaven’s balm to others for Christ’s sake, Seek straying, hungry lambs to feed: God speaks thro’ Kathleen’s dark blue eyes, As Christ spake thro’ five maidens wise. Let the full power of Jesus’ love, Like this full tide of Fundy Bay, Pass thro’ thy heart, and lead above Young lives which else might wandering stray; And life shall seem no awful dream, But Christ’s own way souls to redeem. And new life, full, o’erflowing, glad, With Heaven’s hope and joy and peace, Shall thro’ thee change life, lonely, sad, Bring comfort, make its troubles cease, And Heaven’s kingdom here begin As Jesus reigns supreme within. [page 56] Thy ways are perfect, God of love, Our weeping eyes but dimly see, Forgive our grief, within us move, That what we should we each may be, As Thou didst pain the glowing west Show us Thy perfect ways are best. Halls Harbour, Nova Scotia, 15th, August, 1913. [page 57]
Southward to their mountain rest, Keelah now has come, Returning with a wounded heart, Seeking out a home Where the eye on every hand Looks on what her lover planned. Into deepening shades of night Steals the evening haze, Plumèd chimneys smoke in sight,— O, sweet halcyon days When above this valley wide He here rested at her side! Long ago, ere she had known him, Boyhood’s memories flooding back Bring the ample Quaker homestead And his old horse pistol’s crack,— Bring again youth’s glad surprise, Fun’s light flashing in his eyes. [page 58] Now they tell of his loved mother, Calm and restful, sweet Aunt Jane,— Of his father, saintly uncle, Helping on his boys again, Of the gentle mild persuasion Grace of God had given him. Then in vision all is changing, And, excitement mounting high, We are watching the bald eagle Soaring in the sunlit sky, While aloft the full fledged nestlings Outstretched spread their strengthening wings. O, that throbbing thrilling moment When one shot and wounded fell! How the pride of youthful prowess Hastened to their grandsire tell, Who never lost his certain aim E’en when old age upon him came. [page 59] Then at dawn of day returning Those boy hunters tried to gain Another eagle from the eyrie, Where a tall pine crowned the plain, And from tree top shooting now An eagle fell, far down below. Fiercely fought this king of eagles Those “King” cousins as he lay On his back, with claws attacking Till a gun stock won the day; Then their prey they proudly bore, Laid him their grandsire before. And his blue eyes brightly kindling, Showed the change within him wrought Who with bantering words had uttered, ‘That boys could no longer shoot’: And the grandsire’s proud eye gleams,— Alas, how long ago it seems! [page 60]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: Boy in a tree top, shooting a golden eagle in Canada.]
Then my cousin grew to manhood, Found you, Keelah, his sweet bride: Far and wide in many countries You were ever at his side, Till at last this mountain nest Gave you glad and welcome rest. On this rock he sat beside you, Held your own within his hand, Heard the distant farm fowls cackle, Fled the city, loved this land,— And, as strong arm turned the sod, This seemed a paradise of God. Here he built this cosy dwelling, All you chose he gladly wrought, Shaped and planned, pulled down, rebuilded, Happy toil and blessed thought,— Union sweet, mysterious, wondrous, Gift of God your lives to bless. [page 63] Great the love which God had given you, Each for other, fondly one, Ere, your boy denied, God gave you ‘Kody’ from another home,— And you took him from His hand, Blessed Him for this joy He planned. Not as storm wind rends a mountain Trees uprooting from their hold Came life’s desolation, Keelah, When your sorrow was foretold; But like calm majestic silence When God speaks to call us hence And you watched his slow translation, Crushed your anguish and love’s pain, Cheered and soothed, upheld, supported, Planned the meeting him again Where no death or sickness enters And God wipes away all tears. [page 64] Now we mourn him not as vanished But from sight a little while, Feel the impress of his spirit, Rest beneath his happy smile, Know the gladness God has given Our beloved, in his Heaven. He was near us in our homeland This last summer when you spoke Of those sad sweet hours of parting, And the gentle accents broke Perfume from the heart’s deep casket, Fragrance that still lingers yet. He will live again in Kody, Kindling light of sunny smile, Lifting thoughts to God above him, Teaching at your knee, erstwhile, Truth to love, to hate all evil,— Till Kody manhood’s life fulfil. [page 65] You have come back to the ‘Eyrie’ High upon the mountain side Midst the rocks and oak trees nestling Where that Texan valley wide Past spur mountain stretches southward Into deep blue distance poured. Hark! A mocking bird is singing Clear sweet notes o’er tree top tall To his lover, songs outflinging, Busy Texan robins call,— And the God of Heaven is near thee, Who beholds each sparrow fall. Cousin Keelah, Let Him shelter You within what wondrous care, Feel His touch upon your forehead, Who once praised a woman’s hair, Your heart’s treasures for Him pour For the Christ is at your door. 15th March, 1914. [page 66]
JOHN KING, R.N.
TO G. W.
Under the lonesome tall pine trees, Near the high-banked river, Where it sweeping westward winds, Sleeps my great grandfather,— ‘Renommeés’ master, ‘Falcon’s’, ‘Kite’s,’ With convoys at Trafalgar, Wounded serving in the fights For supreme sea power. Serving country as required By old time tradition; Ere love’s dawning, truth inspired, Taught Christ’s mightier mission; Ere the baleful spirit passed Making honour martial, While the widowed and oppressed Paid life tribute awful! Sleeping grandsire rise again! Look along this valley, See its fair white fields of grain, Hear the millions tally [page 67] Of its orchard fruit sea borne Far to Covent Garden;— Grandsire, could you, would you turn Men their hearts to harden? From their tillage to sea fight, From home joy and laughter, From Christ’s rule of love and right To strife and human slaughter? By the blood that stirred within You fiery old sea captain, By my own, I know such sin You would no longer sanction. Let the long gray Quaker line, One hundred years o’er reaching, Since you gave your daughter’s hand To my grandsire;—teaching By his stalwart fearless frame, By his keen eye searching, That a follower of Penn Has might and power o’er matching [page 68] All the force of arms and war, All the broadside’s thunder, All the bloody charge that far Leaves red ruin after,— Let that Quaker lineage tell To our heart the answer, That, uprising where you fell, You would have us ponder. Brave old captain, strong in strife, Strange the badge you cherished,— The ball that wounding saved your life<ahref=#9> When Nelson nobly perished! By the ‘freedom’ given you In St. John’s fair city, By your daughter, whom all knew Christ’s minister of pity, I can answer at your grave, Where the pines still murmur, You would fight now but to save From war’s “hellish” murder. [page 69] Can you, do you speak again In those who followed after? Grandsire and grandmother, lain Where other pines waft over ‘Neath deep shadowed Waterloo, Near obsolete Fort Henry, And in lives which from theirs grew— In those named in your memory? How e’er this be, my grandsire King, Can wait for Heaven’s revealing; But empty as the vaults that ring Through echoing archèd ceiling Beneath the spot where once you dwelt On Phinney’s terraced mountain Will be the war ship hulks unbuilt For bursting shell or cannon, When youth and maiden live in truth The faith Christ puts within them— Live out His Kingdom here on earth, And help Him claim His realm. [page 70]
[illustration: Site of Captain King’s residence, and one of the first Apple Trees planted in Nova Scotia.]
[illustration: ‘The High-banked River.’]
TO DR. W. W. W.
So keep your ball my grandsire King, Let it lie buried with you, No more let rifle’s deadly aim Be made to shoot men through. But nobler, truer, higher thought Inspire all men and nations, Like his, so lately hither brought, Who lived great inspirations And to the young men of his land Gave from a heart o’er flowing Wise counsel and an outstretched hand, Grace of Christ’s own bestowing, And bound in bonds of brotherhood Wide sections of his city Until they all together stood, Drawn by a love so mighty, That labour for the future good Of young men of their country Made each give all they could afford Both from their want and plenty. [page 73] More brave and pure, more noble life, More true to highest duty, More Christlike than the battle strife And lust of war and booty, Was his who fills that new made grave High o’er the winding river, Who gave his life young men to save For home and God for ever. So bid him welcome grandsire mine, He lies so near beside you God’s peace in Heaven’s holy clime Shall make you brothers true. And as your victories you recount, Sea fight and wounded thigh, Fierce satan conflicts nobly fought With strength sent from on high, Send back to earth, still sore distraught, Heaven’s blessing of Christ’s peace, Breathe calm of soul till men are brought To will that wars shall cease. [page 74]
Girton your fame and renown have transcended The noble ideals your founders first saw: Truth’s mighty strength your life all embracing, Honour and right your inviolate law. In your halls fair young women, foreseen and foreshadowed By poet and propher the long ages through— A dream of their minds, a vision, a mirage, That flitted forever before their keen view At last stands before them, incarnate, resplendent, Free and whole hearted in freshness of faith, Sharing all toils and all tests of their brothers, Scaling all heights on high learning’s path. In your courts the world’s womanhood, Oversea’s sending Their fairest young flowers, like sweet incense brought To infragrance life, to give inspiration, Lift high learning’s light, live out heaven’s thought, [page 75] Like a north star, near the first seat of learning, To dare all endeavour, to win world renown, Never back from the path of high progress turning, Like a broad stream of life, like the ‘Cam’ thro’ your town. Girton girls have gone forth from these sea-girded islands, Wholesome and sweet as the favour of God, Winning for woman a world’s recognition, Opening fresh paths which her feet never trod.
Three years I have marked in your midst the unfolding Of those now the nation’s glory and pride, Who through the long ages while sons sought your learning Were not then permitted to share at their side. God forgive the great error, your life now revealing, And fill halting hearts with the healing of truth; Lift the last of the barriers, men’s minds infilling With the same noble thought toward maiden and youth. [page 76]
Daughters of Empire in high thought onleading,— Not in base strife or wicked war song,— In your great quest to save manhood, bleeding Through self-centered ills, and from your great wrong, Teach sweeter thought, by truth’s power prevailing, Call saddened sisters to rise, and inspire All earth with nobleness, till every hour Reveals life lit through you with heavenly fire. Thine be it for ever, O our loving Father, Be it ever Thine, O Lord of heaven’s grace, To guide and uphold, in Thy favour to prosper, With Thy Holy Spirit to hallow this place. [page 77]
HOW WE SAW THE FALLS OF LODORE
Shafts of sunshine, light of heaven Through the dark defile of rock Gleamed and glanced, fitful and broken, Like a coy young maiden’s smile, Winning, wayward, conquering, yielding, Human source of heart’s delight, Like this stream, turned into torrent, Loath to leave its unlit sky. Hark! its water gurgling, rushing, Headlong plunging, leaping, dashing! Then at each new level resting Ere it leaps again, and downward, Breaks in countless crystals falling! It has come from heights above us, Made those mists that veil the sunshine Like the tears that dim youth’s dayspring, Seen a moment ere they vanish. Now it gathers greater volume, Meets the mighty boulders, standing In its pathway, or protruding Where the rock sides sheer uprising [page 78]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: ‘The dark defile of Rock’]
Make the mind stand still in wonder, As they make these pause in rushing, Twist, and turn, and tumble onward, Till they reach the calm lake’s bosom.
* * * * *
‘Tis our life, O God, our Father, Given from Thy glorious heavens, Flowing softly in the homestreams, By the father’s hand provided, By the mother’s care attended. Soft and green the banks about us, Ere we leave their tender teaching, Hear their words, but all their meaning Scarcely yet have comprehended. Then the trees seem bending o’er us, As we leave the sheltered doorway, Brightly as the world allurements Bend before and beckon to us. Yes, great perils in our pathway We shall find, like trees down fallen On the bare rocks blanched and broken— Like life wrecks,— a warning to us. [page 81] Life has deep and darksome shadows, But God’s hand will guide us through them, Give them glory, like the mosses That now clothe these naked boulders. And our progress will grow brighter, As these waters, green and tawny, Grow through grey and gold to crystal, Then reflect the blue of heaven.
* * * * *
May these hallowed days at Keswick, Long remembered days of blessing, Make all life more full and gladsome With the glory God has shown us: Glory of majestic mountains! Glory of the Lake’s calm bosom, Glory of soft summer breezes, Glory of the sweeping rain cloud: Greater glory of Thy presence In Thy saints, whose lives have witnessed To Thy gift of holy living, Christ of God, made human for us. [page 82]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: The Falls of Lodore.]
Glory of God given hunger For the blessed Bread of heaven: Thirst for God, the living water Life of Christ, Rock for us riven. And Thy glory, Lord, in union, Soul communion sweet and sacred, Gift of piercèd hands extended, In breathed by Thy Holy Spirit. In all coming days of conflict Tossed, tumultuous, like Lodore, Midst life’s toil, temptation, terror, Lead where thy still waters are. [page 85]
AN OAK TOWN
Fair Acton, fruit of acorn growth Set on thy hill to guard the west Of mightiest city earth has known,— Thou famed in pre-historic past, Where paleolithic tools were made One hundred thousand years ago And buried deep within thy soil; Where hunters sought for weapons keen, Cave dwellers, men of river drift, To slay the bison, mammoth, bear, The elk and great extinct red deer; Thou who hast often foremost been In causes moving to great ends, Awakened to the world’s great need, Amidst indifference, slumber, sloth, Faint-heartedness that will not dare, [page 86] With faith to do God’s will alone Nor doubt, nor wait till others come, Nor lay upon some foe unknown The blame for what it might have done,— Thou on whose roll of noble men Stand written souls like Matthew Hale And saintly Baxter in thy past— Thou shouldst not now be found to quail Nor wait to follow who has led. Thou playeds’t of old thy part in war When Trinobantes set the spear Against the conquering Roman host; And when old Brentford held the ground, All pike embattled at the ford, Behind them uprose Acton Hill And hill men strong, as hill men bold; [page 87] Where later, when from Worcester fight, His “crowning mercy” as he said, All London met the conquerer And with train bands great welcome gave Before he passed to Hampton Court; Thou who of old to daring Dane, When he had made thy forests his, Didst for war galleys timber give, Staunch beams and knees for wooden walls And strongest ships upon the seas— Yea, e’en till thou hadst yielded all Thy mighty forests of oak trees, Once hunting ground of the wild boar, Thy springing floods became but streams, And fields thy glades of fleet wild deer; Thou too, who freely gavest men Of Saxon mould when these became The overcomers of the Dane, [page 88] And, as the centuries passed along, Helped man the ships which from thee sprang And sent thy sons to share each war, To thee now comes the higher call For which a war-sick world makes moan: To help the Christ reclaim His own, Lost as the centuries passed along, And, through His power, world peace regain. The world has seen the war clouds break Thunderous and murderous from the sky, World madness and the rivalry War preparations swiftly brought; And futile all the thought which said:— ‘To have peace, be prepared for war’: As well seek brotherhood from hate, The outraged bride to be a mate, The world’s warmth from remotest star, Or Satan Satan extirpate! [page 89] O Christ, Thou callest now again To ancient Acton truth to hold, A mightier force than might of men, Than pride of arms, or power of gold. Thou canst not bless the broken pledge, The outraged treaty flung aside, The ruthless wrong, the bitter tide Of hate and madness, fierce war song That strives to stifle in the soul All human feeling, fills with lust And pride and passion, base as dust, Leaves waste and ruin far and wide, Destroys the babe with rifle butt, Puts women in its battle front And crowns its deeds with impious cant! Nor canst Thou bless that in us wrong: The war we waged, the awful waste, Once trampling on a little state, Thrice driven from their settled lands,— Wrong, haply, by us soon undone;— [page 90] Yet which made nations in such haste To swiftly arm, build ships, and fly, With all life’s nobler aims put by, Press for material force and power. Nor can Thou bless a drunken land, Soul sodden in its senseless thirst; Nor selfish greed, nor tainted wealth, Nor soul forgetting worldly life That knowns no heaven here on earth; Base, though refinement gilds it o’er, Ignoble, though puffed up with pride, Luxurious, yet from all denied That makes soul sweetness dwell within, And where to mankind’s higher claims, And claims of God, the soul has died: And yet how patient Thou hast been With our slow progress in the way Made by Thy cross on Calvary! [page 91]
Last week we felt Thy mighty lead When the assembled town drew near Thy mercy seat in silent prayer Within St. Mary’s sombre shade. We felt Thee in the stirring words The Rector spoke, as one inspired To turn our thoughts to might and power Beyond all mere material force, Or that of which men count the most: To might of God, as known of old, To might of Christ, the crucified.
Old Acton, first to see afar The herald of a new day’s dawn, See thy new glories, but begun; And as thou played’st thy part in war, Has sought to be its conqueror, Wast firs when rescript of the Czar [page 92] Pled for world peace, (e’en if in vain It brought us hopes ne’er lost again,) Didst call, by thy chief citizen And great assemblage in thy Hall, To welcome that great message given; Passed down that message through the land Till towns were meeting everywhere,— So now, led forth in lowly prayer And supplicating first Christ’s grace, Live, labour, strive for His great peace.
Yea Thou hast called, O Christ of God, With call more clear than heard before Till now all claim this, ‘war on war’ And different from all wars of yore: Tis ever so,—yet war is war, And hate is hate, and makes men kill! [page 93] What’s wrong in one, why right in all? ‘Tis samples sell our goods wholesale: We may not do our neighbour wrong, Why right to make a whole world wail? ‘Ends justify the means,’ they say, We’ll sow wild tares and hope for grain, World history shows ‘tis but in vain, What evil may not thrive that way? ‘Honour demands we draw the sword’, So said they in our grandsire’s day: Challenge and duel done away Show they were wrong, yea, e’en absurd. Is it less senseless, as a means, To mow strong men in millions down, Then just begin to think and plan Such settlement as might have been,— With reason patience justice truth Enthroned where sits diplomacy,— Made ere the conflict had begun? [page 94] And if in strife of arms the right Had ever been the conquering side, Then would arms and right of might Have proved the test they ne’er have been: Mightier puissance and power, That has conquered where these failed, Leads on still by Bethlehem’s star To the Child in manger laid, Leads by might of faith and trust, Bows in lowly worship there, Frees to serve in larger life, Frees to give e’en unto death, Frees to pass world ruler by At the clear command of God, Frees to bring unto the birth Mightiest force ere known on earth Heaven born love, instead of war. Ill can we spare our bravest, best, To fill death’s trenches, heap on heap, [page 95] To feed the murderous dreadful guns Midst burning shell and showering steel, To pass in modern Moloch bands To jaws of death, and not know why They should so soon be called to die, Lost to old England’s pleasant lands. God spare these willing sturdy sons So fit for tasks of high renown In making earth Thy very own: And spare the blue eyed bearded men Needed for Russia’s boundless lands; And spare the brilliant Frenchmen’s sons, Brave Belgium’s few remaining men; Spare too, O God, the German host To slaughter led in senseless fight, Massed millions doomed base pride to feed, Ignobly flung ‘gainst justice right: Destroy the false philosophy That led them to this shameless wrong, [page 96] That strives hell’s methods to prolong On our fair earth her sons among; And God forgive those dumbly led That they in silence thus should ply This base foul work, nor rather die With conscience clear to God o’erhead.
Time was men sought our town for peace, Its sylvan shades, its restful calm, Its sturdy oaks, stout hearts and strong That braced them for the robber throng Frequenting many highways then. Again ‘tis joined to further peace Embracing all, one church for Christ In this great cause which shall not cease, As prophet told, no ending know. Old oaken town, now but in name, Thy oaks have vanished, in their stead Are villa homes of city men: [page 97] Of no mean city count it then If they their birthplace in thee claim; And if their lot seems commonplace, From common things the greater grow, Captains of commerce, as of ships, Are best who know all work below. And we shall best our country serve, And patriotic fervour show, In living out to worthy ends The life, the faith, Christ will bestow.
Swift, ever swifter in our day Time flies, inventions bring worlds night, One makes what many wrought before, And God can work by few or more And change a nation in a day: Vast China bring to seek world prayer. And He Who wrought His sovereign will Through Saul of Tarsus long ago, And changed great continents through him, [page 98] Can work thro’ thee, make His peace grow A binding power the wide world through, Divinely human, subtle, strong, Swift to discern the right from wrong, Thoughts from intentions, each to know,— A power of God, so present, near, Christ’s gift, Christ’s presence deep inborn, No vision vanishing with morn, A waking consciousness within, The Christ Himself, who casts out sin, His rule and reign which must increase From soul to soul, from race to race, From north to south and west to east, Enthronèd Love, the Prince of Peace. [page 99]
A FOREST QUEEN
The Queen beech stood a sentinel Upon the forest’s southern side, A great-limbed green memorial Of this old famous woodland’s pride. Out from her grew twelve shapely trunks, Each one itself a worthy tree; Her mighty bole girt thirty feet, Her foliage seem’d a grove to be.
* * * * *
The Boer war came, our soldiers fell At black Colenso, Spion Kop, To our good Queen a funeral knell Far o’er the sea, that would not stop. Her bleeding heart of motherhood Felt in its depths a nation’s woe; Upon her long sad widowhood It fell a final, fatal blow. [page 100]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: The Queen Beech.]
She who had raised her nation’s life To highest place in moral power, Brought sweet domestic joy, where strife Had fawned to favourites of an hour, Now fell a victim of that war, Chief in the countless lives it cost, Beyond all price and treasure far,— Our hearts still feel how much we lost.
* * * * *
The forest queen was stricken dead, Her wide flung branches scattered wide, Heart broken, when her Majesty Our great good Queen Victoria died. She fell not in a lingering death Limb by limb, a slow decay, But like a mettled charger’s breath Strained till he drops, to lifeless lay, Her green browned suddenly and fell, A shiver thrilled the ancient wood; The old King beech below the hill Now mourns in grief his solitude. [page 103]
The moor is purple, purple and gorse, The land is calling its riders to horse! We know not the end of this awful war That has shaken the world, as if some star Come out of its course, collision wrought, The ordered world into chaos brought, Made all men shudder, and many distraught.. We know not, O God, if might of arms Thou wilt even show is not true might; If Thou wilt show by Prince of peace That wars on earth forthwith must cease: But this we know, Thou callest now That souls of men Thy will should know, And all men’s wills to Thine should bow. Fierce is the strife and black the night, A world-war waging in Thy sight! No words its ghastly deeds can tell, No vision show where brave souls fell: O God, that we and they had wrought For Christ’s great peace, which His life taught, With half their courage, ere they fought. [page 104] Men had great hopes, yet some sought war, These won the day, the war is here: The nations mad with strife of arms, E’en childhood’s sleep starts with alarms: For sin has brought a world wide fright, Turned to deceit Thy truth, Thy light; With false philosophy and pride All that Christ said, and did, denied, And hellish force has deified: To lust of gain changed heavenly power, Preached culture, conquest, crushed the poor, Defenceless killed, homes trodden down, Despised all law, set self on throne, Outraged all rights the world has known; Made crowning desecration this, In claiming Christ, Who came to bless, As sanction for this lawlessness: The basest evil claimed as good, For courage, boast of iron and blood; Millions misled, reckless of cost, Till fame and honour both are lost: Inhuman wrong, envenomed hate, The vilest deeds, the bitterest fate Imposed upon a neutral state! [page 105] Thy Church, O Christ, perplexed and spent, Sees but Thy garments soldiers rent, Sees not Thy seamless robe of love Which loving fingers for Thee wove; Has raised but weak half-hearted cry, While nations armed: the Lord Christ nigh Pled for His peace and victory: It seems to have lost its power in prayer, Lost too its faith, its new births rare; In cause of peace its banners furled, Its watchword still, ‘wait for the world!’ Call now all people, gracious Lord, Send seer and prophet with Thy word, ‘In name of Christ, put up the sword!’ He only lives whose soul is free In deep obedience, Lord, to Thee, To whom the force of arms and strife No power has to touch his life: Thy secret, and Thy mystery, Let dull ears hear, let closed eyes see, Fulness of life, Christ’s libery. [page 106]
 This poem (except the latter portion) was written in the Burnham Beeches forest the night, 4th August, 1914, in which, though not known at the time, war was declared between Great Britain and Germany.
 A.R. A visitor at the Cabin, August, 1914.
 W.G. and wife from the North of Scotland, who removed to Western Canada.
 G.T. who became the first Secretary of the Acton Adult School.
 The home of Mr. Titus James, a resident beside the Forest all his life, in whose garden the recovered broken memorial to Mendelssohn may be seen.
 The sun this morning (22nd August 1914, the day after the eclipse) presented a very remarkable appearance of almost complete whiteness, surrounded by a duller shade of mist or cloud evenly spread over the sky, which made it possible to look at the sun steadily, without inconvenience.
 Whose father, the late Captain A. W. C.—the highly esteemed master and owner of the three masted schooner St. Maurice was accidentally killed at North Sydney, Nova Scotia, 13 August 1913 while discharging his cargo on returning from what he had planned to be his last voyage.
 Captain John King, who on his retirement from the navy in the early part of the last century settled in Upper Canada, thence removing to St. John, New Brunswick, and afterwards to the North Mountain, Spa Springs, Nova Scotia.
 Captain King was wounded in the thigh, and the ball which was never extracted worked its way down and could be felt just under the skin near his ankle some time before his death, but he refused to have it removed.
 Waterloo is a cemetery with a beautiful pine grove, near Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where a fort was erected a century ago.
 The late Dr. H. W., President of the Y.M.C.A Halifax Nova Scotia, who was interred near the burial place of Captain King in the Middleton cemetery, 1913.
 This stately tree stood on the border of the famous Burnham Beeches forest, and showed no sign of decay up to the time of the death of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. It was a singular coincidence that in the same year, with startling suddenness, as if stricken, the whole great tree died at once, and all its trunk-like branches had to be removed forthwith. The base of the lifeless bole still marks the spot.