Modernist Canadian Poets
21st Aug 2015Posted in: Modernist Canadian Poets 0
Songs of the Road
Songs of 
     the Road…



[inscribed] Best Wishes
Margaret B. Boreham

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The winding road to Yesterday leads through the Vale of Tears, 
And o’er the hill where stands; a cairn to hopes of all the years;
And yet, could we our steps retrace, as longing we would do, 
We’d find the gates to Fairyland, and might perchance slip through. 

The gates of gold and ivory that ope to fingertips,
Or whispered word that’s spoken by all tiny childish lips;
And O to be a child again! And O to see them swing
Wide open on their hinges gold, and show the fairy ring! 

To watch them in the pale moonlight, a-dancing on the green,
To hear their little tinkling laughs, and see come on the scene
Our old old friends of yesterday, Titania the Queen
And Puck; and Cinderella with her Fairy Prince in tow;
And Jack the giant killer, killing giants in a row;
And all the little fays and elves we loved so long ago. 

Mayhap we’d get a fairy gift to carry us along,
A little bit of happiness, or long forgotten song;
Or, this we hardly dare to think for fear our wish is vain,
That from the cairn a hope will rise to point the way again. 

For nothing is impossible to little fairy hands,
We’ve but to wish, and Lo! at once it comes to our commands;
And all the things we’ve wished for, and all the dreams most fair, 
Will come to us, and stay with us, if only we reach there. [page 3]


I know a lane, a Cornish lane,
In whose sweet confines I’d remain.
Where bluebells, painted Heaven’s own blue, 
And ragged robin’s rosy hue, 
Mingled on banks where stitchwort flung 
It’s dainty starflowers all among
The grasses and the ivy wreath;
And in the hollows underneath,
And nestling everywhere between,
Are primroses and violets seen;
A carpet royal for the feet
Of my dear love—whose presence sweet 
Made it a Heaven on earth to me.
Ah love! If I could there with thee
Adown that dear lane stroll again,
The weariness and bitter pain
Of these dark years would fall from me,
And evermore my soul would be 
Filled with exceeding gladness dear,
To feel thee once more mine, and near.

I ask, and must it be in vain?
For you my sweet, and that dear lane. [page 4]


Just a-rollin’ along, 
Just a-rollin’ along, 
Just a-doin’ what your hand finds
And doin’ it strong; 
Just a-trustin’ in the Promises
When things go wrong;
Just a-helpin’ up a brother
Who’s down, the road along,
And a-rollin’ along in the morning.

And when the feet are weary
And strength is gone;
And the road seems long and dreary
As night comes on;
Just a-liftin’ up a glad head
And a-steppin’ strong,
And a-leanin’ on a Strong Hand 
A-leadin’ you along,
Just go rollin’ along in the morning. [page 5] 

Old towing path along the Thames, from
Kingston to Hampton Court.


Let’s jog along the tow road, 
The winding road, the low road;
Tramp along through green ways that slip by river banks;
And see the punts with lovers
Glide under willow covers,
And the masses of the flowers on the houseboats’ serried ranks. 

Down to the river’s edges
Come gardens with green hedges,
And lawns like verdant velvet, all gay with rainbow shades;
Backwaters, smooth and quiet, 
Where free from noise and riot,
One can dream the day away in shady willow glades.

But we, along the two road
Go jogging still; the green road
Stretches all along the banks, goes winding past the locks, 
Till we come to an old Palace,
Within the emerald chalice
Of it’s peaceful trees and gardens where birds congregate in flocks. 

Shall we while away the hours
In it’s mystic magic bowers?
Dream awhile of rustling silks, and gallants walking there?
Now a subtle perfume sheds—
Is it from the garden beds?
Or wafted from a presence that passes, young and fair? [page 6] 

We are walking by the wall
Where a King and Cardinal
Walked and talked together in the ancient garden close;
Which the greater one? we ponder,
Both are gone, and now we wander, 
Read their emblems on the gateway, kingly mitre, royal rose.

Then jog along the tow road, 
The winding road, the low road;
Royalties and Cardinals; Gallants and ladies fair
Have trod the road before us;
And their shades seem hov’ring o’er us,
As we dream in those old gardens ’neath the Yew trees there.


O the little bluebells ring
     As I pass;
And the jonquils in the grass,
Lift their heads in sunny wonder
At the echoing of thunder
In my footsteps, treading softly
     As I pass.

And the bees in shining clover
     As they sip,
Murmer, murmer, from the lip
Of a honey cup they’re rifling,
“Who is this with time for trifling?”
And they hum, “Come gather honey.”
     As I pass. [page 7]


Dame on palfrey with Knight and Squire,
Mendicant, Monk and Holy Friar;
Soldiers, returning with knapsack load,
Linger to speak to maids on the road,
Draw aside for a moment of bliss,
A whispered word, or a stolen kiss. 

     For “Love is fire and Youth is tow.” 
     So a poet said in the long ago,
     And just the same applies to-day
     To the same old theme, in the same old way,
     When caught in the whirl of love’s desire,
     That Youth is tow, and Love is fire. 

Vagabonds, with their all on their backs, 
Yet cheerily whistling happy Jacks;
Here a lover, a-lingering shy 
Till the maid of his heart comes tripping by,
Hoping to help her over the stile,
And win a longed for coveted smile.

While she, refuses his company 
For the vagabond, who goes carefree.
The vagabond’s young, and brown and gay,
Makes love in a most attractive way,
And the maiden’s heart o’errules her head, 
She travels the road with him instead.

     Under the trees
     With bread and cheese,
     So it will be till the Summer’s gone.
     What does it matter when love is young? [page 8] 

     Laughter and song
     All the day long,
     When darkness falls and the day is done,
     And brown curls mingle the gold among,

     Then “O my love is a rose, a rose!”
     And “Ah my lover’s a king!
     And happiness comes to those, to those
     Who sing the song of the Spring. 

For sap runs high in the Spring of the year, 
And love is strange and perverse and queer.
And often comes to the maid and man
Who suit not each other, nor ever can. 

But Yo Heigh Ho! So the world goes,
The butterfly comes to the garden rose;
Always and ever ’twill be the same,
Whether country maid or city dame,
When love’s sweet madness will come one day
Then worldly wisdom will fly away. 

As ever onwards we sweep along,
Laughter and pain, sorrow and song;
A little day and our race is run,
We pass in procession and life is done.

“Sad” do you say? Ah well! perhaps,
And yet, with all life’s strange mishaps
We’ve lived! And whether for good or ill,
The memory still can cause a thrill,
As down life’s highroad we near the end.
We’ve taken what the Fates chose to send,
We’ve fought the fight, and we’ve felt the pain,
And sometimes wondered if ’twas in vain. [page 9] 

But whether the whole’s been wrong or right,
The end of the highroad’s now in sight;
We’ve worked with zest, and we’ve played the game:
What shall be written against each name?

Wearily, wearily, under the stars,
Sleep for a while my friend;
The fight was long, and the foe was strong, 
But presently comes the end, 
At the close of the fight, the morning’s light
Will surely the victory send. 

     Wake! Wake!
          The morn doth break!
     The crimson dawn at the Eastern gate
     Points rosy fingers across the sky
     To show you the way your path doth lie.

     Break! Break! 
          The fetters break
     That on the highroad linked you to Fate;
     You are free! are free! And so will be, 
     (For Time is done,) through Eternity. [page 10] 


The strange road, the long road, the road we all take, 
The dark road, the stark road, our hearts a-quake;
Tread we this long trail with our last breath,
And waiting to guide us is one called Death. 

Dark is his mantle, but when we draw near
Luminous, lovely, his robes appear; 
Ah look! Look! See his face above
Shining in beauty—’tis Love! ’tis Love! [page 11]

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