Purchased for the Library
University of Toronto
out of the proceeds of the fund bequeathed by
T. B. Phillips Stewart, B.A., LL.B.
Ob. A.D. 1892
[2 blank pages]
Our Destiny and Other
ERNEST J. BOWDEN
Whose earnest devotion to all things noble and beautiful was the inspiration of my boy- hood days. [unnumbered page]
I push out my tiny raft of verse on the sea of public opinion. To me its waters are untried and uncertain; but I trust that the toilers of Canada, for whom I have written, will receive my work kindly.
ERNEST J. BOWDEN.
Duncans, Vancouver Island
Sept. 1st, 1911. [unnumbered page]
|The Voice of the Mist
|The Heart’s Call
|The Living World
|The Boys of England
|The Lone Musician
|The Singing Lesson
|The Shaker Dance
|The Pioneer Missionaries
|A Romance of the West
|The Golden Time
|Lines for the Tired Worker
|The Love of God
|The Other Side of It
|Slumber Song of the Steamship Baby
|Solomon: A Little Indian Boy
|The Voice of the Train
|Odd Fellows’ Hall
|The Minister’s Welcome
|War: Past and Present
Imprisoned in a pot of common clay,— Hid in a cellar, dismal, bare, and cold, With myriad lesser forms in gathering mould, An Easter lily bulb in darkness lay. Its mood was sad, for well it knew the play Of glorious whiteness in its husk enrolled, And beauty, fit to mate with forms of gold. Far distant seemed the gladsome Easter day. Yet even the darkness told the gardener’s care. It lay for weeks and months with life repressed, Because its beauty matched the fitting time. And human lives, dark-shadowed, lone, and bare, Are not by wild and aimless chance suppressed; God waits their season, and the needful clime. [unnumbered page]
Our Destiny and Other Poems
What is man? He wanders the earth; He eats of its plenty, Delights in its beauty, Shares in its labours, And writhes with its torture, But what is he? Ever the question Puzzles his reason, Baffles enquiry. Is he a stranger? Is he an alien? Is he a puppet, The plaything of fate? What is his destiny? What say the ancients? What says the Master? What say His servants? [page 11] Many the voices; Conflicting the answers They give to our questioning. No word is written That satisfies all. Words cannot carry The full weight of meaning That lies in the answer; But, taxed by the labour, The break with the strain: We gather the fragments With industry painful, But only the few Satisfaction attain. No; the answer we seek Is not wholly contained In the written Word. But the Spirit of God, Who dwelt in man, Speaking through ecstasy, Wonder and mystery, Vision and parable— He has not left us; He dwells with us yet. If we will hear Him He is our teacher, Guiding our feet In the pathway of truth. [page 12] Not that the prophets, Apostles, and singers, Of ancient days Can be neglected. Not till the heart, With manful purpose And painful wrestling, Has mastered the meaning Of the mighty Past, Will the Spirit lead To fuller truth. He that would seek, By an easier method, To gain his purpose, Shall wander in by-paths Aimless and tortuous; Ever misguided By a Spirit insulted. What is man? He is not a stranger. Hi is not an alien. He is not a puppet, The plaything of fate. He is the child In the Father’s house. Some are as babes In the circling arms Of Mother Nature: [page 13] And many more, In childhood and youth, Are restrained for a time, And kept as servants; That so they may learn The painful labour By which the Father Works out His plan. But when the lesson Of toil is learnt, And the child attains To lawful manhood, No longer he lives In a ward as a servant. As a son he walks In the house of his Father. No more for him The olden restraint, And the servant’s fear; But the freedom he knows Of the son in the home; His only law The love he bears To the Father divine. And now he speaks To the hearts of men In the Father’s name. (No longer in bond [page 14] To word and rule; For the Father’s Spirit Reigns in his breast, And makes the rule, And inspires the word.) For, having entered On manhood’s freedom, He shares more fully The Father’s passion And love for men. In lowly service Among his brothers; In tender care For the little children; In earnest search For the lost and erring, He shows the world What a man should be. What is man? What is his destiny? Study the Master. Study the men Who walk in His footsteps. In them you shall find A living answer To every question. For He, who gave To the heart is yearning, [page 15] And placed before us Our noblest ideal As a brother man To share in our travail,— He is not a mocker, He will not deceive us. When our task is done; When our strength shall fail, And the shadows of evening Close round about us, The setting sun Shall reveal to our sight Vast realms unseen In the dazzling blaze That we called our day. In that new realm Revealed to our eyes In the dark night of death— THERE lies our destiny.
* * * * *
Evening, evening, Sweet is they gloom. Shadows are deepening, Closed is the bloom. Hushed are the voices That wakened the breast; [page 16] Sweet is the eventide, Calling to rest. Bright was the morning With promise and hope; Rich hues adorning The valley and slope. Quick beat the pulses With eager desire. Fair was the morning, And holy its fire. Swiftly the glamour That gilded the dawn Fled as the clamour Of noontide came on. Boldly we entered The conflict of life, Seeking the honour Of valorous strife. Toiling and straining Our task to complete, Sharp was the training, And fierce was its heat. Gladly we hailed The decline of the day;— Watched for the hours When our labour should stay. [page 17] Now, with the evening, Gone is the light. Shadows are deepening; Soon comes the night. And as the day With its labour departs, Stars peep from heaven To quiet our hearts. Gone is the splendor That streamed from the sun. Thanks to the Sender For all He has done. But, while His blessing Gave light to the day, It narrowed our vision, And hid the star’s ray. So when the glory Of life shall depart, Let the night-story Bring peace to thy heart. Let not the death-mist Bring sorrow of gloom. Wider is life The far side of the tomb. [page 18]
THE VOICE OF THE MIST
The glory from my life has fled; The cold, grey mists are here. The hopes that fired my youth are dead; I shrink in dread and fear. Where are the strength and beauty now That graced my early days, Prompting the high and sacred vow,— Moving my heart to praise? Where are the friends that gathered round, Whose lives were linked with mine; In whose sweet comradeship I found A stimulus divine? The strength and beauty are no more; Their dazzling grace has flown. My heart is smitten to the core As grass by reapers mown. Some friends are dead, and some are gone, With other interests filled; And none are near to lean upon; Their helpful words are stilled. [page 19] I live on memories of the past. The present moments bring But haunting miseries that blast, And cruel ills that sting. The mists of sorrow hide the sun, And all life’s joys obscure. Before the noon of life is won Its brightness is no more. Whither, oh, whither shall I flee? Where shall my spirit rest? And what of hope remains to me? What gleam shall guide my quest?
* * * * * *
Like Israel’s King, mine eyes I lift To shining peaks afar. Their strength and calm are heaven’s gift To soothe where troubles are. Decked in a mantle passing fair The foot-hills lie between; And, wreathing many a valley there, The drifting mists are seen. Who knows how much those clouds may hide? What glories they withhold? [page 20] What scenes of beauty are denied To those whom they enfold? For he who walks amid the mist Sees not the mountains tower. For him no sunlit peaks exist While lasts that shadowed hour. To him the larger view is lost; His powers within are pent. The nearer forms he sees, at most, In hazy pictures blent. Yet ne’er he dreams the world is worse Because he loathes the haze; Nor measures all the universe By that which meets his gaze. Full well he knows a cleansing wind Will drive the mist away; And in the sunlight he shall find A fuller, brighter day. Once more the sweep of sea and land, The beauty of the sky, Shall speak the great Creator’s hand, And cheer the seeking eye.
* * * * * *
I thank Him for the mountain voice That whispers in my ear; Rousing my heart to nobler choice Than shrinking dread and fear. Listening, I know myself at one With all the mighty past; I learn the witness that has shone Throughout the ages vast. Sung sweetly by Hebrew bards In tones that never die; And taught by Christ in living words That lift the soul on high. And not alone to Christians known; But kindled in the mind Where’er the Spirit’s breath has blown O’er hearts to truth inclined. The chill mists gathering round our path, And o’er the landscape driven, Are sent in love, and not in wrath: They bear the gifts of heaven. Not less the woes for which we mourn Bear riches from above; And lives, by constant suffering worn, Know most the Father’s love. [page 22] O trust, sad heart. Hope thou in God, Wait patiently His time. Thou walkest where the ancients trod, Who rose to heights sublime. And, since along their path I plod, Their vision may be mine; O trust, my heart; rest thou in God, And make their triumph thine. [page 23]
THE HEART’S CALL
Look up, sad heart! Look up! Why droop like a faded flower? Canst thou not gather thy strength For the gloom of a passing hour? Glory encircles thy pathway; Heaven gives help to the brave. Why should thy life be barren? Why dost thou pine as a slave? Seek now thy God, Patiently kneeling. Wait thou His time; In Him there is healing. E’en as a mother O’er thee He bends; And as a father Guards and defends. Rejoice, glad heart! Rejoice! For this is the fairest day That the children of earth have seen Since first they began to pray. [page 24] Never the sun was brighter; Never such promise shone As we see in the life about us, By the toil of our fathers won. Joy thou in God, Gratefully singing. See o’er the earth New life is springing. All that has been Of good in the past Is a God-given token Of triumph at last. Stand fast, brave heart! Stand fast! Be thou a master of fate! Thy troubles but point the way To opportunity’s gate. God has need of thy courage,— Joys in thy zeal and might; Many a brother shall bless thee If thou art strong to do right. Lean thou on God, Humbly enquiring. Comrades rejoice, Beholding thy strength. Hold to thy task; Rest comes at length. [page 25] Awake My heart! Awake! Respond to the call divine That sounds from heaven above, And from hearts whose beat is as thine. Banish thy deadly gloom, And the craven fears that kill. Rise in the strength that achieves. Heaven shall aid thee still. Trust thou in God. Safe in His keeping, Joy shall be thine, Pulsing and leaping. Faithful to Him, In His service unmoved, Thine the rich crown Of the soul that is proved. [page 26]
The dawn is breaking In Eastern skies; A new-born world with its glow shall arise. The night has been long, And the watchers sore prest, But joy, with the morning, shall dwell in each breast. The skies, dull and leaden, Seemed closed to all prayer; But the dawn has arisen; the sunshine is here. Look up, weary hearts, Dark with sorrow and sin; Look up, for the day-break your freedom shall win. Look up, O ye toilers, O’erburdened with care; Your God has come near, and your load He will share. [page 27] Look up, little children, Heaven’s light in your eyes; The day that is breaking is yours as it flies. For the God of the morning Has come with its light; Awake to its glory, and banish the night. [page 28]
THE LIVING WORD
In the Bible we read of the glorious days When the Living World, in diverse ways, By spoken message or writer’s pen, Leapt forth to the hungering hearts of men. The Father of Spirits could ever command The speaker’s tongue or the writer’s hand; Or perhaps to sight the veil was riven, And in visions the World of God was given. But, when the sight of men waxed dim, They said that the words were the gift from Him. “The words, the form, you are bound to hold; “Let the man be accursed who shall be so bold “As to say that the Spirit may give once more “The Living Word as in days of yore, “Not to be measured in Bible terms, “But greater, and kindling with new life-germs.” [page 29] From hence a great war of words arose, And Christian brothers grew bitterest foes; With words, words, words, they darkened the air; Where Christ’s hope had been there was black despair. But the Living World shall come once more To the hearts of men as in days of yore; Not in tones which only the few may know, But in common speech shall the Spirit blow. For the life and language of bygone years Cannot utter fully the hopes and fears That mingle in hearts of these later days, With their growing knowledge and changing ways. And even the holy name we have used Is naught to our God if it be abused. For He who spake once can speak once again: Work the selfsame works in another name, For the Living World is more than a name. Jehovah, Lord, Christ, are they not the same? The one Great God seen in different ways, In the Hebrew times or in Christian days? And the name that has changed in the days gone by May change again if our faith be dry; And our sounding words shall sink into dust If we fail to be true to the Christian trust. [page 30] But the Living World shall never fail Through the rolling ages. Our earthly vale Shall ever be cheered by the guiding voice Which makes our heart leap and our spirit rejoice. There may be years when the Word seems lost In the jangle of words, which are vainly tossed From lip to lip, by those who hold That in ancient times was the whole truth told. But the Living Voice shall be heard again; And its tones shall ring in the hearts of men. Its joyful message shall fly o’er the earth In the glad new age that has come to birth. [page 31]
THE VOICE OF THE MOUNTAINS
“Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways; and how small a whisper do we hear of Him.”—Job 26:14.
We sailed beneath the mountains With their stately mantle of green; And the deep recesses, where fountains, And scarred grey rocks are seen. In majestic silence they towered Away to the heights above; While the billowy clouds were lowered, And wreathed them as if in love. Or in tiny flecks they were scattered Along o’er the mountain side, As if by a tempest shattered And driven in hollows to hide. Some parts seemed lost in the blackness Of twilight shadow and gloom; Their mysterious depths were trackless, And weird as a haunted tomb. [page 32] While others were clothed with whiteness As of sea-foam newly driven. Enveloped in dazzling brightness, They seemed like the gate of heaven. And as with awe-stricken wonder, And all my being subdued, I watched the clouds drift asunder, And the mountain-peaks I viewed; To my heart a voice came pealing From the depths of the mighty past; In its tones were balm and healing For the soul that is overcast. “The cloud-wrapt mountain whispers Of the God that dwells in thy breast; The elements sing His vespers; To hear, and to know, is rest.” [page 33]
THE ETERNAL JUDGE
“Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.”—Psalm 58.
“Truly a judge is in the earth,” Thus spake the ancient seer. His piercing eye has scanned life’s worth; To him its end was clear. He was not baffled when he saw Life’s troubles go and come. He knew our earth the realm of law, Not topsy-turvydom. The selfless life, by fools esteemed Madness and folly, here, He knew to be the life that gleamed With an undying cheer. And when he saw the evil man In dazzling eminence, He would not then suspect the plan Of sovereign Providence. But all the tongues of earth and heaven Spoke loudly to his ear, That God had to the wicked given A fate to dread and fear. [page 34] He saw the deadly poison lurk Beneath their subtle ways; He knew in their own blood ‘twould work And blight the poisoner’s days. And though their majesty should match The lion in his strength, God would their tyranny dispatch And break their teeth at length. As melting snows before the sun; As one untimely born; Or as the warrior who would run Of all his valour shorn. Or as the fire, beneath the pot, That’s made of flimsy thorn Is scattered ere the food be hot, And on the whirlwind borne: So should the wicked come to naught,— Their artful scheming fail. Since God was not in all their thought What could their skill avail? And when the gloom is swept aside By which He proves our worth, We taste the joy of Him who cried,— “A Judge is in the earth.” [page 35]
“Who is there among you . . . that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?”—Isaiah 50:10.
I knew him as a boy with golden curls, And eyes that seemed to catch the light of heaven. Among the homely cottagers ‘twas said He was too good for earth, and like to die. I watched him pass from boyhood into youth, With grace and knowledge far beyond his years; And in his heart there ever burned a fire Of passionate love for all things high and great, Which still increased as manhood’s dawn drew near. And, as he strength increased, the kindling word, Lit by the flame which dwelt within his breast, Was ever on his lip. For him we hoped A future that would match the gifts he bore. And when the years of love were come he met A maiden, in whose face and form there dwelt A beauty like to that within his heart. Six years had passed, and on a winter’s morn I chanced to roam among the dunes that lay Along the sandy wastes beside the sea. [page 36] The scanty blades of grass, like bronzed wires, Were whistling in the wind. And there I met The man whose early years had been so full Of golden promise. But his form was changed; His face was haggard, and the old-time fire No longer lit the eye, that seemed withdrawn From friendly glances; and the trembling lips Seemed ever tortured by the tugging nerves. With half-averted face he quickly told The story of the woe that pierced his heart. The scared thirst he ever sought to quench Among the books which held the treasured thought Of noble minds, had led to eager study; Which wrought a violence upon his brain, And brought him near to death. While thus he lay, The woman who was more to him than life Was laid to rest beneath the graveyard sod. And now the spirit’s dazzling light seemed quenched In tears of bitterest sorrow. And he sought To hide his grief in solitary places. The busy life of men clashed with his mind, And seemed to work a deeper havoc there. But in the swishing of the yellow waves On the long, dismal plain of drifting sand; And in the desolation of the dunes, The mournful whistling of the windswept grasses, There lurked a charm in keeping with him mood. And there he lifted empty hands to heaven [page 37] As outward symbols of his empty heart; And, lifting up his voice with the sea-moan, The surging trouble of his soul gushed forth. Lord, how long shall it be That I live in misery? My light is gone—is gone, In darkness I walk alone. My heart is dry as the grass Where the cold, salt breezes pass. In Thy mercy pity me, And take me from misery. Again I met the broken-hearted man Upon the mountain-side. The green above In densest growth shut out the light of heaven, And made a stillness of perpetual gloom, In which could grow no fronded fern or moss; But fall’n pine-needles made a carpet there. His face was still with deepest suffering marred, But now, in his demeanour, there was peace. Not peace like that which dwells in summer fields, Or tempts the rambler by the sparkling brook; But like to that which reigned within the forest; A peace which breathed a haunting melancholy. And there he spoke of all his early hopes, The high ideals, and the noble purpose That fired his youth, and all that might have been. [page 38] And once more, lifting reverent hands in prayer, In God’s great cloister on the mountain-side, His mind, o’er-strained, in utterance found relief: Father, I worship Thee; The peace has come to me. And though, like a stricken deer, In sorrow I linger here, I have heard Thy voice in the gloom. And through the shadows that loom, I have seen a ray of the light That tells of the passing night. I left him standing in the forest aisle, His face upturned as though he heard a call From other worlds. And when, at night, there passed A solitary woodman, he found there, Upon the soft pine-needle carpet laid, The form of one who seemed as if in sleep. The form was there, the spirit was in heaven. [page 39]
Oh, glorious to me I a trip on the sea, When the sun chimes bright, With a shimmering light, On the rippling waves, And the blue that paves The mighty sweep Of the boundless deep; But, pacing above where the smokestacks rear The sound of the toilers below I hear. Oh, the stokers below! How much we owe To the nameless men In the fiery den; How great is our debt For their toil and sweat,— For their task in the stoke-hole drear. And grand to me Is a trip on the sea When the waves roll high, And the storm-fiends fly, And the gallant ship, With roll and dip, [page 40] Is tossed like a straw By their merciless law; But still, while the tempest darkens the skies, The familiar sounds from the stoke-hole arise, And always we know That the men below, With blackened faces, Are in their places; And the fire they stoke With its flame and smoke, Is the life of the ship as she plies. And solemn to me Is a trip on the sea, When the night-pall dark Envelops our bark. With throb and shiver The stanchions quiver; The sea-birds loom Like ghosts in the gloom. And, more than by day, we can hear the men Who are toiling beneath in their grimy den. For the stokers below Scant thought we show. We shrink from their grime As from poison or crime, But we owe them a debt That can never be met By tribute of tongue or pen. [page 41]
Knock, knock, knock. What means this unseemly clatter? It’s only a settler building his house, And you hear his hammer batter. But why do they build in places like these? There is nothing around but rocks and trees. You don’t understand? Well, list to me, please, While I tell you what they are doing. Where the trees stand now On the rocky brow, Fair homes will smile In a little while. With their raps and bangs, And taps and clangs, A nation the men are building. Boom, boom, boom. The giant trees are falling. For the settler lives in the home he has built And follows his lonely calling. And soon a part of the land is clear, The time to gather his crop is near; And he tastes the success to the toiler dear, When the harvest repays his sowing. For the mould below Fine crops will grow. In the fruitful ground His wealth is found. And with a work and sweat, That know no let, A nation the men are planting. Whack, whack, whack. Do you hear the lumber clatter? For another settler is building his house To the tune of the same old batter. And soon there are others who gather round. A goodly spot for a home they have found; And a magic change sweeps over the ground Because of the work they are doing. In the home of the jay The children play. In the wild flower’s room Fair gardens bloom. With their strength and will, And taste and skill, A nation the people are making. [page 43]
A slender figure stood at my door, On a sweltering day in July; In her slim, white hand a satchel she bore; To my question she made reply,— “I’ve a book to sell; Please look at it well. It’s the best of its kind That your skill can find; Not a page of it barren or dry.” Now, of all the woes that afflict our life, And tempt us to hasty speeches, There are few that rouse in our hearts more strife Than the story the agent preaches. So I said to the maid Of the book-selling trade, “I’ve no time to read, Or your words to heed, For I’m tending my corn and peaches.” [page 44] With, low modest tones again she spake, As one who has taste and knowledge,— “The University course I take, And I’m working my way through college. I am selling to-day To pay my way; That when to my class In the fall I pass, I may have some milk with my porridge.” As soon as I heard the student’s tale, A warmth in my heart was kindled; And the surging memories rushed like a gale, Till my pulses throbbed and tingled. Of my youth they told, And its visions of gold. I saw once more The glad days of yore, When with college chums I mingled. The queen of the household opened wide Our home to the student stranger; And her heart was cheered when again she hied To her task as a book-man’s ranger. In our hearts we prayed For the roving maid, That the God above In His power and love Would shelter her life from danger. [page 45] For the boys and girls of the college hall Will lead in the coming day; And, among the students, the best of all Are those who are working their way. For their grit and pluck We wish them luck. Our Canada’s prize Is for those who rise By toiling while others play. [page 46]
Sing a song of a dear little wife: We call her Mrs. McItty. She moves like a golden gleam through life, Sunny, and chatty, and witty. She is neither handsome, nor stately, nor tall; You scarcely would call her pretty; But the graces she bears are the best of all; A warm heart has Mrs. McItty. It kindles and brightens all her ways With a cheerful, sprightly vigour; And the glow of its love-beat ever plays In her trim and dainty figure. But how shall I sing of the ways I see In which she scatters her treasure? For a prodigal, truly, in love is she, And gives without stint or measure. With help, where needed, and sympathy sweet, Both neighbours and strangers she blesses; And for babies and children there’s no other treat Like Mrs. McItty’s caresses. [page 47] Not a tithe of her heart can be uttered in words, But her music keeps time with its beating; And with this she can answer the song of the birds, And give to the flowers her greeting. But, if you would know the full worth of her care, She must watch by your bed in sickness; As an angel she guards, and with tenderness rare Gilds tossing and pain with sweetness. So quickly her heart is moved to tears By sorrow or pain or pity; But a rainbow glory ever appears In the weeping of Mrs. McItty. Of course there are times when the dark clouds loom, And the tempest fiends gather together; But they’re always the clouds of a thunder-storm, And never of settled bad weather. When men sit discussing the deepest thought, She listens with reverent meekness. But hers is the spirit that God has taught, And the wisdom made perfect in weakness. So the golden gleams of her life never fail, And the woman, bright, gentle, and witty, Is the joy of her home and our beautiful vale; We all love Mrs. McItty. [page 48]
The obscure hero of this poem was Mr. William Wallcroft, one of the earliest settlers in the Archibald district of Southern Manitoba. It was the author’s privilege to visit him in his last sickness, and, after committing his body to the earth, to conduct a memorial service in the church where he had long labored as a local preacher, class-leader, and Sunday-school superintendent.
I stood in the darkened chamber Where the veteran lay at rest. He was one of the nameless heroes, By unknown toilers blessed. He came to the Pembina mountain When the country was waste and wild, With all his earthly belongings On a lumbering ox-wagon piled. He came from dear Old Country, Of the sturdy Devonshire stock; To the end he would often tell you Of his toil in the Devonport Dock. [page 49] He had travelled across the prairie With a friend and children and wife, On the trail from Emerson Station, To try the homesteading life. And a Spartan life they found it In those pioneering days; A rough sod hut was their shelter, As they learned the prairie ways. Those ways were strange and fickle, As they found again and again, When the frost swept over the wheatfields, And blasted the ripening grain. But with patience and skill they mastered The secret of climate and soil; Their courage and industry triumphed, And plenty rewarded their toil. A house and barn were erected With logs from the poplar grove. The oxen made way for horses, And things were beginning to move. New settlers came into the district; There followed a mighty change. The wilderness bloomed as a garden; Farms spread o’er the buffalo range. [page 50] But ever within the farmers The old heart-hunger burned; And their thought with eager longing To the God of their fathers turned. In the home of our hero they gathered, Reviving the old-time fire. In him they found the devotion And zeal that never tire. And not alone in his household, But far o’er the countryside, He labored to point his neighbours The path of the Crucified. By the bed of the sick and the dying, He stood with the message of love. They trusted him as their pilot To the home of rest above. When at last death came to the sufferer, And released the spirit guest, It was he who stood by the graveside, And committed the body to rest. When the pioneer days were ended, And church arose at length, The warmth of his heart and fireside Were the minister’s joy and strength. [page 51] He gathered the little children For the joy of the Sunday-school; And met in the class as leader, According to Methodist rule. Now the days of his toiling are ended. Friends gather from far and near To honour the homely farmer Who lies on the funeral bier. What words shall we bring to praise him? How much does Canada owe To unknown men who have labored The seeds of her progress to sow? Such men are the pride of our nation; They stand above praise or fame; Beside them the wealthy idler Bears only an empty name. God give us ever the manhood That is bred in the farm and field; For this is a wealth far greater Than the mines of the Klondike yield. [page 52]
THE BOYS OF ENGLAND
Oh, the boys that come from England To our fair Canadian land, Filled with eager aspiration Of the good Old-Country brand, Bring their boxes, speech and manners, And in many ways they’re green; But they always carry with them Love for Britain’s King and Queen. For their name, And their fame, Ever stir the English breast; And they stand In the land For the noblest and the best. Oh, the boys that come from England, With their quaint Old-Country ways, Often land with empty pockets And a tale of better days, [page 53] And a scanty stock of knowledge Of the kind that’s needed most; But they never fail to carry Lots of British pride to boast. For they know, And they show, In their bearing and their speech, That they trace In their race Highest virtues man can reach. Oh, boys that come from England, Lots of chaffing must endure; For Canadians love to tease them, Hoping thus their whims to cure. But in spite of all their failings, Still they rise to wealth and fame; For they always carry with them Grit and skill to play the game. For it’s bred In their blood Through a thousand years of strife,— No retreat; Scorn defeat; Better death than tarnished life. Oh, the boys that come from England, Have the noblest heritage [page 54] That the world has ever given To the lads of any age. And in Canada they’re welcome; Here their powers find larger scope; For they never fail to carry British enterprise and hope. For the pluck And the luck Of the British race they share; And they rise, Win the prize Of the men who do and dare. [page 55]
THE LONE MUSICIAN
I hear a lone musician in her den Play vibrant chords that sweetly haunt the soul; Now deep; sonorous as a funeral toll; Now rushing like a brook in a wild glen. Anon, with the lightest touch, and tenderest grace, The pensive memories, from the bygone years, Find sweet expression, summoning the tears, Which bounding, martial strains as quickly chase. Each strain of grace or splendour, calm or fire, Is the reflection of the varying mood That sweeps, with tremulous wave, the player’s heart. O lone musician! An invisible choir Of mighty singers, pouring out a flood Of glorious harmony, in in thine art. [page 56]
The wail of the Cowichan Indians—“Woe is me!” “Better for him that a millstone Be hung about his neck, And that into the sea men cast him As a hopeless human wreck.” In words like these spake Jesus, The gentle, loving, and mild, Of him who, by sinful conduct, Should offend a little child. For each of the little children Is under the Father’s eye; To willfully work them evil Is an insult to God on high. And does God think less of a nation Whose mind is that of a child? Has He less regard for the Indians, With their nature simple and wild? [page 57] No! No! They too are His children; They too have a place in His heart. As a mother cares for her sick ones So God will take their part. And we are the brothers and sisters Whom God has endowed with might, To care for the weak of the household Until they are strong to do right. But how can a nation interpret Such a tender relationship? Shall we make good laws for the Indian, To give his wild wings a clip? Shall we give him some land and a schoolhouse,— A church in which to pray; And then forget all about him, Because he is out of the way? Oh, no! it is not our bounty, But a loving hand he needs; Out bounty may only corrupt him, And our laws be as broken reeds. It is thus, even now, with the Indian: Our generous laws have failed. Instead of growing to manhood, He remains a pampered child. [page 58] Not as brother we have acted, But like the hireling nurse: We have fed him and kept him quiet: Felt glad he has been no worse. It is true there are mission heroes Who have gladly given their lives To carry the saving message: And their bold race still survives. But for every man who has suffered To bring them into the light, A hundred their race have exploited, Regardless of truth or right. Nor has he been only exploited To win the white man gold, But the Indian has been corrupted In ways that cannot be told. It always makes me shudder, And blush for our Saxon race, When I see the soul of a white man Looking out from an Indian face. He is spurned by the race of his father, To whom he owes his best; For he sucked the Indian customs With the milk from his mother’s breast. [page 59] And these Indian customs bind him Like a captive in walls of stone; But there dwell in his breast ambitions To the native mind unknown. His heart is the scene of a conflict Which rages beyond control, And too often works destruction To the half-breed’s body and soul. And ever the low-grade white man With the deadly whiskey waits; Unloosing the vilest passions, And stirring the deepest hates. The reserve becomes a cesspool Where horrible vices drain: And evil habits forever Bring disease and death in their train. Their dark curse reaches the children; A mist steals over their eyes, And the mournful sounds of wailing For dying babies arise. Thank God, it is not all darkness; There are bright spots here and there; And many a true-hearted red-man Has courage to do and dare. [page 60] But they fight a desperate battle, For the crowd legs far behind, Content to assort with the lowest And worst of our country’s kind. Oh, I know not how we shall answer, When before God’s throne we stand, For the pitiful plight of the Indian In our fair Canadian land. [page 61]
THE SINGING LESSON
My friend Pitell and his neighbour Jim Were eager to learn a Siwash hymn; So they came to my house one afternoon With hearts on fire to master the tune. Firs the words must be learnt in the schoolboy way, A line at a time as the teacher shall say. ‘Tis a soul-stirring message from Tzee-tzel Seahm1— That bids them arise to conquer Leahm.2 And now to tackle the tune they are free; Good “Lennox,” which Methodists all will agree Is one of the best; and with might and main We sing it together again and again. Old Jim, nearly blind, with blue goggles adorned, And a face that tells loudly he’s laughed more than mourned, Leans hard on his staff, and rolls with the song, For action, he thinks will help it along. [page 62] Pitell, the dwarf lawyer and seer of our tribe, Ever ready with wisdom, with wit, and with gibe, His hunched back almost lost in a glory of hair, Knits his brows to the task and attacks it with care. And, after the hymn thirty times has been sung, Pitell wants a rest, and a change for his tongue, In tales of old days when red-men had might, And the pale-faced Quin-ee-tum3 were strange to their sight. For Pitell is full of the ancient lore, Of the battles fought in the days of yore; How Stetson and Hals to Cowichan came From the realms above in thunder and flame. “Kopet he-he,”5 says Jim to Patell, “Nika tikey sing6: to laugh is not well;” And the song is sung for the fiftieth time By our voices three in full-toned chime. “Nika chako skookum,”7 the blind man cries, As he thumps the breast where his tum-tum lies; “Nika skookum tum-tum,8 for God,” says he, “Has spoken again of His love to me.” [page 63] And the hunchback says, “I thank you, God; I’m a poor lone man, and I wander the road To find a friend who will talk to me: And to-day I have found a friend in Thee.” And many a time “Kla-how-ya”9 is said, As the blind, by the dwarf, to the door is led: For they both love more, as they rise to go, The Father in heaven and the brother below. 1Tzee-tzel Sheam—God. 2Leahm—The Devil. 3Quin-ee-tum—The white men. 4Stetson and Hals—Ancient heroes of heavenly origin. 5Kopet he-he—Stop your nonsense. 6Nika tikey sing—I want to sing. 7Nika chako skookum—I am becoming strong, or joyful. 8Nika skookum tum-tum—My heart is strong; used as equivalent to “My heart is bursting with joy.” 9Kla-how-ya—Good-bye [page 64]
OR THE INDIAN PREACHER’S FAREWELL TO HIS NATIVE VILLAGE
Lach-whoha-lamist, the Land of Roses, Where the noble race of the Tsimshian dwell, I stand on thy shore as the evening closes; In the gathering shadows I bid thee farewell. Once more I got forth to my post in the mountains At the call of my God, and the people I love; But my heart is pensive; mine eyes are as fountains, As I gave on thy sea, and the green hills above. For over the past is my memory sweeping; The veil of the years is torn from mine eyes. Again with the boys on the sand I am leaping And the hillsides re-echo with Indian cries. I see the old days with their frenzy and terror, When the chase and the battle gave glory to life; When our spirits were bound in Tamahnawis error, And the savage rejoiced in his dread scalping-knife. There are the rocks where the slave-girl was murdered; I saw them lick her blood from the stones; And, yonder, the death of the captives was ordered; And the ground was littered with human bones. [page 65] There are the mighty posts that were grounded On the writhing bodies of living slaves; That luck might be brought to the house that was founded, And triumph ensured to the Tsimshian braves. But the horrible vision of blood and pillage Is swept as a deadly nightmare aside; For I see before me a Christian village Where the peace and beauty of heaven abide. My though flies back to the pale-face preacher, Who was sent by God with the Word from above; How he gathered the boys, and became their teacher, And toiled with the fervour inspired by love. I remember the scene when the word was spoken That the white man’s ways should be taught no more; For the chieftains feared their power would be broken If the God of the Bible came to their shore. With threats they gathered, and crowded around him, And wildly brandished the menacing knife; But heedless of terror or death they found him; The call of his mission was dearer than life. With the love of Christ he won the people; A marvelous change came over the land: There is the church with its towering steeple; Yonder the schools for the children stand. [page 66] I hear the strains of music ascending From homes where the Tsimshian swell in peace; And the joyful songs of little ones bleeding With the ocean-voices that never cease. In the hearts of the people are strength and beauty, Which shine in their eyes, and dwell in their speech; And they hear, and know, the call of duty; They send their sons the Glad Message to preach. Gone are the horror and blood of the savage; Gone is the darkness that dwelt in his breast; Gone is the longing for plunder and ravage, Cruel suspicion and bestial jest. Yes, they are gone. But gone, too, the voices Of those whom I loved in the days that are past; And so, while the prospect my vision rejoices, I weep for the shadow that sorrow has cast. For my life is bound to the Land of Roses By a thousand ties to the Indian known; And my surging heart, while the evening closes, Cries out for the friends and the days that are flown.
NOTE — The incidents of the above poem are faithfully portrayed as they were related to the author by a native Indian missionary, who actually witnessed what is here described. Lach-whoha-lamist is now known under the more prosaic name of Port Simpson. [page 67]
(“Se-eth” is a title distinguishing a member of a ruling family among the Cowichan Indians.)
His parents took him away from the school Where he learned to follow the white man’s rule; For they feared that his Indian ardour would cool: Their hopes for their son were high; But they took him away to die. With an ancient man of their house as guide, To break him again to their customs they tried; They quickly found him a youthful bride, And proudly called him Se-eth: But they wedded him fast to death. The Mission teachers had striven to give A practical training, by which he might live, In the white man’s struggle competitive,— A training to conquer by: But they trained him, instead, to die. [page 68] They knew that his home with temptation was rife, So they labored to teach him the Christian strife; And with love, and truth, to prepare him for life: But, alas! they prepared him to die; And the time of his end was nigh. For when he was home, and newly wed, “Fear not the rain,” his people said. “’Tis a white man’s fear that is in thy head, That makes thee seek to be dry.” Oh, little they thought he should die. So a savage bravado arose in his breast; He toiled all day in his dripping vest; And scorned to change when he went to rest. As she slept disease drew nigh: In that night he was doomed to die. Then came the cough with its fatal hack,— The failing strength, and dropping back. We saw the destroyer was on his track, And, heaving a sorrowful sigh, We knew that Se-eth must die. Soon the Indian doctors were on the ground; The wrinkled old hags had gathered around: And all of them told of the cures they had found; Nor dreamed, as they wasted their breath, That they foolishly trifled with death. [page 69] In just one thing were they all agreed,— Of the white man’s doctor there was no need. To poison the whole of the tribe he was fee’d. And they lost the last chance for Se-eth In their gamble with pain and death. And not till their ignorant folly they blamed, Nor felt in their darkened minds ashamed; But ever the white man’s school they named As the source of disease and death;— As the curse of their loved Se-eth. But their black distrust and suspicion were stayed As the preacher knelt in their home and prayed; And the teaching of school-days came to his aid In the mind of the doomed Se-eth, To prepare his soul for death. For many a peaceful eventide, As the boys and girls sang side by side, They had prayed that near them God might abide In the deepening gloom of death. And with them had sung Se-eth. [page 70] They repeated the psalm of the shepherd of old Who played and sang as he watched by the fold;— “The Lord is my Shepherd, . . . my heart shall be bold Though I walk in the shadow of death.” His words were known to Se-eth. And now, at the call of a skillful guide, The door of his heart was again opened wide; Sweet memories rushed as old friends to his side; As angels they hovered nigh To comfort him ere he should die. They bore on their wings a fragrance of hope, And helped him to scale the steep, hard slope, To the land where his soul would find larger scope, And no tears should start from the eye: The city where none can die.
* * * * * * *
Oh, come and join in the Cowichan wail For the scourge of death that sweeps through our vale. Till the promise and strength of manhood fail; And many a youthful Se-eth Is wrapped in the gloom of death. Weep with the cry of the dying child! Weep for the ignorance dark and wild! Weep for the monsters and maidens beguiled Into misery worse than the death That snatched the beloved Se-eth! [page 71] For how can we preach the promise of heaven To a nation rotting, and frenzy-driven By the sins of a race that should have given The joy of a healing breath, And the gospel that conquers death? Woe to the man of immortal ways! And woe to the man whom the Indian pays For the liquor that curses and shortens his days! Hear what Jehovah saith: “Their part is second death.”
NOTE — To a casual reader it may seem that this picture of gloom and death is extravagant and overdrawn. As a matter of fact, no words of mine can fitly describe the wretched condition of many of our British Columbian Indians. Only those who have shared their sorrows, and dressed their wounds, can believe or understand. In spite of well-meaning laws they are able to get almost unlimited supplies of liquor. The missionary can do but little to alleviate their misery. Unless Canada is aroused to take some radical measure it is only a matter of a few years before some of their tribes must be extinct. [page 72]
THE SHAKER DANCE
The Shakers are a sect of Indians who meet once a week, or oftener, for divine worship. An essential feature of their service is the shaking—an intense vibration of the hands and fingers produced by spirit power. When in this hypnotic condition they have gifts of healing, and receive spirit communications. Their teaching is a strange blending of varied elements leaned from Catholic and Protestant missionaries. They have a liturgical service in which they are led by three elders. The effect of their worship is to make them clean-living and independent. These good effects are to some extent annulled by their intense bigotry. The rhythm and measure of the following lines are the same as those of their chanting. As a rule they use only two syllables and four notes. Taking an octave, say in the key of F natural, and beginning with the top note, the tones are F, C, D, A. The dance is saved from being monotonous by the way in which voices, feet, and bells each dominate in their turn, so that at one time the dancing and ringing are but an accompaniment to the chanting. At another time the chanting is but an echo, or may cease altogether.
Voices—Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh Feet—Ramp’ ramp, ramp’ ramp, ramp’ ramp, ramp’ ramp, Bells—Ling’-a linga ling’-a linga ling’-a linga ling’-a linga Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh Listen! listen! hear the Shakers! Catch the rhythm of their dancing, And the tinkling of the hand-bells, With their voices’ mournful cadence. [page 73] Myriad candles slowly glimmer All around their house of meeting, T’ward the sunrise stands an alter With a plain black cross before it, Sewn upon the alter-linen: Three white crosses rise above it, Lit with many a guttering candle. On the bench that skirts the building Sit the Indians who would see them; Strangers, who perhaps may join them. Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh, Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh, Now the chanting, soaring loudly, To the rhythm of their dancing, And the music of the hand-bells, Rouses each to greater fervour. Waving hands and quivering fingers Speak the working of the Spirit Who possesses all their being; From all taint of sin to cleanse them, And from all disease to heal them. Ling’-a linga ling’-a linga ling’-a linga ling’-a linga, Tinkling hand-bells lead the measure. Sinks the chanting to a murmur, And the tramp of feet sounds feebler As they dance around the sufferer, And, with trembling hands and fingers, [page 74] Take the sickness from his body; Then, with faces marred and twisted, Hands clasped rigidly before them, Dance toward the open doorway; Hurl the poison into darkness. Ramp’ ramp, ramp’ ramp, ramp’ ramp, ramp’ ramp, Louder, louder sounds the dancing; Booted feet on hollow flooring, Pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding. Now the chanting wholly ceases While their quivering hands before him, Cast their magic spell upon him. Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh, Ho – o – o – o i – i – i – gh, Joyful, they resume their chanting, For the Spirit moves the stranger. Suddenly he leaps to join them, As the rapture thrills his being. First he stands as one bewildered: Then the trembling comes upon him, And his feet move with the measure; A new heart to him is given, And a spirit strong to conquer Evil ways that long have bound him. Swiftly glide the light-winged minutes: One by one the candles flicker, [page 75] Till the hour of midnight passes, And the spell begins to weaken. Now they gather in a circle, Each around his neighbour turning, Clasping hands that point to heaven; While the trembling passes from them, And the magic spell is broken. Then—in silence deep and awful, In a circle near the altar, Where, before the three white crosses, Stand three elders, men who lead them,— Each whose mind has been instructed By the Spirit in their dancing, Signs the cross upon his bosom; And before the listening brothers, And the earnest Shaker sisters, Tells the word for which they hunger. When the message has been given, And the closing prayer is offered, All in genial friendship mingle; And, with a contagious gladness, Speak the wonders of the Spirit Sent by God to heal and teach them. Then, in groups, they slowly scatter To the dwellings, huge, fantastic, Where their household fires are burning; And the Shaker dance is ended. [page 76]
THE PIONEER MISSIONARIES
God bless the pioneers; May His mercy enrich their declining years. The hearts were strong as the tempered steel; Yet pulsing with tenderest love, that could feel The awful darkness and woe that pressed Like a nightmare of doom on the Indian breast. God bless the pioneers; They have done their work in sorrow and tears; For the scourge of death has swept through the land; The fruit of their toil has been snatched from their hand; They have given their lives for a smitten race, With none to sustain them but God and His grace. God bless the pioneers; May the voice that called them sound in our ears: The tribute we render with tongue or pen Is but feeble praise for heroic men; But to show that in us their work shall live Is the highest tribute our hearts can give. [page 77]
A ROMANCE OF THE WEST
Three English lads came over the sea To the glorious land of the maple tree, Through the prairie land, And the mountains grand, Till they came once more to the rolling sea. Oh, the rolling sea, Where the winds blow free! Oh, the lovely isle Where the roses smile, In the land of the maple tree! Three English maids on the western strand To make a nice little home had planned; But their hearts were sore For the days of yore, And the dear ones left it in the native land. Oh, the dear home-land, With its story grand! Oh, the parting tear And the friends so dear! And the longed for their native land. [page 78] Now, these English lads with the maidens three Were out one day on the rolling sea; And with venture bold Their love was told, And their dreams of the golden times to be. Oh, the times to be, And the homes they’ll see! Oh, the life so grand On the western strand, In the land of the maple tree! [page 79]
You tell me, Rose, that the garden is fair, And its flowers and fruits are sweet and rare; But a deadly serpent lurks by the path; What is the gain if thy life he hath? Flee! Flee! Listen to me; Why should his poison cleave to thee? You tell me, Rose, of your love’s delight; Of your new-born sweetness, tender and bright. But a secret sin in his heart he keeps; What profits the joy when thy poor heart weeps? Flee! Flee! Listen to me; Why should his sin bring sorrow to thee? You tell me, Rose, you have power to charm The lurking for from his power to harm. A serpent charmed is a serpent still; But a willful woman must have her will. Doom! Doom! trouble and gloom! Heart-ache and misery over thee loom. [page 80]
THE GOLDEN TIME
Here, beneath the cherry-tree, Darling, come and sit with me; Sing a song with tripping chime, All about the olden time, When Love’s dream was young and glowing, Cherry-blossom mine; And its fervour daily growing In the olden time. The olden time, With its growing, glowing splendour; Our sweeting time Beneath the cherry-tree. Sweet the grace of flowers may be; Sweeter still thy form to me. Love was born in golden days; Proven love has higher praise. Young Love’s dream might quickly vanish In the olden time. Tested love no power can banish, Cherry-blossom mine. The olden time, With its growing, glowing splendour; Our sweeting time Beneath the cherry-tree. [page 81]
Oh, sweet is the Pembina valley in summer, When the goldenrod blooms, and the whip-poor-will sings; And welcome its sheltering calm to the roamer When, over the hillside, the snow-mantle clings. But weary to me are the sweet summer hours; Like a pall on my heart are the snow and the frost; For a deer little girlie lies under the flowers; The brightness and bloom of our household are lost. She rests in the graveyard that lies by the river; On the maple-tree near her the meadow-lark sings. Its note speaks of gladness; but nought can deliver My heart from the sorrow that memory brings. When the cold and the snow of the winter are over, The spring weaves its garment again o’er the earth; And it may be that some day my heart will recover From the winter of sorrow that lies on its mirth. [page 82]
Oh, a little bit of fun, How it makes the worries run; When we crack a little joke, Or a bit of mischief poke At the neighbour whom we greet As we walk along the street, It gives to life a spice, And helps to melt the ice That would gather, where the mind Is to constant toil inclined. Oh, a little bit of fun for me. Oh, a sweet and sunny smile Stealing, every little while, Like a sunbeam o’er a face Lit with helpfulness and grace, Gives a world of sweetest pleasure, And a radiance none can measure; Sheds an atmosphere of gladness In the place of gloom and sadness. Turns the bitter word aside That would poison if replied. Oh, sunny little smile for me. [page 83] Oh, a merry little song, How it helps the toil along. When the weary spirits flag, And our feet begin to drag, There is magic in a ditty That will make us brave and gritty; In its music there is healing That can soothe the ruffled feeling; Rid the heart of selfish care, Change its mourning into prayer. Oh, a merry little song for me. [page 84]
LINES FOR THE TIRED WORKER
Rest! Rest! Rest! Thy Father knoweth best. No need to fret and strain Thy longing to attain; God shall assuage thy pain. Rest! Rest! Rest! Trust! Trust! Trust! For faith upholds the just. The light of coming days, With heart-inspiring rays, Shines clear on him who prays. Trust! Trust! Trust! List! List! List! Let not the voice be missed That whispers in thy soul, Its tumult to control, And calling to its goal. List! List! List! Rest! Rest! Rest! God heareth thy request. For not His slave art thou, But dear-loved child, and now His kiss is on thy brow! Rest! Rest! Rest! [page 85]
O God, be near me now, My life to Thee I vow. I would not be mine own, But Thine, and Thine alone. My soul and body here I give, That in Thy service I may live. To serve with glowing heart,— Be mine this joyful part. Not with a servant’s fear, But as a kinsman dear. For Thou dost live within my breast, And in Thy service I am blest. With rapture I would share The cross Thy children bear. No higher boon I ask Than strength to do my task. Along life’s glorious path I plod, To live and labour for my God. And ever while I pray Thy love illumes my way. The end my vision reads To which Thy Spirit leads. By faith I see the joyful hour When all shall own Thy love and power. [page 86]
THE LOVE OF GOD
“God is love: and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”—1 John 4:16.
O Love, surpassing knowledge, I want to know Thee more. My eager heart is panting Thy glorious heights to soar. Thou who hast made my spirit, And taught it to aspire, Come now and dwell within me, And feed its scared fire. With joy I read Thy message From out the sacred page: To Thee the saints bear witness In every place and age. Thou shinest in the teaching That streams from Galilee: And most I hear Thee speaking In Jesus’ agony. I thank Thee for Thy tokens That gild the written Word: And, more, that still Thy glory In living tones is heard. [page 87] But dwell, my Lord, within me, And make my heart Thy rest; So shall be kindled ever Thy fervour in my breast. Thy joyful Spirit shining Each day within my heart, All fear, and sin, and error, And weakness shall depart. O Love, my Lord, my father, Hear Thou my earnest prayer: Teach me to know Thy fullness, And in Thy nature share. For so a living message My heart and voice shall thrill, To heal the broken-hearted, And turn the sinful will: My time and strength be given In high and sweet employ, Until, within the Homeland, I share Thy rest and joy. [page 88]
The eternal God is thy refuge, And His everlasting arm Will shelter thee from the deluge Of trouble and sin and alarm. The wind and the storm are His servants; His providence shines in the light; In loyal, unfailing observance The stars keep His watch through the night. The blossom that sweetens the garden, And the tiniest flower of the field, With their magic power to gladden, And the stores of healing they yield Are all the work of our Father; They sing of His love and care; Then fear no longer, but rather The joy of the household share. O come and rest in His presence, All ye that labour and roam; And fear not as though ye were servants; Ye are children within the home. [page 89] Ye share in its toils and labours, Bear the burden to each assigned; Oh, come and share in its favours, Nor lag as a servant behind. Thy Father the bitterness knoweth That dwells in thy heart each day. Oh, lift up thy head while He showeth The glory that shines on thy way. For the Living God is thy helper, And the strength of His mighty arm Is the everlasting shelter Where His children are safe from harm. [page 90]
THE OTHER SIDE OF IT
If you think you’ve got a mission Hearts to bless and souls to save, Come and be a missionary; Put your scruples in their grave. Only don’t be too conceited, Think yourself a little god; Lots of jobs you’ll have to tackle That you’ll think are very odd. This was written by a preacher Sweeping up the church-house floor. Oh, you can’t convince the native That the mission-man is poor. No; he thinks you’ve lots of money, And can pay a double price For the little chores he does you. Only one thing’s cheap—advice. [page 91]
THE SLUMBER SONG OF THE STEAMSHIP BABY
(To be sung to the time of the engine throb)
Sleep; sleep; Rocked in the deep, While the seagulls sweep, And the fishes weep, And the jelly-fish creep, Sleep; sleep. Doze; doze; With your dainty toes In sweet little rows; And the tip of your nose In soft repose, Doze; doze. Dream; dream; Of a golden gleam From a moonland beam, That floats on a stream Of sugar and cream. Dream; dream. [page 92] Good-night; Sleep till the light Hastens its flight, Cheery and bright, Waking your sight. Good-night.
Go and get your dinner, boy, Go and get your dinner. Run and put your trousers on, Oh, you little sinner! Don’t stay paddling like a duck In among the fishes. Mother called you long ago When she laid the dishes. Put your shoes and stockings on, Fast as you are able. You will sing another tune When you reach the table. All the pudding will be gone; All the meat and gravy. Only bones be left for you, Naughty little Davey. [page 93]
SOLOMON: A LITTLE INDIAN BOY
Such a bright little pair of slanting eyes; They are the eyes of Solomon. A shining face so funny and wise; And it belongs to Solomon. With huddled form bending over the desk, Learning to write is Solomon; And his cramped little fingers strain at their task; Dear little Siwash Solomon. But the picture-book is his greatest joy; See the sparkling eyes of Solomon As he looks at the goose running after the boy; It gives lots of fun to Solomon. And monkey and lions and elephants all Are a great delight to Solomon. Unspoilt is he, for no book at all Is found in the home of Solomon. [page 94] “Come and play ah-bles, teacher,” he cries; Broken English speaks Solomon. To hit my shot with vigour he tries, For he loves to win, does Solomon. And he loves to paddle a big canoe; Lots of pluck has Solomon. And a dip in the river pleases him too; “It’s fine,” thinks nimble Solomon. Dear little bright-eyed, sunny boy! Dear little Siwash Solomon! What can the future bring you of joy? My heart aches for you, Solomon. For the old black past, with its deathlike grip, Maybe will get my Solomon. The savage old ways, I fear, will trip And downward cast little Solomon. O God of love, how long shall it be That dear little chaps like Solomon Shall be dragged by dark customs away from me? O God in heaven, save Solomon! [page 95]
I’ll tell you a story I’ve often told Of a quaint little man just six years old. He lived in an Indian boarding-school Where we tried to teach him the white man’s rule. One morning I went to the bedroom door To help him dress, as often before. But a mournful wailing came to me, And I hastened to learn what the cause might be. A sorrowful picture met my gaze;— A poor little woe-begone, tear-stained face; And he said, with many a sob and shake, “I fall’d out of bed a-fore I wake.” To comfort the dear little chap I tried, And soon the tears from his cheeks were dried; But with deepest reproach in his voice he said, “You didn’t tuck me tight in me bed.” [page 96]
What is the blight That chases the light, And the gleam of joy From the eye of a boy? It’s the cigarette. Look at the figure! Where is its vigour? Why does he shuffle And amble and scuffle? See the cigarette. Watch him at school, Acting the fool. Brain all bemuddled, Lazy and fuddled By the cigarette. Who does the shirking While others are working Who is the loafer? The boy that’s the smoker Of the cigarette. [page 97] Eyes that are failing;— Hearts that are ailing;— Youths that are plucked;— These are the product Of the cigarette. How can we stop it? Get them to drop it? Hear, Mr. Man, There’s only one plan: Quit your cigarette. [page 98]
THE VOICE OF THE TRAIN
This was written by the author to his wife when he had left her for a few weeks to visit a distant tribe of Indians. While he was travelling, the bogie, who lives down among the rolling wheels of the car, talked to him in the manner described below.
When the train had left the station And your form was lost to view, I, for lack of occupation, Sat and dozed, and dreamed of you. Suddenly I heard a murmur Coming from beneath the car, Changing slowly—soft, now louder, Like a muffled voice afar: “ She’s a darling little woman, She’s a darling little woman, She’s a darling little woman,” Said the voice beneath the car. Soon we passed the level country, And the car began to climb. Still the strange voice seemed to haunt me, Now in sharp staccato time; With a deep and earnest accent On the third and seventh tone, As of one whose task was urgent, Toiling sadly and alone: [page 99] “ Little woman—how I love you, Little woman—how I love you, Little woman—how I love you;” This it said in straining tone. But, when we had reached the summit, Quite a change came o’er the voice. Now a cheerfulness was in it, As of one who could rejoice. While it frolicked, dance, and capered, Like a buffalo at play, Still a message it repeated,— This is what I heard it say: “ Dearie, will you—come along too? Dearie, will you—come along too? Dearie, will you—come along too?” How I wished you could obey. Coming near my destination, As I heard the switches clang, Lo! the speaker’s exultation Changed the murmur to a twang. And the message that I gathered, As we swung from side to side, Seemed to be that I was ordered Soon to take my homeward ride: “ Time to go back—over the track, Time to go back—over the track, Time to go back—over the track,” “True is that,” my heart replied. [page 100]
Isn’t is glorious? Simply grand! Here we go scampering over the land. Bicycles, horses, clear out of the way! Honk! you pedestrians! Honk it! I say. Look at that farmer! What’s wrong with his horse? He or the creature is crazy, of course. Puppies and chickens, old women and brats,— Send them all flying! And death to the cats! See yonder cyclist. With terror she grips Hard at the handles, and wobbles and slips. If you’ve an eye for expressions grotesque Ride in an auto. It’s most picturesque. We are the people. Five thousand we’ve paid For the right to make horses and women afraid. So away we go speeding, adventures to find, And leave all the fear-stricken mortals behind. [page 101]
Say, what is the meaning of all these tricks,— A serpent, a coffin, a bundle of sticks; A wounded traveler gagged and bound, By a strange-looking man or the Orient found; A youth who is gathering stones from a brook; And a chain of three links wherever I look? What is the heart in the open hand? For what so the skull and the crossbones stand? The globe and the axe, the quiver and bow, The scythe and the hour-glass—what may they show? And the magic letters F. L. T. Which are carved or written on all I see? Who sits in the mighty, curtained chair? And what means this strange, mysterious sir? That open eye with its darting gleams— What is the magic that shines in its beams? But for the Bible that stands in the centre I’d shudder with awe, and fear to enter. [page 102] Oh, these are the symbols to Odd-fellows known; By these pictures and signs are their sentiments shown. Begin, if you will, with the bundle of sticks: The bundle is strong, but the single stick breaks; And a lot of good fellows holding together Can cheerfully pull through the stormiest weather. The open hand with the naked heart Belongs to each brother who does his part. With warmth sincere the stranger he greets; And is ready to help when distress he meets. For he lives in the gleam of the All-seeing eye Of the God who, with justice, our conduct shall try. The coffin reminds us of death and the tomb: As brothers we labour to soften their gloom. When an Odd-fellow dies he is decently buried, And we help the window of him who was married. We care for his grave from year to year; And see that his children get Christmas cheer. The lad with the stones is David, and he With Jonathan shows us what FRIENDSHIP should be. The Samaritan teaches a LOVE broad and kind That reaches beyond the conventional mind. While the Bible stands there as the symbol of TRUTH— The guide of the nations in age and youth. [page 103] Now you know the meaning of F. L. T., That is graven on most of the things you see. And of these the three links are a visible token By which we are known though no word is spoken. And they call us the chain-gang because we wear The badge of our fellowship everywhere. And so with every symbol and sign; In picture and token our principles shine. We are bound to defend the rights of a brother; To speak no evil of one another. And ever we hold that a friend in need Is, above all others, a friend indeed. So here’s to the men of the friendly chain. Through the world may our brothers its honour maintain. May every Odd-fellow a good-fellow be; And every good-fellow a brother we’d see. For we build on the ROCK that shall ever endure, While manhood is noble, warm-hearted, and pure.
NOTE — Published with the approval of the Grand Master and Grand Secretary of the Independent Order of Odd-fellows, British Columbia. [page 104]
THE MINSTER’S WELCOME
“Root, hog, or die,” Said the man to the grunting creature. And this was the sage advice That welcomed a Methodist preacher. He had newly come from England For mission work in the West, With his heart on fire for service;— Determined to give his best. His circuit lay in the Rockies, Up in the Crow’s Nest pass; Where the coal lies hid in the mountains, ‘Neath the somber evergreen mass. As the train drew into the station A collier stepped to his side, And said, with a hearty handshake, As he offered to be his guide, [page 105] “You’ve come to a desperate country, As you’ll find out by-and-bye; The best advice I can give you Is ‘Root, hog, or die.’” This broad, but well-meant, humour Made the man’s heart leap in his breast: For the genuine Methodist preacher Likes the hardest mission the best.
This was actually the greeting given to a missionary friend of the author’s, when he arrived at his first field in the Rockies. [page 106]
WAR, PAST AND PRESENT
In bygone, dim, primeval days, When knives were made of flint; And men were smeared, in strangest ways, With paint of varied tint: Axes and hammers made of stone, And boats of hollowed trees; Daggers and fish-hooks carved from bone, The hunter’s taste to please: Your house would then have been a hole Dug in the mountain-side; For men and women, like the mole, Were free from modern pride. No King or President had they To rule them in their cave; The duty with the father lay To make the boys behave. And when the youngsters, big and raw, Spread out to other caves, The father’s word was still the law Among his hairy braves. [page 107] Now, when the tribe grew strong and tall, They robbed their weaker neighbours; Nor thought it wrong to capture all The products of their labours. But when the weaker tribes at length Were moved to desperation, They said they would unite their strength, And so they formed a nation. This plan was copied far and wide For mutual self-defence; But soon the stronger nations tried A fighting game immense. The village brawl and tribal fight Gave place to deeps of war; Their armies, holding might was right, Rejoiced in battle gore. For way the mother bred her boy; For war men trained their youth; To die in battle was their joy; Courage was more than truth. And many heroic deeds were done By mighty men of yore; And many a glorious victory won As told in ancient lore. [page 108] And much was gained they never sought, For warfare was the school In which the God of Battles taught The nations how to rule. The nation that would win in fight Must guard and train its lads; And they did best who could unite, And lay aside their fads. So hard experience made them wise, And discipline was learned; Leaders were honoured in their eyes, And craven hearts were spurned. And not alone these virtues flame In every warlike nation; But letters gained from deeds of fame Their highest inspiration. The poet’s song and writer’s pen Discoursed in words of fire The noble deeds of noble men, To stir the high desire. Their glowing records love and burn With undiminished light; And in their story we may learn To nerve our hearts for fight. [page 109] But is the warrior-spirit fled That fired the hero bold? Do we admire the mighty dead While our own hearts are cold? No! No! We seek not fields of gore Where we may rise to fame. We’ve learnt to hate the battle-roar, Its curse of steel and flame. No more we glory in the fight; We scorn the lust for blood. No more we hold that might is right, And murder blessed by God. But now we hear a battle-cry That calls to bravest action, Where every warrior-soul may try To aid the nobler faction. Not men we fight, but foes of men; The ancient wrongs intrenched; The loathsome sins that haunt the den Where manhood’s fire is quenched. The greed that flattens on the sweat And blood of toiling mothers; Or spreads with horrid craft a net To catch the weaker brothers. [page 110] Evils that blight the strength of youth And make its promise vain: The fiends that quench the light of truth With falsehood’s ghastly train. Is there a soul that seeks renown Surpassing ancient history? Let him arise and strike these down, And win the greater glory. [page 111]