Herbert Thomas John (H. T. J.) Coleman
Cockle-Shell and Sandal-Shoon

The RYERSON

POETRY

CHAP-BOOKS

[illustration]

Cockle-Shell and

Sandal-Shoon

by

H. T. J. COLEMAN

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

OF THIS edition of Cockle-Shell and Sandal-Shoon, by H. T. J. Coleman, two hundred and fifty copies have been printed. This Chap-book is a product of the Ryerson Press, Toronto, Canada.

Acknowledgments are made to the Vancouver Province and to the New Outlook for permission to reprint poems which have already appeared in their pages.

Copies of this Chap-book may be secured from The Ryerson Press, Toronto.

Copyright, Canada, 1927

by The Ryerson Press

   H.T.J. COLEMAN, B.A., Ph.D., is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, and Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. He was formerly Dean of the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont. He is the author of Education in Upper Canada (1908). [unnumbered page]

[illustration:

The RYERSON

POETRY

CHAP-BOOKS]

Cockle-Shell and Sandal-Shoon

By Dean H. T. J. Coleman

♦♦♦

COCKLE-SHELL AND SANDAL-SHOON

LIFE is a pilgrimage, they say;

At times upon the broad highway,

At times by narrow paths that creep

Painfully o’er mountains steep.

We reach the summit as we may.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say;

But with stout staff of truth alway

We never need be faint of heart,

Nor from the pilgrim path depart,

Even though the skies be heavy and grey.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

At times there may be toll to pay

Of our heart’s blood; this, life may ask

If we should choose the higher task.

The valiant do not shun the fray.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

He that is wise takes time to stay [page 1]

For worship at some wayside shrine

Of common things that are divine.

The pilgrim heart has need to pray.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

At times the heavens are blue, and gay

About our feet are summer flowers

Dancing with the shining hours.

Such joys as these cannot betray

Though life’s a pilgrimage, they say.

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

And when we reach the close of day

Travel-stained and journey-worn,

A voice shall whisper, “Rest till morn!

Rest till the night has passed away.”

Life is a pilgrimage, they say.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

ON THE GULF OF GEORGIA

WARM the sun and blue the sky,

   Calm the sea this winter day,

Little waves go dancing by

   As the ship pursues her way,

Bright reflections multiplied

   Of the brightness overhead.

With the moving of the tide

   Dimpled circles rise and spread.

Joyously, with easy flight,

   Sea-gulls follow close behind,

Poise awhile on pinions light

   Drift like snow-flakes down the wind.

And serene, majestical,

   Fairer far than poet’s dreams,

Shedding radiance over all,

   Baker’s mighty summit gleams.

Rocky islets near at hand,

   Distant islands forest crowned,

Surely they are fairyland

   And their shores enchanted ground. [page 2]

THE EXILE

THE BLUE seas, and the green trees, and the high hills calling,

The long reach of the white beach, and the soft dusk falling,

These in my dreams and in my waking hours,

Come to me, an exile, in this land of flowers.

For they are of the homeland, and I am far away,

Where the sun shines strongly through the long bright day,

And I would feel once more the mist upon my cheek,

And hear again the message the solemn mountains speak.

The grey rocks and the busy flocks of the gulls along the shore,

The heaving tide where the ships ride, call to me o’er and o’er;

And at eve I see the bright star that my true love also sees,

And the moon of summer gleaming through the dark fir trees.

These are the charm of the homeland, the land where I was born,

Where childhood, felt the promise in the golden light of morn;

And all I ask of Heaven is that age shall find me there

To know the joys of the homeland that is in dreams so fair.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

AFTER THE STORM

SEE HOW the clouds are banked towards the north

Against the mountain-side and, issuing forth,

The sun which has been hidden all the day

Lights up the landscape with its level ray.

The mellow gleam transfigures everything;

The roadside bushes glow as if the spring

Had touched them with its magic, and the green

Of fir-tree boughs takes on a brighter sheen.

Far in the lucent west appears a strange

And beautiful illusion, ’tis a range

Of snowy peaks tumultuously piled,

Its valleys glacier filled, on which the mild

Effulgence of the sunset settles down

In green and gold and azure like a crown.

Such green, perhaps, as Eden’s meadows showed,

Such gold as never was on man bestowed,

Such azure as in skies paradise

May on some far to-morrow greet our eyes.

These are the hills of fairyland, and there

Are all the dreams that have made earth so fair. [page 3]

MYSTERY

AS LIFE advances more and more I feel

    The mystery which surrounds me like a sea,

The things I daily meet so well conceal

    Their secret. In the glad expectancy

Of spring, which but this afternoon I shared

    A meaning is that now I may not know,

For if I should there would to me be bared

    That which eternity alone can show.

But I can hope and in that hope go on,

And labour with what strength to me is given,

And gladly rest me when my work is done,

And sun my soul in the clear light of Heaven,

And keep twin tapers burning, Love and Faith,

To light me in that final mystery, Death.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

NIGHT SCENE

THE WIND and rain are gone; in the clear air

    Some fleecy clouds remain, and bright

Above them floats the moon; while, here and there,

    The stars look down upon me through the night.

Peaceful beyond description is the scene,

   And beautiful. The earth is now asleep;

The houses are but shadows: in between

   The stately fir-trees solemn vigil keep.

Life has its wind and rain: when they are past,

    Our souls look upward and forget their scars,

The infinite blue of heaven appears at last,

   Though solemn night comes on there shine the stars.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

CREATION

THERE are occasions in life’s simple story,

        At least a few

In which the commonplace is tinged with glory,

        We feel and do

That which at other times is scarce a dream.

In those brief moments—all too brief—we seem [page 4]

To find our fellowship with Him whose power

       From Chaos made

The ordered world in that great primal hour:

       Who overlaid

The heavens with stars and gave the ocean vast

Its place to keep while earth and heaven last.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

HOPE

GREY sky above and a grey sea below.

Through rain and mist the distant islands show

Dimly. What is there in the sea,

Or in the o’erhanging clouds to speak to me

Of hope and consolation aught at all?

Through the long hours of night the rain shall fall

As if has fallen all day, and I shall wake

To-morrow, and shall see the wan day break,

And feel the clouds’ dark shadow on my life,

And find within my inmost heart the strife

Of feelings restless as the wave and wind.

But look! The sinking sun has left behind

Far in the west some traces of his glory,

The morn perhaps will tell a different story

From what my heart forebodes, and I shall feel

The peace that comes when wind and wave are still.

And if not then, some later morn shall rise

To bring a new day’s splendour to my eyes.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

THE RIDDLE—A SONG

IT HAS been sung about

    All through the ages,

Wisely discussed in

    The lore of the sages.

Some men have died for it,

   So I’ve been told;

Some women sighed for it

   When it grew cold.

It has been housed in

   The hut of the savage,

Has been occasion for

   War and its ravage. [page 5]

Kings have bowed down to it,

   Called it their master,

Proffered their crown to it,

   Braving disaster.

Poets have chanted

   Its magical power,

Source of the beauty

   Of tree and of flower.

When it shall call to you

   Turn not away;

See, I bring all to you,—

   Take it, I pray.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

ALMA MATER

Dedicated to the students of the University of British Columbia.

ALMA MATER, the guardian of our youth;

   Fair is the laurel wreath that crowns thy brow.

Friend of our country and the friend of truth,

   Thy children hail thee now.

Alma Mater, daughter or the years;

    The great of former days are living yet.

Speak thou their high faith in our duller ears;

    Forbid us to forget.

Alma Mater, feeder of the flame;

    Pure hopes and noble purposes are thine.

On us whose pulses quicken at thy name.

    Grant that the light may shine.

Alma Mater, watcher of the hours;

    Thou lookest on the mountains and the sea,

And rulest in the might of other powers,

    In loftier majesty.

Alma Mater, Mother of our love;

    Many the paths we tread in future days,

Yet nought that time can bring shall e’er remove

    Thy memory or thy praise. [page 6]

MAN AND THE INFINITE

I STOOD upon a height and saw below

   A city where a million people dwelt;

I watched the endless streams of traffic flow,

   Silent it seemed, along its streets and felt

How wonderful must be the mind of man

   To see such things in vision, and how great

Must be the compass of his powers who can

   Within a few short years such things create.

And as I further gazed, the lights flashed out,

   Mile upon mile, and busy streets became

The paths of fairyland, and round about

   The palaces and towers were rings of flame.

And then I turned and saw in the West afar

   The tender glow with which the sunset fills

The summer twilight, and the evening star

   Low-cradled in a hollow of the hills.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

THE SONG

THERE is a story many centuries old:

Of monk named Ambrose it, I think, is told,

Who took a walk within an ancient wood

Which near the monastery garden stood.

And there beneath the spreading boughs he heard

The song melodious of a single bird.

He stood and listened with a soul entranced

And took no heed of how the hours advanced.

When he returned at length, the sun had set,

And at the monastery gate he met

One whom he knew not, who of him inquired

His name and what it was that he desired.

“I Ambrose am,” he answered, “one you well

Might know, since but this noon I left my cell,

To walk and ponder in the forest near.

How is it that I find a stranger here?”

“No Brother Ambrose has by me been known,”

The man replied, “Though thirty years have flown

Since first I came within these peaceful walls,

I must the Abbot ask if he recalls

The name you mention, since I plainly see

From your rapt look, here is some mystery.” [page 7]

The Abbot was a stranger like the other,

But there was found at last an aged brother,

Who had been there for fifty years or more

Who memory had that many years before

There was a Brother Ambrose who, one day,

Had left his cell to meditate and pray

Within the wood, and none had ever learned

What had befallen, since he ne’er returned.

“Tis but a tale,” the sceptic may remark,

“By credulous minds believed in ages dark,”

But somehow, somewhere, I have heard a song

Which makes me think the sceptic may be wrong.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

BOND OF EMPIRE

   Note: English skylarks can often be heard in some meadows in the outskirts of Victoria, B.C.

WHAT melody is this? I never heard

A song so varied, so sustained, so clear,

Before this hour from any Western bird.

The spirit of the place it sure must be,

Voicing the gladness of the opening year

Above this smiling meadow facing toward the sea.

“It is an English skylark,” someone says;

“They nest here and their song we often hear.”

And straightway I recall my mother’s face

As, seated with them in the evening glow,

She tells her children how this song did cheer

An English childhood in the happy long ago.

And I recall as well, this little bird,

—Artist supreme with whom no art can vie—

Whose music thrills me now, has often stirred

The hearts of those who to all time belong;

Here is the theme that raised their thoughts on high,

Here the “embodied joy” of Shelley’s deathless song.

Melodious singer! Thou too soon art gone.

Yet with the magic aid of fancy, I,

Who never saw in England the day dawn,

An English landscape can in dream behold;

See thee against a dappled English sky,

Above those English fields of which my mother told. [page 8]

SUMMER NIGHT

THE CRICKET’S song seems faint and far away,

    Yet steadily it falls upon my ear,

Its plaintive burden is the same alway,

    Nor will it cease until the dawn is here.

What is its meaning I shall never know;

    It is, perhaps, a token of love’s spell

And seeks, while starlit hours come and go,

    Love’s ancient tale of faithfulness to tell.

Or is it that the velvet touch of night

    That hides the world of objects from my view,

Brings to his heart such raptures of delight

    As my poor human senses never knew.

Such speculation is but idle guess,

    And yet the cricket’s monotone to me

Is of all voices fittest to express

    Love’s weight of longing and night’s mystery.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

JOY

MEN SPEAK of Joy as a tender flower

Blossoming but for one brief hour,

Leaving behind it regret and pain

For that which never returns again.

Alas! that some have found it so,

But this is not the joy I know.

For the joy I know is a forest tree

Standing in strength and majesty,

Its branches the home of the nesting bird,

Its happy leaves of summer stirred

By the faintest breath of the passing breeze

To many-voicèd harmonies.

And when the branches are stark and lone,

And the voices are dumb and the birds are flown,

Something still by the spirit is heard

Sweeter still by the spirit is heard

Sweeter than music of wind or bird,

For even in winter love can sing

That has in its heart the promise of spring. [page 9]

HUMAN NATURE

I DREAMT that Fortune stood beside my bed.

A sheaf of shining gifts she bore, and said

“What will you have, for ‘Ask and have’ it is?

There are but two conditions. One is this:

That you shall never ask to be relieved

Of anything of that you have received.

The other is: If you should seek for more,

You’ll straightway be as needy as before.”

And in my dream I thought, “What is there left,

If I hope and striving am bereft?”

And, “Can I ever be so much a saint

As to forego the luxury of complaint?”

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

THE CHALLENGERS

I WALKED abroad to-day and heard

    A meadow-lark pour forth its song.

“How great the courage of the bird,”

    I said, “It surely knows how long

The time must be ere spring appear.

Should it not check its song for fear

    Harsh winter might offended be,

    Winter whose sway now covers land and sea?”

And then I chanced to see half-hidden

    Among the grass a gleam of yellow,

A dandelion come unbidden

    To greet the sun. It had no fellow

Of myriads that some six weeks hence

Will stand in such strong evidence.

    The other flowers were asleep,

    By winds of winter lulled in slumber deep.

I blessed these messengers of spring

   For all their hardihood and faith:

The little bird that dared to sing,

   The flower that braved the wind’s chill breath.

I thought, “Shall I be fearful then,

When these provide example plain,

    Who with the calendar make merry,

    And sing and smile their scorn of January.” [page 10]

AN OLD QUESTION

HOW SHALL we measure worth?

By accident of birth?

By the place which by chance

Of happy circumstance

A man may proudly take till chance again

Makes all his boasting vain?

By wealth in lands or gold

For which oft souls are sold?

By the world’s idle fame,

Which needs must have a name

To play with till again in sport

It drives its favourite from court?

Or shall we find another measure quite

As different as day from night

From these whose title to respect

The wise man thinks of only to reject?

Not royal birth unless it bring

Behaviour that befits a king,

Not high estate unless it shows

Honour from worth, not worth from honour grows.

Not gold in purse, but gold in heart

Is much the better part.

And fame is oft a gaudy jewel

Set on the forehead of a fool.

Simple goodness, simple faith,

Love that outlasts the pangs of death,

Charm of face and form and voice

To make both eye and ear rejoice.

A heart that chooses for its fare

Sunlight and the open air,

Beauty of earth and sky and sea;

That beats in ready sympathy

With all that makes for human good

And the wider brotherhood.

O you who sometimes feel the load

Of life grow heavy and the road

Set for your feet lonely and sad,

These give you place, and worth.

Be glad! [page 11]

THE ROAD

THERE is a road that I have travelled many, many times,

And I know each turn of its winding course,

And the trees which border it are to me familiar friends,

And I love them whether they wear their spring-time garments of green,

Or whether they stand, as now, in the tattered foliage of late fall,

With only a hint here and there of the glory that was theirs

Only a few short weeks ago,

And I love them whether bright with the radiance of summer morning

Or spectral in the mists of winter.

My road is full of wonder and mystery,

The mystery of narrow lanes deeply rutted by wood-laden trucks

Where the branches clasp hands overhead,

And the dead leaves, sodden by the rain, mingle with the dark earth;

And the wonder of the sea, whether golden under the afternoon sun,

Or leaden grey as the twilight steals across the waters.

But there is another mystery and another wonder still,

Thy mystery of the tie that binds human hearts together,

In a fellowship deeper than words,

On that other road which we call life.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

MOUNTAINS IN THE WINTER

’TWAS but this morning that there met my eyes,

    As from my window casually I gazed,

Some mountain-tops that towered to the skies

    From out a world of cloud. I stood amazed,

And wondered for a moment if they were

    Nothing but an illusion, soon to change

And fade away in to the upper air,

   Or merge themselves into the billowy range

Of cloudland on whose brightening crest they stood.

    But as I looked I traced their outline clear

I marked the dazzling gleam which made the snows,

    New fallen in the yester-night, appear

A jewel set in the o’erarching blue.

    And I remembered how the saint of old

Spoke, when the heavenly city met his view,

    Of jasper walls and streets of shining gold. [page 12]

WHITE MAGIC

WHY SHOULD the silver moon, that now at last

    Shines through the tree-tops, fill my soul with pain

    Of passionate longing that I might attain

Unto life’s secret and might hold fast?

Why should its full-orbed splendour speak to me

    Of beauty past the power of human heart

    To hold within its grasp, or painter’s art

To place on canvas that the eye may see

    What hides behind the shows to sense made known—

The wonder and the calm and the immensity

    Of night, the spell of cloudless heavens sown

With stars, each one a sun to which our own

Is but a taper? These are questionings

To which one’s deepest thought no answer brings.

And yet from out the mystery comes a voice

“O Soul of Man, these are thyself. Rejoice!”

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

THE DOGWOOD

WHEN spring comes dancing down the forest ways,

    Her bright locks moist with showers, and her eyes

Shining with promise of warm sunny days,

   Where’er her footsteps pass the flowers rise,

The leaves put forth on trees that long were bare,

   To greet her coming: and of these she takes

Freely to deck her garments: then she lays

Her hand upon the dogwood bloom and makes

   Of it a crown of glory for her hair.

When through the forest autumn slowly paces

    No flowers rise, but in the solemn hush

The stately maple hangs in sunny places

    Its gorgeous banners, and the burning bush

That once did fix the Hebrew shepherd’s gaze

   Shines in the dogwood’s crimson radiance clear;

And peeping shyly forth are seen the faces

    Of those who watch the passing of the year—

The woodland nymphs that haunt the forest ways. [page 13]

THE RAINBOW

I do set my bow in the cloud.—Gen. 9: 13.

I SAW a rainbow hanging in the sky

    This afternoon, its brilliant hues displayed

    Against the clouds that filled the gulf. It made

A glory of their darkness so that I

Recalled the tale told in the days of yore

    Of One who with His flood in wrath destroyed

    The ancient race; then bade the watery void

Recede and keep its limits evermore.

And in the cloud He placed the steadfast sign

    That at the end mercy shall conquer wrath,

    That though the flood bear ruin in its path

Time shall bring forth His purposes benign.

O Thou who still dost test the faith of men,

    I see Thy sign, I read its message clear;

    Against the darkling clouds of doubt and fear

The rainbow hues of hope appear again.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

WORDS

WORDS move upon the surface of our minds.

They are trivial counters which we use

To do the little business of our lives,

Or they are toys with which, like children, we

Amuse ourselves, and which are quite forgot

In those great moments when the soul is stirred

And reaches out to meet another soul,

One soul alone that answers to its call.

All of earth’s greatest things are voiceless quite;

The earth is flooded with the gold of dawn

And yet no word is spoken, and at eve

The sunset glory in the glowing west

Speaks in its silence to our inmost souls

More potently than if each separate hue

Addressed beholders in as many tongues

As Babel heard in the far long ago.

And in the night comes to the spirit’s ear

The unspoken message of the unnumbered stars. [page 14]

DOMINION DAY

HOW SHALL we speak of thee, on this thy Natal Day,

    Land of the open spaces, the mountains and the sea,

Land of the sunlit valleys where smiling waters play,

    Land of the lakes and rivers of matchless majesty?

What shall we hope for thee, the land that brought us forth,

    Cherished us in childhood and made our youth a song,

Gave to us for heritage the vigour of the North,

    Showed us in the harder path a challenge to the strong?

Brighter skies shall show to thee the folly of thy fears,

    Thy sacrifice shall to thee by loyal love repaid,

Time shall but temper thee throughout the coming years,

    Duty shall call to thee and find thee unafraid.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

WINTER HARVESTS

FROM out the fields is gathered in its time

The ripened grain. The orchard boughs bring forth

Their fragrant wealth for man’s delight and use.

These are man’s harvests and with these he feeds

The teeming millions who, in cities pent,

Go daily through their little round of life

Blithely or soberly, and little heed

The yearly miracle through which have come

Seed-time and harvest since the world began.

And there, too, are the birds of whom ’twas said,

“Storehouse nor barn have they, they daily seek

Their food from God who daily doth provide.”

    My winter harvests are like none of these,

Though they are mine, they are not mine alone:

They grow for all mankind but none can gather

More than the mind can grasp or heart can hold.

And though they grow throughout the changing year

In winter do they bring especial joy.

Such are the sunset’s glory and the beauty

Which moonlight sows upon the waste of waters,

The green of forest hillsides, and the wonder

Of snowy peaks that rim the far horizon. [page 15]

WHY?

A SILVER moon above a silver sea

    In the west afar;

The shadow of a solitary tree,

    Each branch a bar

Across the brightness of the waters thrown;

    These are to me,

A picture for a fleeting moment shown,

    An ecstasy,

A voice from the unseen and the unknown.

Why has the world about us thus the power

    To cast a spell

By simple things which, like the tree and flower,

    We know so well?

There surely is in every human heart

    The gift divine

Which is the secret of the poet’s art.

    Your soul and mine

Are surely of some larger soul a part.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

IN MEMORY OF A FAITHFUL WORKMAN

STRONG hands that laboured, all your toil is o’er,

    Your tasks well done have found their fitting place

    In that great sum of labours which the race

Are building as a temple evermore

For the Great Workman, God, who doth allow

    Man as co-worker in a purpose vast,

    Within whose bounds the future and the past

Find faithful friendship in the eternal NOW.

And yet it may be you are toiling yet,

    Some higher labour now may claim your care.

    So patient and so competent you were,

The Master wise will surely not forget.

You could not brook a life of idleness,

    And work was worship to you, so it seemed;

    It would not be such heaven as you dreamed,

If there, as here, work meant not happiness. [page 16]

COMMUNION

AT TIMES we love to turn our thought

    From man and his contriving,

    His petty airs and all his striving,

And feel the grace that comes unsought

From the great heart of Nature. There

    Is balm for the unquiet spirit when

    The spirit of the spring-time wakes again

In the green grass and the perfumèd air.

Yet spring may come with all its glory,

    And all its wonder of field and tree

    Unto our minds and hearts may be

An idle and unheeded story,

If in us first there do not dwell

    The magic and the beauty which

    When found in Nature make us rich

With wealth no human tongue can tell.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

GARDENS

    And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Genesis 3: 8.

I WONDER if God walks in gardens still

Not only when the summer sun has made,

The shadowy coverts by some streamlet’s side

A place of refuge and of cool delight;

But also in the springtime when the buds

Are opening and the songs of mating birds

Speak of a life renewed from year to yea

And of young love as old as life itself.

I wonder if the voice of God is heard,

Not only in the evening with the hush

Of twilight and the dewy freshness,

The harbinger of a clear night of stars;

But also in the morning when the sunrise

Has smiled upon the tree-tops and has wakened

To labour and to joy the sleeping earth.

It may be but a fancy, but I feel

That in my garden as I walked this morn

I saw God’s footprints and I heard God’s voice. [page 17]

ADMONITION

BE QUIET, O my soul!

Study thou self-control;

Of what avail this fret?

Thy little life is set

Unto a larger plan,

God’s way for man,

Just how, thou may’st not know,

Only ’tis so.

Have courage, O my soul!

Thou canst not see the whole

Of life’s wide battlefield;

Thou wouldst not think to yield

If thou couldst only see

Who stand by thee,

Heart of thy heart they are,

Though sundered far.

Have patience, O my soul!

Thou shalt yet to the goal,

Thy true felicity,

Safely conducted be.

Faith a strong fortress is.

Have faith in this:

Ever One rules above

Whose name is Love.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

MY LADY’S GARDEN

MY LADY’S garden grows apace,

    Each flower its fragrant tribute brings,

The humble plants of lesser grace

    Gladly lift up their offerings.

In hours of darkness and of sun,

    They have looked forward to the day

When, with their willing labours done,

    My lady fair should walk their way. [page 18]

And deign, perhaps, to take from each,

    Both for her use and her delight,

The gifts which are their only speech

    And yet for her sufficient quite,

To show how gladly they respond

    To all her loving thought and care,

And find their glory in the bond

    That binds them to my lady fair.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

ON CITADEL HILL, HALIFAX, N.S.

A STRANGER strolling carelessly about

    I stand upon the summit fortress-crowned,

And trace the line of waters leading out

    To the broad ocean with its deeps profound

And far horizons, while beneath my feet

The traffic rolls along the busy street.

Here are the haunts of industry and peace,

    How quiet lie the ships at anchor there!

How green those hills! How white the ample fleece

    Of summer clouds! How soft the summer air!

And as I turn to take my downward way,

I hear the shouts of children at their play.

How different a few short years ago!

    The roar of guns in distant battle-zones

Echoed in every ear, for here, we know,

    Were borne across the waves their menacing tones.

This outpost of our land still bears the scar

That tells the havoc and the waste of war.

O ancient province by the ancient sea,

    And thou, fair city with thy fortress crown,

Still may you keep your ancient charm that we

    In distant lands may cherish thy renown.

So that, although a continent divide,

We yet may dwell in spirit side by side.

June 1st, 1925. [page 19]

PATIENCE

A SIMPLE thing, and yet so hard to learn,

    For all my life the bonds of circumstance

Have chafed my spirit. Even now I yearn

    For that which is not mine, and hope that chance

May bring the wished-for treasure to my side,

Valued the more, the more it is denied.

The poets tell me to regard the stars

    Who all night long their patient watches keep.

Their placid faces do not show the scars

    Of vain regret: they neither sigh nor weep.

But have the stars a soul that feels the woe

That human souls like mine must daily know?

I must be patient, yet I will not look

    Unto the stars whose peace is not for me,

Whose mind, if they have such, must be a book

    Unread of mortals, in which sympathy

Is surely never found: but I will rather

Look unto One who evermore is Father.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

AUTUMN SUNSET

BEHIND the mountains lies a sea of gold,

No man has trod its shores, and yet I know

That since the miracle of dawn began,

With its companion miracle of eve,

And since those mighty peaks were first upreared,

No day has passed that has not seen its tides

Flood silently the fringes of our earth.

Beauty has habitation everywhere;

In nooks and crannies where the noonday sun

But rarely enters; and in ice-locked seas

That guard securely the inclement pole.

No season can claim beauty for its own,

It is of day no more than of the night.

It is wherever the awakened soul

Looks forth upon a world that God has made. [page 20]

Yet beauty is to me most manifest

When, as the autumn twilight swiftly falls,

I see the glory of the golden tide

With which the sunset floods the western hills.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

LINES TO A NEW TOBACCO-POUCH

Dedicated to W. A., V. B., and E. H.

MY LATEST friend, whom I met just to-day,

You are thrice welcome in a double sense:

First in the fact that you will stand alway

   To serve my needs when I shall seek defence

Against the frets which daily life assail;

And second in the fact you will not fail

   To tell of the three friends who gave you me

   Who are themselves most cheerful company.

I know that in the future when my game

Is rotten, and I have no heart to frame

Excuses at which other golfers laugh,

Your touch will compensate for all their chaff.

I then can smile with philosophic calm

Because you bring your ready gift of balm

    For feeling hurt by disappointing drives

    That always grow the worse the more one strives.

I see myself when summer skies are blue

Beside a stream with rod and pipe and you.

If Fortune frown, with you I’ll meet her;

If Fortune smile, you’ll make my joy completer.

When summer’s past and winter skies are here

You still will be dispenser of good cheer,

And as proof of true fidelity

You’ll always share your final crumb with me.

It is no wonder then that I’m disposed

   To celebrate your coming with these rhymes,

And as your hidden merits are disclosed

   I’ll bless the friends that brought you many times.

December 24th, 1926. [page 21]

VERSES FOR THE NEW YEAR

A FEW short hours shall see the New Year dawn,

    Yet I have no concern in questioning,

As I have often done in days agone,

    If it perchance experiences will bring

That shall make good the losses of the years

    Which solemn watch within my memory keep;

Whose hopes, now dead, seemed life itself; whose fears,

    So real once, have power no more to touch my sleep.

Scarcely a spark remains of what burned once so brightly,

    Nor would I wish to see it burst in flame,

Since what I valued then I now can hold so lightly,

    And what I was and what I am are not the same.

But I would pray for health for all my friends;

    Some touch of joy always to ease their pain;

Some sunny rift in cloudy skies to make amends

    For winter’s darkness with its wind and rain.

And I would further ask that in the way

    Appointed for me still, I may not cease

To see in night the herald of the day

    And in that firm assurance find my peace.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

THE DISCOVERY

I KNOW not all the meaning there may be

In that mysterious word, eternity,

But it cannot be merely the addition

Of year to year in tedious repetition,

Till, like Tithonous in the ancient tale,

One feels the powers of mind and heart to fail,

And longs for death, as for a welcome friend,

To bring life’s threadbare drama to an end.

Eternity to me means something more

Than endless waves that beat upon the shore

Of time, or endless days that run

Their course through endless hours one by one.

It is to find each day new mysteries,

New wonder shining in the morning skies,

New happiness, new beauty and new truth:

Instead of age it means eternal youth. [page 22]

MORNING IN THE FRASER DELTA

BLUE is the sky again

After tedious weeks of rain,

One would think that overnight,

Winter’s cold had taken flight.

Burnished silver flows the stream

Silently as if in dream.

Sodden fields are glorified

In the morning light, and wide

O’er the distant farms appear

Lakelets shining silver-clear.

Dew-spangled is the grass,

Every blade a looking-glass.

Mists of night are put away

By the careful hand of day.

Just a few faint vapours show

Ghost-like where the willows grow,

Like a jewel gleams the sea

Flawless in its radiancy.

Haze-enshrouded mountains rest

As horizon on the West.

Though I saw much more to-day

This is what I took away.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

INTUITION

HOW FEEBLE is man’s hold upon the earth!

How vast the powers with which he must contend

From that strange moment which he calls his birth

To that strange moment when this life shall end!

And yet to him the springtime suns are dear,
And the soft rains that waken leaf and flower;

And in the process of the changing year

There comes to him, perhaps, a glorious hour

In which it seems all beauty were his own,

And he the lord of Nature’s wide domain.

No suppliant he; he sits upon a throne

And dares a royal dignity maintain.

And though the vision fade and he once more

May fear that these were but imaginings,

He may not be that which he was before,

For he has seen the secret heart of things. [page 23]

IMMORTALITY

LET US together seek the spring

And lay aside the burden of the years

With this year’s blossoming.

How strange to us now seem the fears

That once did haunt us, when we thought

That winter ne’er might end,

For now we see that life by death is bought,

    And Nature is our friend.

Nature that shows but in the slightest part

The purposes she nurtures in her heart,

Still must have some regard for us,

Her human children, that she fashions thus

The tender leaf, the beauteous flower,

Each in its appointed hour,

And shows to every eye

The pageantry of earth and sky.

Oh, surely we may trust

That, after winter’s death,

Out of the dust,

That which our hope and faith

Have planted in a dim surmise,

May bud and blossom see

Under the kindly skies

Of immortality. [page 24]

THE

RYERSON POETRY

CHAP-BOOKS

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