Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets


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[handwritten: To Mother

From Evelyn

and to Judy from the poet who

became her aunt

Christmas, 1944

Lyn Cook

June 25, 1946]

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Come gather up a host of little things

Before the end of year,

A fragile miscellany bound with hope,

Distilled in strength from bitterness and fear.

Imprison here the sweep of sea gulls crying

Where ageless waters flow,

The mystic summons of a church bell calling

Across some midnight village limned with snow.

Cascades of laughter from all children playing,

The pheasant’s wild surprise

At footsteps in the brake on crystal dawnings,

Patience and wisdom from an old man’s eyes.

Come gather up the swift and pregnant moments

Where memory is yet warm,

At these will open casements rich with harvest

Against the coming of another storm. [unnumbered page]


Here is a New Year for you now

Replete with hours hereafter,

Boxed bright in golden happiness

And tied with silver laughter.

But if the happiness is gall

And laughter is too fleeting,

Take thought on all the other years

In which to hope, my sweeting. [unnumbered page]


Pool of flame,

Burning a window from a world of dusk

Into a world of dreams,

For this youth

Treading a pathway where the falling snow

Is magic faery fragment:

With frozen silence

And a glimpse of hope his feet are shod,

Boy with a lantern on his road to God. [unnumbered page]


Gently now, and sweetly slumber

Child of France,

While the wraiths of fear and hunger

Round thee dance:

Here is not the time for waking

Mornings red with hate are breaking

O’er the moon.

Softly now, and guard thy teardrops

Babe of Greece,

Every one a bitter hostage

To thy peace:

Here is not the hour for weeping

Nations thou hast in thy keeping

Shall live soon. [unnumbered page]


    “When all the medical officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have settling down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary round.”                                                          The Life of Florence Nightingale.

Go then if you must.

There will be others waiting for your hand to touch

As stricken deep with memory as I:

You could not know the joy your presence brings

To one who held communion with the sky,

And now must taste the bitter bread of earth.

There was a spirit once I knew whose Golden Fleece

Was beckoning from fields of quiet stars,

But then his wings were fashioned in Icarus’ mold,

And failed him when he thought to conquer Mars

Or scale the very sun in jubilance.

The turgid upland soil is heavy to the hand

Of one who ploughed his furrows in the clouds;

The half-remembered sweetness of the earth is gone

From him whose eyes were clothed in sudden shrouds,

Whose stars lie buried on the edge of night.

If you would only speak again that I might hear

The sound of rivers running in your voice,

The gusty laughter of great mountains I have known,

How the far little hills of home rejoice

And all together clap their tree-clad hands. [unnumbered page]


Three men went forth adventuring into eve

And dipped their swords of freedom in the skies,
Trailing the flags of sundown in the dark

With laughter in their eyes.

And there were two with morning on their wings,

Whose hearts were shuttered by a thousand bars,

Their shining scabbards filled with tears and blood

They left their laughter sleeping in the stars. [unnumbered page]


These restless hands have moulded palaces

From drifting clouds,

Carving the corridors a quiet soul

Can wander to:

These limpid eyes have seen armadas sailing

In evening shrouds,

And watched in candlelight an ancient pilgrimage

Come marching through.

This yearning spirit secretly has flown

A wild bird’s wing,

And found the jade of Samarkand within

A blade of grass:

For winter hearts the hawthorne tree becomes

The bride of spring,

Weeping to see this ecstasy of sun

So swiftly pass.

How boundless is the road that leaves

A tree-filled country lane:

How strange that all the world could lie

Within a window pane. [unnumbered page]


So in the moment autumn boldly thrusts

These stark bare hills to the translucent sky,

And myriad splendours of October days

A-mould’ring lie:

How is there now hope for the hours of bitterness and wind

Rushing in darkness, for the quiet plough

Whose silver blade no longer cleaves

This singing earth,

But leans remote against a granary wall,

Where winter sparrows twitter in the eaves.

Look! There are sumacs flagrantly arrayed

On little sunswept mountains,

Brushing their burning fingertips against the clouds,

Tossing the secret of their crimson flame

To gypsy hipsy-haws among the shrouds

Of hardwood trees;

And even after these

Smoulder chrysanthemums upon the snow,

Sparks from the blaze of breathless summer noons

That flare again to fire, the scarlet glow

Of holly in December.

O let the heart remember

The gentle upward surge of crocus flowers,

Folded beneath the frost, the burnished joy

Of wheat fields still unsown within the earth,

The hours of mirth

And valiant days of greatness yet to come. [unnumbered page]



Where the morning strides the eager earth

With glistening feet,

Treads swiftly on the red of village rooves

And mounts the snowbound hills

Of winter wheat.


Where the quietness is sudden sound

On vibrant wings,

Weeping and laughter running in the wind

Now sunrise brings the day

And common things. [unnumbered page]


Yesterday the Snow Queen passed this way,

Journeying in haste to Northlands far,

Fragments of old lace fell from her gown

Like cherry blossoms falling from a star.

The year will ripen ere she comes again,

Yet visions of blue frost upon the moon,

And fences leaning deep in drift shall haunt

The sculptured quiet of an August noon.

Now April walks with violets in the hills

Sweet briar in her steps for summer gleaning,

And far above her laughter in the clouds

The world is loud with vagrant kildeer keening.

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