Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets


[3 illustrations]

[unnumbered page]

[handwritten: For Robb

From Lyn

Xmas, 1945.

and to Judy


Lyn Cook

June, 1946]

[unnumbered page]


In the still passage of intrepid time

the lamps go down,

and the blithe vividness of spring

dims to the dusk of autumn.

And even then design,

forbidding this brief amnesty with death,

snuffs the last candle scarlet on the maple,

and light is but a slow reprieve from darkness.

Be not afraid,

time is not vanishing;

each moment garners gladness from another

and adds its measure to the magnitude

of things to come.

Wisdom can come of age in second’s sorrow,

and there is heritage to build a soul

from one swift vision on a starswept hill. [unnumbered page]

Canoe Song

Softly as the evening wind in birches,

Gently as the water lilies grow,

Moves my paddle in the river water

Singing where the gray-green rushes go.

Dark and cool the pool and deep with dreaming,

Fragrant with the scent of mossy things,

Shining fragments of silence broken

By the lilting of a heron’s wings.

New moon tangled now in the pine tree branches
Swiftly soon will mount the sky in flight,

Swiftly, too, the frail craft follows after

Gliding down the frontiers of the night. [unnumbered page]

For Toni

Some there are who say

This quiet inland town is beautiful,

The gentle sloping of the cobbling street,

Bearing its trees like gay adventurers

Downward to meet the river, and then beyond

The lazy way the hills reach up

To feel the sky,

Summits besieged by lilting summer clouds

Warring in indolence.

Even the ordered pattern of the fields

Stirs not the mind from slumber.

But oh they could not know

How longing runs with fear along the heart

When autumn comes,

And fog binds and river, hills and fields

In pall of desolation;

For I can hear above the anguished silence

Sounds of home,

Elusive ocean sounds,

The wind-brusht cry of seabirds, fraught with keening,

The low enchanted call of the little ships

Breasting the midnight harbour, and over all

The deep eternal intonation of the water.

The argosies that sped the vagrant spirit journeying

Have sailed on into darkness,

And secretly the yearning of the soul

Knows there is no returning. [unnumbered page]


O my own, I cannot say

That I feel your going less,

Than in that first darkling hour

Of piercing bitterness.

Now I know when I was told

Time brings swift and sure relief,

They had meant one learns to live

In companionship with grief.

Yet have I found recompense

In the joy of April things,

Evenings fashioned full with stars,

The murmuring of wings.

As I watch the swallows carve

Dusking arcs where you have trod,

I know your last valiant arc

Crossed the one traced there by God. [unnumbered page]


There was a time,

This stubble field was then a golden rapture,

Woven of wind and rain, starlight and shadow,

And where the trees confided in the water

The sated cattle stood knee deep in summer.

And now is come

The hour of disenchantment and departure;

The cool sweet fragrances of grasses dying

Throng the hushed highroad and all the gossamer

Of little crimson glens is stained with autumn.

No mourning here,

The joy of centuries in this winged moment

Makes all time one, and nothing truly passes

That lends a radiance to the infinite

And harvests splendour from all things eternal. [unnumbered page]


There is a gray-walled town I know

That consorts with the sea,

And all the ships of youth are there

Close-havened and set free

From wanderlust and heart’s desire

And new discovery.

And every hold is thronged with years,

And bitterness and grief

Lie side by side with ecstasy,

False ardour with belief,

And all the sails are reefed and faded

To an autumn leaf.

Swift seabirds wheel in quietness

Gaunt changelings in the foam,

And candles crimson in the dusk

Call all the pilgrims home,

And Venus a lone traveller

Across the twilight dome.

There is a gray-walled town I know

And there the day has set,

And all the arts of Prosperine

Make valiant souls forget.

But oh, I have not seen it yet,

Oh no, I have not seen it yet. [unnumbered page]


Variations on a theme


If you should come again and weave your spell

As long ago before the shadows fell,

Should I be still enchanted?

I cannot tell.

Were you to smile at me and say my name,

I know the old desire would be the same

Swift as the keen, undaunted

Mother for the flame.

But let you murmur only, “Dear one, stay.”

The shimmering hour your presence made so gay

Would crumble to my answer,

“Another day.” [unnumbered page]


Step softly then,

For herein lies interred

The bitter fragments of a broken word

Someone is mourning after;

Speak gently now,

The golden tones of old

Have long been proven counterfeit, and sold

For promises become as tinkling laughter.

Grieve not for this,

Another token lost,

Eternity alone shall count the cost

And find it most beguiling.

This image of an eager heart repaid,

By swift enthusiasm soon betrayed.

There will be other faces juts as smiling. [unnumbered page]


How sweet my love, to hear you say

That I was yours

To love and keep

Forever and a day.

And you would call me ever fair

And gather thyme

And rosemary

And stardust for my hair.

Strange then this, your latest greeting.

“Fly, betimes, for only they

Conquer love that run away.”

How could I know

Forever was so fleeting? [unnumbered page]

Repeat Performance

She filled the night with charm and chatter

And with her eyes she wove a snare

To entice this tall engaging creature

Into the precincts of her hair.

She was doing well and her heart exulted,

With conquest on her lips she turned,

And nodding his head across the floor

Was one of the bridges she hadn’t burned! [unnumbered page]

Where Music Dwells

Where music dwells the soul of man is there,

And all the great and pilgrim thoughts of old

That crusade down the centuries,

And all things fair.

Rare harmony sours winging like a lark

In search of oneness with the still, high noon,

And star-enchanted symphonies

Invest the dark.

All rapturous time has there its biding place,

The crystal moments and the entranced years

And all the inconstant shadows

One a lovely face. [unnumbered page]


This gallant flame has had one august hour,

And by its watches in another night,

With flowers and lamps and tongs of molded gold

Wise Solomon extolled his oracle;

And Caesar penned his bulletins of war

From some far corner of a land called Gaul.

By this same glimmer in a graystone cell

One Bede of Jarrow in tranquility

Wrote stories of an age that lies in dark,
And strange uncharted seas were lit with hope

From midnight decks of dauntless venturers,

And pilgrims in the wilderness gave prayer.

How wondrous, then, to know that this slim glance

Of constant faith has glistened on the twelve

Who gathered to break bread, and shadows cast

Across the eyes of One who saw all grief,

And had eternity upon his face

And heaven in the marks upon his hands.

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