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- Fleurs de lys and other poems - 2/16 -


Answer! each thundering gun. Your cadence sadly tells Of a great life-work done. Death rules this changing earth, Through royal halls he stalks, And with an awful mirth Man's noblest efforts mocks. He stills the busy brain, Tears loving souls apart, And leaves alone to reign_

_A Queen with empty heart. Upon her lonely throne She sits, and ever weeps, For him who, once her own, Now wed to heaven sleeps. Albert has fallen, conquered by Death's dart, A shadow lies across her anguished heart. She dwells in loneliness that none can gauge; In grief that only heaven can assuage. She trembles and her soul would fain depart, And beats with tireless wings against its cage. Oh! live for us, dear Queen, Thou who for years hast been Our leader in all good, Live! Live for us, O Queen!_

V.

_Ring! ye loud bells, in deep, triumphal tone, And bind a zone Around this earth of glorious melody, Till land and sea Awaken and, rejoicing, answer ye. Ah! noble Queen! who lookst around thee now On this great nation. Thy life, since first the circlet touched thy brow, Was consecration Of self to us. Through half a century From darkness into light we followed thee. The poet, patriot, warrior, statesman, sage Have given thee service long, Lending their fiery youth and thoughtful age To make thy sceptre strong, And in the never-ending march of man To higher things, still England leads the van._

VI.

In fifty years what change! The world is bound In close communion, and a sentence flies O'er half the earth ere yet the voice's sound Upon the calm air dies. Behold at England's feet her offspring pour Their bounteous store; To her each yields The first fruits of its virgin fields; Each country throws Its hospitable portals open wide To the great tide That from the dense-thronged mother country flows. New homes arise By rivers once unknown, among whose reeds The wild fowl fed, but now no longer dwells. No more the bison feeds Upon the prairie, for the once drear plain Laughs in the sun and waves its golden grain. By a slender chain Ocean is linked to ocean, and the hum Of labor in the wilderness foretells The greatness of a nation yet to come. In Southern seas Another nation grows by slow degrees, In dreamy India, under tropic sun, Two hundred millions own an Empress' sway, And day by day. New territories won Shed lustre on our Queen's half century.

FLEURS DE LYS.

THE CAPTURED FLAG.

Loudly roared the English cannon, loudly thundered back our own, Pouring down a hail of iron from their battlements of stone, Giving Frontenac's proud message to the clustered British ships: "I will answer your commander only by my cannons' lips." Through the sulphurous smoke below us, on the Admiral's ship of war, Faintly gleamed the British ensign, as through cloudwrack gleams a star, And above our noble fortress, on Cape Diamond's rugged crest-- Like a crown upon a monarch, like an eagle in its nest-- Streamed our silken flag emblazoned with the royal fleur de lys, Flinging down a proud defiance to the rulers of the sea. As we saw it waving proudly, and beheld the crest it bore, Fiercely throbbed our hearts within us, and with bitter words we swore, While the azure sky was reeling at the thunder of our guns, We would strike that standard never, while Old France had gallant sons.

Long and fiercely raged the struggle, oft our foes had sought to land, But with shot and steel we met them, met and drove them from the strand, Though they owned them not defeated, and the stately Union Jack, Streaming from the slender topmast, seemed to wave them proudly back. Louder rose the din of combat, thicker rolled the battle smoke, Through whose murky folds the crimson tongues of thundering cannon broke, And the ensign sank and floated in the smoke-clouds on the breeze, As a wounded, fluttering sea-bird floats upon the stormy seas. While we looked upon it sinking, rising through the sea of smoke, Lo! it shook, and bending downwards, as a tree beneath a stroke, Hung one moment o'er the river, then precipitously fell Like proud Lucifer descending from high heaven into hell. As we saw it flutter downwards, till it reached the eager wave, Not Cape Diamond's loudest echo could have matched the cheer we gave; Yet the English, still undaunted, sent an answering echo back: Though their flag had fallen conquered, still their fury did not slack, And with louder voice their cannon to our cannonade replied, As their tattered ensign drifted slowly shoreward with the tide.

There was one who saw it floating, and within his heart of fire, Beating in a Frenchman's bosom, rose at once a fierce desire, That the riven flag thus resting on the broad St. Lawrence tide Should, for years to come, betoken how France humbled England's pride. As the stag leaps down the mountain, with the baying hounds in chase, So the hero, swift descending, sought Cape Diamond's rugged base, And within the water, whitened by the bullets' deadly hail, Springing, swam towards the ensign with a stroke that could not fail. From the shore and from the fortress we looked on with bated breath, For around him closer, closer, fell the messengers of death, And as nearer, ever nearer, to the floating flag he drew, Thicker round his head undaunted still the English bullets flew. He has reached and seized the trophy. Ah! what cheering rent the skies, Mingled with deep English curses, as he shoreward brought his prize! Slowly, slowly, almost sinking, still he struggled to the land, And we hurried down to meet him, as he reached the welcome strand. Proudly up the rock we bore him, with the flag that he had won, And that night the English vessels left us with the setting sun.

PÈRE BROSSE.

He had been with the Indians all the day, But sat with us at eve, Chatting and laughing in his genial way, Till came the hour to leave; And then he rose, we with him, for we loved Our good old parish priest, Who all his lifetime in our midst had moved At death-bed and at feast.

He raised his hand for silence, and each head Was bowed as though in prayer, Expectant of his blessing, but instead He stood in silence there. Thrice he essayed to speak, and thrice in vain, And then his voice came back, Vibrating in a deep, triumphal strain That it was wont to lack.

"My children, we must part. My task is done. God calls me to His rest, And though my labors seem scarce yet begun, Surely He knoweth best. I have grown old in laboring for Him, My hair with age is white, My footsteps feeble, and my eyesight dim-- But all shall change to-night.

"When strikes the hour of twelve, my weary soul On earth shall cease to dwell, As sign of which the chapel bell shall toll Its slow funereal knell. Then seek me, if you will, and you shall find Upon the altar stair The prison-house my soul will leave behind, Kneeling as though in prayer.

"Seek, then, Père Compain, on the Isle aux Coudres, Nor fear the rising gale, For Heaven will guide you through the angry flood, And it shall not prevail. He will be waiting for you on the sands, Amid the morning gloom, To be your comrade, and, with kindly hands Consign me to my tomb."

He ceased, and left us, as though turned to stone, All motionless and still: And faintly fell his footsteps, as alone He slowly climbed the hill.


Fleurs de lys and other poems - 2/16

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