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- Fleurs de lys and other poems - 4/16 -

While the priests about his bed Weeping kneel, and softly pray, As the bell Rings out its knell For a great soul passed away!

Yes, a gallant man was he, That brave-hearted, old French tar, Whose great name through history Shines on us, as from afar Through the gray Of dawning day Gleams the glorious Morning Star!


From Old France once sailed a vessel, Bearing hearts that came to nestle In Acadia's breast and wrestle With its Winters cold. Priests and ministers it bore, Who had sought that desert shore, Filled with ardor to restore Lost sheep to the fold.

Yet though on such errand wending, They debated without ending, Each his cherished faith defending Morning, noon and night. Never on the balmy air Heavenward rose united prayer, Stout Champlain was in despair At the godless sight.

Late and early they debated, Never ceasing, never sated, Till the very sailors hated Them and their debates. Not at dinner were they able, Even, to forego their Babel, But, disputing, smote the table Till they jarred the plates.

Tossed about by the gigantic Billows of the wild Atlantic, Still they argued, until, frantic With religious zeal, Tonsured priests and Huguenots From discussions came to blows, Sieur de Monts had no repose From their fierce appeal.

Oft the minister came crying, How, while he had been replying To the curé and denying Something he had said, That the latter fell on him And, with more than priestly vim, Beat him, body, head and limb-- Beat him till he fled.

Days passed by, and then one morning, While the sunbeams were adorning Sea and sky, the lookout's warning Echoed from the mast; And, before the close of day, Safe the little vessel lay, Anchored in a sheltered bay: Land was reached at last.

But, within their cabins lying, Priest and Minister were dying, To their future haven nighing, Ere the dawn they died, And within the forest shade Soon a narrow grave was made, Where the two were gently laid, Sleeping side by side.

That same evening, as they rested Round the fire, the sailors jested Of the dead, how they contested All across the sea, And a sailor, laughing said: "Let us hope the reverend dead Yonder in their narrow bed Manage to agree."


Merry Carlo, who runn'st at my heels Through the dense-crowded streets of the city, In and out among hurrying wheels, And whose run in the suburbs reveals Only scenes that are peaceful and pretty.

Raise to mine your intelligent face, Open wide your great brown eyes in wonder While I tell how lived one of your race Years ago in this now busy place-- Ay, and ran at the heels of its founder.

Mistress Pilot, for that was her name, And you could not have called her a better, Was a gallant and dutiful dame-- Since her breed is forgotten by Fame, For your sake I will call her a setter.

Pilot lived when _Ville Marie_ was young, And the needs of its people were sorest; When the rifle unceasing gave tongue, And the savage lay hidden among The Cimmerian shades of the forest;

When the hearts of frail women were steeled Not to weep for the dead and the dying; When by night the fierce battle-cry pealed And by day all who worked in the field Kept their weapons in readiness lying;

When full oft at the nunnery gate, As the darkness fell over the village, Would a swart savage crouch and await, With the patience of devilish hate, A chance to kill women, and pillage.

Every one had his duty to do, And our Pilot had hers like another, Which she did like a heroine true, At the head of a juvenile crew Of the same stalwart stuff as their mother.

In a body these keen-scented spies Used to roam through the forests and meadows, And protect _Ville Marie_ from surprise, Though its foes clustered round it like flies In a swamp, or like evening shadows.

Oftentimes in the heat of the day, Oftentimes through the mists of the morning, Oftentimes to the sun's dying ray There was heard her reëchoing bay Pealing forth its brave challenge and warning.

And so nobly she labored and well, It was fancied--so runneth the story-- She had come down from heaven to dwell Upon earth, and make war upon hell, For the welfare of man and God's glory.

"When her day's work was over, what then?" Well, my boy, she had one of your habits; She would roam through the forest again, But instead of bold hunting for men, Would amuse herself hunting jack rabbits.


Like a fragment of torn sea-kale, Or a wraith of mist in the gale, There comes a mysterious tale Out of the stormy past: How a fleet, with a living freight, Once sailed through the rocky gate Of this river so desolate, This chasm so black and vast.

'Twas Cartier, the sailor bold, Whose credulous lips had told How glittering gems and gold Were found in that lonely land How out of the priceless hoard Within their rough bosoms stored, These towering mountains poured Their treasures upon the strand.

Allured by the greed of gain, Sieur Roberval turned again, And sailing across the main, Passed up the St. Lawrence tide. He sailed by the frowning shape Of Jacques Cartier's Devil's Cape, Till the Saguenay stood agape, With hills upon either side.

Around him the sunbeams fell On the gentle St. Lawrence swell, As though by some mystic spell

Fleurs de lys and other poems - 4/16

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