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- Fleurs de lys and other poems - 6/16 -
Once since hath entered _Ville Marie_, But we avenged that desecration At Chrystler's farm and Chateauguay-- Peace! peace! 'tis cowardly to flout Our triumphs in a cousin's face: That page was long since blotted out And Friendship written in its place.
Beloved of Time, the Old Oak flourished While at its foot its little charge, An eaglet by a lion nourished, Grew mighty by the river marge; Till, where the deer were wont to roam, There throbs to-day a nation's heart, Of wealth and luxury the home, Of learning, industry and art.
No longer now the church bells' ringing Fills all the little town with life, Its loud-tongued, startling clangor bringing Young men and aged to the strife. No longer through the midnight air The savage hordes their war-cries peal, As rushing from their forest lair They meet the brave defenders' steel.
Long has the reign of war been ended And Commerce crowned, whose stately fleet Brings ever treasures vast and splendid To lay them humbly at her feet. And now her eager sons to-day Have crossed the wild, north-western plain, And made two oceans own her sway Held captive by a slender chain.
What further Time may be preparing For this fair town, the years will tell, But while her sons retain their daring, Their zeal and honor, all is well. Still, as the seasons come and go, Long may they spare the Old Oak Tree In age as erst in youth to throw Protection over _Ville Marie_.
_NELSON'S APPEAL FOR MAISONNEUVE_.
"Silent I have stood and borne it, hoping still from year to year That the pleading voice of justice you would some day wake to hear. But beneath the soulless present you have sunk the glorious past, Till I cannot bear it longer--you must learn the truth at last. Shame upon you, shameless city, heart of this great land of yours, That the world should say you care not if your founder's name endures! Shame upon you, that no statue stands within your greatest square To commemorate the hero who so often battled there! Who long years ago sprang lightly from his pinnace to the beach, And amid the virgin forests, spreading far as eye could reach, Knelt and prayed, his people with him, while the prophet-priest foretold How their growth should be as great as was the mustard seed's of old.
"Have you ceased to care, already, how that noble little band Toiled, and fought with man and nature that their sons might rule the land, Braving winter's cold and famine, summer's hot and stifling breath, Danger in unnumbered forms; and in each form a cruel death, Slain by skulking, coward foemen, now one moment in the corn Singing some sweet Norman ditty, and the next one overborne? Comrades, you have mothers, sisters, wives whom you would die to save, Think, then, of the noble ones who claim your tribute to the brave; Tender women, timid children, crouching at the barricade, Pallid, trembling, stained with blood, yet nerved to give the needed aid, Staunching deadly wounds, and wiping death-dews from a loved one's brow, While their fathers, husbands, brothers fought and won they scarce knew how!
"Think of him among them toiling! hear his simple, trusting prayers! See him, stern, unyielding, hopeful, with a thousand daily cares, Sharing his companions' hardships, cheering there and chiding here, With a head to rule them wisely, and a heart that knew not fear, Sleeping with his armor on him and his weapons by his bed, Ready ever for the foes that, like the shadows, came and fled. See him fighting in the forest with a host that seeks his blood! Hear him praying to the Virgin to restrain the rising flood, Vowing that if she would heed him and preserve the little town, He himself would bear a cross and plant it on Mount Royal's crown! True crusader, in whose heart there never dwelt one sordid thought, Guardian of the Virgin's city: this is he you honor not.
"Of our Queen a stately statue stands upon Victoria Square, In its hand a wreath of laurel, in that wreath a tiny pair Nesting year by year uninjured, heedless of the passing throng, Living symbols of a reign that guards the weak from every wrong. Loyalty upraised that statue, and were it the only one That your city had erected still the deed were nobly done. But to honor me, my brothers, one whose blood was never shed On your soil or for your country, heaps but shame upon my head, Not because you might not praise me--I may merit your esteem-- But because you place me first where he alone should stand supreme. Shame upon you, to forget him and remember such as I! Shame upon you, if your ears are heedless still to honor's cry!
"True, I tamed a haughty foeman at Trafalgar and the Nile, But I had a nation's wealth and numbers at my back the while. His was one long fight with scarcely seven score to do his will, With a host of open foes and secret foes, more deadly still; Foes in every bush and hollow, foes behind his monarch's throne, Stabbing with one hand extended seemingly to clasp his own. Yet he triumphed, and behold you! now a country growing fast, With a glorious future breaking through the darkness of the past, With a host of stout hearts toiling day and night to make you great, And a glittering roll of heroes worthy of a mighty state. Yet you cannot he a nation if your children never hear Aught of those whose blood has won the land that they should hold most dear.
"Can you wonder that the rains have beaten on my statued form? Can you marvel that the winter shakes me with its fiercest storm? Ah! not age it is but shame that makes me look so worn and old, Makes me hang my head and tremble lest the bitter truth be told. It is murmured by the maples, it is whispered by the wind, Till I cannot but imagine it is heard by all mankind, How your children, from gay boyhood until tottering age, behold Gallant Maisonneuve forgotten and less worthy me extolled. Oh! my comrades, if you love me, lighten the disgrace I feel, Lend your ready hands to aid me, bend your hearts to my appeal: Raise a statue to the founder of this great, historic town, Chomedey de Maisonneuve, or pity me and take mine down."
_TO ONE WHO LOVES RED ROSES._
_ When our lives were in their springtime and our souls were in the bud, While the watchful world was silent, heeding not such childish love, I poured forth for thee my heart-thoughts in a sweet, unthinking flood, Like a bird that carols freely in the grove.
And thou heardst them, half unconscious of the import that they bore, Till the years unlocked the chambers of thy stainless, maiden heart And thou badest my songs be silent. They are silent evermore, But their echoes from my soul will not depart.
Yet the love songs that I lilted in those by-gone childhood days, Surely, them thou wilt not silence, let them be a memory dear Of the happy days of childhood when unchecked I sang thy praise, While with thee I looked to heaven and deemed it here. _
The melody of birds is in her voice. The lake is not more crystal than her eyes, In whose brown depths her soul still sleeping lies. With her soft curls the passionate zephyr toys, And whispers in her ear of coming joys. Upon her breast red rosebuds fall and rise, Kissing her snowy throat, and, lover-wise, Breathing forth sweetness till the fragrance cloys.
Sometimes she thinks of love, but, oftener yet, Wooing but wearies her, and love's warm phrase Repels and frightens her. Then, like the sun At misty dawn, amid the fear and fret There rises in her heart at last some One, And all save love is banished by his rays.
There stands a cottage by a river side, With rustic benches sloping eaves beneath, Amid a scene of mountain, stream and heath. A dainty garden, watered by the tide, On whose calm breast the queenly lilies ride, Is bright with many a purple pansy wreath, While here and there forbidden lion's teeth Uprear their golden crowns with stubborn pride.
See! there she leans upon the little gate, Unchanged, save that her curls, once flowing free, Are closely coiled upon her shapely head, And that her eyes look forth more thoughtfully.
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