Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Canada / Charles G.D. Roberts


O Child of Nations, giant-limbed,
   Who stand’st among the nations now
Unheeded, unadored, unhymned,
   With unanointed brow,—

How long the ignoble sloth, how long
   The trust in greatness not thine own?
Surely the lion’s brood is strong
   To front the world alone!

How long the indolence, ere thou dare
   Achieve thy destiny, seize thy fame,—
Ere our proud eyes behold thee bear
   A nation’s franchise, nation’s name?

The Saxon force, the Celtic fire,
   These are thy manhood’s heritage!
Why rest with babes and slaves? Seek higher
   The place of race and age.

I see to every wind unfurled
   The flag that bears the Maple-Wreath;
Thy swift keels furrow round the world
   Its blood-red folds beneath;

Thy swift keels cleave the furthest seas;
   Thy white sails swell with alien gales;
To stream on each remotest breeze
   The black smoke of thy pipes exhales.

O Falterer, let thy past convince
   Thy future,— all the growth, the gain,
The fame since Cartier knew thee, since
   Thy shores beheld Champlain!

Montcalm and Wolfe! Wolfe and Montcalm!
   Quebec, thy storied citadel
Attest in burning song and psalm
   How here thy heroes fell!

O Thou that bor’st the battle’s brunt
   At Queenston and at Lundy’s Lane,—
On whose scant ranks but iron front
   The battle broke in vain!—

Whose was the danger, whose the day,
   From whose triumphant throats the cheers,
At Chrysler’s Farm, at Chateauguay,
   Storming like clarion-bursts our ears?

On soft Pacific slopes — beside
   Strange floods that northward rave and fall,—
Where chafes Acadia’s chainless tide —
   Thy sons await thy call.

They wait; but some in exile, some
   With strangers housed, in stranger lands,—
And some Canadian lips are dumb
   Beneath Egyptian sands.

O mystic Nile! Thy secret yields
   Before us; thy most ancient dreams
Are mixed with far Canadian fields
   And murmur of Canadian streams.

But thou, my Country, dream not thou!
   Wake, and behold how night is done,—
How on thy breast, and o’er thy brow,
   Bursts the uprising sun!

Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943)
from In Divers Tones, 1886

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Charles G.D. Roberts biography

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