Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Americas
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX.  1876–79.
 
Introductory to British America
Canada
Alfred William Winterslow Dale (1855–1926)
 
(Excerpt)

TO thee we come,—to thee, the latest left
And loveliest of our daughters,—Canada!
Now ours, and ours alone. The power of France
That held thee once is vanished all away;
And the fierce strifes are over, and the claims        5
Of angry nations balanced in the beam
Of Destiny, and ours is the award.
  Long months the tide of battle ebbed and flowed
Upon the plains and in the pathless woods,
The midnight gloom still blossoming into fire,        10
The midnight silence broken by the crash
Of cannon or the Indian’s savage cry.
Till the steep crags above the city walls
Our soldiers scaled, and in the dead of night
Heard the deep river murmuring far below,        15
And saw the watch-fires of the foe before,
Islanded in by death on either side.
But now upon the heights in loneliness
Stands a gray pillar, telling all the world
That here died Wolfe victorious, nothing more;        20
A hero’s simple tribute, for the words
Ring like a trumpet down the vale of years,
And echo in the ages far away.
And thus we won the land, and year by year
The nations grew together into one;        25
While the charred ruins mouldered into dust,
And trampled corn forgot the soldier’s heel;
And the sad memories of the bygone strife
Faded, as fades a foam-streak in the sea,
Or as a star-trail in the midnight sky.        30
  And who but needs must love a land like this,
Where every passing hour hath its own charm,
And every season its own loveliness?
In winter the pure veil of feathery snow
Down floating from the sky in noiseless folds;        35
In spring the waking music of the air,
And the world wavering through a mist of green;
Then in the heat of summer the full leaves
And the deep coolness of the woodland dell;
And last the forest all ablaze with pomp        40
And glory of all hues, till cold winds come
And strew the gold about the autumn fields.
  Here as we mount and leave the coast below,
Lake leads to lake, sea opens into sea,
Great waters hidden in the land and linked        45
Together in a sounding labyrinth,
One river chain still running through them all,
From Northern ice-crags spired and pinnacled,
With gable and gargoyle, arch and oriel,
And subtlest maze of frosted tracery,        50
Rock-based, rock-roofed, like some fantastic fane
Hewn by rough craftsmen in the days of old,
And buttressed firm against the Northern gales.
From that cold clime they stretch into the south
By plain and forest under kindlier skies.        55
There rise the masses of the gloomy pines,
Marshalled together to a solid front
Against the fury of all winds that blow.
League after league the stately line goes on,
With now and then a hollow overhead        60
Through which the light steals trembling; now and then
Some sound amid the solitude,—the crash
Of falling branch or cry of frightened bird,—
Westwards and westwards ever till the day
Breaks dim before us, and we stand at last        65
Upon the prairie rippled by the breeze
To waves and breaking in a foam of flowers:
Vast hazy reaches, sloping far away
To western mountains, where a thousand peaks
Flush to the crimson of the dawn’s first beam,        70
Or sparkle silver splendors to the moon,
There rolls the great St. Lawrence to the sea,
Sweeping by rapids and by cataract
Whose thunder never hushes, and the gleam
Of falling waters lightens night and day;        75
By islands thickly sown as stars in heaven,
Lying like lilies on the river bed,
With clear-cut petals lifted from the wave,
A cluster of unnumbered loveliness.
  There do they dwell and labor; there the axe        80
Wakes with the warbling lark, and cheerily rings
The livelong day, while the pines shake and fall
And float into the stream to make their way
By lake and river to the distant sea.
And there they plough the plain and sow their seed        85
Till the swift seasons make them rich return,
While the wide acres glow with golden grain
To feed the multitudes of other lands.
Thrice happy souls! to whom the passing years
Bring little sorrow and light clouds of ill.        90
Far from the troublous tumult of the storm,
Far from the suffering nations ye abide,
Tearless and passionless, and there in peace
Watch the long days go down into their grave,
And catch the dying whisper of the world.        95
 
 
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