Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
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William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
 
Hastings
By John Reade (1837–1919)
 
I
OCTOBER’S woods are bright and gay, a thousand colours vie
To win the golden smiles the Sun sends gleaming through the sky;
And though the flowers are dead and gone, one garden seems the earth,
For in God’s world, as one charm dies, another starts to birth.
 
II
To every season is its own peculiar beauty given,
        5
In every age of mortal men we see the Hand of Heaven;
And century to century utters a glorious speech,
And peace to war, and war to peace, eternal lessons teach.
 
III
O grand old woods, your forest-sires were thus as bright and gay,
Before the axe’s murderous voice had spoiled their sylvan play;        10
When other axes smote our sires, and laid them stiff and low
On Hastings’ unforgotten field, eight hundred years ago.
 
IV
Eight hundred years ago, long years, before Jacques Cartier clomb
The Royal Height, where now no more the red men fearless roam!
Eight hundred years ago, long years before Columbus came        15
From stately Spain to find the world that ought to bear his name!
 
V
The Sussex woods were bright and red on that October morn,
And Sussex soil was red with blood before the next was born;
But from that red united clay another race did start
On the great stage of destiny to act a noble part.        20
 
VI
So God doth mould, as pleaseth Him, the nations of His choice;
Now, in the battle-cry is heard His purifying voice;
And now, with Orphic strains of peace he draws to nationhood
The scattered tribes that dwell apart by mountain, sea, and wood.
 
VII
He took the lonely poet Celt and taught him Roman lore;
        25
Then from the wealds of Saxony He brought the sons of Thor;
Next from his craggy home the Dane came riding o’er the sea;
And last, came William with his bands of Norman chivalry.
 
VIII
And now, as our young nationhood is struggling into birth,
God grant its infant pulse may beat with our forefathers’ worth!        30
And, as we gather into one, let us recall with pride
That we are of the blood of those who fought when Harold died.
 
 
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