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.
 
The Last Portage
By William Henry Drummond (1854–1907)
 
I’M sleepin’ las’ night w’en I dream a dream,
An’ a wonderful wan it seem—
For I’m off on de road I was never see,
Too long an’ hard for a man lak me,
So ole he can only wait de call        5
Is sooner or later come to all.
 
De night is dark an’ de portage dere
Got plaintee o’ log lyin’ ev’ryw’ere,
Black bush aroun’ on de right an’ lef’,
A step from de road an’ you los’ you’se’f,        10
De moon an’ de star above is gone,
But somet’ing tell me I mus’ go on.
 
An’ off in front of me as I go,
Light as a dreef of de fallin’ snow,
Who is dat leetle boy dancin’ dere—        15
Can see hees w’ite dress an’ curly hair,
An’ almos’ touch heem, so near to me—
In an’ out dere among de tree?
 
An’ den I’m hearin’ a voice is say,
‘Come along, fader, don’t min’ de way;        20
De boss on de camp he sen’ for you,
So your leetle boy ’s goin’ to tak you t’roo.
It ’s easy for me, for de road I know,
‘Cos I travel it many long year ago.’
 
An’ oh! mon Dieu! w’en he turn hees head        25
I’m seein’ de face of ma boy is dead—
Dead wit’ de young blood in hees vein—
An’ dere he ’s comin’ wance more again
Wit’ de curly hair an’ dark blue eye,
So lak de blue of de summer sky—        30
 
An’ now no more for de road I care,
An’ slippery log lyin’ ev’ryw’ere,
De swamp on de valley de mountain too,
But climb it jus’ as I used to do—
Don’t stop on de road for I need no res’        35
So long as I see de leetle w’ite dress.
 
An’ I foller it on, an’ wance in a w’ile
He turn again wit’ de baby smile,
An’ say, ‘Dear fader, I’m here, you see,
We’re bote togedder, jus’ you an’ me—        40
Very dark to you, but to me it ’s light,
De road we travel so far to-night.
 
‘De boss on de camp w’ere I alway stay
Since ever de tam I was go away,
He welcome de poores’ man dat call,        45
But love de leetle wan bes’ of all;
So dat ’s de reason I spik for you
An’ come to-night to bring you t’roo.’
 
Lak de young Jesu’ w’en He ’s here below,
De face of ma leetle son look jus’ so—        50
Den off beyon’ on de bush I see
De w’ite dress fadin’ among de tree—
Was it a dream I dream las’ night
Is goin’ away on de mornin’ light?
 
 
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