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 Battle of La Prairie
By William Douw Schuyler-Lighthall (1857–1954)
 
(A Ballad of 1691)

I
THAT was a brave old epoch,
  Our age of chivalry,
When the Briton met the Frenchman
  At the Fight of La Prairie;
And the manhood of New England,        5
  And the Netherlanders true,
And Mohawks sworn, gave battle
  To the Bourbon’s lilied blue.
 
II
That was a brave old Governor,
  Who gathered his array,        10
And stood to meet he knew not what,
  On that alarming day.
Eight hundred, against rumours vast
  That filled the wild wood’s gloom,
With all New England’s flower of youth,        15
  Fierce for New France’s doom.
 
III
And the brave old scarce three hundred!
  Theirs should in truth be fame;
Borne down the savage Richelieu
  On what emprise they came!        20
Your hearts are great enough, O few;
  Only your numbers fail!
New France asks more for conquerors,
  All glorious though your tale.
 
IV
It was a brave old battle
        25
  That surged around the fort,
When D’Hosta fell in charging,
  And ’twas deadly strife and short;
When in the very quarters
  They contested face and hand,        30
And many a goodly fellow
  Crimsoned yon La Prairie sand.
 
V
And those were brave old orders
  The colonel gave to meet
That forest force, with trees entrenched,        35
  Opposing the retreat;
‘De Callières’ strength behind us,
  And beyond ’s your Richelieu;
We must go straightforth at them;
  There is nothing else to do.’        40
 
VI
And then the brave old story comes,
  Of Schuyler and Valrennes,
When ‘Fight!’ the British colonel called,
  Encouraging his men,
‘For the Protestant Religion,        45
  And the honour of our King!’—
‘Sir, I am here to answer you!’
  Valrennes cried, forth stepping.
 
VII
Were those not brave old races?
  Well, here they still abide;        50
And yours is one or other,
  And the second ’s at your side.
So when you hear your brother say,
  ‘Some loyal deed I’ll do;’
Like old Valrennes be ready with,        55
  ‘I’m here to answer you!’
 
 
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