Dreams

We present this work in honor of the 115th anniversary of the poet’s death.

04-06 Drummond
William Henry Drummond
Canadian
1854 – 1907

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at do I see w’en I dream of you?
A shore w’ere de water is racin’ by,
A small boy lookin’, an’ wonderin’ w’y
He can’t get fedder for goin’ fly
Lak de hawk makin’ ring on de summer sky.
Dat ‘s w’at I see.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at do I hear w’en i dream of you?
Too many t’ing for sleepin’ well!
De song of de ole tam cariole bell,
De voice of dat girl from Sainte Angèle
(I geev’ her a ring was mark “fidèle”)
Dat ‘s what I hear.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at do I smoke w’en I dream of you?
Havana cigar from across de sea,
An’ get dem for not’ing too? No siree!
Dere ‘s only wan kin’ of tabac for me.
An’ it grow on de Rivière des Prairies-
Dat ‘s what I smoke.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
How go I feel w’en I t’ink of you?
Sick, sick for the ole place way back dere-
An’ to sleep on ma own leetle room upstair
W’ere de ghos’ on de chimley mak’ me scare
I ‘d geev’ more monee dan I can spare-
Dat ‘s how I feel.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at will I do w’en I ‘m back wit’ you?
I ‘ll buy de farm of Bonhomme Martel,
Long tam he ‘s been waitin’ a chance to sell,
Den pass de nex’ morning on Sainte Angèle,
An’ if she ‘s not marry -dat girl- very well,
Dat ‘s w’at I ‘ll do.

The Cripples

We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

z 02-20-22
A.M. Klein
Canadian
1909 – 1972

Bundled their bones, upon ninety-nine stairs –
St. Joseph’s ladder – the knobs of penance come,
the folded cripples counting up their prayers.

How rich, how plumped with blessing is that dome!
The gourd of Brother André! His sweet days
rounded! Fulfilled! Honeyed to honeycomb!

Whither the heads, upon the ninety-nine trays,
the palsied, who double their aspen selves, the lame,
the unsymmetrical, the dead-limbed, raise

their look, their hope, and the idée fixe of their maim,
knowing their surgery’s in the heart. Are not
the ransomed crutches worshipers? And the fame

of the brother sanatorial to this plot?
God mindful of the sparrows on the stairs?
Oh, to their faith this mountain of stairs, is not!

They know, they know, that suddenly their cares
and orthopedics will fall from them, and they
will stand whole again.
Roll empty away, wheelchairs,
and crutches, without armpits, hop away!

And I who in my own faith once had faith like this,

but now have not, am crippled more than they.

The Canoe

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 175th birthday.

12-25 Crawford
Isabella Valancy Crawford
Canadian
1846 – 1887

 

My masters twain made me a bed
Of pine-boughs resinous, and cedar;
Of moss, a soft and gentle breeder
Of dreams of rest; and me they spread
With furry skins, and laughing said,
‘Now she shall lay her polish’d sides,
As queens do rest, or dainty brides,
Our slender lady of the tides!’

My masters twain their camp-soul lit,
Streamed incense from the hissing cones,
Large, crimson flashes grew and whirl’d
Thin, golden nerves of sly light curl’d
Round the dun camp, and rose faint zones,
Half way about each grim bole knit,
Like a shy child that would bedeck
With its soft clasp a Brave’s red neck;
Yet sees the rough shield on his breast,
The awful plumes shake on his crest,
And fearful drops his timid face,
Nor dares complete the sweet embrace.

Into the hollow hearts of brakes,
Yet warm from sides of does and stags,
Pass’d to the crisp dark river flags;
Sinuous, red as copper snakes,
Sharp-headed serpents, made of light,
Glided and hid themselves in night.

My masters twain, the slaughtered deer
Hung on fork’d boughs—with thongs of leather.
Bound were his stiff, slim feet together—
His eyes like dead stars cold and drear;
The wand’ring firelight drew near
And laid its wide palm, red and anxious,
On the sharp splendor of his branches;
On the white foam grown hard and sere
On flank and shoulder.
Death—hard as breast of granite boulder,
And under his lashes
Peer’d thro’ his eyes at his life’s grey ashes.

My masters twain sang songs that wove
(As they burnish’d hunting blade and rifle)
A golden thread with a cobweb trifle—
Loud of the chase, and low of love.

‘O Love, art thou a silver fish?
Shy of the line and shy of gaffing,
Which we do follow, fierce, yet laughing,
Casting at thee the light-wing’d wish,
And at the last shall we bring thee up
From the crystal darkness under the cup
Of lily folden,
On broad leaves golden?

‘O Love! art thou a silver deer,
Swift thy starr’d feet as wing of swallow,
While we with rushing arrows follow;
And at the last shall we draw near,
And over thy velvet neck cast thongs—
Woven of roses, of stars, of songs?
New chains all moulden
Of rare gems olden!’

They hung the slaughter’d fish like swords
On saplings slender—like scimitars
Bright, and ruddied from new-dead wars,
Blaz’d in the light—the scaly hordes.

They piled up boughs beneath the trees,
Of cedar-web and green fir tassel;
Low did the pointed pine tops rustle,
The camp fire blush’d to the tender breeze.

The hounds laid dew-laps on the ground,
With needles of pine sweet, soft and rusty—
Dream’d of the dead stag stout and lusty;
A bat by the red flames wove its round.

The darkness built its wigwam walls
Close round the camp, and at its curtain
Press’d shapes, thin woven and uncertain,
As white locks of tall waterfalls.

In November

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 160th birthday.

11-17 Lampman
Archibald Lampman
Canadian
1861 – 1899

 

The leafless forests slowly yield
To the thick-driving snow. A little while
And night shall darken down. In shouting file
The woodmen’s carts go by me homeward-wheeled,
Past the thin fading stubbles, half concealed,
Now golden-gray, sowed softly through with snow,
Where the last ploughman follows still his row,
Turning black furrows through the whitening field.
Far off the village lamps begin to gleam,
Fast drives the snow, and no man comes this way;
The hills grow wintry white, and bleak winds moan
About the naked uplands. I alone
Am neither sad, nor shelterless, nor gray,
Wrapped round with thought, content to watch and dream.

A Breakfast for Barbarians

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 80th birthday.

09-01 MacEwan
Gwendolyn MacEwen
Canadian
1941 – 1987

my friends, my sweet barbarians,
there is that hunger which is not for food —
but an eye at the navel turns the appetite
round
with visions of some fabulous sandwich,
the brain’s golden breakfast
eaten with beasts
with books on plates

let us make an anthology of recipes,
let us edit for breakfast
our most unspeakable appetites —
let us pool spoons, knives
and all cutlery in a cosmic cuisine,
let us answer hunger
with boiled chimera
and apocalyptic tea,
an arcane salad of spiced bibles,
tossed dictionaries —
(O my barbarians
we will consume our mysteries)

and can we, can we slake the gaping eye of our desires?
we will sit around our hewn wood table
until our hair is long and our eyes are feeble,
eating, my people, O my insatiates,
eating until we are no more able
to jack up the jaws any longer —

to no more complain of the soul’s vulgar cavities,
to gaze at each other over the rust-heap of cutlery,
drinking a coffee that takes an eternity —
till, bursting, bleary,
we laugh, barbarians, and rock the universe —
and exclaim to each other over the table
over the table of bones and scrap metal
over the gigantic junk-heaped table:

by God that was a meal

Champ de Mars, 1914

We present this work in honor of the 95th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Robert Stanley Weir
Canadian
1856 – 1926

Unscathed as yet by battle-scars,
Trampling the sad December’s snow,
The Khaki lads on Champ de Mars
Are girding for the distant foe.
East with a dream comes marching by;
Each all aflame for England’s fight.
But O presaging heart, say why
That sound of weeping in the night?

The Duke came down one frosty day
And walked between the khaki ranks.
Full grave his look. We heard him say:
“Soldiers, the Empire gives you thanks.
Love live the King! Our foes shall learn
You stand with Him for simple right;
And may God grant you safe return.”
But still that sound all through the night!

O, marching from the Camp de Mars
They cross the seas; they storm the trench,
Fighting beneath the troubled stars
With Belgians brave and valiant French;
Fighting, till victory austere,
Shall crush the Great Betrayer’s might.
But O my beating heart, dost hear

That sound of weeping in the night?

Tiger and Elephant

We present this work in honor of World Elephant Day.

08-12 McIntyre
James McIntyre
Canadian
1828 – 1906

 

On Ganges banks roams the tiger,
And lion rules by the Niger,
Hunder heard shrill cry of peacocks,
In Indian jungles go in flocks.

And he saw tiger crouch and spring,
To crush a bird with beauteous wing,
But the tiger missed his aim,
And he hung his head with shame.

Then there came a mighty crush,
Of elephants rush through the bush,
The tiger cat-like crouched on ground,
And elephants rushed in with bound.

In front was baby elephant,
To crush its bones did tiger want,
But mother saw fierce forest ranger,
And she gave a cry of danger.

Leader of herd he madly rushed,
Resolved the tiger should be crushed,
But tiger strove to run away,
Willing to relinquish prey.

But when he found that he must fight,
On elephant’s back he strove to light,
But elephant struck him with his foot,
And then with tusks he did him root.

So now once more must praise be sung,
To beasts who nobly fight for young,
And grateful feelings were now stirred,
Towards the leader of the herd.

The Golden Ship

In honor of the Canadian holiday, Civic Day, we present this work by one of Canada’s most heartfelt poets.

08-02 Nelligan
Emile Nelligan
Canadian
1879 – 1941

 

She was a massive ship, hewn in heavy gold,
with masts that fingered heaven on seas unknown.
Under redundant sun, with scattered hair,
was prowed outspread Venus, bare;

but then one night she hit the huge reef
in waters where the Sirens sing,
and this ghastly shipwreck tilted its keel
to the depths of the chasm, that immutable

tomb. She was a ship of gold, but her diaphanous
flanks showed treasures over which the blasphemous
sailors Psychosis, Spite and Nausea clashed.

So, what has survived this flash of storm?
What about my heart, abandoned ship?
…O, still it sinks, deep in Dream’s abyss.

Woman Bathing

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 105th birthday.

08-01 Hebert
Anne Hébert
Canadian
1916 – 2000

 

Sun’s rain on the sea
Red sun yellow sun
White noon sun
Blue sun on the sea
Melded water and fire
At noon.

Deep swell I go down
Blue sea green sea
Red agate
Blue green
Depth I go down

From the bed of receded waters
Surging to the surface
Like a daylong bubble
Silver fish
Are on the back on the belly
Riddled with gold shafts

Coming up at leisure
With well-wrought traps
Calm sluices
Eel-nets
To seize the sun
In my soaked fingers.