Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

Introductory to British America

Aca Nada

By Kay Livingstone


LONG ago a band of travellers

Left behind the coast of Spain,

Turned their faces to the westward,

Sailed across the storm-tossed main,

Crossed the black Atlantic waters,

Landed on a rock-bound shore,

Moored their argosies and left them,

That the land they might explore.

Sadly turned they homeward, murmuring,

“Aca Nada!” nothing here.

Nothing here! my Canada?

Nay, but we have wiser grown;

Stretching vast from dawn to sunset,

With a grandeur all thine own!

Rugged mountains, where the eagle

Wheels in widening circles slow;

Mighty hills whose peakèd summits,

Covered with eternal snow,

Stand like angel sentinels guarding

Far and wide the land below!

Trackless forests, dark and lonely,

Where man’s foot hath never trod;

Howls the wolf, and screams the panther,

Face to face with Nature’s God!

Here the haughty stag, advancing,

Kingly power undaunted sways;

Here the timid hare bounds fearless

Through the brushwood underways;

In his native marsh the heron

Seeks the waters of his love,

While in geometric figure

Sails the wild duck far above.

Company of man disturbs not,

All in careless freedom rove!

Lakes and streamlets ever changing,

Yet in beauty changeless still

As when Chaos and Old Night

Bent obedient to His will!

Stately rivers, onward rolling

Ever to the restless sea,

On their azure bosoms heaving,

White-winged barques ride daintily,

Laden low with grain so golden,

Ceres laughs in happy glee.

Where of yore, by tideless waters,

Pines their solemn shadows threw,

Curls the graceful smoke from homesteads,

Men their thrifty lives pursue.

Where in bygone years the forest

Shuddered with the tempest’s roar,

Spreads now many a stately city;

Solitude returns no more!

Happy country! happy people!

Peace prevails from shore to shore.