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

Introductory to British America


By Alfred William Winterslow Dale (1855–1926)


TO thee we come,—to thee, the latest left

And loveliest of our daughters,—Canada!

Now ours, and ours alone. The power of France

That held thee once is vanished all away;

And the fierce strifes are over, and the claims

Of angry nations balanced in the beam

Of Destiny, and ours is the award.

Long months the tide of battle ebbed and flowed

Upon the plains and in the pathless woods,

The midnight gloom still blossoming into fire,

The midnight silence broken by the crash

Of cannon or the Indian’s savage cry.

Till the steep crags above the city walls

Our soldiers scaled, and in the dead of night

Heard the deep river murmuring far below,

And saw the watch-fires of the foe before,

Islanded in by death on either side.

But now upon the heights in loneliness

Stands a gray pillar, telling all the world

That here died Wolfe victorious, nothing more;

A hero’s simple tribute, for the words

Ring like a trumpet down the vale of years,

And echo in the ages far away.

And thus we won the land, and year by year

The nations grew together into one;

While the charred ruins mouldered into dust,

And trampled corn forgot the soldier’s heel;

And the sad memories of the bygone strife

Faded, as fades a foam-streak in the sea,

Or as a star-trail in the midnight sky.

And who but needs must love a land like this,

Where every passing hour hath its own charm,

And every season its own loveliness?

In winter the pure veil of feathery snow

Down floating from the sky in noiseless folds;

In spring the waking music of the air,

And the world wavering through a mist of green;

Then in the heat of summer the full leaves

And the deep coolness of the woodland dell;

And last the forest all ablaze with pomp

And glory of all hues, till cold winds come

And strew the gold about the autumn fields.

Here as we mount and leave the coast below,

Lake leads to lake, sea opens into sea,

Great waters hidden in the land and linked

Together in a sounding labyrinth,

One river chain still running through them all,

From Northern ice-crags spired and pinnacled,

With gable and gargoyle, arch and oriel,

And subtlest maze of frosted tracery,

Rock-based, rock-roofed, like some fantastic fane

Hewn by rough craftsmen in the days of old,

And buttressed firm against the Northern gales.

From that cold clime they stretch into the south

By plain and forest under kindlier skies.

There rise the masses of the gloomy pines,

Marshalled together to a solid front

Against the fury of all winds that blow.

League after league the stately line goes on,

With now and then a hollow overhead

Through which the light steals trembling; now and then

Some sound amid the solitude,—the crash

Of falling branch or cry of frightened bird,—

Westwards and westwards ever till the day

Breaks dim before us, and we stand at last

Upon the prairie rippled by the breeze

To waves and breaking in a foam of flowers:

Vast hazy reaches, sloping far away

To western mountains, where a thousand peaks

Flush to the crimson of the dawn’s first beam,

Or sparkle silver splendors to the moon,

There rolls the great St. Lawrence to the sea,

Sweeping by rapids and by cataract

Whose thunder never hushes, and the gleam

Of falling waters lightens night and day;

By islands thickly sown as stars in heaven,

Lying like lilies on the river bed,

With clear-cut petals lifted from the wave,

A cluster of unnumbered loveliness.

There do they dwell and labor; there the axe

Wakes with the warbling lark, and cheerily rings

The livelong day, while the pines shake and fall

And float into the stream to make their way

By lake and river to the distant sea.

And there they plough the plain and sow their seed

Till the swift seasons make them rich return,

While the wide acres glow with golden grain

To feed the multitudes of other lands.

Thrice happy souls! to whom the passing years

Bring little sorrow and light clouds of ill.

Far from the troublous tumult of the storm,

Far from the suffering nations ye abide,

Tearless and passionless, and there in peace

Watch the long days go down into their grave,

And catch the dying whisper of the world.