Five Canadian Nationalist Poems

"La victoire de Châteauguay", Joseph-David Mermet (1775-c. 1850)

La trompette a sonné : l'éclair luit, l'airain gronde ; 
Salaberry paraît, la valeur le seconde, 
Et trois cents Canadiens qui marchent sur ses pas, 
Comme lui, d'un air gai, vont braver le trépas. 
Huit mille Américains s'avancent d'un air sombre ; 
Hampton, leur chef, en vain veut compter sur leur nombre. 
C'est un nuage affreux qui paraît s'épaissir, 
Mais que le fer de Mars doit bientôt éclaircir.

Le Héros canadien, calme quand l'airain tonne, 
Vaillant quand il combat, prudent quand il ordonne, 
A placé ses guerriers, observé son rival : 
Il a saisi l'instant, et donné le signal. 
Sur le nuage épais qui contre lui s'avance, 
Aussi prompt que l'éclair, le Canadien s'élance... 
Le grand nombre l'arrête... il ne recule pas ; 
Il offre sa prière à l'ange des combats, 
Implore du Très-Haut le secours invisible ; 
Remplit tous ses devoirs et se croit invincible. 
Les ennemis confus poussent des hurlements ; 
Le chef et les soldats font de faux mouvements. 
Salaberry qui voit que son rival hésite, 
Dans la horde nombreuse a lancé son élite : 
Le nuage s'entrouvre ; il en sort mille éclairs ; 
La foudre et ses éclairs se perdent dans les airs. 
Du pâle Américain la honte se déploie : 
Les Canadiens vainqueurs jettent des cris de joie ;
Leur intrépide chef enchaîne le succès,
Et tout l'espoir d'Hampton s'enfuit dans les forêts.

Oui! généreux soldats, votre valeur enchante :
La patrie envers vous sera reconnaissante.
Qu'une main libérale, unie au sentiment
En gravant ce qui suit, vous offre un monument :
« Ici les Canadiens se couvrirent de gloire ;
« Oui! trois cents sur huit mille obtinrent la victoire.
« Leur constante union fut un rempart d'airain
« Qui repoussa les traits du fier Américain.
« Passant, admire-les... Ces rivages tranquilles
« Ont été défendus comme les Thermopyles ;
« Ici Léonidas et ses trois cents guerriers,
« Revinrent parmi nous cueillir d'autres lauriers.»

"To the Canadian Patriot", William Wilfred Campbell (1860-1918)

This is the land of the rugged north; these wide
Life-yielding fields, these inland oceans; these
Vast rivers moving seaward their wide floods,
Majestic music; these sky-bound plains
And heaven-topping mountains; these iron shores,

Facing toward either ocean; fit home alone
For the indomitable and nobly strong.
In that dread hour of evil, when thy land
Is rent with strifes and ground with bigotry,
And all looks dark for honour, and poor Truth

Walks cloaked in shadow, alien from her marts;
Go forth alone and view the earth and sky,
And those eternal waters, moving, vast,
In endless duty, ever rendering pure
These mild or angry airs; the gladdening sun

Reviving, changing, weaving life from death,
These elemental uses Nature puts
Her patient hours to; and then thou shalt know
A larger vista, glean a greater truth
Than man has put into his partial creeds

Of blinded feud and custom; thou shalt know
That Nature’s laws are greater and more sure,
More calm, more patient, wise and tolerant,
Than these poor, futile efforts of our dream;
That human life is stronger in its yearning

Than those blind walls our impotence builds between
And underneath this calloused rind we see—
As the obedient tides the swaying moon—
A mightier law the whole wide world obeys;
And far behind these mists of human vision

God’s great horizon stands out fixed and sure.

"Memories", William Henry Drummond (1854-1907)

O spirit of the mountain that speaks to us to-night,
Your voice is sad, yet still recalls past visions of delight,
When 'mid the grand old Laurentides, old when the earth was new,
With flying feet we followed the moose and caribou.

And backward rush sweet memories, like fragments of a dream,
We hear the dip of paddle blades, the ripple of the stream,
The mad, mad rush of frightened wings from brake and covert start,
The breathing of the woodland, the throb of nature's heart.

Once more beneath our eager feet the forest carpet springs,
We march through gloomy valleys, where the vesper sparrow sings.
The little minstrel heeds us not, nor stays his plaintive song,
As with our brave coureurs de bois we swiftly pass along.

Again o'er dark Wayagamack, in bark canoe we glide,
And watch the shades of evening glance along the mountain side.
Anon we hear resounding the wizard loon's wild cry,
And mark the distant peak whereon the ling'ring echoes die.

But Spirit of the Northland! let the winter breezes blow,
And cover every giant crag with rifts of driving snow.
Freeze every leaping torrent, bind all the crystal lakes,
Tell us of fiercer pleasures when the Storm King awakes.

And now the vision changes, the winds are loud and shrill,
The falling flakes are shrouding the mountain and the hill,
But safe within our snug cabane with comrades gathered near,
We set the rafters ringing with "Roulant" and "Brigadier."

Then after Pierre and Telesphore have danced "Le Caribou,"
Some hardy trapper tells a tale of the dreaded Loup Garou,
Or phantom bark in moonlit heavens, with prow turned to the East,
Bringing the Western voyageurs to join the Christmas feast.

And while each backwoods troubadour is greeted with huzza
Slowly the homely incense of "tabac Canayen"
Rises and sheds its perfume like flowers of Araby,
O'er all the true-born loyal Enfants de la Patrie.

And thus with song and story, with laugh and jest and shout,
We heed not dropping mercury nor storms that rage without,
But pile the huge logs higher till the chimney roars with glee,
And banish spectral visions with La Chanson Normandie.

    "Brigadier! répondit Pandore
    Brigadier! vous avez raison,
    Brigadier! répondit Pandore,
    Brigadier! vous avez raison!"

O spirit of the mountain! that speaks to us to-night,
Return again and bring us new dreams of past delight,
And while our heart-throbs linger, and till our pulses cease,
We'll worship thee among the hills where flows the Saint-Maurice.

"New Paths", F. R. Scott (1889-1985)

Child of the North, 
Yearn no more after old playthings, 
Temples and towers and gates
Memory-haunted thoroughfares and rich palaces
And all the burdensome inheritance, the binding legacies, 
Of the Old World and the East.

Here is a new soil and a sharp sun.

Turn from the past, 
Walk with me among these indigent firs, 
Climb these rough crags
And let the winds that have swept lone cityless plains, 
Gathering no sad tales of past endeavour, 
Tell you of fresh beauty and full growth. 

"Dat ol' man river", Eric Nicol (1919-2011)

Roll on, O mighty river
of U.S. dollars, majestic currency
coursing northward into Canada,
holy Ganges of gold
which, even as we defile thee,
(emptying our bladder of self-assertive
sound and fury,
voiding Canadi-anal matter),
yet do we drink of thee
like thirsty geese a-gargling,
and carry thee to the banks
our modest urnings,
and reverently strew upon thee ashes
of identity.

Hail! fructifying effluence,
whose every flood is our good fortune,
depositing the silt of safe investment
wherein we grow our crop of shares,
irrigating the plain
of the world's second highest
standard of living, wherefrom we glean
our simple harvest
of hi-fi and freezer, Jag and yacht.
(Consider the telies, how they grow.)

Let us call thee Jordan,
most capital of flows, whose apostles
have witnessed thy wonders
in the Wall Street Journal,
and upon whose bounteous bosom
is born each wave of prosperity.
Be not dammed by the eager beaver
building his watery cache
of what's Canadian,
but inundate us yet and
yet again, and farther still,
pouring in the pelf until at last
this land is totally submerged.
"Bless thee!" cries our nation.
"Drowning is a pleasant sensation."