CANADA - James Whitcomb Riley Poems


Poems » james whitcomb riley » canada


O Child of Nations, giant-limbed,
    Who stand'st among the nations now
Unheeded, unadored, unhymned,
    With unanointed brow, --

How long the ignoble sloth, how long
    The trust in greatness not thine own?
Surely the lion's brood is strong
    To front the world alone!

How long the indolence, ere thou dare
    Achieve thy destiny, seize thy fame, --
Ere our proud eyes behold thee bear
    A nation's franchise, nation's name?

The Saxon force, the Celtic fire,
    These are thy manhood's heritage!
Why rest with babes and slaves?  Seek higher
    The place of race and age.

I see to every wind unfurled
    The flag that bears the Maple Wreath;
Thy swift keels furrow round the world
    Its blood-red folds beneath;

Thy swift keels cleave the furthest seas;
    Thy white sails swell with alien gales;
To stream on each remotest breeze
    The black smoke of thy pipes exhales.

O Falterer, let thy past convince
    Thy future, -- all the growth, the gain,
The fame since Cartier knew thee, since
    Thy shores beheld Champlain!

(Montcalm and Wolfe! Wolfe and Montcalm!
    Quebec, thy storied citadel
Attest in burning song and psalm
    How here thy heroes fell!

O Thou that bor'st the battle's brunt
    At Queenston and at Lundy's Lane, --
On whose scant ranks but iron front
    The battle broke in vain! --

Whose was the danger, whose the day,
    From whose triumphant throats the cheers,
At Chrysler's Farm, at Chateauguay,
    Storming like clarion-bursts our ears?

On soft Pacific slopes, -- beside
    Strange floods that northward rave and fall, --
Where chafes Acadia's chainless tide --
    Thy sons await thy call.

They wait; but some in exile, some
    With strangers housed, in stranger lands, --
And some Canadian lips are dumb
    Beneath Egyptian sands.

O mystic Nile! Thy secret yields
    Before us; thy most ancient dreams
Are mixed with far Canadian fields
    And murmur of Canadian streams.

But thou, my country, dream not thou!
    Wake, and behold how night is done, --
How on thy breast, and o'er thy brow,
    Bursts the uprising sun!