Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
The Half-breed Girl
By Duncan Campbell Scott (1862–1947)
SHE is free of the trap and the paddle,
  The portage and the trail,
But something behind her savage life
  Shines like a fragile veil.
Her dreams are undiscovered,        5
  Shadows trouble her breast,
When the time for resting cometh
  Then least is she at rest.
Oft in the morns of winter
  When she visits the rabbit snares,        10
An appearance floats in the crystal air
  Beyond the balsam firs.
Oft in the summer mornings
  When she strips the nets of fish,
The smell of the dripping net-twine        15
  Gives to her heart a wish.
But she cannot learn the meaning
  Of the shadows in her soul,
The lights that break and gather,
  The clouds that part and roll.        20
The reek of rock-built cities,
  Where her fathers dwelt of yore,
The gleam of loch and shealing,
  The mist on the moor,
Frail traces of kindred kindness,        25
  Of feud by hill and strand,
The heritage of an age-long life
  In a legendary land.
She wakes in the stifling wigwam,
  Where the air is heavy and wild,        30
She fears for something or nothing
  With the heart of a frightened child.
She sees the stars turn slowly
  Past the tangle of the poles,
Through the smoke of the dying embers,        35
  Like the eyes of dead souls.
Her heart is shaken with longing
  For the strange still years,
For what she knows and knows not,
  For the wells of ancient tears.        40
A voice calls from the rapids,
  Deep, careless, and free,
A voice that is larger than her life
  Or than her death shall be.
She covers her face with her blanket,        45
  Her fierce soul hates her breath,
As it cries with a sudden passion
  For life or death.

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