Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
From ‘Tecumseh’
By Charles Mair (1838–1927)
Act I. Scene 2

THIS region is as lavish of its flowers
As Heaven of its primrose blooms by night.
This is the Arum, which within its root
Folds life and death; and this the Prince’s Pine,
Fadeless as love and truth—the fairest form        5
That ever sun-shower washed with sudden rain.
This golden cradle is the Moccasin Flower,
Wherein the Indian hunter sees his hound;
And this dark chalice is the Pitcher-Plant,
Stored with the water of forgetfulness.        10
Whoever drinks of it, whose heart is pure,
Will sleep for ay ’neath foodful asphodel,
And dream of endless love.
*        *        *        *        *
  There was a time on this fair continent
When all things throve in spacious peacefulness.        15
The prosperous forests unmolested stood,
For where the stalwart oak grew there it lived
Long ages, and then died among its kind.
The hoary pines—those ancients of the earth—
Brimful of legends of the early world,        20
Stood thick on their own mountains unsubdued.
And all things else illumined by the sun,
Inland or by the lifted wave, had rest.
The passionate or calm pageants of the skies
No artist drew; but in the auburn west        25
Innumerable faces of fair cloud
Vanished in silent darkness with the day.
The prairie realm—vast ocean’s paraphrase—
Rich in wild grasses numberless, and flowers
Unnamed save in mute Nature’s inventory,        30
No civilized barbarian trenched for gain.
And all that flowed was sweet and uncorrupt.
The rivers and their tributary streams,
Undammed, wound on for ever, and gave up
Their lonely torrents to weird gulfs of sea,        35
And ocean wastes unshadowed by a sail.
And all the wild life of this western world
Knew not the fear of man; yet in those woods,
And by those plenteous streams and mighty lakes,
And on stupendous steppes of peerless plain,        40
And in the rocky gloom of canyons deep,
Screened by the stony ribs of mountains hoar
Which steeped their snowy peaks in purging cloud,
And down the continent where tropic suns
Warmed to her very heart the mother earth,        45
And in the congeal’d north where silence’ self
Ached with intensity of stubborn frost,
There lived a soul more wild than barbarous;
A tameless soul—the sunburnt savage free—
Free and untainted by the greed of gain,        50
Great Nature’s man, content with Nature’s food.

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