Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
The Habitant
By William Henry Drummond (1854–1907)
DE place I get born, me, is up on de reever
  Near foot of de rapide dat ’s call Cheval Blanc.
Beeg mountain behin’ it, so high you can’t climb it,
  An’ whole place she ’s mebbe two honder arpent.
De fader of me, he was habitant farmer,        5
  Ma gran’fader too, an’ hees fader also,
Dey don’t mak’ no monee, but dat isn’t fonny
  For it ’s not easy get ev’ryt’ing, you mus’ know.
All de sam’ dere is somet’ing dey got ev’ry boddy,
  Dat ’s plaintee good healt’, wat de monee can’t geev,        10
So I’m workin’ away dere, an’ happy for stay dere
  On farm by de reever, so long I was leev.
Oh! dat was de place w’en de spring tam she ’s comin’,
  W’en snow go away, an’ de sky is all blue—
W’en ice lef’ de water, an sun is get hotter,        15
  An back on de medder is sing de gou-glou—
W’en small sheep is firs’ comin’ out on de pasture,
  Deir nice leetle tail stickin’ up on deir back,
Dey ronne wit’ deir moder, an’ play wit’ each oder,
  An’ jomp all de tam jus’ de sam’ dey was crack—        20
An’ ole cow also, she ’s glad winter is over,
  So she kick herse’f up, an’ start off on de race
Wit’ de two-year-ole heifer, dat ’s purty soon lef’ her,
  W’y ev’ryt’ing ’s crazee all over de place!
An’ down on de reever de wil’ duck is quackin’,        25
  Along by de shore leetle san’ piper ronne—
De bullfrog he ’s gr-rompin’ an’ doré is jompin’—
  Dey all got deir own way for mak’ it de fonne.
But spring ’s in beeg hurry, and don’t stay long wit’ us,
  An’ firs’ t’ing we know, she go off till nex’ year;        30
Den bee commence hummin’, for summer is comin’,
  An’ purty soon corn ’s gettin’ ripe on de ear.
Dat ’s very nice tam for wake up on de mornin’
  An’ lissen de rossignol sing ev’ry place,
Feel sout’ win’ a-blowin’, see clover a-growin’,        35
  An’ all de worl’ laughin’ itself on de face.
Mos’ ev’ry day raf’ it is pass on de rapide,
  De voyageur singin’ some ole chanson
’Bout girl down de reever—too bad dey mus’ leave her,
  But comin’ back soon wit’ beaucoup d’argent.        40
An’ den w’en de fall an de winter come roun’ us,
  An’ bird of de summer is all fly away,
W’en mebbe she ’s snowin’, an’ nort’ win’ is blowin’,
  An’ night is mos’ t’ree tam so long as de day.
You t’ink it was bodder de habitant farmer?        45
  Not at all—he is happy an’ feel satisfy,
An’ cole may las’ good w’ile, so long as de wood pile
  Is ready for burn on de stove by an’ bye.
W’en I got plaintee hay put away on de stable
  So de sheep an’ de cow, dey got no chance to freeze,        50
An’ de hen all togedder—I don’t min’ de wedder—
  De nort’ win’ may blow jus’ so moche as she please.
An’ some cole winter night how I wish you can see us,
  W’en I smoke on de pipe, an’ de ole woman sew
By de stove of Tree Reever—ma wife’s fader geeve her        55
  On day we get marry, dat ’s long tam ago.
De boy an’ de girl, dey was readin’ it’s lesson,
  De cat on de corner she ’s bite heem de pup,
Ole ‘Carleau’, he ’s snorin’, an’ beeg stove is roarin’
  So loud dat I’m scare purty soon she bus’ up.        60
Philomene—dat ’s de oldes’—is sit on de winder,
  An’ kip jus’ so quiet lak wan leetle mouse,
She say de more finer moon never was shiner—
  Very fonny, for moon isn’t dat side de house.
But purty soon den, we hear foot on de outside,        65
  An’ some wan is place it hees han’ on de latch:
Dat ’s Isidore Goulay, las’ fall on de Brulé
  He ’s tak’ it firs’ prize on de grand ploughin’ match.
Ha! ha! Philomene!—dat was smart trick you play us;
  Come help de young feller tak’ snow from hees neck:        70
Dere ’s not’ing for hinder you come off de winder
  W’en moon you was look for is come, I expec’.
Isidore, he is tole us de news on de parish
  ’Bout hees Lajeunesse Colt—travel two forty, sure,
’Bout Jeremie Choquette, come back from Woonsocket,        75
  An’ t’ree new leetle twin on Madam Vaillancour’!
But nine o’clock strike, an’ de chil’ren is sleepy,
  Mese’f an’ ole woman can’t stay up no more;
So alone by de fire—’cos dey say dey ain’t tire—
  We lef’ Philomene an’ de young Isidore.        80
I s’pose dey be talkin’ beeg lot on de kitchen
  ’Bout all de nice moon dey was see on de sky;
For Philomene ’s takin’ long tam get awaken
  Nex’ day, she ’s so sleepy on bote of de eye.
Dat ’s wan of dem t’ings, ev’ry tam on de fashion,        85
  An’ ’bout nices’ t’ing dat was never be seen.
Got not’ing for say me—I spark it sam’ way me
  W’en I go see de moder, ma girl Philomene.
We leev very quiet ’way back on de contree,
  Don’t put on sam’ style lak’ de big village;        90
W’en we don’t get de monee you t’ink dat is fonny
  An’ mak’ plaintee sport on de Bottes Sauvages.
But I tole you—dat ’s true—I don’t go on de city
  If you geev de fine house an’ beaucoup d’argent—
I rader be stay me, an’ spen’ de las’ day me        95
  On de farm by de rapide dat ’s call Cheval Blanc.

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