Down at the docks—where the ships come
And the endless trails of the sea begin,
Where the shining wake of a steamer’s track
Is barred by the tow of the tugboats black,
Where slim yachts dip to the singing spray
And a gay wind whistles the world away—
Here sad ships lie which will sail no more,
But new ships build on the noisy shore,
And always the breath of the wind and tide
Whispers the lure of the sea outside,
Till now and to-morrow and yesterday
Are linked by the spell of the faraway!
Down at the docks—when the morning’s
And the air is gold and the distance blue,
There’s a pull at the heart! But best of all
Is to see the sun shrink, red and small,
While the fog steals in (more surely fleet
Than the smacks that run from her white-shod feet)
And clamours of startled calls arise
From bewildered ships that have lost their eyes;
The fog horn bellows its deep-mouthed shout,
The little lights on the shore blur out
And strange, dim shapes pass wistfully
With a secret tide to a secret sea.
I think that when the Master Jeweler tells
His beads of beauty over, seeking there
One gem to name as most supremely fair,
To you He turns, O lake of hidden wells!
So very lovely are you, Lake Louise,
The stars which crown your lifted peaks at even
Mistake you for a little sea in heaven
And nightly launch their shining argosies.
From shore to dim-lit shore a ripple slips,
The happy sigh of faintly stirring night
Where safe she sleeps upon this virgin height
Captive of dream and smiling with white lips.
Surely a spell, creation-old, was made
For you, O lake of silences, that all
Earth’s fretting voices here should muted fall,
As if a finger on their lips were laid!
The sunlight falls on old Quebec,
A city framed of rose and gold,
An ancient gem more beautiful
In that its beauty waxes old.
O Pearl of Cities! I would set
You higher in our diadem,
And higher yet and higher yet,
That generations still to be
May kindle at your history!
’Twas here that gallant Champlain stood
And gazed upon this mighty stream,
These towering rock-walls, buttressed high—
A gateway to a land of dream;
And all his silent men stood near
While the great fleur-de-lis fell free,
(Too awe-struck they to raise a cheer)
And while the shining folds outspread
The sunset burned a sudden red.
Here paced the haughty Frontenac,
His great heart torn with pride and pain,
His clear eye dimming as it swept
The land he might not see again,
This infant world, this strange New France
Dropped down as by some vagrant wind
Upon the New World’s vast expanse,
Threatened yet safe! Through storm and stress
Time’s challenge to the wilderness.