A Patriotic Poem Written on the Anniversary of that Great Victory
Ho ! ye who are Canadians, and glory in your birth,
Who boast your land the fairest of all the lands on earth,
To-night go home with cheerful heart and lay all care aside,
And set aglow your brightest lamps and throw the shutters wide.
Heap high with coal the fire, till its merriest sparks you win,
And send out all your messengers to call the neighbors in.
Then when the evening well is spent with feast and mirthful sound,
In circle deep about the hearth range girls and boys around.
Bring forth the book of heroes’ deeds, and to your listening flock,
Read reverently of Queenston Heights and the death of Isaac Brock.
Oh, there are some amongst us who spurn the patriot’s name,
Who say our country has no past, no heroes known to fame.
They talk of bold Leonidas who held the pass of blood,
And how Horatius Cocles braved swollen Tiber’s flood.
They never tire of dark Cortez who spared nor blood nor tears,
Nor yet of Arnold Winkelreid, who broke the Austrian spears.
Their glory is of Waterloo, that crimson-memoried fight,
Of the “thin red line” of Inkerman and Alma’s bloody height.
For Canada their voice is mute, yet history’s pages tell
That braver blood was never spilt than where her heroes fell.
To-day o’er Queenston’s lofty heights the autumn sky is drear,
From drooping limbs the withering leaves hang bloodless, wan and sere.
From fertile sward the plough has gone, and from the field the wain,
In bursting barns the farmer views his wealth of garnered grain.
Those fields are sacred and that sward shall be Canadians’ boast,
The spot where valor’s few hurled back the dark invader’s host.
The tale shall live while grow the trees, while rippling water runs,
Of fame’s bright birth to Canada from the life-blood of her sons.
You know it well ! The invaders crossed with the first grey dawn of light,
And foot by foot their numbers told and gained the stubborn height.
The guns are ta’en ! on Dennis’ flank the reinforcements pour,
While from the battery on the hill the crashing round-shot tore.
And backward, surely backward, the patriot heroes move,
With death to left and death to right and death on high above.
But, hark ! When hope has almost fled, at the hour of sorest need,
Is heard the clatter of iron hoofs and the neigh of a coursing steed.
Now let the martial music breathe its most inspiring notes,
As bursts the shout of welcome from the faltering veterans’ throats !
What spell so much could nerve them in that losing battle’s shock,
“Courage, boys ! It is the General ! Onward comrades ! On with Brock !”
Now forward to the battery ! They lend a ready ear ;
There’s a hero’s form, to lead them and a hero’s voice to cheer.
And o’er the level plain they press, and up the sloping hill,
‘Mid hiss of shot and volleys’ smoke his cry is “Onward !” still.
And now they pass the low ravine, they clamber o’er the wall ;
The fatal death-shot strikes him ; they see their leader faIl.
“Push on, push on, York volunteers !” brave words—they were his last,
And like the vision of a dream the charging column passed.
He heard their cry of vengeance as they reached the mountain’s crest,
Then rushed in purpling tide the flood of life-blood from his breast.
You’ve read the rest ; their comrades came to stay their second flight,
Dashed on to meet the foe in blue and hurled them from the height.
Then, Canada, was seen thy might ! by equal ardour led,
Fought Indians like white men, and coloured men like red.
One spirit moved, one thought inspired that gallant little band ;
That foot of no invading foe should e’er pollute their land.
A thousand men laid down their arms to force inferior far ;
Blush, fickle land of commerce, for thy myrmidons of war.
Sleep, heroes ! Rest upon the hill where valor’s deed was done,
No flower shall ever wither in a crown so nobly won.
While Canada can rear her sons, the bravest of the brave,
From the tempests of Atlantic to the placid western wave,
So surely as shall come the day that tells your deathless fame,
Shall future patriots mourn you and festal rites proclaim.
And thou, whose sacred dust entombed on yonder summit lies,
Beneath that noble monument far-reaching toward the skies,
Thy name shall be a holy word, a trumpet-note to all,
When bravery’s arm is needed and they hear their country’s call.
And future sires, shall take their sons at evening on their knee,
And tell the old tale over, and thus shall speak of thee—
“His is the noblest name we have in all our bright array ;
He taught our youth to falter not tho’ death might bar the way ;
“He showed our might, he led our arms, he conquered, tho’ he fell ;
He gave up all he had—his life—for the land he loved so well.”
Source: Raise the Flag and Other Patriotic Canadian Songs and Poems. Toronto: Rose Publishing, 1891