UPON the heights at Queenston, ‡‡One dark October day,
Invading foes were marshalled ‡‡In battle’s dread array ;
Brave Brock looked up the rugged steep, ‡‡And planned a bold attack,
“No foreign flag shall float” said he, ‡‡“Above the Union Jack !”
His loyal-hearted soldiers ‡‡Were ready, every one,
Their foes were thrice their number— ‡‡But duty must be done.
They started up the fire-swept hill ‡‡With loud resounding cheers,
While Brock’s inspiring voice rang out ‡‡“Push on York Volunteers !”
But soon a fatal bullet ‡‡Pierced through his manly breast,
And loving friends, to help him, ‡‡Around the hero pressed ; “Push on,” he said, “do not mind me,” ‡‡And ere the setting sun,
Canadians held the Queenston Heights— ‡‡The victory was won.
Each true Canadian patriot ‡‡Laments the death of Brock.
Our country told its sorrow ‡‡In monumental rock ;
And if a foe should e’er invade ‡‡Our land in future years,
His dying words will guide us still— ‡‡“Push on brave volunteers !”
Source: Raise the Flag and Other Patriotic Canadian Songs and Poems. Toronto: Rose Publishing, 1891
This poem by Hughes was also set to music by Alan Mills, and published under the title “The Battle of Queenston Heights” in Singing Our History: Canada’s Story in Song. by Edith Fowke and Alan Mills. Toronto: Doubleday, 1984
Source: Emmons, Richard. The Fredoniad; or, Independence Preserved. An Epic Poem on The Late War of 1812. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: W. Emmons, 1832
A discussion of this poem can be found in Severance, Frank H. Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier. Buffalo: The Matthews-Northrup Co., 1899 (Chapter entitled Niagara and the Poets) Available digitally by clicking here
On the laying of the corner stone of the Brock monument at Queenston Heights, and the final interment of the General who had fallen at the battle of Queenston, Oct. 13th, 1812. The remains of his Aide, Col. McDonald, [Lt.-Col. John Macdonell] were also deposited under the new tower.
A wail went o’er broad Canada,
When it was known a vile outlaw
Had at midnights awful hour,
With ruffian hand blown up the tower.
‘Neath which had slept the gallant Brock
Who bravely fell on Queenston’s rock,
But graceful column soon shall rise,
Its beauteous shaft will kiss the skies.
For from Queenston’s woody height
You may behold a pleasing sight,
The grim old veterans of the war,
Militiamen with many a scar.
Indian braves from each nation,
Grouped to pay their last ovation,
Round the remains of General Brock,
Who led them oft in battle’s shock.
Old heroes now again do rally,
Feebly they move along the valley,
Not as they rushed in days of yore
When torrent like they onward bore.
And swept away the foeman’s ranks
O’er Niagara’s rugged banks,
So indignant was their grief
On losing of their warrior chief.
Now, with triumphant funeral car,
Adorned with implements of war,
The sad procession slow ascends,
As round the hill its way it wends.
Marching to mournful, solemn note,
While grand old flags around it float,
And now may peace be never broken
‘Mong lands where Saxon tongue is spoken.
“For peace hath victories by far
More glorious than horrid war,”
England doth Longfellow revere,
And America loves Shakespeare.
Note by James McIntyre: The oration on the above interesting occasion was delivered by the late Hon. William H. Merritt, projector of the Welland Canal. He served at the battle when a young man. We witnessed the interesting ceremony and shall never forget it.
Source: James McIntyre. Poems of James McIntyre. Ingersoll, Ont.: The Chronicle, 1889
See J.A. Murphy’s Ode to a Bytown Youth for the story of how the giant flag was affixed to the remains of the first Brock’s monument.
Lines composed on seeing the Proposals of the Commissioners for erecting a Monument to the memory of the late MAJOR GENERAL SIR ISAAC BROCK. — In imitation of the death of WOLFE.
CROWN’D with sad cypress Britannia sat mournful,
Where Queenston’s bold heights overlook the broad plain;
Her Garments were wet with the tears of Aurora,
And she mus’d on the deeds of her BROCK that was slain.
Her soul was absorb’d in profound contemplation;
‘Neath her feet roll’d the surge of its turbid career;
Now she gazed on the skies — now the dark deep before her,
While Niagara’s thunders broke full on her ear.
“My BROCK!” she exclaimed — “did death here arrest thee!
Did thy gallant spirit here burst from its clay!
Ah! why was so short the bright path of thy glory!
Why cut down so soon in the noon of thy day?”
‘Twas morn, — and sublime o’er the guiph of Niagara,
On the dark folding cloud rising dense to the sky,
Sat the GENIUS of CANADA — round far below him,
Majestic he shot the quick glance of his eye.
He saw the disconsolate Queen of the Ocean
Reclin’d on the ground — in an instant was there
Before her the vision cloud built, and suspended,
It hung o’er the channel’s rocks in mid the air.
She gazed with wonder—the genius refulgent
In glory, descended and stood at her feet: —
Ah! why, he exclaim’d dost thou sorrow, fair Empress,
And pour the sad sigh on the midnight retreat?
Thy BROCK is not dead,— for still fresh in his glory;
Unscathed remained the bright wreath of his fame;
And long shall posterity tell the proud story,
And kindle anew at the sound of his name.
When called to the council of state, by his wisdom
He banish’d discordance, uniting all hands
And all hearts into one, all their energies guiding
As one, to one object, his Sovereign’s commands
The glory of Britain — the good of his country
United, stood firm in the views of his mind,
In battle a thunderbolt, — mild to the vanquish’d,
In council a sage, — and a friend to mankind.
His labors were ended, and ripe was his glory: —
The FATHER of all call’d him home to his rest;
Now a crown, never fading, encircles his temples,
And peace, gentle peace, reigns serene in his breast.
‘Tis mine here below his fair fame to watch over;
His memory to guard from oblivion’s dun shade;
And here on this ground will I raise his proud trophy,
Where he fell — where his last gallant act was display’d.
E’en now are my faithful Canadians preparing
The pile of affection to rear to his name.
The marble shall tell of his deeds to the stranger.
And ages unborn shall recount all his fame.
Port Talbot, Dec. 23, 1823
Adam Hood Burwell published poems under the pen name Erieus
Source: Burwell, Adam Hood. “New” Poems of Adam Hood Burwell. Edited and Introduced by Mary Lu MacDonald. canadianpoetry.org/ 2020
They crossed in the gray of the morning, ‡‡Stole o’er from the other shore,
To invade the land of the Maple Leaf, ‡‡Two thousand proud foes, or more:
A detachment of the old Forty-Ninth, ‡‡And Dennis’s brave volunteers,
Opposed their landing determinedly, ‡‡Opening on them with cheers.
The roar of the guns from the battery ‡‡Rolled down Niagara’s gorge,
Awakening Brock and his fearless men ‡‡From their rest at old Fort George.
And in a hot haste Brock and his aides-de-camp ‡‡Rode fast through the pale, cold light,
Bidding Sheaffe and his men to follow on ‡‡To aid in the coming fight.
Meanwhile the Americans won the heights, ‡‡And the guns half way below;
Their loss was a serious menace, too, ‡‡In the hands of the haughty foe.
Swift as the fleet wind Brock gained the vale ‡‡And lifted his flashing eye,
Measuring the foe on the cold, gray steeps, ‡‡And the battery nearer by.
“The guns must be won!” Brock quickly cried, ‡‡And came an answering cheer
From the intrepid, ready Forty-Ninth — ‡‡Brave souls devoid of all fear!
“Forward! charge home to the battery’s side!” ‡‡And dauntless he led the way,
Driving the foe from the smoking guns ‡‡By the cold steel’s deadly play.
Heroically leading, he drew their fire, ‡‡And fearlessly fighting fell,
Pierced through the breast by a mortal shot, ‡‡The leader all loved so well.
“Don’t mind me,” he thoughtfully cried; ‡‡“Push on, brave York volunteers!”
Sent a message to his sister over the sea, ‡‡His eyes suffused with tears.
Thus perished war’s genius gloriously, ‡‡A great leader, young in years;
So loved and mourned for, brave, pure soul, ‡‡Thy name we bedew with tears.
Gallantly Sheaffe by St. David’s moves up, ‡‡Turning their flank by the way,
Gaining the heights by an impetuous rush, ‡‡Not a moment held at bay.
Consuming volleys they hurl on the foe, ‡‡Then charge with their deadly steel,
And hundreds are slain in the mad mêlée — ‡‡See, the foe in panic reel!
The British line sweeps resistlessly down; ‡‡The proud foe must surely yield.
Ha! they break — they break into headlong flight ‡‡In defeat from that blood-red field!
Over the heights in mad flight now leaping, ‡‡Some were impaled on the trees,
Where mockingly their garments fluttered ‡‡For years in the storm and breeze.
Some plunged in the cold, rushing river ‡‡To gain safely the other shore,
But were lost in the swirl of its waters, ‡‡And were heard of nevermore.
Nine hundred men surrendered to Sheaffe, ‡‡A force greater than his own.
Ah! ’twas a gallant day, and nobly won; ‡‡Signally the enemy were overthrown.
And standing there on the glorious Heights, ‡‡They cheered for country and King;
They unfurled the “flag of a thousand years”; ‡‡Their shouts o’er the scene did ring.
‘Twas a far-famed day for our lovèd land, ‡‡Ring it over the world so wide;
Like veterans Canadians fought that day, ‡‡With the regulars side by side.
Dearly the victory was won for us ‡‡In the death of beloved Brock.
Immortal hero! thy irreparable loss ‡‡Was to all a grievous shock.
They muffled their drums and reversed their arms, ‡‡And marshalled around his bier,
And solemnly bowed their war-worn heads, ‡‡And silently dropped a tear.
E’en the painted savages loved him well, ‡‡And o’er each stoical face
Stole a shadow of pain and tenderness, ‡‡Hallowing that sacred place.
A grateful country has planted there ‡‡A monument tow’ring high,
His memory e’er to perpetuate, ‡‡Pointing ever to the sky.
The hero and his aide, parted not by death, ‡‡Secure their relics rest there,
In the lovely land of the Maple Leaf ‡‡Ever so loyal and fair.
Aye, a grateful country placed it there — ‡‡On earth there’s no grander scene —
And we sing with a grateful, fervant heart ‡‡To our Country and our Queen.
Revere, then, the dead, and honor them still, ‡‡They died our freedom to save;
God bless the flag of a thousand years, ‡‡May it long o’er us proudly wave!
Source: Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson. Canadian Battlefields and Other Poems. 2nd ed. Toronto, William Briggs, 1901