Brock by Charles Sangster

charles sangster
Brock’s Monument, Queenston Heights
from John Charles Dent’s The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841


October
 13th, 1859 *

One voice, one people, one in heart
……..And soul, and feeling, and desire !
……..Re-light the smouldering martial fire, 
……..Sound the mute trumpet, strike the lyre, 
……..The hero deed can not expire,
……………The dead still play their part.

Raise high the monumental stone !
……..A nation’s fealty is theirs,
……..And we are the rejoicing heirs,
……..The honored sons of sires whose cares 
……..We take upon us unawares,
……………As freely as our own.

We boast not of the victory,
……..But render homage, deep and just,
……..To his  to their  immortal dust,
……..Who proved so worthy of their trust 
……..No lofty pile nor sculptured bust
……………Can herald their degree.

No tongue need blazon forth their fame  
……..The cheers that stir the sacred hill
……..Are but mere promptings of the will
……..That conquered then, that conquers still ; 
……..And generations yet shall thrill
……………At Brock’s remembered name.

Some souls are the Hesperides
……..Heaven sends to guard the golden age,
……..Illuming the historic page
……..With records of their pilgrimage ;
……..True Martyr, Hero, Poet, Sage :
……………And he was one of these.

Each in his lofty sphere sublime
……..Sits crowned above the common throng,
……..Wrestling with some Pythonic wrong,
……..In prayer, in thunder, thought, or song ;
……..Briareus-limbed, they sweep along,
……………The Typhons of the time.

* The day of the inauguration of the new Monument on Queenston Heights.


Source: Charles Sangster. Hesperus, and Other Poems and Lyrics. Montreal: John Lovell, 1860.

Read about Charles Sangster

D.M.R. Bentley discusses this poem by Sangster in his essay (now archived on the WayBack Machine) Monumental Tensions: the Commemoration of British Political and Military Heroes in Canada from his Mnemographia Canadensis, volume 1: Muse and Recall

 

 

From Queenston Heights by Charles Sangster

sangster
Crowd at the Base of Brock’s Monument,
ca. 1914
Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library


….
Eleven.    Welcome to the Sabbath bells ! 
A blessing and a welcome !    At this hour
One prays for me at home, two hundred miles
From where I lounge along the grassy knoll,
Far up upon this classic hill.    The air
Hath a delicious feeling, as it breathes
Its autumn breath upon me ; air so calm,
One cannot feel the beat of Nature’s pulse.
No, not a throb.    The heav’nly influences,
Hearing that maiden’s prayer, lean down and move
My being with their answerings of love.
The myriad-tinted leaves have gravely paused
To listen to the spheral whisperings —
The unvoiced harmonies that few can hear
Or feel, much less interpret faithfully ;
And the swift waters of the dizzy gorge,
Stunned with their recent plunge against the crags
That hide Niagara’s iris-circled feet,
And lashed to very madness as they wound
Their circling way past rocks and fretted banks,
Melt into calm in the blue lake beyond,
As starlight melts into the distant sea.

….Those ancient willows have a solemn droop ;
You scarce can see the dwelling they adorn :
Behind them rest the grain-denuded fields.
Here, to my left, an unpretending town ;
There, to my right, another ; like two friends,
Each thanking heaven for the Sabbath-pause,
And the brief respite from man’s curse of toil.
The church bells pealing now and then a note,
Swell the bless’d Pæan with their silver tongues.
The very tombstones yonder, near the church,
Look whiter for the eloquent Repose.
 
….A few short paces through the cedar trees,
Where the pert chipmunks chatter, and the birds
Select and melodize their sweetest notes,
And I have gained the level.    Toward the lake,
The cloudlike points of land are seen
Blending with old Ontario, and the gorge
Hurries its whirling current past the banks 
That glass their fair proportions in the stream.
 
….Here is the Monument.    Immortal Brock,
Whose ashes lie beneath it, not more still
Than is the plain to-day. What have we gained,
But a mere breath of fame, for all the blood
That flowed profusely on this stirring field ?
‘T is true, a Victory ; through which we still
Fling forth the meteor banner to the breeze,
And have a blood-sealed claim upon the soil.
‘T were better than Defeat, a thousand times.
And we have rightly learned to bless the name
Of the Old Land, whose courage won the day —
We, the descendants of her Victor-sires.
But dearer than a hundred victories,
With their swift agony, the earnest Calm,
That, like a Blessing from the lips of God,
Rests on the classic plain, o’er which my feet
Tread lightly, in remembrance of the dead—
My Brothers all, Vanquished and Victors both.
And yet my heart leaps up, poor human heart !
As I lean proudly, with a human pride,
Against this pillar to a great man’s name.
Yet I would rather earn that maiden’s prayer,
Than all the fame of the immortal dead.
 
….There may be furrows still upon the field,
Ploughed up with the wild hurricane of war
On that eventful day.    Here, certainly,
An angry missile grooved this honored rock.
Though nearly half a century has pass’d,
The fissure still is here, and here the rust
Left by the iron messenger of death,
As it sped forward like an angry fate,
Sending, perhaps, ten human souls to hell.
 
….There, there was pain. Here, where the wondrous skill
Of the mechanic, with this iron web
Has spanned the chasm, the pulse beats hopefully,
And thoughts of peace sit dove-like in the mind.
Heav’n bridge these people’s hearts, and make them one !


Source: Charles Sangster. The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and Other Poems. Kingston, Ont.: J. Creighton & J. Duff, 1856

Read about Charles Sangster

D.M.R. Bentley discusses this poem by Sangster in his essay (now archived on the WayBack Machine) Monumental Tensions: the Commemoration of British Political and Military Heroes in Canada from his Mnemographia Canadensis, volume 1: Muse and Recall

sangster

A Dream by Erieus

dream
Queenstown [i.e. Queenston], Upper Canada on the Niagara
by Edward Walsh, c1805
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

The sun had sunk beneath the western main,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And with a parting ray
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Bid adieu unto the day:
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ Twilight drew nigh,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And purpled o’er the sky,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡While, smiling in the East,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The Queen of night arose,
‡‡‡‡Full orb’d;—in modest majesty
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Above the hills’ high head
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡She her silver lustre shed,
‡‡‡‡Mild as the evening taper’s blaze.
‡‡‡‡Sweet contemplative hour!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now let me stray,
Unseen by the observing eye of day,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡For mediation dear,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Where the purling rill
Its music breaks upon the listening ear.

 

Thoughtful I wandered o’er a blooming mead;
‡‡‡‡Reclined beneath a spreading tree,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And cast my eyes around.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ Full in my face
‡‡‡‡Fair Cynthia pour’d her silver beams,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And e’er I was aware
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The downy hand of sleep
‡‡‡‡Seal’d fast my eyes in pleasing slumbers; —
‡‡‡‡And something fell upon my soul
‡‡‡‡Which o’er my spirit seem’d to meet
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ Sublimely soothing!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And mellow down my feelings,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡O’er which the tremulous chords
Of plaintive sensibility were strung.
‡‡‡‡Then rose the visions of the night,
And, undisturb’d, their free dominion kept
‡‡‡‡Within the province of any brain.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Methought the trump of war
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Was heard to sound no more;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The soldier’s shining blade
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Was in his scabbard laid;
The cannon with reverberating roar,
Deep-sounding, shook the vaults of heaven no more;
No more it vomited destructive ire,
Or belch’d out death at each convulsive fire!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ The bleeding warrior’s sighs
‡‡‡‡No more to Heaven did arise;
‡‡‡‡The widow’s tears had ceas’d to flow,
‡‡‡‡The orphan had forgot his woe,
And Peace, sweet goddess of celestial birth,
‡‡‡‡Reassumed her reign on earth.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Joy dwelt in every look;
‡‡‡‡Gladness sat on every face;
‡‡‡‡Thankful man the blessings took
‡‡‡‡As a reward for past distress.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡QUEENSTON appeared to rise
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡At once before my eyes,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And wave full fields of grain
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Luxuriant o’er the plain. 
The battery strong, where, late the cannon’s mouth,
Just pointing thro’ stood threat’ning — charg’d with fate,
Ready to hurl destruction on the foe,
And rival thunder with its dreadful voice,
Disgorging death’s commission! — these same mounds
‡‡‡‡Where mouldering down to common earth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And, crown’d with grassy tops,
They spread their vests of Nature’s carpet green
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Besprent with op’ning flowers,
‡‡‡‡And the soft notes of warbling birds
‡‡‡‡Succeeded to the roar of arms.
‡‡‡‡Methought a train of youths I saw,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Each with a garland crown’d,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And on each breast was bound
‡‡‡‡A golden plate, on which engrav’d
Britannia sat, reclining on her spear.
‡‡‡‡At her right hand appear’d an urn
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of gold beset with pearls,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Transmuted from her tears,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With the inscription on it:
“Here are inclos’d the ashes of my BROCK.”
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With solemn silent step,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡In order they advanc’d
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Towards a new-raised pile: —
‡‡‡‡It was a marble monument, —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡A tribute to the chief,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Who fell upon the spot: —
‘Twas built in memory of our hero BROCK. —
‡‡‡‡And here these youths repair’d to pay
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The debt of gratitude
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Due from a generous mind,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Due from the virtuous brave,—
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Due to superior merit.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡A youth whose graceful mien
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Was pleasing to behold,
When they were gather’d round the monument,
‡‡‡‡In words like these began to speak : —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡“War was our country’s lot : —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The enemy advanc’d,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And with unhallowed step
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Defil’d our peaceful shores.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Our hero took the field,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And with him march’d a band
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of generous hearted youths
‡‡‡‡Who, prompted by their country’s good,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The shock of war withstood.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡BROCK led these heroes on;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And, e’er they left the field,
The song of triumph flow’d from every tongue!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Brave youths! can we forget
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Your efforts generous while
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Our hearts shall beat? — Ah no! —
Cold be those hearts in death that can forget you, —
That can forget your patriotic deeds!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡“But ah! the fatal day
‡‡‡‡Which saw our country’s enemy
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Advance on Queenston Heights: —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‘Twas then the hand of death
‡‡‡‡Fixt on our hero’s mortal part,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With his cold gathering grasp,
‡‡‡‡And snapt the brittle thread of life!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡He rush’d to meet the foe —
‡‡‡‡His bosom caught the shaft of death —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡He fell — he soon expir’d! —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The saddening news was heard,
‡‡‡‡“Since heaven hath given our country peace,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And still’d the storm of war,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And granted us the means
‡‡‡‡This pile of gratitude to rear;
‡‡‡‡Let us return our thanks to Heaven
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡For all these mercies given,
‡‡‡‡And then the tribute of a tear
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Pay to him whose dust lies buried here.
“Almighty God! supremely good and just,
To whom we look for help, in whom we trust,
Vouchsafe to hear the thanks our hearts would pay
To thine Eternal Majesty this day.
We own the power of thine extended hand,
Which drove invasion from our native land,
And bade contending powers from conflict cease,
And join their hands in mutual love and peace.
May peace continue, and concord abound,
Thou Sire of being! all the world around.”
‡‡‡‡He paus’d respectfully, — then broke
‡‡‡‡The solemn silence, and thus spoke: — 
‡‡‡‡Each soldier’s bosom felt the stroke,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And heaved in speechless woe! —
‡‡‡‡But gathering like a cloud the foe
‡‡‡‡Advanc’d and thicken’d on the field.
‡‡‡‡Ready for combat our brave band
‡‡‡‡Like lions rush’d amidst the fight,
‡‡‡‡Then ghastly death stalk’d hideous round
‡‡‡‡And fell’d his victims to the ground;
‡‡‡‡Amidst the rage of carnage stood
‡‡‡‡Grimly majestic, smear’d with blood! —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡But e’er the rolling sun
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Sunk down the steep of night,
‡‡‡‡The deaf’ning cannon ceas’d to roar,
‡‡‡‡The clank of arms was heard no more,
‡‡‡‡The joyful tidings flew around, —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The victory is ours!’
‡‡‡‡‡‡“But sadness damp’d the joy in every breast; —
‡‡Sorrow sat heavy at each heart; —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡’‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Alas, our chief was slain! —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡’‡‡‡‡‡‡‡No more the generous smile —
‡‡No more commanding dignity
‡‡Shone in his countenance, — cold death —
‡‡Cold, icy death sat silent there! —
‡‡Yet still his memory blooms afresh,
‡‡The fragrance of his virtues rises
‡‡In grateful odours to the soul
‡‡That knows to value worth and merit,
‡‡Which he in measure large possess’d.
“When duty call’d him to the helm of th’ state,
He found our country on the brink of fate.
A treas’nous faction burning to display
Rebellion’s ensigns, in her bosom lay:
Without, a numerous and insulting foe,
Threat’ning to strike th’exterminating blow.
He saw the danger — mark’d — pursu’d his plan,
And magic influence with his measures ran:
O’er discord’s strings his master hand he threw;
Faction was silent, and her friends withdrew:
The undetermined bosom he inspir’d;
The lukewarm heart with patriot ardour fir’d;
He taught us conquest in th’unequal strife,
And seal’d us victory with his valu’d life.
“His mind was noble, — all his actions great;
Fitly he held the guiding reins of state;
Compassion, pity, justice moved his soul,
Nor e’er he swerved from their divine control.”
Thus spoke the youth, and with a melting heart
Each stander by sustain’d an equal part;
Tears following tears the soul’d emotions spoke,
While sighs responsive from each bosom broke.
In weeping charms the virgin band appear’d,
Which struck my soul with softness as I heard:
Involuntary tears began to flow;
I join’d in concert in the scene of woe,
‘Till, quite absorb’d in the heart melting theme,
Sudden I woke, and found it all a dream: —
Yet such our Brock, and such the patriot band
Who fought and conquered under his command.


Adam Hood Burwell published poems under the pen name Erieus, the “Pioneer Poet of Upper Canada.” Read about Burwell

Source: MacDonald, Mary Lu. “New” Poems of Adam Hood Burwell. canadianpoetry.org/volumes/vol18/macdonald.html, 5/12/2020. Originally published in the Canadian Review and Literary and Historical Journal, No. III (March 1825)

The Death of Brock by Erieus

monument
The original Brock Monument Overlooking the Village of Queenston by J.C. Armytage. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

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.

ERIEUS
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

The Battle of Queenston Heights by Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson

Fought October 13th, 1812

wilkinson
Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights and cenotaph erected on spot where he fell in battle, Canada. A Keystone View Stereotype, 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

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

Click here for more information on the Battle of Queenston Heights