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

 

 

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 Battle of Queenston Heights by William Thomas White

white
Queenston, Upper Canada on the Niagara. Looking from the village to the Heights. By Edward Walsh, c.1803-1807
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress


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

About William Thomas White

Upon the Heights at Queenston by James L. Hughes

hughes
Brock’s Monument, Queenston Heights. Sketched by I.F. Bouchette.
Courtesy of Archives de Montréal

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

About James L. Hughes

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

Arouse Ye, Brave Canadians! by James David Edgar

Lines suggested by General Brock’s stirring appeal to the people of Upper Canada at the opening of the War of 1812

edgar
Sir James David Edgar
Image courtesy of Library & Archives Canada

Canadian arms are stout and strong,
    Canadian hearts are true;
Your homes were in the forest made,
    Where pine and maple grew.
A haughty foe is marching
    Your country to enthral;
Arouse ye, brave Canadians,
    And answer to my call!

Let every man who swings an axe,
    Or follows at the plough,
Abandon farm and homestead,
    And grasp a rifle now!
We’ll trust the God of Battles,
    Although our force be small;
Arouse ye, brave Canadians,
    And answer to my call!

Let mothers, though with breaking hearts,
    Give up their gallant sons;
Let maidens bid their lovers go,
    And wives their dearer ones!
Then rally to the frontier,
    And form a living wall;
Arouse ye, brave Canadians,
    And answer to my call!


Source: James David Edgar. This Canada of Ours and Other Poems.  Toronto: William Briggs, 1893.

Read about James David Edgar