Sonnet on Fort George by James Strachan

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Brock Riding Toward Queenston From Fort George With Macdonell and Clegg Following
by Ian Graham, 1977.
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Why calls the bastion forth the patriot’s sigh,
And starts the tear from beauty’s swelling eye?
Within its breach intrepid Brock is laid,
A tomb according with the mighty dead;
Whose soul devoted to his country’s cause,
In deeds of glory sought his first applause;
Enrolled with Abercrombie, Wolfe and Moore,
No lapse of time his merits shall obscure;
Fresh shall they burn in each Canadian heart,
And all their pure and living fires impart;
A youthful friend rests by his hero’s side,
Their mutual love Death sought not to divide;
The muse that gives her Brock to deathless fame
Shall in the wreath entwine Macdonell’s name.


Source: Janet Carnochan. History of Niagara (in part). Toronto: William Briggs, 1904

Carnochan writes: James Strachan, the brother of Bishop Strachan, in 1819 wrote a sonnet on Fort George, then the burial-place of General Brock and his Adjutant, Macdonnell.

Read the poem Niagara Falls by John Robert Colombo, a found poem from the unpublished writings of Bishop John Strachan

Brock, Macdonell, and Brock’s horse Alfred were all killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights, shortly after the time depicted in the painting. All three were first buried in one of the bastions at Fort George. Brock and Macdonell were later buried in the base of Brock’s Monument at Queenston Heights.

On the Death of Major-General Brock by J.H.R.

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Push On, brave York Volunteers
by John David Kelly, 1896. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Low-bending o’er the rugged bier,
The soldier drops the mournful tear
For life departed, valor driven
Fresh from the fields of death to Heaven.

But time shall fondly trace the name
Of Brock, upon the scrolls of Fame,
And those bright laurels, which should wave
Upon the brow of one so brave
Shall flourish vernal o’er his grave.


Source: McCabe, Kevin.  (ed.) The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, 1999. Previously published in F.B. Tupper (ed.) The Life and Correspondence of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock. 2nd ed. London, 1847. Poem is undated.


Composer and conductor Harris Loewen set this poem to music, with the score published by Renforth Music Publishing (New Brunswick) under the title Tears and Laurels. At the publisher’s request, the lyrics were slightly altered to create a version of the musical score that is non-specific, allowing it to function as an elegy for any war veteran. However, this recording was used on the publisher’s website. Many thanks to Prof. Loewen for permission to post this here.

Listen to Tears and Laurels 

Prof. Loewen writes: 

This track, as well as At Niagara Falls and Peaceful Niagara,* appear on the CD Voices of Niagara 5: Beauty is Before Me, the last in a choral CD series featuring music writing by Niagara composers. I believe that all the recordings in the series may still be available through the Dept. of Music at Brock University. Incidentally, John Butler’s choral arrangement of Macdonnell on the Heights (Stan Rogers) also appears on this CD.

You will notice that, coincidentally, all three pieces are originally written for male voices (although scores for other voicings are now also published). These tracks were all recorded, here in Niagara, by the combined male singers of Avanti Chamber Singers and the Brock University choirs. So, this is “home-grown” material in every sense.

At Niagara Falls and Peaceful Niagara were commissioned by the Niagara Men’s Chorus and premiered separately in two concerts in 2008. On the Death of General Brock (my original title) was written to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and premiered by a small male ensemble at the October 2012 Brock University Soiree, a fundraising event. The publication dates of the musical scores, by the way, do not reflect the date of composition.

*Peaceful Niagara is the name of the composition of Prof. Harris, using the poem Niagara in 1882 by John Macdonald.

 

The Battle of Queenston Heights by Francis Sparshott

 

 

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Brock and Sheaffe
Image from the St. Catharines Standard,
Oct. 10, 2012

The Yankees stood on Queenston Heights
in coats of modest grey
and Brock has brought his fencibles
to make them go away

Who is that sweating officer
waving a useless sword?
That’s General Sir Isaac Brock
who wants to be a Lord

God bless the British soldier
who wears a coat of red
it makes a splendid target
and so they shot him dead

They laughed to see the fencibles
run down the hill in fear
but Roger Sheaffe has scaled the Heights
and caught them in the rear

Who is this cool young officer
who shoots us through the heart?
That’s Major General Roger Sheaffe
who wants to be a Bart

Now all you bold Canadian girls
remember Queenston Heights
it’s thanks to such as Brock and Sheaffe
that you sleep safe at nights

Cool Sheaffe was made a Baronet
and back to England sent
but Brock still stands on Queenston Heights
upon his monument


Source: Francis Sparshott.  The Naming of the Beasts. Windsor, Ont.: Black Moss Press, 1979.

Originally published in Descant

About Francis Sparshott

Read the article The Hero of Queenston about the treatment of Sheaffe

Read about Isaac Brock

Read about Roger Sheaffe

D.M.R. Bentley briefly discusses this poem by Sparshott 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

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

 

 

Resignation to the Approaching Period of Decline and Decay by James Melloy

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The page from The Album of Bradt Family Hair with this poem pasted on it 
Courtesy of Brock University Archives & Special Collections

Days of my youth, ye have glided away ;
Hairs of my youth, ye are frosted and gray ;
Eyes of my youth, your keen sight is no more ;
Cheeks of my youth, ye are furrowed all o’er ;
Strength of my youth, all your vigor is gone ;
Thoughts of my youth, your gay visions are flown.

Days of my youth, I wish not your recall ;
Hairs of my youth, I’m content ye should fall ;
Eyes of my youth, ye much evil have seen ;
Cheeks of my youth, bathed in tears have ye been ;
Thoughts of my youth, ye have led me astray ;
Strength of my youth, why lament your decay ?

Days of my age, ye will shortly be past ;
Pains of my age, yet a while can ye last ;
Joys of my age, in true wisdom delight ;
Eyes of my age, be religion your light ;
Thoughts of my age, dread ye not the cold sod ;
Hopes of my age, be ye fixed on your God.


This poem is from a newspaper clipping dated December 8, 1893, pasted into The Bradt Family Hair Album in the Brock University Archives. The Bradt family were United Empire Loyalists who settled in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the St. Catharines area. 

Above the poem is written:

“A Relic of 1812

The following beautiful lines were among the relics left by Mrs. Susan Dunn, (wife of William Dunn, J.P., late of the township of Wainfleet, and county of Welland, Ont.) and second eldest daughter of the late David Price, who for many years held the position of secretary of the government stores at Fort George, Niagara.”

Beneath the poem is written:

“James Melloy,
Conductor of King’s Stores, &c., &c., &c.

This is for the amiable the Misses Price to learn by heart, which will give great pleasure and joy to their devoted and very humble servant,

James Melloy,
Fort George, at Head Quarters, Oct. 29th, 1812” 

Another poem that might be of interest is Lines Written for a Lady’s Hair Album, at Niagara by M.F. Bigney. Bigney’s poem is not in the Bradt album.

Read the article Hairy Memories: Hair albums used braided hair to create memories by James Rada, Jr.