Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHAMPLAIN AND LAKE CHAMPLAIN, by DANIEL LEAVENS CADY



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CHAMPLAIN AND LAKE CHAMPLAIN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Behold champlain sail to and fro
Last Line: Here stand like watchmen on their walls.
Subject(s): Champlain, Samuel De (1567-1635); Lake Champlain


I

THE GREAT VOYAGER

Behold Champlain sail to and fro
Between New France and France,
Whilst thirty times the vineyards blow,
And thirty frosts advance—
Indifferent to Winter's wrath,
Careless of circumstance.

The navigator who ne'er raised
The signal of distress;
Who on the northern ice-pack gazed,
Who knew the South's caress—
Whose genius dreamed and sailed new seas
With splendid steadfastness.

The patient colonizer, wise
To sun, soil, roof, and rain;
Who saw, as with anointed eyes,
The centuries in his train—
Who sowed the seeds of states to be
As sower sows the grain.

The author, who with tireless hand,
Set down the things he saw;
The first historian of the land,
He gave the earliest law—
The law that banned the poisoned shaft,
And clipped the rending claw.

The faithful viceroy of his king,
In regions far remote,
And yet no censuring council's sting
Impaled the words he wrote—
The viceroy whose sagacious lips
No prince nor princeling smote.

The explorer favored of the fates—
The White Man who first stood
Upon the soil of these fair states
That dwell in sisterhood;
The first to sail this limpid sea,
And hail Ontario's flood.

The missionary of that Love
That counts the rescued soul
Of one poor savage far above
The world's deceitful goal—
Who set the writhing captive free,
And filled the beggar's bowl.

The man who, in a tinsel age,
Cared naught for shields nor bars,
Nor state nor showy equipage,
Whose name no scandal scars—
Whose memory, like a lofty shaft,
Stands level with the stars.

II

NAMING THE LAKE

One night he halts, that by the light of day
His eyes may first the virgin lake survey;
Ere long the shores recede, new sights appear,
He feels a rare and radiant presence near;
His queen, his queen of waters, unto him
Affianced in creation's morning dim;
The spell comes o'er him lovers languish for,
And for a day he thinks no more of war;
These lines of foam that catch amidst the sedge,
Are they not laces at her garment's edge?
These beauteous isles, as green as they are fair,
Are they not emeralds set to deck her hair?
These summered breezes, are they not her sigh?
These tall, dark pines the lashes at her eye?
These shimmering ripples, are they not her smile,
To draw him on and on with witching wile?
Enrapt he stands, his eye his heart betrays,
Her bosom swells responsive to his gaze;
Again he looks, he smiles, he cries "Je t'aime,"
She sighs, she yields, and takes her lover's name,

Historic Lake! whate'er the deeds
Of fabled men or savage breeds,
Enacted in the centuries dim,
Beneath thy waves or at thy rim—
More valiant deeds have heroes wrought
Upon thy breast, and scarred it not.
A highway and a battlefield,
Here sloops and frigates marched and wheeled;
The strife of distant kings and courts
Was here expressed in fleets and forts;
And true to life, the royal sneer
Became a royal broadside here.

Historic Vale! thy charms comprise
Far more than meets the traveler's eyes;
The memory of thy heroes' deeds
Is like a dream to him who reads;
Romance in every scene inheres,
And patriot valor moves to tears:
Here oft the captive sighed his last,
Here twice the avenging Schuylers passed,
Resolved to swiftly vindicate
Schenectady's appalling fate:
These shores are still the homes of those
Whose fathers fought with ruthless foes;
These shores a home to sons supply,
Whose lives are plain, whose thinking high,
Religion's shrines and learning's halls,
Here stand like watchmen on their walls.





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