Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GODBOUT, by WILLIAM HENRY DRUMMOND



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THE GODBOUT, by            
First Line: Oh! Pilgrim from the godbout's shore
Last Line: For the commodore has come home again!


OH! pilgrim from the Godbout's shore
Where broad Atlantic billows roll,
Speak! hast thou seen the Commodore,
Whose brave unconquerable soul,
Athirst for wilder, fiercer game
Than haunt the calm Laurentian streams,
Burned to achieve a greater fame,
And realize his fondest dreams?
Speak! hast thou seen his grizzled locks,
By ocean's vagrant breezes fanned,
Where Weymahegan's giant rocks
Keep watch and ward o'er sea and land?
Hast seen him where the currents lave
Fair Mistassini's silver shore,
On river -- sea -- by land or wave,
Speak! hast thou seen the Commodore?
The pilgrim spoke -- while down his cheek
The salt, salt tears coursed grievously:

"Good Sir, I feeble am and weak,
Yet I my tale may tell to thee --
I saw the veteran's wasted form,
That form we used to mark with pride,
Lie prostrate mid the wrack and storm
Of Weymahegan's awful tide.
Small strength, alack! of wind or limb
Had he upon that fearful day;
But, tho' his eagle eye was dim,
He still gazed o'er the hills where lay
The Laurentides, where he had spent
So many happy, happy hours,
Safe from the storms of life, content
Amid the Peche's tranquil bowers.
'T was thus he spoke: 'Oh! why was I
By youthful traveller's tale beguiled
To quit the pleasant Peche and die
In this inhospitable wild?
What lured me on to cast aside
The simple pleasures of my youth,
Until I longed for Godbout's tide --
And cared no more for trout, forsooth!
Oh! rash was I to lend an ear,
To all the legends of the sea,
To bring my faithful legion here --
Does this reward their constancy?
I cannot say, but this I know,
That should I view the Peche again,
Could I but see its waters flow,
I'd be the humblest of the train
That worships there; no more I'd roam
In search of other piscine fields;
Contented with my humble home,
With all that old Laurentian yields,
I'd gladly live and cheerful die.'
But here his accents 'gan to sink;
He thought his hour had come, till I
Administered a generous drink.
The Veteran gasped, but when the flask
He saw -- tho' feeble as a child --
Bravely essayed the pleasant task
Of trying to empty it, and smiled.
Yes, tho' he'd almost passed away
In one brief moment from our ken --
Yet wondrous 't was to see that day
His rapturous look, as he smiled again.
New strength came back to the wasted limbs,
The roses bloomed in his cheek once more,
And the sound of our glad thanksgiving hymns
Rang out o'er Weymahegan's shore;
He prayed us to pardon his misdeeds,
He wept when the legion embraced his neck,
And swore by the sacred Laurentides,
He'd never more venture below Quebec.
So gently we bore the repentant Chief,
Tenderly placed him that awful day
On board of the gallant ship "Relief"
And swiftly to westward sailed away."
The Pilgrim ceased -- his mournful task
Was ended at last, and all was well --
Then raised to his lips the magic flask,
And silently bade me a last farewell.

PAEAN

Joy! Joy at the Peche -- let the cariboo dance,
Let the fatted oxen at last be slain,
Let the men get full, and the bull moose prance,
For the Commodore has come home again!





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