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Full Online Book HomePoemsNelson's Appeal For Maisonneuve
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Nelson's Appeal For Maisonneuve Post by :galaxyvs Category :Poems Author :Arthur Weir Date :October 2011 Read :3340

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Nelson's Appeal For Maisonneuve

"Silent I have stood and borne it, hoping still from year to year
That the pleading voice of justice you would some day wake to hear.
But beneath the soulless present you have sunk the glorious past,
Till I cannot bear it longer--you must learn the truth at last.
Shame upon you, shameless city, heart of this great land of yours,
That the world should say you care not if your founder's name endures!
Shame upon you, that no statue stands within your greatest square
To commemorate the hero who so often battled there!
Who long years ago sprang lightly from his pinnace to the beach,
And amid the virgin forests, spreading far as eye could reach,
Knelt and prayed, his people with him, while the prophet-priest foretold
How their growth should be as great as was the mustard seed's of old.

"Have you ceased to care, already, how that noble little band
Toiled, and fought with man and nature that their sons might rule the land,
Braving winter's cold and famine, summer's hot and stifling breath,
Danger in unnumbered forms; and in each form a cruel death,
Slain by skulking, coward foemen, now one moment in the corn
Singing some sweet Norman ditty, and the next one overborne?
Comrades, you have mothers, sisters, wives whom you would die to save,
Think, then, of the noble ones who claim your tribute to the brave;
Tender women, timid children, crouching at the barricade,
Pallid, trembling, stained with blood, yet nerved to give the needed aid,
Staunching deadly wounds, and wiping death-dews from a loved one's brow,
While their fathers, husbands, brothers fought and won they scarce knew how!

"Think of him among them toiling! hear his simple, trusting prayers!
See him, stern, unyielding, hopeful, with a thousand daily cares,
Sharing his companions' hardships, cheering there and chiding here,
With a head to rule them wisely, and a heart that knew not fear,
Sleeping with his armor on him and his weapons by his bed,
Ready ever for the foes that, like the shadows, came and fled.
See him fighting in the forest with a host that seeks his blood!
Hear him praying to the Virgin to restrain the rising flood,
Vowing that if she would heed him and preserve the little town,
He himself would bear a cross and plant it on Mount Royal's crown!
True crusader, in whose heart there never dwelt one sordid thought,
Guardian of the Virgin's city: this is he you honor not.

"Of our Queen a stately statue stands upon Victoria Square,
In its hand a wreath of laurel, in that wreath a tiny pair
Nesting year by year uninjured, heedless of the passing throng,
Living symbols of a reign that guards the weak from every wrong.
Loyalty upraised that statue, and were it the only one
That your city had erected still the deed were nobly done.
But to honor me, my brothers, one whose blood was never shed
On your soil or for your country, heaps but shame upon my head,
Not because you might not praise me--I may merit your esteem--
But because you place me first where he alone should stand supreme.
Shame upon you, to forget him and remember such as I!
Shame upon you, if your ears are heedless still to honor's cry!

"True, I tamed a haughty foeman at Trafalgar and the Nile,
But I had a nation's wealth and numbers at my back the while.
His was one long fight with scarcely seven score to do his will,
With a host of open foes and secret foes, more deadly still;
Foes in every bush and hollow, foes behind his monarch's throne,
Stabbing with one hand extended seemingly to clasp his own.
Yet he triumphed, and behold you! now a country growing fast,
With a glorious future breaking through the darkness of the past,
With a host of stout hearts toiling day and night to make you great,
And a glittering roll of heroes worthy of a mighty state.
Yet you cannot he a nation if your children never hear
Aught of those whose blood has won the land that they should hold most dear.

"Can you wonder that the rains have beaten on my statued form?
Can you marvel that the winter shakes me with its fiercest storm?
Ah! not age it is but shame that makes me look so worn and old,
Makes me hang my head and tremble lest the bitter truth be told.
It is murmured by the maples, it is whispered by the wind,
Till I cannot but imagine it is heard by all mankind,
How your children, from gay boyhood until tottering age, behold
Gallant Maisonneuve forgotten and less worthy me extolled.
Oh! my comrades, if you love me, lighten the disgrace I feel,
Lend your ready hands to aid me, bend your hearts to my appeal:
Raise a statue to the founder of this great, historic town,
Chomedey de Maisonneuve, or pity me and take mine down."


(The end)
Arthur Weir's poem: Nelson's Appeal For Maisonneuve

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