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The Ideal Preacher Post by :Romell_Weekly Category :Poems Author :W. M. Mackeracher Date :November 2011 Read :984

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The Ideal Preacher

It was back in Renfrew County, near the Opeongo line,
Where the land's all hills and hollows and the hills are clothed with pine,
And in the wooded valleys little lakes shine here and there
Like jewels in the masses of a lovely woman's hair;
Where the York branch, by a channel ripped through rugged rocks and sand,
Sweeps to join the Madawaska, speeding downward to the Grand;
Where the landscape glows with beauty, like a halo shed abroad,
And the face of nature mirrors back the unseen face of God.

I was weary with my journey, and with difficulty strove
To keep myself awake at first, as, sitting by the stove
In old William Rankin's shanty, I attended as I might
To the pioneer backwoodsman's tales far on into the night;
But William talked until the need of sleep one quite forgot,
Not stopping but to stir the fire, which kept the stove red-hot;
For the wind was raw and cold without, although the month of May:
Up north the winter struggles hard before it yields its sway;
And the snow is in the forests, and the ice is in the lakes,
And the frost is in the seedland oft when sunny June awakes.

He talked of camps in winter time, of river drives in spring,
Of discords in the settlement,--in fact, of everything;
He told of one good elder who'd been eaten by a bear,
And wondered that a beast of prey should eat a man of pray'r;
Of beast, from wolf to porcupine, killed with gun, axe and fork,
And, finally, of college men who did not pine for pork.
"But yet among them students," said the bushman, "there wuz one
As hit me an' the settlement as fair as any gun.

"O' course, he wa'nt no buster, hed no shinin' gifts o' speech;
But jis' as reg'lar he could give some pointers how to preach.
He talked straight on like tellin' yarns--more heart, I'd say, 'an head;
But somehow people felt he meant 'bout every word he said.
He wa'n't chuck full o' larnin' from the peelin' to the core;--
Leastwise, he wa'n't the kind they call a college batch-o'-lore;
He'd no degree, the schoolma'am said,--though soon he let 'em see
That o' certain sterlin' qualities he had a great degree,--
Leastwise he hed no letters till the hind end o' his name,--
But, preacher, say, you don't set much importance by them same?--
Y' may hev titles o' y'r own, an' think I'm speakin' bold;
But there's that bob-tailed nag o' mine, the chestnut three-year-old;
It's true she can't make such a swish, to scare away the flies,
But if y'd see her cover ground, y'd scarce believe y'r eyes.

"O' course, he hed his enemies,--you preachers alluz hez,--
But 'twa'n't no use their tellin' us he wa'n't the stuff, I gez;
An' after while they closed right up an' looked like,--it wuz fun,--
When they seed the way he 'sisted out ol' Game-leg Templeton.
O' course, y' knows ol' Templeton,--twuz him as druv y' in;
Y' noticed, maybe, how he limped, and sort o' saved his shin.
He's run the mail through fair and foul 'tween this and Cumbermere,
And faithful served Her Majesty fur nigh on twenty year.

"The preacher stayed with Templeton, the same's you're stay'n' with me,
On a new clearance back o' this, which, course, y' didn't see.
An' one day on a visit tour the chap wuz startin' out
In the way o' Little Carlow,--twuz good twelve mile round about,--
An' in the bush he'd lose hisself, as everybody knowed:
'I'll take the axe,' says Templeton, 'an' go an' blaze a road.
It's only three mile through the bush.' An' so they started in,
Quite happy like,--men never knows when troubles will begin.
'Bout noon,--the folks was in the house a eatin' o' their snack,--
The chap comes home with Templeton a-hangin' on his back.

"The call wuz close fur Templeton, who'd somehow missed his stroke;
He alluz swung a heavy blow, an' the bone wuz well-nigh broke;
An' wust of all, 'twuz two whole days afore the doctor came;
He was up the Long Lake section, seein'--what's that fellow's name?--
Well, never mind.--An' when he did examine of the wound,
He said 'twould take all summer fur the man to git around.

"Well, what y' think thet preacher done, but turn right out an' mow
The meadow down an' put it in, and th' harvest, too, although
The ol' man worried and complained as how he'd orter stop;
An' there wa'nt no binders in them days, and work wuz work, sure pop.

"Well, when the people heerd about the way that preacher done,
All on 'em growed religious straight, sir, every mother's son;
The meetin'-house wuz crowded from the pulpit to the door--
Some on 'em hadn't showed face there fur twenty year or more;
An' them as sot out on the fence an' gossiped all the while,
Jis' brought the fence planks in and sot down on 'em in the aisle,
An' listened,--sir, no orator as ever spoke aloud
Worked on his audience the way as that chap on our crowd.

We aint no shakes o' people; we aint up to nothin' new;
But we knows a man what's shammin' and we knows a man what's true.
An' when we heerd that preacher talk 'bout Christian sacrifice
And bearin' burdens for the weak, we valued his advice;
An' we showed it--there wuz nothin' as we thought too good for him;
We poured our cup o' gratitude an' filled it to the brim.

"He aint been near so fort'nate 'n the city where he's went;
Some folks as didn't like him set them sticklers on his scent;
An' the presbytery giv him fits fur trimmin' of his lamp
The way it shined the brightest, an' he jined another camp.
But most men,--leastwise such as him,--I take it, fur my part,
Aint got much devil in their brains when God is in their heart;
An' I'll allow it yet, although they puts me in the stocks,
That religion what is practical's sufficient orthodox.

"Well, thet's the finest preacher as hez struck back here to spout,
An' there never wuz another we cared very much about.
I've heerd o' Beecher's meetings an' such men as John B. Gough;
But fourteen waggon loads druv down to see that preacher off.
We sent him back to college with a fresh supply o' socks,--
Nigh everything a student needs wuz jammed intill that box;
An', preacher, spite of what yourself with all your parts may feel,
Fur me an' Game-leg Templeton that man is our ideel."

(The end)
W. M. MacKeracher's poem: Ideal Preacher

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