Robert Kirkland Kernighan

(25 April 1854 – 3 November 1926 / Ontario)

12 The Khans Canticles - Poem by Robert Kirkland Kernighan

And none but I the secret k/iew

Of where the precious ginseng grew.

One autumn, when the woods were brown,
I plowed the old-time fallow down,
And worked away, with tireless feet,
Until 'twas seeded down with wheat.

Next summer it was plain to view-
Thereon the harvest richer grew ;
To keep its feet it did its best
Then lodged prone lay its golden crest ;
A tangled, moist, luxuriant square
The ground-hogs all foregathered there
And only farmers, wise and skilled,
Will understand it never ' filled.'
Ere winter winds began to blow
I took my spade and dug below,
And found some curious carven stones ;
Some broken skulls, and scattered bones ;
A precious string of wampum beads ;
A little pot of roasted seeds :
Some needles, made of polished bone ;
Some broken pipes an axe of stone
For I had found the quiet graves
Of long- forgotten Indian braves !

O ! splendid Resurrection, here !
Renewed with each returning year !
To rise in grass and flowers and trees ;
To feed the wild deer and the bees ;
To fill with wealth their sheltering sod
A yearly sacrifice to God !



May I return to thee, O earth

The mother dear that gave me birth

And pay to thee, when e'er I go,

A little of the debt I owe.

Thus, resurrected every spring,

I '11 hear the merry blue birds sing

Their voices every May-day morn

Will sweeter sound than Gabriel's horn !

And oft, I hope, my grateful soul

Shall thro' my summer-fallow stroll !


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, May 12, 2012



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