L'Ile Sainte Croix Poem by Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton

L'Ile Sainte Croix

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WITH tangled brushwood overgrown,
And here and there a lofty pine,
Around whose form strange creepers twine,
And crags that mock the wild sea's moan,

And little bays where no ships come,
Though many a white sail passes by,
And many a drifting cloud on high
Looks down and shames the sleeping foam,

Unconscious on the waves it lies,
While midst the golden reeds and sedge
That, southward, line the water's edge,
The thrush sings her shrill melodies.

No human dwelling now is seen
Upon its rude, unfertile slopes,
Though many a summer traveller gropes
For ruins midst the tangled green,

And seeks upon the northern shore
The graves of that adventurous band
That followed to the Acadian land
Champlain, De Monts, and Poutrincourt.

There stood the ancient fort that sent
Fierce cannon echoes through the wold,
There waved the Bourbon flag that told
The mastery of a continent;

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There through the pines the echoing wail
Of ghostly winds was heard at eve,
And hoarse, deep sounds like those that heave
The breasts of stricken warriors pale.

There Huguenots and cassocked priests,
And noble-born and sons of toil,
Together worked the barren soil,
And shared each other's frugal feasts,

And dreamed beneath the yellow moon
Of golden reapings that should be,
Conjuring from the sailless sea
A glad, prophetic harvest-tune,

Till stealthy winter through the reeds
Crept, crystal-footed, to the shore,
And to the little hamlet bore
His hidden freight of deathly seeds.

Spring came at last, and o'er the waves
The welcome sail of Pontgravé,
But half the number silent lay,
Death's pale first-fruits, in western graves.

Sing on, wild sea, your sad refrain
For all the gallant sons of France,
Whose songs and sufferings enhance
The witchery of the western main,

Keep kindly watch before the strand
Where lie in hidden mounds, secure,
The men De Monts and Poutrincourt
First led to the Acadian land.

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