Susan Frances Harrison

(24 February 1859 – 5 May 1935 / Toronto)

St. Jean B'Ptiste - Poem by Susan Frances Harrison

'TIS the day of the blessed St. Jean B'ptiste,
And the streets are full of the folk awaiting
The favourite French-Canadian feast.

One knows by the bells which have never ceased,
Since early morn reverberating,
'Tis the day of the blessed St. Jean B'ptiste.

Welcome it! Joyeux, the portly priest!
Welcome it! Nun at your iron grating!
The favourite French-Canadian feast.

Welcome it! Antoine, one of the least
Of the earth's meek little ones, meditating
On the day of the blessed St. Jean B'ptiste,

And the jostling crowd that has swift increased
Behind him, before him, celebrating
The favourite French-Canadian feast.

He is clothed in the skin of some savage beast.
Who cares if he be near suffocating?
'Tis the day of the blessed St. Jean B'ptiste,
The favourite French-Canadian feast.

II

Poor little Antoine! He does not mind.
It is all for the Church, for a grand good cause,
The nuns are so sweet and the priests so kind.
The martyr spirit is fast enshrined
In the tiny form that the ox-cart draws,
Poor little Antoine, he does not mind.

Poor little soul, for the cords that bind
Are stronger than ardour for fame or applause–
The nuns are so sweet and the priests so kind.

And after the fête a feast is designed–
Locusts and honey are both in the clause–
Brave little Antoine! He does not mind

The heat, nor the hungry demon twined
Around his vitals that tears and gnaws,
The nuns are so sweet and the priests so kind.


The dust is flying. The streets are lined
With the panting crowd that prays for a pause.
Poor little Antoine! He does not mind!
The nuns are so sweet and the priests so kind.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 7, 2012

Poem Edited: Monday, May 7, 2012


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