Isabel Ecclestone Mackay

(25 November 1875 – 15 August 1928 / Canada)

The Gatekeeper - Poem by Isabel Ecclestone Mackay

THE sunlight falls on old Quebec,
A city framed of rose and gold,
An ancient gem more beautiful
In that its beauty waxes old.
O Pearl of Cities! I would set
You higher in our diadem,
And higher yet and higher yet,
That generations still to be
May kindle at your history!

'Twas here that gallant Champlain stood
And gazed upon this mighty stream,
These towering rock-walls, buttressed high--
A gateway to a land of dream;
And all his silent men stood near
While the great fleur-de-lis fell free,
(Too awe-struck they to raise a cheer)
And while the shining folds outspread
The sunset burned a sudden red.

Here paced the haughty Frontenac,
His great heart torn with pride and pain,
His clear eye dimming as it swept
The land he might not see again,
This infant world, this strange New France
Dropped down as by some vagrant wind
Upon the New World's vast expanse,
Threatened yet safe! Through storm and stress
Time's challenge to the wilderness.

Here, when to ease her tangled skein
Fate cut her threads and formed anew
The pattern of the thing she planned
And red war slipped the shuttle through,
Montcalm met Wolfe! The bitter strife
Of flag and flag was ended here--
And every man who gave his life
Gave it that now one flag may wave,
One nation rise upon his grave!

The twilight falls on old Quebec
And in the purple shines a star,
And on her citadel lies peace
More powerful than armies are.
O fair dream city! Ebb and flow
Of race feuds vex no more your walls.
Can they of old see this? and know
That, even as they dreamed, you stand
Gatekeeper of a peace-filled land!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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