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The Voyageur and Other Poems

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The Voyageur

Dere's somet'ing stirrin' ma blood tonight,On de night of de young new year,Wile de camp is warm an' de fire is bright,An' de bottle is close at han'—Out on de reever de nort' win' blow,Down on de valley is pile de snow,But w'at do we care so long we knowWe 're safe on de log cabane?

Drink to de healt' of your wife an' girl,Anoder wan for your frien',Den geev' me a chance, for on all de worl'I 've not many frien' to spare—I 'm born, w'ere de mountain scrape de sky,An' bone of ma fader an' moder lie,So I fill de glass an' I raise it highAn' drink to de Voyageur.

For dis is de night of de jour de l'an,[1]W'en de man of de Grand Nor' Wes'T'ink of hees home on de St. Laurent,An' frien' he may never see—Gone he is now, an' de beeg canoeNo more you 'll see wit' de red-shirt crew,But long as he leev' he was alway true,So we 'll drink to hees memory.

Ax' heem de nort' win' w'at he seeOf de Voyageur long ago,An' he 'll say to you w'at he say to me,So lissen hees story well—"I see de track of hees botte sau-vage[2]On many a hill an' long portageFar far away from hees own vill-ageAn' soun' of de parish bell—

"Far, far away from hees own vill-ageAn' soun' of de parish bell."

"I never can play on de Hudson BayOr mountain dat lie betweenBut I meet heem singin' hees lonely wayDe happies' man I know—I cool hees face as he 's sleepin' dereUnder de star of de Red Rivière,An' off on de home of de great w'ite bear,I 'm seein' hees dog traineau.[3]

"De woman an' chil'ren 's runnin' outOn de wigwam of de Cree—De leetle papoose dey laugh an' shoutW'en de soun' of hees voice dey hear—De oldes' warrior of de SiouxKill hese'f dancin' de w'ole night t'roo,An de Blackfoot girl remember tooDe ole tam Voyageur.

"De blaze of hees camp on de snow I see,An' I lissen hees 'En Roulant'On de lan' w'ere de reindeer travel free,Ringin' out strong an' clear—Offen de grey wolf sit beforeDe light is come from hees open door,An' caribou foller along de shoreDe song of de Voyageur.

"If he only kip goin', de red ceinture,[4]I 'd see it upon de PoleSome mornin' I 'm startin' upon de tourFor blowin' de worl' aroun'—But w'erever he sail an' w'erever he ride,De trail is long an' de trail is wide,An' city an' town on ev'ry sideCan tell of hees campin' groun'."

So dat 's 'de reason I drink to-nightTo de man of de Grand Nor' Wes',For hees heart was young, an' hees heart was lightSo long as he 's leevin' dere—I 'm proud of de sam' blood in my veinI 'm a son of de Nort' Win' wance again—So we 'll fill her up till de bottle 's drainAn' drink to de Voyageur.

[1] New Year's day.

[2] Indian boot.

[3] Dog-sleigh.

[4] Canadian sash.



You never hear tell, Marie, ma femme,Of Bruno de hunter man,Wit' hees wild dogs chasin' de moose an' deer,Every day on de long, long year,Off on de hillside far an' near,An' down on de beeg savane?

Not'ing can leev' on de woods, Marie,W'en Bruno is on de track,An' young caribou, an' leetle red doeWit' baby to come on de spring, dey knowDe pity dey get w'en hees bugle blowAn' de black dogs answer back....