The U. E. Loyalists

   by William Kirby

   

 

The war was over, seven red years of blood

 William Kirby
William Kirby

13 Oct. 1817 - 23 Jun. 1906

Had scourged the land from mountain top to sea ;

(So long it took to rend the mighty frame

Of England's empire in the western world)

Rebellion won at last, and they who loved

The cause that had lost, and kept the faith

To England's crown, and scorned an alien name,

Passed into exile, leaving all behind

Except their honour, and the conscious pride

Of duty done to country and to king.

 

Broad lands, ancestral homes, the gathered wealth

Of patient toil and self-denying years,

Were confiscate and lost ; for they had been

The salt and savour of the land ; trained up

In honour, loyalty, and fear of God.

The wine upon the lees, decanted, when

They left their native soil with sword belts drawn

The tighter ; while the women only wept

At thought of old firesides no longer theirs,

At household treasures reft, and all the land

Upset, and ruled by rebels to the king.

 

Not drooping like poor fugitives they came

In exodus to our Canadian wilds,

But full of heart and hope, with heads erect

And fearless eyes victorious in defeat.

With thousand toils they forced their devious way

Through the great wilderness of silent woods,

That gloomed o'er lake and stream, till higher rose

The northern star above the broad domain

Of half a continent, still theirs to hold,

Defend and keep for ever as their own,

Their own and England's to the end of time.

 

The virgin forests, carpeted with leaves

Of many autumns fallen, crisp and sear,

Put on their woodland state ; while overhead

Green seas of foliage roared a welcome home

To the proud exiles, who for empire fought

And kept, though losing much, this northern land

A refuge and defence for all who love

The broader freedom of a commonwealth

That wears upon its head a kingly crown.

 

Our great Canadian woods of mighty trees,

Proud oaks and pines that grew for centuries,

King's gifts upon the exiles were bestowed.

Ten thousand homes were planted ; and each one

With axe, and fire, and mutual help made war

Against the wilderness and smote it down.

Into the opened glades, unlit before

Since forests grew and rivers ran, there leaped

The sun's bright rays, creative light and heat,

Waking to life the buried seeds that slept,

Since time's beginning, in the earth's dark womb.

 

The tender grass sprang up, no man knew how,

The daisies eyes unclosed, wild strawberries

Lay white as hoar frost on the slopes, and sweet

The violets perfumed the evening air,

The nodding clover grew up everywhere,

The trailing rasp, the trefoil's yellow cup

Sparkled with dew drops, while the humming bees

And birds and butterflies, unseen before,

Found out the sunny spots and came in throngs.

 

But earth is man's own shadow, say the wise ;

As wisdom's secrets are twofold, and each

Responds to other both in good and ill,

A crescent thought will one day orb to full,

And on the earth reflect true light of Heaven.

 

But long and arduous were their labours ere

The rugged fields produced enough for all,

For thousands came ere hundreds could be fed ;

The scanty harvests gleaned to their last ear

Sufficed not yet, men hungered for their bread

Before it grew, yet cheerful bore the hard

Coarse fare and russet garb of pioneers,

In these great woods, content to build a home

And commonwealth, where they could live secure,

A life of honour, loyalty and peace.

 

The world goes rushing by,

The ancient landmarks of a nobler time,

When men bore deep the imprint of the law

Of duty, truth and loyalty unstained.

Amid the quaking of a continent

Torn by the passions of an evil time,

They counted neither cost nor danger, spurned

Defections, treasons, spoils ; but feared God,

Nor shamed of their allegiance to the king.

 

To keep the empire one in unity

And brotherhood of its imperial race,

For that they nobly fought and all but won,

Where losing was to win a higher fame

In building up our northern land, to be

A vast dominion stretched from sea to sea ;

A land of labour but of sure reward,

A land of corn to feed the world withal,

A land of life's best treasures, plenty, peace,

Content and freedom, both to speak and do,

A land of men to rule, with sober law,

This Christian commonwealth, God's gift, to keep

This part of Britain's empire next to the heart,

Loyal as were their fathers, and as free.

 

 

from The Old United Empire Loyalists List  

Copyright 1976 - ISBN 0-8063-0331-X