Lucy Maud Montgomery

At The Long Sault

A prisoner under the stars I lie, With no friend near; To-morrow they lead me forth to die, The stake is ready, the torments set, They will pay in full their deadly debt; But I fear them not! Oh, none could fear Of those who stood by Daulac's side­ While he prayed and laughed and sang and fought In the very reek of death­and caught The martyr passion that flamed from his face As he died! Where he led us we followed glad, For we loved him well; Some there were that held him mad, But we knew that a heavenly rage had place In that dauntless soul; the good God spake To us through him; we had naught to do Save only obey; and when his eyes Flashed and kindled like storm-swept skies, And his voice like a trumpet thrilled us through, We would have marched with delight for his sake To the jaws of hell. The mists hung blue and still on the stream At the marge of dawn; The rapids laughed till we saw their teeth Like a snarling wolf's fangs glisten and gleam; Sweetly the pine trees underneath The shadows slept in the moonlight wan; Sweetly beneath the steps of the spring The great, grim forest was blossoming; And we fought, that springs for other men Might blossom again. Faint, thirst-maddened we prayed and fought By night and by day; Eyes glared at us with serpent hate­ Yet sometimes a hush fell, and then we heard naught Save the wind's shrill harping far away, The piping of birds, and the softened calls Of the merry, distant water-falls; Then of other scenes we thought­ Of valleys beloved in sunny France, Purple vineyards of song and dance, Hopes and visions roseate; Of many a holy festal morn, And many a dream at vesper bell­ But anon the shuddering air was torn By noises such as the fiends of hell Might make in holding high holiday! Once, so bitter the death-storm hailed, We shrank and quailed. Daulac sprang out before us then, Shamed in our fears; Glorious was his face to see, The face of one who listens and hears Voices unearthly, summonings high­ Rang his tone like a clarion, "Men, See yonder star in the golden sky, Such a man's duty is to him, A beacon that will not flicker nor dim, Shining through darkness and despair. Almost the martyr's crown is yours! Thinking the price too high to be paid, Will you leave the sacrifice half made? I tell you God will answer the prayer Of the soul that endures! "Comrades, far in the future I see A mighty land; Throned among the nations of earth, Noble and happy, calm and free; As a veil were lifted I see her stand, And out of that future a voice to me Promises that our names shall shine On the page of her story with lustre divine Impelling to visions and deeds of worth. "Ever thus since the world was begun, When a man hath given up his life, Safety and freedom have been won By the holy power of self-sacrifice; For the memory of your mother's kiss Valiantly stand to the breach again. Comrades, blench not now from the strife, Quit you like men!" Oh, we rushed to meet at our captain's side Death as a bride! All our brave striplings bravely fell. I, less fortunate, slowly came Back from that din of shot and yell Slowly and gaspingly, to know A harder fate reserved for me Than that brief, splendid agony. Through many a bitter pang and throe My spirit must to-morrow go To seek my comrades; but I bear The tidings that our desperate stand By the Long Sault has saved our land, And God has answered Daulac's prayer.

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