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E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913)

The Song my Paddle Sings


              1West wind, blow from your prairie nest,
              2Blow from the mountains, blow from the west
              3The sail is idle, the sailor too ;
              4O!  wind of the west, we wait for you.
              5Blow, blow!
              6I have wooed you so,
              7But never a favour you bestow.
              8You rock your cradle the hills between,
              9But scorn to notice my white lateen.

            10I stow the sail, unship the mast :
            11I wooed you long but my wooing's past ;
            12My paddle will lull you into rest.
            13O!  drowsy wind of the drowsy west,
            14Sleep, sleep,
            15By your mountain steep,
            16Or down where the prairie grasses sweep!
            17Now fold in slumber your laggard wings,
            18For soft is the song my paddle sings.

            19August is laughing across the sky,
            20Laughing while paddle, canoe and I,
            21Drift, drift,
            22Where the hills uplift
            23On either side of the current swift.

            24The river rolls in its rocky bed ;
            25My paddle is plying its way ahead ;
            26Dip, dip,
            27While the water flip
            28In foam as over their breast we slip.

            29And oh, the river runs swifter now ;
            30The eddies circle about my bow.
            31Swirl, swirl!
            32How the ripples curl
            33In many a dangerous pool awhirl!

            34And forward far the rapids roar,
            35Fretting their margin for evermore.
            36Dash, dash,
            37With a mighty crash,
            38They seethe, and boil, and bound, and splash.

            39Be strong, O paddle! be brave, canoe!
            40The reckless waves you must plunge into.
            41Reel, reel.
            42On your trembling keel,
            43But never a fear my craft will feel.

            44We've raced the rapid, we're far ahead!
            45The river slips through its silent bed.
            46Sway, sway,
            47As the bubbles spray
            48And fall in tinkling tunes away.

            49And up on the hills against the sky,
            50A fir tree rocking its lullaby,
            51Swings, swings,
            52Its emerald wings,
            53Swelling the song that my paddle sings.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), Flint and Feather: The Complete Poems, with Introduction by Theodore Watts-Dunton and a Biographical Sketch of the Author, Illustrated by J. R. Seavey, 7th edn. (1912: Toronto and London: The Musson Book Co., Ltd., 1921): 31-32. PS 8469 O3F5 1921 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1912
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/8

Rhyme: aabbb


Other poems by E. Pauline Johnson