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Short poem

Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)

At the Cedars

              1You had two girls -- Baptiste --
              2One is Virginie --
              3Hold hard -- Baptiste!
              4Listen to me.

              5The whole drive was jammed
              6In that bend at the Cedars,
              7The rapids were dammed
              8With the logs tight rammed
              9And crammed; you might know
            10The Devil had clinched them below.

            11We worked three days -- not a budge,
            12'She's as tight as a wedge, on the ledge,'
            13Says our foreman;
            14'Mon Dieu! boys, look here,
            15We must get this thing clear.'
            16He cursed at the men
            17And we went for it then;
            18With our cant-dogs arow,
            19We just gave he-yo-ho;
            20When she gave a big shove
            21From above.

            22The gang yelled and tore
            23For the shore,
            24The logs gave a grind
            25Like a wolf's jaws behind,
            26And as quick as a flash,
            27With a shove and a crash,
            28They were down in a mash,
            29But I and ten more,
            30All but Isaàc Dufour,
            31Were ashore.

            32He leaped on a log in the front of the rush,
            33And shot out from the bind
            34While the jam roared behind;
            35As he floated along
            36He balanced his pole
            37And tossed us a song.
            38But just as we cheered,
            39Up darted a log from the bottom,
            40Leaped thirty feet square and fair,
            41And came down on his own.

            42He went up like a block
            43With the shock,
            44And when he was there
            45In the air,
            46Kissed his hand
            47To the land;
            48When he dropped
            49My heart stopped,
            50For the first logs had caught him
            51And crushed him;
            52When he rose in his place
            53There was blood on his face.

            54There were some girls, Baptiste,
            55Picking berries on the hillside,
            56Where the river curls, Baptiste,
            57You know -- on the still side
            58One was down by the water,
            59She saw Isaàc
            60Fall back.

            61She did not scream, Baptiste,
            62She launched her canoe;
            63It did seem, Baptiste,
            64That she wanted to die too,
            65For before you could think
            66The birch cracked like a shell
            67In that rush of hell,
            68And I saw them both sink --

            69Baptiste ! --
            70He had two girls,
            71One is Virginie,
            72What God calls the other
            73Is not known to me.


18] cant-dogs arow: hooked hand-spikes, one after another.

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: The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1926): 14-16. PS 8487 C6 A17 1926 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1893
Publication date note: The Magic House and Other Poems (1893).
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10

Rhyme: irregularly rhyming

Other poems by Duncan Campbell Scott