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William Henry Drummond (1854-1907)

The Log Jam


              1Dere 'a s beeg jam up de reever, w'ere rapide is runnin' fas',
              2An' de log we cut las' winter is takin' it all de room;
              3So boss of de gang is swearin', for not'ing at all can pass
              4An' float away down de current till somebody break de boom.

              5"Here 's for de man will tak' de job, holiday for a week
              6Extra monee w'en pay day come, an' ten dollar suit of clothes.
              7'T is n't so hard work run de log, if only you do it quick--
              8W'ere 's de man of de gang den is ready to say, ` Here goes?'"

              9Dere was de job for a feller, handy an' young an' smart,
            10Willin' to tak' hees chances, willin' to risk hees life.
            11'Cos many a t'ing is safer, dan tryin' de boom to start,
            12For if de log wance ketch you, dey 're cuttin' you lak a knife.

            13Aleck Lachance he lissen, an' answer heem right away
            14"Marie Louise dat 's leevin' off on de shore close by
            15She 's sayin' de word was mak' me mos' happies' man to-day
            16An' if you ax de reason I 'm ready to go, dat 's w'y."

            17Pierre Delorme he 's spikin' den, an' O! but he 's lookin' glad.
            18"Dis morning de sam' girl tole me, she mus' say to me, ` Good-bye Pierre.'
            19So no wan can stop me goin', for I feel I was comin' mad
            20An' wedder I see to-morrow, dat 's not'ing, for I don't care."

            21Aleck Lachance was steady, he 's bully boy all aroun',
            22Alway sendin' de monee to hees moder away below,
            23Now an' den savin' a leetle for buyin' de house an' groun',
            24An' never done t'inkin', t'inkin' of Marie Louise Lebeau.

            25Pierre was a half-breed feller, we call heem de grand Nor' Wes'--
            26Dat is de place he 's leevin' w'en he work for de Compagnie,
            27Dey say he 's marry de squaw dere, never min' about all de res'--
            28An' affer he get hees monee, he 's de boy for de jamboree!

            29Ev'ry wan start off cheerin' w'en dey pass on de log out dere
            30Jompin' about lak monkey, Aleck an' Pierre Delorme.
            31Workin' de sam' as twenty, an' runnin' off ev'ryw'ere,
            32An' busy on all de places, lak beaver before de storm.

            33Den we hear some wan shoutin', an' dere was dat crazy girl,
            34Marie Louise, on de hillside, cryin' an' raisin' row.
            35Could n't do not'ing worser! mos' foolish t'ing on de worl'
            36For Pierre Delorme an' Aleck was n't workin' upon de scow.

            37Bote of dem turn aroun' dere w'en girl is commencin' cry,
            38Lak woman I wance remember, got los' on de bush t'ree day,
            39"Look how de log is movin'! I 'm seein' it wit' ma eye,
            40Come back out of all dem danger!" an' den she was faint away.

            41Ten year I been reever driver, an' mebbe know somet'ing too,
            42An' dere was n't a man don't watch for de minute dem log she go;
            43But never a word from de boos dere, stannin' wit' all hees crew,
            44So how she can see dem movin' don't ax me, for I dunno.

            45Hitch dem all up togeder, t'ousan' horse crazy mad--
            46Only a couple of feller for han'le dem ev'ry wan,
            47Scare dem wit' t'onder an' lightning, an' den 't is n't half so bad
            48As log runnin' down de rapide, affer de boom she 's gone.

            49See dem nex' day on de basin, you t'ink dey was t'roo de fight
            50Cut wit' de sword an' bullet, lyin' along de shore
            51You 'd pity de log, I 'm sure, an' say 't was terrible sight
            52But man goin' t'roo de sam' t'ing, you 'd pity dat man some more.

            53An' Pierre w'en he see dem goin' an' log jompin' up an' down
            54De sign of de cross he 's makin' an' dive on de water dere,
            55He know it 's all up hees chances, an' he rader be goin' drown
            56Dan ketch by de rollin' timber, an' dat 's how he go, poor Pierre.

            57Aleck's red shirt is blazin' off w'ere we hear de log
            58Crackin' away an' bangin', sam' as a honder gun,
            59Lak' sun on de morning tryin' to peep t'roo de reever fog--
            60But Aleck's red shirt is redder dan ever I see de sun.

            61An' w'en dey 're tryin' wake her: Marie Louise Lebeau,
            62On her neck dey fin' a locket, she 's kipin' so nice an' warm,
            63An' dey 're tolin' de funny story, de funnies' I dunno--
            64For de face, Baptême! dey see dere, was de half-breed Pierre Delorme!

Notes

4] boom: a linked chain of logs keeping river timber from moving downstream.

26] de Compagnie: "the Company" (perhaps the Hudson's Bay Company).


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: William Henry Drummond, Johnnie Courteau and Other Poems (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1901): 145-50.
First publication date: 1901
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/17

Rhyme: abab


Other poems by William Henry Drummond