Submit a Poem
Get Your Premium Membership
spacer

At the Long Sault

Written by: Lucy Maud Montgomery | Biography
 | Quotes (4) |
 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.



Comments