CARMAN, Bliss




Soon after Bliss Carman was selected by the Canadian Authors Association to the honorary position of Poet Laureate of Canada, Carman attended ceremonies on Lake Windermere in British Columbia to mark the erection of the David Thompson Memorial Fort on Canterbury Point in 1922. The pageant included Kootenay Aboriginals and someone who dressed as David Thompson in period costume. Bliss Carman subsequently wrote the following poem:

David Thompson

A Gray Coat boy from London
At fourteen came over sea
To a lonely post on Hudson Bay
To serve the H.B.C.
A seeker of knowledge, a dreamer of dreams
And a doer of deeds was he.

'Twas but a step from the factor's door
And the wilderness was there,
Rivers stretching a thousand miles,
Lakes for his thoroughfare,
And forests fresh from the hand of God,
Waiting his will to dare.

Where did they lead, these waterways?
Where did they end, those plains?
And what is the joy of the wilderness
Only its lover attains?
Ask little Whitethroat, Killoolet,
Who sings through the soft gray rains.

Wherever they led, wherever they end,
This lad must find and know.
With pole and paddle and slender birch,
On snowshoes over the snow,
With saddle and pack and pony track,
'Twas his dream and delight to go.

He followed the song the rivers sang
Over their pebbly bars;
By spruce and larch he tallied his march;
The moons were his calendars;
And well he could reckon and read his path
By the faithful shining stars.

Up he followed the azure thread
Of the winding branch for guide,
By rapid and reach and shingly beach,
Then over the great divide,
Then he saw a river broad and strong
Swing past in a silver tide.

Down through a maze of Canyon walls
He watched the mighty stream
Sweep on in conquering plenitude
With arrowy flight and gleam,
And knew that he had found at last
The river of his dream.

[Invermere, B.C., August, 1922]