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HomeNL-2014-02 The Old Canoe

"The Old Canoe"
by George T. Marsh

"The Old Canoe" is a poem by George T. Marsh published in 1908 in Scribner's Magazine.

My seams gape wide so I'm tossed aside
  To rot on a lonely shore
While the leaves and mould like a shroud enfold,
  For the last of my trails are o'er;
But I float in dreams on Northland streams
  That never again I'll see,
As I lie on the marge of the old portage
  With grief for company.

When the sunset gilds the timbered hills
  That guard Timagami,
And the moonbeams play on far James Bay
  By the brink of the frozen sea,
In phantom guise my Spirit flies
  As the dream blades dip and swing
Where the waters flow from the Long Ago
  In the spell of the beck'ning spring.

Do the cow-moose call on the Montreal
  When the first frost bites the air,
And the mists unfold from the red and gold
  That the autumn ridges wear?
When the white falls roar as they did of yore
  On the Lady Evelyn,
Do the square-tail leap from the black pools deep
  Where the pictured rocks begin?

Oh! the fur-fleets sing on Timiskaming
  As the ashen paddles bend,
And the crews carouse at Rupert House
  At the sullen winter's end;
But my days are done where the lean wolves run,
  And I ripple no more the path
Where the gray geese race cross the red moon's face
  From the white wind's Arctic wrath.

Tho' the death fraught way from the Saguenay
  To the storied Nipigon
Once knew me well, now a crumbling shell
  I watch the years roll on,
While in memory's haze I live the days
  That forever are gone from me,
As I rot on the marge of the old portage
  With grief for company. 
"The Old Canoe", illustration by N.C. Wyeth

George T. Marsh  (1876-1945)  Author and lawyer.  Born in Lansingburgh, N.Y.  Graduate of Yale University in 1898, and studied at Harvard University.  Began law practice at Providence, R.I.  He was a member of the R.I. legislature, 1910-11.  In WWI he was an Infantry and Air Service officer overseas.  His books include: Toilers of the Trails; The Whelps of the Wolf; The Valley of Voices; Men Marooned; Flash, the Lead Dog; Under Frozen Stars, and others. 
George T. Marsh, back row left, 1897 Yale crew team