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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

E. Pauline Johnson 1862–1913

The Song My Paddle Sings


WEST wind, blow from your prairie nest,

Blow from the mountains, blow from the west.

The sail is idle, the sailor too;

O wind of the west, we wait for you!

Blow, blow!

I have wooed you so,

But never a favor you bestow.

You rock your cradle the hills between,

But scorn to notice my white lateen.

I stow the sail and unship the mast:

I wooed you long, but my wooing’s past;

My paddle will lull you into rest:

O drowsy wind of the drowsy west,

Sleep, sleep!

By your mountains steep,

Or down where the prairie grasses sweep,

Now fold in slumber your laggard wings,

For soft is the song my paddle sings.

August is laughing across the sky,

Laughing while paddle, canoe and I

Drift, drift,

Where the hills uplift

On either side of the current swift.

The river rolls in its rocky bed,

My paddle is plying its way ahead,

Dip, dip,

When the waters flip

In foam as over their breast we slip.

And oh, the river runs swifter now;

The eddies circle about my bow:

Swirl, swirl!

How the ripples curl

In many a dangerous pool awhirl!

And far to forward the rapids roar,

Fretting their margin for evermore;

Dash, dash,

With a mighty crash,

They seethe and boil and bound and splash.

Be strong, O paddle! be brave, canoe!

The reckless waves you must plunge into.

Reel, reel,

On your trembling keel,

But never a fear my craft will feel.

We ’ve raced the rapids; we ’re far ahead:

The river slips through its silent bed.

Sway, sway,

As the bubbles spray

And fall in tinkling tunes away.

And up on the hills against the sky,

A fir tree rocking its lullaby

Swings, swings,

Its emerald wings,

Swelling the song that my paddle sings.