A Centennial Ode

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A Centennial Ode
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A Centennial Ode In response to a call from the proprietors of the Globe for a Centennial Ode, thirty-seven were sent in to them. These were submitted to the Judges, whose award is as follows: -- To the Proprietors of the St. John Globe: Gentlement, -- We have examined the Centennial Odes submitted by you to us, and we decide in favour of No. 31, signed “Forsitan.” B. Lester Peters, G. J. Chubb, D. MacRae. St. John, N. B. 16th May, A. D. 1883. The following is the Ode: -- Ode for 18th May, A. D. 1883. Out from the lovely land that gave them birth, From pleasant homes that generous charms displayed, From sacred altars, and the hallowed earth Where their forefathers slept, in honour laid, Our grandsires passed, -- a brave, determined band, Driven by hard Fate— As men were driven of old, Whose story hath been told In lofty epic strain – To plant, with toil and pain, Upon a distant shore, and in a strange, wild land A new and glorious State. Now, on this festal day, Wake the proud spirit they Gave to their sons: Still warm within our veins, Pure still from falsehood’s stains, Their true blood runs. Though on their way no cloudy column of fire Shielded from harm, and lit the gloomy night, Led by the light which noble thoughts inspire, With calm resolve to firmly do the right, They left the rest to Him whose will doth reign In Earth and Heaven; -- In all whose works they saw The Order, Truth and Law They sought to keep Fixed as foundations deep, That should their Faith and State and Liberty sustain, Where’er new homes were given. Nor were their labours vain: Here shall their Faith remain, Spotless and free; Here wise and equal laws Still shall uphold the cause Of Truth and Liberty. ‘Mid savage scenes, and in the forests wild, Our fathers toiled with patient, manly hearts, Till stubborn rocks and lonely wild-woods smiled With golden harvest-fruits, and happy arts Of Peace and Industry enriched the land With bounteous store: Brave wives and daughters cheered All that was dark, nor feared With ready hands to bear In each sore task a share, Till large, and bright and fair, -- A goodly heritage – they saw their country stand, Far along hill and dale and sounding above. Nor want nor eliminate cold Chilled the breasts strong and bold, Loyal and true, Which pain and weariness, -- All forms of dire distress, -- Failed to subdue. Where once unbroken, pathless forests stood, Where savage men and beasts alone held away, While shadowy streams flowed on their silent way, Now Commerce spreads her fertilizing flood, And crowds with busy life each river, port and bay, Cities and towns and temples fair, Thousands of happy homes stand where, Driven by the stern decree of Fate, And by the burning hate Of brothers armed in an unnatural war, Our Loyalists, an hundred years ago, Led by the pale North Star, Founded the free young State We as our own New Brunswick know. And now, forgetting all the fratricidal strife, Forgiving all the wrongs their sires endured, The Sons of Loyalists, enjoying the large life By Toil and Hope and Faith and Love secured, Welcome with open hands and heart, Welcome with Friendship real and true Each man who bears his honest part, And does what Duty bids him do, No matter what his nation’s name, No matter whence or when he came – Welcome give all, for their dear sake Who fortunes, hopes, lives put at stake, That all mankind might know From what a mighty race they sprung, Our Sires, who here to Duty clung An hundred years ago. Wide over hill and plain Sound the triumphant strain That hymns their praise: High in the free, glad air The grand old banner bear, They loved to raise. Still as its ample folds, Where’er unfurled, Float in the sky, There sacred Freedom holds, In front of the world, Her standard high!