Thursday, April 17, 2008


ME that ’ave been what I’ve been—
Me that ’ave gone where I’ve gone—
Me that ’ave seen what I’ve seen—
’Ow can I ever take on
With awful old England again,
An’ cameras both ends of the street,
And lines on two sides of the lane,
And the Council and traffic between,
An’ fillin’ out forms every day —
Me that ’ave been what I’ve been?

Me that ’ave watched ’arf a world
’Eave up all shiny with dew,
From the huge endless plains in the sun,
Long highways to horizons sharp edge,
And no clue as to where you’ve begun,
Not a sign of a truck or a train,
Over valleys as big as a shire—
Are we there? Are we there? Are we there?
An’ then the lone siren afar . . .
An’ I’m doing odd jobs on the car,

Me that ’ave driven the dark
Three hundred mile, often, on end,
Cross Northern Ontario’s swamps,
With only the stars for my mark
An’ only the headlights for my friend,
An’ things runnin’ off as you pass,
An’ huge things steppin’ out from the grass,
An’ the silence, the shine an’ the size
Of the ’igh, unexpressible skies—
I am takin’ some letters almost
As much as a floor to the post,
An’ “mind you come back with receipts”!

Me that saw Cape Bretons rain,
When we dropped through the clouds to the sea,
An’ we saw our first Moose in the dawn,
Me that drove through New Brunswicks scrubland,
An’ stared down a bear in the dusk—
From Vancouver to Halifax all—
Sleeping all night in the back of a van,
Breakfasts cooked over open log fires—
I am doin’ my Sunday-school best,
By the ’elp of the DHSS
(Not to mention the Council and all),
To come in an’ fill forms an’ wait turn,
An’ honestly work for a wage,
My livin’ in that state of life
To which it shall please God to call

Me that ’ave followed my dreams
Cross the place where the Lightnin’s are made,
’Twixt the Rains and the Sun and the Moon—
Me that lay down an’ got up
Three months with the sky for my roof—
That ’ave driven my need to feel free,
Eight thousand raw mile on the road,
With the Fraser and Lawrence for cup,
An’ the Great Lake Superior for dish,—
Oh! it’s ’ard to be’ave as they wish
(Too ’ard, an’ a little too soon),
I’ll ’ave to think over it first—

I will arise an’ get ’ence;—
I will trek West and make sure
If it’s only my fancy or not
That the sunshine of England is pale,
And the breezes of England are stale,
An’ there’s somethin’ gone wrong with the lot;
For I know of a sun an’ a wind,
An’ the sea and a mountain be’ind,
An’ some rock all surrounded by trees;
An’ a Canuck I’ve thought ’oo might give
Me a job were I ever inclined,
To look in, go fishin’ an’ live
Where there’s barely a road nor a house—
But only my Maker an’ me,
And I think it will kill me or cure,
So I think I will go there an’ see.

With huge apologies for amateurishly rewriting Rudyard Kiplings ‘Chant Pagan’.

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