The Vault: Poetry of William B. Wilson, First Secretary of Labor
My Father's Daydream
One evening last June when the day's work was over,
I sat all alone in my cozy arm chair,
And drank the perfume of the sweet-scented clover
That floated along on the cool, balmy air.
My trusty clay pipe 'tween my thumb and forefinger
I puffed with a lazy, luxuriant ease,
The smoke curling up for a moment to linger,
Then fade from my sight as it mixed with the breeze.
And as I sat thinking, the smoke curling o'er me,
There rose up a mirror-like vision of yore,
The land of my fathers lay plainly before me
A beautiful picture from memory's store.
Yes, there stood the mill, 'neath the wide spreading rowans,
The miller's neat cot on the brow of the hill.
I saw the broad fields dotted over with rowans
And heard once again Avon's murmuring rill.
Bathed my hot limbs on its cool, rippling bosom,
Roved through the woodlands that rise from its side,
Plucked the bluebell and the hawthorn blossom
That flourish so full on the banks of the Clyde.
Gathered the woodbine and fragrant wild roses,
The daisy, the primrose and sweet heatherbell.
Chased the wild bee from its place on the posies
And searched for birds' nests on the trees in the dell.
There by the road stood the one-story. houses,
The thin strip of woodland just over the way
Where the robin, the sparrow and little titmouses
Were chirping their praise to the glorious day.
And far up the hill with the stone wall around it
The high park in glory looked down on the plain,
While the stately old oaks in the center resounded
With winds that to fell them blew fiercely, but vain.
I saw there the deer when the cannon's loud rattle
Re-echoed like thunder o'er valley and hill,
Gallop off then come back, form like soldiers in battle,
Gaze wild at the cannon. excited but still,
Till another report sent them off in a hurry,
A frightened, excited, disorderly train,
Away round the hill in a terrible flurry
Then back through the same old maneuver again.*
And here, too, the native white cattle came bounding
Out through the dense wood with a wild savage grace,
The forest behind them with echoes resounding
Of huntsmen and dogs that took part in the chase.
I thought of the time when the forest extended
O'er nearly the whole of old Scotia's domain,
When cattle and deer from the mountain descended
To crop the luxuriant herbs of the plain.
When Wallace ere yet his fond hopes had been blighted
By cruel oppression's dire death dealing sting,
In hunting the game of his country delighted,
Content in the shade of oblivion's dark wing.
But the scene seemed t o change to a ship on the ocean
Bound far to the West with its cargo and crew.
I gazed from its deck with a heartfelt emotion,
As slowly old Scotia receded from view.
And when the last trace of her outline was fading,
I stood on my tip-toe with uplifted hand
Laid over my temples, my strained vision shading,
To catch one more glance of my dear native land.
Then out from my dreaming the vision before me
Like Scotia's sweet shore faded slowly away;
A dull, heavy feeling of sadness came o'er me,
And deep in my heart's inmost recesses lay.
True, there stood Penn's forest as stately as ever,
And, there, the wide meadows and tall growing grain,
And down ill the valley the swift flowing river
Fast winding its way to the billowy main.
Yet though my heru1loves them with loyal devotion,
My memory dwells on sweet visions of yore,
And pictures that country far over the ocean,
The land of my fathers, old Scotia's loved shore.
* High Park or "Whaum," as it is commonly called, is a private deer park owned by the Duke of Hamilton, and on the brow of the hill facing the Royal Borough of Hamilton, several cannon are placed. On all gala days these cannon are charged and fired, producing the effect upon the deer. herein described.