"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

17 April 2017


Varley, Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay, 1921


Remote from all the world – away – away.
Where lone St. Mary’s waters foam and play
And broad Superior’s mountains, riding high
In pictured forms, imprint the northern sky;
Far, far from every haunt the heart holds dear,
What can engage the contemplative, here.
Long mazes past, where lakes and streams resound
I seem to stand at earth’s remotest bound.
I turn me round to ask if such scenes bless,
Such wilds, such wastes; and Truth replies yes! yes!
Man on himself can turn, and he shall find,
Food for the noblest gifts of heart and mind.

If cities, towns, and men be absent
Its very loneliness and woods are dear.
The wild magnificence that marks the zone,
Gives to the mind new vigor, power and tone
Above, the clouds, with light, and fleecy bound,
Deck the bright arch, & scatter gems around,
Below, the winding waters devious play,
Superior’s self proud trembling on its way
It crystal torrents, that with fretful roar,
With murmur’s speed along St, Mary’s shore;
By day I hear these falls their tale recite,
And on my ear, they murmur all the night,
It is the diapason deep whose organ forms,
Are lightnings, thunders, winds, tornadoes, storms.

Above, around expressive vastness reigns,
And nature stalks a giant o’er the plains;
Gems glitter from the heavens, a starry road,
Where spreads the typic footprints of a God.
To view this sight, the painted Indian stands,
And tells how giants big, once filled the lands.
And oft of heroes speaks, once killed in wars,
By necromancers were transformed to stars.
Or demi-gods, who hold divided bound,
With Monedo himself, & deals thunders round.
A poor philosopher is he, on Newton’s plan,
He reasons just of what he knows of man
And nature; and e’er kindly takes
God on his side, and deems that He partakes
In all his wigwam lore & care & fondly deems
His grim old priest oft speaks his will in dreams.
Talk to this man. – a Turk or Chinese,
Are not more erudite in Heaven’s decrees.
Or how the world began, and why & when
Kind Heaven made beasts, & birds, the world and men.

Turn we from nature is her forest child,
What see we, but the human form run wild
A man of dreams and fancies, -- to his hopes,
Thoughts, signs, beliefs, a world wide vistas opes.
Why burns the grave light, on you burial height,
At midnight, -- it is to give his wandering spirit light.
Why dance, the auroral vapors in the skies,
They are the ghosts of his own paradise,
Who joy in realms of compensating bliss
For miseries endured, through life, in this.

On civil toils he looks as something sore
Which white-men have brought over to the shore,
And letters, and all that, -- but for himself his fears,
Are but for want of heaven, elks and bears;
Ah, wanderer of the woods! – if far thy steps have trod
Far from all social light & letters, truth and God,
In the lone region where thou now dost stray,
With ocean-lakes to mark the ample way.
Yet is there hope for thee, in noble cares,
That point, with heavenly faith, above the stars.
There is a sympathy that ever burns,
For the lone step that from its error turns.
Heaven is not, in its fists to be blamed,
Nor made the Indian simply to be damned.
If far thou art, O savage of the plain
Where arts and light & truth & letters reign,
Yet in that very want, a cause may seem,
That makest thou thyself, an ample theme,
Despite the lonesomeness of place and line,
And much I err, or else thou shall be mine.

Ekiega, from Issue No. 1 (December 1826) of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's The Literary Voyager

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