Samuel Mathewson Baylis (1854-1941)

Text for "Inspiration" from A Century of Canadian Sonnets.

"Was born in Montreal in 1855, and is now a merchant in that city.  He has contributed to many Canadian literary papers, besides being an active promoter of athletics.  The sonnet ["Our Birthright"] appeared first in The Dominion Illustrated. (Crandall)

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Where softly steal fantastic shadows grim
O'er bannered wall, limned saint, prone effigies,
And time-etched brass, sleeps, dust-choked, mute as these,
The Voice that stirred the Minster's arches dim.
With master-touch, obedient fingers skim
In eager joyance o'er the yielding keys,
And the groined vault is filled with harmonies
That soar and swell in grand, triumphant hymn.
Thus some great soul, cloistered amid the gloom
And shades of prisoning shell, in silence waits
The word inbreathed that shall to the dumb clod
Give speech. As wingèd spirit from its tomb
His message flies—nathless the erst-barred gates—
And, hushed, men whisper: "Hark! the voice of God!"

Our Birthright

Go!  read the patent of thine heritage,
Inscribed in glowing words that flash and burn
With pregnant import.  Con it well and learn
The thrilling tale that lights the storied page.
See Faith and Valor hand-to-hand engage
Opposing powers, and by their prowess turn
The wild into a puissant realm, and earn
A deathless fame, bright to the latest age!
'Tis thine and mine!  Shall we, then, hold it light,—
Despise our birthright as some base-born churl,
And recreant yield it with a nerveless hand,
Or stain our scutcheon with a Judas blight?
When traitors hiss do thou, indignant, hurl
Thy challenge back:  "It is my native land!"