John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923)

Text from A Century of Canadian Sonnets.

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The Returned Acadian

Along my father's dykes I roam again,
Among the willows by the river-side.
These miles of green I know from hill to tide
And every creek and river's ruddy stain.
Neglected long and shunned our dead have lain,
Here where a people's dearest hope had died.
Alone of all their children scattered wide,
I scan the sad memorials that remain.
The dykes wave with the grass, but not for me;
The oxen stir not while this stranger calls.
From these new homes upon the green hill-side,
Where speech is strange and a new people free,
No voice cries out in welcome; for these halls
Give food and shelter where I may not bide.


From the soft dyke-road, crooked and wagon-worn,
Comes the great load of rustling scented hay,
Slow-drawn with heavy swing and creaky sway,
Through the cool freshness of the windless morn.
The oxen, yoked and sturdy, horn to horn,
Sharing the rest and toil of night and day,
Bend head and neck to the long hilly way,
By many a season's labour marked and torn.
On the broad sea of dyke, the gathering heat
Waves upward from the grass, where road on road
Is swept before the tramping of the teams.
And while the oxen rest beside the sweet
New hay, the loft receives the early load,
With hissing stir, among the dusty beams.