18 May 2015

Victoria Day Verse from Victoria

An ode to the city, a tribute to Her Late Majesty, but more than anything a pitch to tourists, Victoria the Beautiful (self-published, 1917) is one of only two poems I've been able to find by city resident Levi Houghton (d. 1918). The other, My Trip Through the Rockies (self-published, 1917), is interesting for its use of the words "mount" and "mountain" – forty-four appearances in 83 lines.

Here he rhymes "Nature's splendour" with "say I'll mend her".

                    Canada's vast and myriad acres, —
                         Central prairies wheat's domain, —
                    Ancient cities of th' Atlantic, —
                         All have share in praise's strain.
                    But of thou,—Dominion's fairest.
                         Brightest, sceniest, beauteous spot.
                    Those who chant of other places.
                         These are they who know thee not.
                    Honoured name on British tongue, —
                         She who dignified the Throne,
                    Left a name, 'twill last as long,
                         Long as thou dost bear her own!
                    City thou, — Dominion's Queen.
                         Regal true in Nature's splendour;
                    None like thee can e'er be seen, —
                         None can say I'll mend her.
                    O, this City, all that's fair:
                         Thy boulevards beyond compare,
                    Trees of every shade and hue, —
                         Chestnut, maple, lilac, yew.
                    Rustic scenes and shady bowers.
                         City of roses, city of flowers!
                    Hollies green, some variegated, —
                         Glorious England here translated!
                    England's beauty known so wide;
                          (Surely thou art England's sister-twin,)
                    Truly thou art dignified,
                         Fair without and fair within!
                    Old Ocean laps thy numerous Bays,
                         Bright Sol bedecks thy Parks,
                    With emerald green thy winding ways.
                         Call forth extolled remarks!
                    Rocky headlands, sandy beaches;
                         Mounts aspire to meet the sun;
                    Nature loving thou dost teach us,
                         Whilst we round with motors run.
                    Gnarled old oaks and Douglas pine,
                         Gardens grand delights our fill,
                    But who can yet compare design
                         With the broom on Beacon Hill!
                    O'er the Straits of Juan de Fuca,
                         Olympic stately mountains see, —
                    Delighting visiting onlooker,
                         And he hails the sight with glee!
                    Cousin Sam's in thousands coming
                         Year by year to see thy glory,
                    And he ne'er forgets his roaming, —
                         Tells abroad thy wondrous story!
                    For 'round thee he's been a-hunting
                         Cougar, bear, and deer and moose,
                    Likewise also gone a-fishing.
                         All his business cares cut loose.
                    Oak Bay Links, and those of Colwood,
                         Reached he these by street-car ride;
                    Boating, bathing, tennis, billiard,
                         All these pleasures, — more beside!
                    Mild's the clime, and summer not too hot;
                         'Tis minus Zero of the prairie;
                    Come and visit this blest spot,
                         Come yourself and bring dear Mary.
                    Come in Winter, come in Spring,
                         Come in Summer, Autumn too,
                    And when you come this song you'll sing:
                         "Victoria the whole year through!"

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