A COUNTRY WITHOUT A MYTHOLOGY
Poem about Canada
by Douglas Le Pan
No monuments or landmarks guide the stranger
Going among this savage people, masks
Taciturn or babbling out an alien jargon
And moody as barbaric skies are moody.
Berries must be his food. Hurriedly
He shakes the bushes, plucks pickerel from the river,
Forgetting every grace and ceremony,
Feeds like an Indian, and is on his way.
And yet, for all his haste, time is wroth nothing.
The abbey clock, the dial in the garden,
Fade like saint’s days and festival.
Moths, years, are here unbroken virgin forests.
There is no law – even no atmosphere
To smooth the anger of the flagrant sun.
November skies sting string like icicles.
The land is open to all violent weathers.
Passion not more quick. Lightnings in August
Stagger, rocks split, tongues in the forest hiss,
As fire drinks up the lovely sea-dream coolness.
This is the land the passionate man must travel.
Sometimes – perhaps at the tentative fall of twilight –
A belief will settle that waiting around the bend
Are sanctities of childhood, that melting birds
Will sing him into a limpid gracious Presence.
The hills will fall in folds, the wilderness
Will be a garment innocent and lustruous
To wear upon a birthday, under a light
That curls and smiles, a golden-haired Archangel.
And now the channel opens. But nothing alter,
Mile after mile of tangled struggling roots,
Wild-rice, stumps, weeds that clutch at the canoe,
Wilds birds hysterical in tangled trees.
And not a sign, no emblem in the sky
Or boughs to friend him as he goes; for who
Will stop where, clumsily constructed, daubed
With war-paint, teeters some lust-red Manitou?