The Last Portage
The Last Portage
I'm sleepin' las' night w'en I dream a dream
An' a wonderful wan it seem –
For I 'm off on de road I was never see,
Too long an' hard for a man lak me,
So ole he can only wait de call
Is sooner or later come to all.
De night is dark an' de portage dere
Got plaintee o' log lyin' ev'ryw'ere,
Black bush aroun' on de right an' lef,
A step from de road an' you los' you'se'f;
De moon an' de star above is gone,
Yet somet'ing tell me I mus' go on.
An' off in front of me as I go,
Light as a dreef of de fallin' snow –
Who is dat leetle boy dancin' dere
Can see hees w'ite dress an' curly hair,
An' almos' touch heem, so near to me
In an' out dere among de tree?
An' den I 'm hearin' a voice is say,
"Come along, fader, don't min' de way,
De boss on de camp he sen' for you,
So your leetle boy 's going to guide you t'roo
It 's easy for me, for de road I know,
'Cos I travel it many long year ago."
An' oh! mon Dieu! w'en he turn hees head
I 'm seein' de face of ma boy is dead –
Dead wit' de young blood in hees vein –
An' dere he 's comin' wance more again
Wit' de curly hair, an' dark-blue eye,
So lak de blue of de summer sky –
An' now no more for de road I care,
An' slippery log lyin' ev'ryw'ere –
De swamp on de valley, de mountain too
But climb it jus' as I use to do –
Don't stop on de road, for I need no res'
So long as I see de leetle w'ite dress.
An' I foller it on, an' wance in a w'ile
He turn again wit' de baby smile,
An' say, "Dear fader, I 'm here you see
We 're bote togeder, jus' you an' me –
Very dark to you, but to me it 's light,
De road we travel so far to-night.
"De boss on de camp w'ere I alway stay
Since ever de tam I was go away,
He welcome de poores' man dat call,
But love de leetle wan bes' of all,
So dat 's de reason I spik for you
An' come to-night for to bring you t'roo."
Lak de young Jesu w'en he 's here below
De face of ma leetle son look jus' so –
Den off beyon', on de bush I see
De w'ite dress fadin' among de tree –
Was it a dream I dream las' night
Is goin' away on de morning light?
William Henry Drummond,
from The Voyageur and Other Poems, 1905