Saturday, 16 August 2014

Maritime Poetry

An upcoming trip to my brother's place in New Brunswick got me thinking about a poem that my mother used to recite to me, as her father had told it to her.  As the years passed I had forgotten all but a few snippets of it.  Since my mother is no longer alive to ask of its source, I turned to the Internet to search for it but came up empty save for a few historical place-names that have been retained from the original Native American descriptions.

Fortunately a fellow researcher on a New Brunswick historical and genealogical forum knew exactly what I was talking about and posted a link.  So I'm re-posting the poem here so I won't forget again. It was written in 1870 by Canadian author James De Mille, and describes various fishing streams in New Brunswick and Maine.  As strange as it might sound, all the names mentioned in the poem are real and many of these places are still known by their Maliseet or Mi'kmaq names. I've been to a few myself.

Sweet Maiden of Quoddy

Sweet maiden of Passamaquoddy,
Shall we seek for communion of souls
Where the deep Mississippi meanders
Or the distant Saskatchewan rolls?
Ah no, in New Brunswick we’ll find it -
A sweetly sequestered nook
Where the swift gliding Skoodawabskooksis
Unites with the Skoodawabskook

Maduxnekeag’s waters are bluer;
Nipisquit’s pools are more black,
More green is the bright Oromocto,
And browner the Petitcodiac.
But colours more radiant in autumn
I see when I’m casting my hook
In the waves of the Skoodawabskooksis
Or perhaps in the Skoodawabskook.

Let others sing loudly of Saco,
Of Passadumkeag or Mistouche
Of Kennebecasis or Quaco,
Of Miramichi or Buctouche;
Or boast of the Tobique or Mispec,
The Musquash or dark Memramcook.
There’s none like the Skoodawabskooksis
Excepting the Skoodawabskook.

Think not that the Magaguadavic
Or Bocabec please the eye.
Though the Chiputneticook is lovely,
That to either of these we will fly.
No. When in Love’s union we’re plighted
We’ll build our log house by a brook
Which flows to the Skoodawabskooksis
Where it runs with the Skoodawabskook.

Then never of Waweig or Chamcook
I’ll think. Having you in my arms
We’ll reck not of Dideguash beauties;
We’ll care not for Pocologan’s charms.
But as emblems of union forever
Upon two fair rivers we’ll look,
While you’ll be the Skoodawabskooksis
I’ll be the Skoodawabskook.

4 comments:

  1. I love that you were able to find it! The internet is so amazing that way. :)

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  2. How touching. Thank you for posting

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  3. very touching poem, i loved it. I love when you can find hidden gems like this.

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