It’s hot and still on August’s final Sunday,
When Arthurs’ welcomed explorers of ancestral lore to their home
Upon the curve of a secluded lane, bowered in stately woodland and grassy knoll,
Near yet far from Hog’s Back hustle and Bytown bustle,
Beside By’s Canal where tower- crested Carleton campus lies,
Thronging with busy, wireless youth and tireless energies.
The Arthurs’ home breathes peaceful elegance,
Welcomed by broad doors burnished red,
Within its grounds, a cottage once was hidden in serenity,
Then a canoe trip and a hike through pine and field from Ottawa,
Where Archie Lampman found his muse
And dreamt romantic verse beneath the northern star.
Alas, why have Canada’s Romantics banished been?
Crawford, Campbell, Lampman, Service, Roberts, Montgomery, Drummond, Scott and Carmen
Champions of Nature‘s idyll, the homestead farmer and the driven quest of pioneers;
Alienated urban man found raw expression in Modernistic form: abstracted, stressed and terse,
Academic mores favoured intellect over the vicarious joy of feelings, widely shared.
Survival’s hour-glass has turned; truth calls for telling in the most popular of verse.
The furnishings betray a life of exploration,
A tasteful mingling of artistry from Europe and the Orient,
Antique blended with art nouveau,
Discreetly jeweled with crafted bottles of perfume and scent;
Orchids and geraniums blossom in solarium;
An antique Jaguar patiently awaits its rebuild in the shed.
Bluff- hidden, overlooking the lush greens of farm and arboretum,
Where a brook lazily confluences in willowed haven, there once a trout rose to the fly;
A brook, which had meandered free through bush and open glen, is now culvert-drained to will of men.
Here ducks dabble, fatted contentedly on summer’s rich aquatic bloom,
Turtle and muskrat plough a watery furrow; carp and silverside roll with occasional splash,
Tree frogs resume their nightly trill, once stilled by force unknown; kingfisher dive with blue-hued flash.
We ate and drank at leisure beside the water, celebrating those that paved the way;
Diverse were our reflections on global interdependency, of sharing common bonds and life experiences,
Of man’s valuation of news, hopes and aspirations.
As if on cue, a skein of geese flocked honking overhead, heralding the end of summer and our reverie;
A fountained pool, embraced by a mighty basswood, gave final reflection
While seated on marble and cast- iron, gazing at the follies of the industry of Campbell.
Fitting closure to a Romantic afternoon.
Bryan Douglas Cook 29 August 2010
Context for An August Afternoon at the Arthurs'
On Sunday afternoon August 29, 2010 Bill and Jeanette Arthurs’ hosted the DNA Study group of BIFHSGO to BBQ at their home at 1228 Lampman Crescent Ottawa. Bill chairs the group and Bryan Cook attended as a member. The meal was held in delightful surroundings at waterside. The home is on idyllic, secluded grounds beside the Rideau Canal where the Late Romantic Canadian poet Archibald Lampman had a cottage. It is also where the Campbell’s,of Ottawa foundry fame,had a retreat around which they adorned the heavily wooded grounds with iron gazebos. The sound of tree frogs did indeed disappear for 4 years and has only recently restarted.....mosquito spraying is the suspected culprit.