OUT and in the river is winding
The links of its long, red chain,
Through belts of dusky pine-land
And gusty leagues of plain.
Only, at times, a smoke-wreath
With the drifting cloud-rack joins,–
The smoke of the hunting-lodges
Of the wild Assiniboins.
Drearily blows the north-wind
From the land of ice and snow;
The eyes that look are weary,
And heavy the hands that row.
And with one foot on the water,
And one upon the shore,
The Angel of Shadow gives warning
That day shall be no more.
Is it the clang of wild-geese?
Is it the Indian’s yell,
That lends to the voice of the north-wind
The tones of a far-off bell?
The voyageur smiles as he listens
To the sound that grows apace;
Well he knows the vesper ringing
Of the bells of St. Boniface.
The bells of the Roman Mission,
That call from their turrets twain,
To the boatman on the river,
To the hunter on the plain!
Even so in our mortal journey
The bitter north-winds blow,
And thus upon life’s Red River
Our hearts, as oarsmen, row.
And when the Angel of Shadow
Rests his feet on wave and shore,
And our eyes grow dim with watching
And our hearts faint at the oar,
Happy is he who heareth
The signal of his release
In the bells of the Holy City,
The chimes of eternal peace!