Memories of Guelph

Author: Margaret Beatrice Burgess

Publication Date: 1964

Edited: 2023


Low in the West the Great Day Orb Descends:

Low in the west the great day orb descends,
While I, with eyes enraptured, gaze upon
A scene of passing beauty, sky and cloud
Lit with a thousand parting rays that flash
And quiver in the evening atmosphere.
Well worthy of the royal name it bears,
The city lies before me, stretching out
To east and West, its lusty, youthful arms:
Like ancient Athens, resting on the hills.
On every side its schools of learning stand:
The spires of many churches pierce the sky:
Fair villas nestle in the leafy shade
Of feather elm and stately, sheltering oak,
Of a straight-limbed poplar and the maple grand,
Which sways alike elastic through the storm.
Or glows with beauty in the autumn moon-
Its leaves blend, emblematic, with the rose
Of England fair, the fleur de lis of France,
The bearded thistle from stern Scotland’s shores
And shamrock green, to fitly represent
A diverse people, yet united – one
In courage, wealth and strength – destined to be
A solid, vigorous nation in themselves.
Like vein o f steadfast friendship, though the vale
The quiet Speed meanders on its way,
Serene and peaceful, like honest lives
Of those who find their homes upon its banks.
Fair Guelph, fair scene, reflected through the years
By memory’s magic mirror to my view,
Thy beauty back shall come to feast my soul:
My pulses stir with gratitude to those
Dear friends and kind who made my summer stay
Within thy borders more than pleasure rare –
A picture that shall fade not with the flowers
Of seasons yet to come.
(Ottawa. July 8, 1884)

This poem was printed in the Guelph Mercury, September 25, 1884. It was inscribed to Mrs. James Innes. Margaret Beatrice Burgess was the daughter of the late Thomas Anderson. Mr. T. Anderson, also a journalist, who died in Guelph in 1866, was a brother of Mrs. Burgess.

- from Scottish Canadian Poets, p. 268