Phil-O-Rum's Canoe

A poem by William Henry Drummond

O Ma ole canoe! w'at's matter wit' you, an' w'y was you be so slow?
Don 't I work hard enough on de paddle, an' still you don 't seem to go,
No win' at all on de fronte side, an' current she don 't be strong,
Den w'y are you lak lazy feller, too sleepy for move along?

"I 'member de tam w'en you jomp de sam' as deer wit' de wolf behin'
An' brochet on d top de water, you scare heem mos' off hees min';
But fish don 't care for you now at all, only jus' mebbe wink de eye,
For he know it 's easy get out de way w'en you was a passin' by."

I 'm spikin' dis way de oder day w'en I 'm out wit'de ole canoe,
Crossin' de point w'ere I see las' fall wan very beeg caribou,
W'en somebody say, "Phil-o-rum, mon vieux, wat's matter wit' you youse'f?"
An' who do you s'pose was talkin'? w'y de poor ole canoe shese'f.

O yass, I 'm scare w'en I 'm sittin' dere an' she 's callin' ma nam' dat way:
"Phil-o-rum Juneau, w'y you spik so moche, you 're off on de head to-day
Can't be you forget ole feller, you an' me we 're not too young,
An' if I'm lookin' so ole lak you, I t'ink I will close ma tongue.

"You should feel ashame; for you 're alway blame, w'en it is n't ma fault at all
For I 'm tryin' to do bes' I can for you on summer-tam, spring, an' fall.
How offen you drown on de reever if I 'm not lookin' out for you
W'en you 're takin' too moche on de w'isky some night comin' down de Soo.

"De firse tam we go on de Wessoneau no feller can beat us den,
For you 're purty strong man wit' de paddle, but dat 's long ago ma frien',
An' win' she can blow off de mountain, an' tonder an' rain may come,
But camp see us bote on de evening-you know dat was true Phil-o-rum.

"An' who's your horse too, but your ole canoe, an' w'en you feel cole an' wet
Who was your house w'en I 'm upside down an' onder de roof you get,
Wit' rain ronnin' down ma back, Baptême! till I 'm gettin' de rheumateez,
An' I never say not'ing at all, moi-même, but let you do jus' you please.

"You t'ink it was right, kip me out all night on reever side down below,
An' even' Bon Soir' you was never say, but off on de camp you go
Leffin' your poor ole canoe behin' lyin' dere on de groun'
Watchin' de moon on de water, an' de bat flyin' all aroun'.

"O! dat 's lonesome t'ing hear de grey owl sing up on de beeg pine tree
An' many long night she kip me awake till sun on de eas' I see,
An' den you come down on de morning for start on some more voyage,
An' only t'ing decen' you do all day is carry me on portage.

"Dat 's way Phil-o-rum, rheumateez she come, wit' pain ronnin' troo ma side
Wan leetle hole here, noder beeg wan dere, dat not'ing can never hide;
Don 't do any good fix me up agen, no matter how moche you try,
For w'en we come ole an' our work she 's done, bote man an' canoe mus'die."

"Wall! she talk dat way mebbe mos' de day, till we 're passin' some beaver dam
An' wan de young beaver he 's mak' hees tail come down on de water flam!
I never see de canoe so scare, she jomp nearly two, t'ree feet
I t'ink she was goin' for ronne away, an' she shut up de mout' toute suite.

It mak'me feel queer, de strange t'ing I hear, an' I 'm glad she don 't spik no more,
But soon as we fin'ourse'f arrive over dere on de noder shore
I tak' dat canoe lak de lady, an' carry her off wit' me,
For I 'm sorry de way I treat her, an' she know more dan me, sapree!

Yass! dat 's smart canoe, an' I know it 's true, w'at she 's spikin' wit' me dat day,
I 'm not de young feller I use to be w'en work she was only play;
An' I know I was comin' closer on place w'ere I mus' tak' care
W'ere de mos' worse current 's de las' wan too, de current of Dead Riviere.

You can only steer, an' if rock be near, wit' wave dashin' all aroun',
Better mak' leetle prayer, for on Dead Riviere some very smart man get drown;
But if you be locky an' watch youse'f, mebbe reever won 't seem so wide,
An' firse t'ing you know you 'll ronne ashore, safe on de noder side.

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