Charles Raitt’s poems
As noted on the Manitoba Raitts page, Charles Raitt was born 16 January 1860 in Logie Pert, Angus, Scotland to William and Helen Raitt. After a spell working in the shipyards in Edinburgh, where he lost an eye, he emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada aged about 18 where he became a master mechanic initially working for Canadian Northern Rail. He married Lillian McLean in 1891, started a family, moved to the United States, where they lived in various locations, before retiring back in Canada in British Columbia. Charles died at Naramata, BC in 1940.
The poems below are taken from an autograph book that his daughter Helen sent to Charles so he would record some of his rhymes. He wrote this on one of the pages….
This is the little book you sent me
To fill up with my rhymes
They are a motley lot you’ll see
Drawn very much from memory
And writ at various times.
It was a pleasure to review
And write them out again
Reviving as it did anew
The pleasures and the folly too
That thrill life now and then
If you enjoy them as you read
I will be very glad
For I conceive no higher need
Than have a Daughter like to read
The rhymings of her Dad.
The Labor Day Parade
(Written in 1898)
The Labor lads are out today
With banners in the breeze
And tho I’ve heard a number say
They’re stiff around the knees,
I own I rather like the trait
No’ that I’m stuck on pegs,
But five feet eight looks better straight
Than wobbly in the legs.
Their fathers bowed and scraped enough
To wha’ was called their betters,
These lads are made of stiffer stuff
And dinna’ bend to fetters.
I like to see them tilt their heads
And proudly march along,
There’s prophecy to them wha’ reads
In that same marching throng.
Today they’ve banners twenty odd
Some day they’ll have but one
And when that banner taks’ the road
We’ll have’ fewer looking on.
The symbol borne upon its ground
Will be a heart and hand
By “Brotherhood” encircled round
A broad unbroken band.
T’will lead the march of progress
And stem the tide of greed
T’will float o’er every Congress
Where the peoples wills’ decreed.
I see the dawning of that day
In every flashing eye
And hail its morn with Hurray
As the labor lads go by.
Song… Dreams That Never Come True
There’s a secret that nobody knows
In the wonder land of dreams
There’s a charm in the heart of the rose
That blooms by its mystic streams
Dear old friends are lingering there
Old lovers and lovers anew
Oh there’s joy unmited with care
In the dreams that never come true……
When the midnight moon is shining bright
And fairies dance in the beams
Love hides away through the drowsy night
To the secret realm of dreams
There the tryst is kept untold
And over and over anew
Youth and love reunion hold
In the dreams that never come true.
Oh the dreams that never come true
Are gleams of a land hid from view
There’s music so rare and faces so fair
In the dreams that never come true.
Me & My Pipe
Me and my pipe are loyal friends
Through many years our friendships grown
Now when each day of labor ends
We have a session all our own
Just Me and my pipe….
And as the smoke rings float and fade
The worries of the day decline
And fancy like a charming maid
Beguiles the mind so life looks fine
To Me and my pipe….
I doubt not that great wrongs exist
And many suffer for the few
At times life seems a dreary waste
But always hope comes glancing threw
To Me and my pipe….
Ambition has its flaming star
And duty its persistent call
Twin masters of my life they are
Until the evening shadows fall
On Me and my pipe….
Then vision broadens and serene
I balance up life’s good and bad
So each tomorrow starts out clean
From the lone session we have had
Just Me and my pipe.
My Beautiful Mountain Maid
When the days work is done and the far setting sun
Paints the west in crimson and gold
That’s the hour I love best for my hearts in the west
With a maid whose promise I hold.
She is waiting for me with a heart light and free
As the birds that sing in the glade
And I’m longing for her mid the pine and the fir
My own beautiful Mountain Maid.
She is sprightly and gay as the wild fawn at play
With no artful wiles the beguile
And the glint of her eyes is the tint of the skies
When the storm cloud breaks in a smile.
She is lovely of face with a natural grace
Of the mountains born and bred
‘Mong the cities gay fair there is none that compare
With My Beautiful Mountain Maid.
Song of the San Francisco Fair 1915
Don’t forget your invitation to the San Francisco Fair
It’s a worldwide celebration and they want you to be there
Come and mingle with the nations, see their beauty and their style
Leave your grouch with your relations Bring a dollar and a smile.
There are palaces of pleasures There are gardens of delight
Under skies of deepest azure Beauty gleams by day and night
Oh there’s charm in every moment And there’s art in every wile
But the secret of enjoyment Is a dollar and a smile.
Through the Golden Gate they’re coming From Pacifics furthest coast
And the Panama is running With Atlantics cheering host
Oh there’s music on the ocean and there’s mirth in every mile
When they get the Frisco notion of a dollar and a smile.
Bring a dollar and a smile folks
And you’ll find old Frisco town
Has got everything worth while folks
If you’ll only step aroun’
Come old Frisco can amuse you
If you make it worth her while
For there’s nothing she’ll refuse you
With a Dollar and a Smile.
The Voice of the Sea
The voice of the sea speaks of love to me
As it frolics o’er the sand
And its dancing waves my fancy laves
In the spray of fairy land.
For love is an ocean deep and wide
Where hearts go out on every tide
And the sounds that break along the shore
Is loves sweet song forever more…
The voice of the sea speaks of life to me
In its ceaseless ebb and flow
And its foaming steeds are mortal deeds
Of the pulsing hearts below.
For life is an ocean tempest tossed
All storm riven its furthest coast
And its boisterous voice cries o’er and o’er
That life is strife forevermore.
The voice of the sea speaks of peace to me
With a distant sound and low
Where the waters deep their quiet keep
And no winds of trouble blow
For beneath the rushing tides of strife
Are quiet springs of endless life
That tell in whispers along the shore
Of peace sweet peace forever more.
To A Pensioner
So you’ve retired George, Called it a day
Laid the tools of a life time away
Bade all the Boys a hearty goodbye
Smiled a brave smile and held your head high.
That’s the way to step out of the game
With record clear and an honored name
Time pilfers youth and the strongest fail
Honor rides to the end of the trail.
Weary, Yes fifty years service tells
And long trod paths hold wondrous spells
Memory travels them o’er and o’er
Cherishing days that will come no more.
Mindfull too of the men high and low
Comrades in labor of long ago
When iron nerve and pioneer zeal
Pierced mountain and plain with paths of steel.
And silent desert and canyons deep
Were roused from their dreamless age long sleep
By the mighty rush of steel and stream
As the railroads shaped a Nations Dream.
Twas a worthy task in which to share
At throttle or bench or furnace glare
So while we boast the new and the near
Off hats to the pensioned Pioneer.
To Mary My First Best Girl
Its long ago Mary dear
Since we strayed ‘mong the primroses sweet
And time has tolled many a year
Since we sat in the old rustic seat
But my heart still turns with delight
To its first sweet love dream and you
When the world held nothing so bright
As a glance from your eyes of blue.
I have wandered far far away
From the glen and its sweet scented flowers
Where we stole at the close of day
Timid loves first sweet enchanting hours
But in fancy still I can feel
The touch of your hand as we meet
And the bliss of loves parting seal
On your rosy lips honey sweet.
It was fate that divided our ways
Till we strayed wide oceans apart
While the sun brightened other days
And another love charmed the heart
But in dreamland still you are mine
Unmindful of long years between
The dear girl of my Auld land syne
Lovely Mary my hearts young queen.
(Note: Mary was 70 and the Mother of 10 children when I next saw her in 1927…….)
Sing not to me of the glory of War
Tell not with pride of the victories won
For carnage and song discordant are
And murder is crime wherever tis done
Say not to me tis the good will of God
That men should labor and study to kill
Nor ask me to pray for shedders of blood
That their arm may be strong to work his will
I trust not the God nor believe the creed
That appeals to force as the final good
And crushes men as the furious steed
Treads the anxious Mother and nestling brood
Who trusts in the sword shall fall
Tis the weapon of Tyrants and of fate
Who wields it today defiant of all
Tomorrow shall reap its harvest of hate
Cursed is the man Accursed the nation
Whose passions and pride only death can stay
The sun shall set on their desolation
And sorrow shall shadow their brightest day.