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An Evening Out

       B. A. RAMSEY

AN EVENING OUT


  AN EPISTLE, IN VERSE. ADDRESSED TO MY

    MOTHER. FROM THE CITY OF TORONTO.


ARGUMENT

(Lines 1-174)


A View of the City - Author’s Recollection of his Youth Passed in that Place - Short description of a Thundershower at Noon - Cascade Scene - Noontide Retreat - Beach’s Rocks - Declining Sun and Revelers - Couple at Restaurant Patio - Punk Rocker - Bloor Viaduct - Sunset -


Far from my mother, ‘tis all mine to rove,

Thro’ the laneways of your castaway’s cove;

The criss-cross grid, Greater Toronto makes,

Thro’ starts, and sudden stops, the downtown takes;

Staying the multitude, to hear the roar,

That motivates the rich, and numbs the poor;

Where crowded streets, no further aspect cheer,

Than more traffic, that makes no prospect clear;

Where noise to invaded Ward’s Island feeds,

To ev’ry doorway where the green grass leads;

Leads to that Ville, airport, past cottag’d grounds,

And Flora aches to hear the city’s sounds;

Where dark and deep, Lake Ontario sweeps,

‘Round the captive isle your champion keeps;

Where high towers oppress Toronto’s shore,

Yet memory of departed pleasures, more.


Great view! with older eyes, than once, I gaze,

My overwhelming tears your face displays;

Than when, erewhile, I was a happy child,

The pleasure of your shore my bounty wild;

Then did no wave of loneliness demand,

The outpouring of Melancholy’s hand;

In youth’s wide eye the horizon was bright,

The bustle of morning and the peace of night;

Unlike, for each new day with climbing fills,

By night, our pleasure to be passed those hills;

Return Pleasure! each day a mount begun,

As life leads upwards as the morning sun;

When courage wiped away the heartfelt tear,

‘For soon shall come an end of this long year’.

In mind of those hills I coursed the city plain,

And growth was all I really knew of pain;

For then, save then, a broken heart would beat,

At times when ev’ry joy forsook her seat;

For then Assurance, looking onward, showed,

Dark was the valley, though the steppes ev’n glowed;

Alas! the paradise of youth is found,

When sadness would apply your moral round;

Impatient age seeks out social rays,

When solitude took heart in early days;

Yet still, the sport of some malignant pow’r,

Separates us both this present hour.


While Memory, at my side, I wander here,

Starts, at this sight, the unwant’d tear;

A man discovered at the well-known seat,

His voyage guesses at the Great Lake’s feet;

The ray, that hope of morning, trav’ling nigh,

No sail that glides, but pleasure now gone by.


But why, in misery, accept this pain?

To ask if there are joys that yet remain;

Say, will you mum, with sympathetic ear,

The history of your poet’s evening hear?


When, at the docks, the wan noon beckon’d still,

Breathed a rising steam around Summerhill;

And gathered rows of war clad clouds were seen,

Threatening all communiqué between;

Gazing the quick turnstile to them denied,

When stood the picnickers against the tide;

Where, from the concrete port’s unshelter’d end,

Long wakes into the opaque lake extend;

When schoolboys gather’d strength upon the green,

And ‘round the harbourfront, a shimmering scene!

In the gray park, in droves, like troubled deer,

Avoided the herd, finished in my year;

When people in the shelter’d spaces stood,

Uneasy, eyeing everywhere, the flood;

Crowded in the main, in good distress,

With forward neck, a welcome break to press;

And long, with wistful gaze, their walk surveyed,

Till tripped their pathway in the dripping shade.


-Then quiet led me peddling o’er the rill,

Bright’ning with sunny breaks the peaceful gill;

To where, while dense the yellow rushes close

The brown basin wherein dry stalks repose;

Whining insects, within the water green,

Cling to the stems, with dark marsh reeds between;

Save that, throughout, the scalding sunbeams shine,

On leafy boughs that o’er the moss recline,

Poor light shines here, a man-made lone cascade,

Illumes a small reservoir in its shade;

Beyond, along the vista, much trail to brook,

Where crying gulls the sandy beach o’erlook;

The eye turns back toward the narrow bridge,

On men, shirtless, fishing from the ridge.


-Sweet day, farewell! Tomorrow’s noon again

Shall bring me wooing long thy sandy strain;

But now the hour has passed this empty road,

And eve’s slow breeze invites my steps abroad.


  Then, near the beach’s rocks, the silver’d kite,

In many a daunting circles wheels her flight;

Long sunny rays, from clearing clouds apace,

Dart out and dance along the stony base;

Weaving themselves between the broken stone,

By fallen debris and white foam o’ergrown;

Where lichen is the hoary water’s beard,

And gentle breakers all day long are heard.


  How pleasant as the golden sun declines,

And o’er the clouds its lotion pours and shines,

To mark the rev’lers in the evening light,

Who never fade, but welcome in the night!

Youth’s paradise is not for old and hoar:

Following with my eyes, crowds making shore,

And throwing o’er rainbow towels, they fold

Away daytime fun, last of summer’s gold;

And now their sumptuous menus are laid,

A candlelight beneath umbrella shade;

The entrées arrive promptly on the stroke,

And for dessert, espresso and a smoke.


  The pannier’d eve, the diners’ fingers goad,

Dipping in rich sauce, morsels by the road;

The couple next to the patio’s edge

Laugh, and o’er leafy greens squeeze out their wedge;

Bright eyes, the early evening’s sun illume,

Feeling, ‘mid sips of wine, their youth in bloom;

While ne’er a remark he makes, slight confounds,

Joyful are his eyes, and her heart resounds;

Beneath the starry sky their fingers lock,

Tussled by her hand, his dark matted shock;

In lower tones he makes a plaintive song,

Hushed by approbation, they move along;

A quiet chapel at the city’s feet,

The wedding bells their rustic chimes repeat;

Vows in a restaurant a couple wrote,

And life two spend as one, felt unremote.


  Ev’n here, away from the dense laid woods,

The deep lakes, and river’s annual floods,

Not undelightful are the urban charms,

Found leagues distant from far outlying farms.


  A Punk Rocker along the mean streets walks,

Gazed by his fellow men, the rocker stalks;

Spur-clad his hoofing feet, with heavy tread,

A crest of purple tops his warrior head;

Rude upbraiding his sneering mouth oft-hurls,

A black bandanna, shaken-out, unfurls;

Whose print, skull and bones, waving to and fro,

Hangs, while wrapping around his regal brow;

Stepping-out for ales to quench his parch’d throat,

A quiet night has likelihood remote.


  Bright’ning between the hills where sombrous pine,

And apartments o’er the Valley recline;

I love to ride on rushing subway trains,

High up above the Parkway’s curving lanes;

How bustles the enormous hive within,

While fleeting Vision soothes the noisy din!

Some hardly heard the train tracks lumb’ring sound,

Making through the Bloor Viaduct, Westbound;

Some, more aware, the Don River descried,

O’erlooked the cityscape from side to side;

Reliev’d from steel wheels that ceaselessly ring,

Spared the dark tunnel turns that screech and sing.


  Hung o’er the cars, above the hill that rears,

Engulf’d in flame, the setting sun appears;

A purple haze, its ancient orb divides,

And spreads the bounty of its golden sides;

And now it touches on the tree-lined steep,

That casts its shadow on the traffic deep;

‘Cross the Parkway’s slow lanes, drivers aspire

(With gasoline) to ‘putting out the fire’;

The Parkway and Don River thro’ a ray,

From behind the visor shade eyes foray;

The riverbed arrays in velvet green,

Each wisp of reeds and broken stone between;

Gentle currents the orange beams illume,

Far in the recessed valley’s central gloom;

Wiping his brow, the cyclist in the vale,

Presses his bike for more trails to scale;

There, casting shadows ‘mid the slimy rocks,

Off road, where one goes, to test out the shocks;

Here the bridge o’erhangs the vale, the needle shoots,

O’er concrete slopes, high times, and fading roots;

The dealers with their lighted fane unfold,

And all sit shooting-up with liquid gold;

A sinking stone, the day-star lessens still,

Gives one last blaze, and sinks behind the hill.


   To Be Continued