Monday, August 04, 2008

Thoughts for BC Day

This being the holiday hereabouts designated as BC Day; and this year marking, in November, the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Crown Colony of British Columbia by Governor James Douglas (though BC was not united with the colony of Vancouver Island until 1866)...

Immigrants at the Howe Sound
-Gretl Kraus Fischer

And when they arrived, blown to the shore from every continent,
They begged gifts. And silently through the years received them from the land.

On elemental ridges they stood
Kings over terror and the roaring dawn as they had willed
And clutched moments of sun and storm till requiem waters spilled
Their music from a myriad spires down to the living root.

Others craved shelter. As best they could
By the edge of their souls carved from the forest yet another day's bread
And held the constant care of earth and rain and harvested
To bear and wither and rise for a span, perpetual, tidal as the fruit.

Yet the morning on water and rock, nascent
In ecstacy, some drank from the deep. They walked the sand alone
Opened their palms to bless and saw the glow in tree and stone
And comprehending they grew one with it, and were content.


But there is also that aspect of BC history that particularly impresses me: the engineering ingenuity, physical courage, time and massed resources that went into building the thin lines of communication that allowed for the exploitation of the province`s resources and the capitalization of our society. Camping the other night next to the Kinsol Trestle brought it home to me:

“The Kinsol is…an outstanding example of a time when there was no project too grand, or scheme too bold for us to achieve with hard work and innovation.
“There is more fundraising potential for an effort to conserve an important architectural treasure than there is for a hole in the ground where one once stood.
“With a length of 614 feet, it is the longest trestle in the British Commonwealth.
“Being 145 feet high (taller than a 14 storey building) it is possibly the highest wooden trestle in the world.” –Macdonald & Lawrence, timber framing specialists.
Kinsol Trestle, Trans Canada Trail, Vancouver Island BC Canada

Vancouver Lights -1941
- Earle Birney

About me the night, moonless, wimples the mountains,
wraps ocean, land, air, and mounting
sucks at the stars. The city, throbbing below,
webs the sable peninsula. Streaming, the golden
strands overleap the seajet, by bridge and buoy,
vault the shears of the inlet, climb the woods
toward me, falter and halt. Across to the firefly
haze of a ship on the gulf's erased horizon
roll the lambent spokes of a restless lighthouse.

Now through the feckless years we have come to the time
when to look on this quilt of lamps is a troubling delight.
Welling from Europe's bog, through Africa flowing
and Asia, drowning the lonely lumes on the oceans,
tiding up over Halifax, and now to this winkling
outpost, comes flooding the primal ink.

On this mountain's brutish forehead, with terror of space
I stir, of the changeless night and the stark ranges
of nothing, pulsing down from beyond and between
the fragile planets. We are a spark beleaguered
by darkness; this twinkle we make in a corner of emptiness,
how shall we utter our fear that the black Experimentress
will never in the range of her microscope find it? Our Phoebus
himself is a bubble that dries on Her slide, while the Nubian
wears for an evening's whim a necklace of nebulae.

Yet we must speak, we the unique glowworms.
Out of the waters and rocks of our little world
we cunningly conjured these flames, hooped these sparks
by our will. From blankness and cold we fashioned stars
to our size, rulered with manplot the velvet chaos
and signalled Aldebaran. This must we say,
whoever may be to hear us, if murk devour,
and none weave again in gossamer:
These rays were ours,
we made and unmade them. Not the shudder of continents
doused us, the moon's passion, nor crash of comets.
In the fathomless heat of our dwarfdom, our dream's combustion,
we contrived the power, the blast that snuffed us.
No one bound Prometheus. Himself he chained
and consumed his own bright liver. O stranger,
Plutonian, descendant, or beast in the stretching night --
there was light.

E.J. Hughes, Christie Pass, Hurst Island
Click to enlarge

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I love the poem, "Vancouver Lights" by Birney, that you shared.

Very deep with thought and full of human spirit.