Standing on the Banks of the Cheakamus River

Reciting poetry in nature is an extraordinary experience. Perhaps it is the way that words sound when surrounded by the noise and vibrations of the outdoors. Words resonate and energize the spirit when spoken out loud, carried by the wind into the unknown. 

Words carried by the wind into the unknown.

Cheakamus River

This summer, we attended a family wedding held at the Cheekry Ranch, which is situated by the banks of the Cheakamus River, in the heart of British Columbia’s unique coastal forest.   It is a place that offers the serene tranquility of nature’s vibrant life-force; a pathway to connect with the earth and find a moment of peace.  

Cheakamus River

Hearing the flow of a river and feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun shining down through moving leaves, I recall the poem, A Distant Song, by John Gould Fletcher (1886-1950)


A Distant Song

Whether awake or sleeping,
   I cannot rest for long:
By my casement comes creeping
  A distant song.

A song like the chiming of silver
  Bells which the breezes play,
Seeming to float for ever
  Towards an unseen day:

A song that is weary with sorrow,
  Yet knows not any defeat:
Through the past, through to-day, through to-morrow,
  It echoes on life’s long street.

Could I but make words of its power,
  Bring it from the future here,
Men’s souls would be waking, that hour,
  To the victory against fear.

But the vague sweet stanza befools me
  With its calm joy, time after time,
And no failure here ever schools me
  To cease from an idle rhyme.

That music afar, unspoken,
    ’Tis I have done it wrong:
I caught, and I have broken,
    A distant song. 
This poem is in the public domain.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

43 thoughts on “Standing on the Banks of the Cheakamus River

  1. There is any doubt that when art merges with Mother Nature or the other way around, it will accrue a positive transference. Yet then let the wind and the flow of water carry the poem in our soul, “to victory against fear”. 🤗💖🙏🌹🥰

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Alaedin. I especially like your use of the word, “transference” which is a brilliant definition of these moments. Many thanks. And yes, the line “to victory against fear” reminded me that every generation faces challenges and doubts.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you traveled virtually to join me on the banks of the Cheakamus River, Dave. The river’s name is an anglicization of the name, “Chiyakmesh” which mean “people of the fish weir”. I am enjoying going back into public domain poetry. Most of these poets I have never heard of before. Finding their stories and connections has been exciting.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I note with pleasure, that you seem to have become a practiced regular at reciting the poetic language of notable authors. As a modest scribbler of its milieu, it is most encouraging to be a witness of your ongoing dedication in promoting poetry’s much needed awareness. Thus so for they who have been deprived of its effectiveness in speaking to the human heart, soul and embracing mind so as to learn beyond our over zealous commercialized messaging world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My dear friend, Jean-Jacques, you continue to inspire me with your poetry recitations. I agree wholeheartedly! We live in a complex world where communication is instant and ubiquitous. It is easy to get lost in the messages. I believe that poetry allows us a pause to reflect and gain a sense of purpose.

      Your poem, Shadows, speaks to this:

      “There be shadows
      Will hide the way,
      From one to find
      Ye choose to stay
      Where life is kind!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem, with so much meaning. Your recitation was so well done with such a beautiful musical sound. The gorgeous green trees and forest gave added depth of meaning to the words. I loved this post very much! !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Didn’t we have a wonderful time at Cheekrye Ranch!!! It was a perfect setting for a wedding. I am delighted your enjoyed the poetry selection. I had never heard of John Gould Fletcher before so this was my first introduction to his poetry. I discovered there was a John Gould Fletcher Library in Little Rock Arkansas. This excerpt is taken from their website, which I thought you would find interesting, especially the creativity of the librarians!!

      “Fletcher Library was established in 1974 and was named for John Gould Fletcher, a Little Rock poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1937. The grand opening was originally planned for August 1974 but was delayed by a month when the library learned the shelving would not be delivered on time. After the shelving company notified the library of a second delay, the intrepid staff lined up the entire collection on the floor with the spines up and opened the library without shelves!”https://cals.org/fletcher-library

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What an incredible landscape you chose to accompany your recitation. Fletcher’s poem perfectly captures the poet’s lament writ large. Language can never do justice to what we are experiencing–yet the poet will never cease in the attempt.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Liz, for adding insight and clarity into the last stanza, especially the last words: “I caught, and I have broken, A distant song”. I am enjoying discovering more of John Gould Fletcher’s poetry. I am also interested in exploring poetry groups such as the Imagists. I continue to learn….

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for highlighting the auditory references, Marian, for your have reminded me that poetry involves all the senses. A few years ago, a neighbour mounted wind chimes on their patio, which ring all through the night and keep me awake. Thank is, until I envisioned myself in a Japanese garden with Matsuo Bashō’s poem:

      “The temple bell stops
      But the sound keeps coming
      out of the flowers”

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Teagan, for traveling virtually to meet at the banks of the Cheakamus River. This is a calming location, far away from city life. The Cheekye Ranch is also home to Second Chance Cheekye Ranch (SCCR), a charitable organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and re-homes horses in troubling situations. The horses were very content!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Lovely poem!!! Like a river where we cannot see around the next bend, we must embrace life and live it fully without knowing all the twists and turns ahead of time. Beautifully read and the backdrop of the river is the perfect setting for this poem.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am grateful I was able to stumble upon your post, as everything involved is wonderful! Thank you for putting this out there for everyone to see and appreciate 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like the reflective quality of this poem, Rebecca, and the sense of melancholy that underlies the “idle rhyme.” I don’t gravitate toward rhyming poems, but in this case, it serves a purpose beyond the poem’s structure. How interesting. A lovely introduction and recording of the verse, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m delighted that you joined me virtually, Teagan. In the middle of our winter weather, it feels good to travel back into the summer months. Sending hugs on the wing!!! Merry Christmas! 2023 – here we come!

      Liked by 2 people

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