Hunter-Duvar, John

England / Canada, (1830-1899)

Brawn of England’s Lay

  1. THE VILLEINS clustered round the bowl
  2. At merrie Yule to make good cheer,
  3. And drank with froth on beard and jowl:
  4. “Was-hael to the Thane!
  5. May never Breton taste our beer,
  6. Nor Dane.”
  7.  
  8. Till the red cock on the chimney crew,
  9. And each man cried with a mighty yawn
  10. As the tapster one more flagon drew:
  11. “To the Saxon land was-hael!
  12. May we never want for mast-fed brawn
  13. Nor ale!”
  14.  
  15. The thane took up the stirrup-cup
  16. And blew off the reaming head,
  17. And at one draught he swigged it up
  18. And smacked his lips and said:
  19. “Was-hael to coulter and sword!
  20. Was-hael to hearth and hall!
  21. To Saxon land and Saxon lord
  22. And thrall.”

 Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. A Victorian Anthology, 1837-1895. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company (1895).

About the Poet:

John Hunter-Duvar (John Hunter), England/Canada, (1830-1899) was a poet, journalist, farmer, businessman, militia officer, office holder, and author. Born in Newburgh, Fife, Scotland, Hunter-Duvar married in England and moved his family to the Canadian maritime province of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) in 1857. There, he developed his 700-acre estate, Hernewood, where he farmed, kept a small sawmill, built up his much renowned personal library, and wrote.

After achieving the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Halifax militia, Hunter-Duvar became a justice of the peace on P.E.I., edited a newspaper and later became Dominion Inspector of Fisheries for P.E.I., making a significant contributions to that growing segment of the Island’s economy.

Hunter-Duvar’s other occupations were secondary to his career as a writer. His poetry began appearing in print in the 1870s in such outlets as local newspapers, the Maritime Monthly (Saint John, N.B.), and the Dominion Illustrated (Montreal). By the time of his death he had produced an enormous output. A checklist of his known works reveals 75 published items – poems, plays, short stories, reviews, and essays, along with 44 unpublished pieces, including novels and extended works of history, anthropology, and literary criticism. [DES-02/13]

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