Box 14-112 TOWER POETRY SOCIETY CONTEST AT WHITEHERN--WINNING SONNETS--2005
Jun 20 2005
To: Hamilton, Ontario
From: Whitehern Historic House & Garden
SONNET NO. ONE
Oh, Isaac, how could you have squandered so
Much fortune? Cash, trust, real estate and health
All dissipated, blown apart. Although
Your father Calvin steamed his way to wealth
Your frittering addiction soon outran
The sturdy chambered comfort he secured.
It seems your paregoric was more than
Mere tincture--dilution shunned, strength assured.
I could weep like a willow on the bank
That named the house--but there is no bank, and
Scant vestige of the funds your habits sank.
New generations take the task in hand,
And now it will be for others to learn
What chance, what hope remains to keep Whitehern.
G. W. Down
Isaac Baldwin McQuesten had taken control of the McQuesten family finances after graduating as a lawyer in approximately 1869. By the time of Isaac's death in 1888, the family fortune had been lost. His widow was faced with the prospect of raising their six children and trying to maintain the family home, Whitehern, on a greatly reduced income. This poem is written as a comment on that time, when the family had to confront an uncertain future.1
GARDENS OF WHITEHERN2
SONNET NO. TW0
Ghosts walk the grounds of this garden--island
of tranquil beauty, oasis within
bustling urban core. Mother Mary's hand
is everywhere: in flowers, trees, and in
the very air. We breathe the scents of rose
and lilac, sit in tall catalpa's shade;
admire gold lilies and hollyhock shows,
stroll by the heart-shaped planting bed she made.
Honourable Thomas B. McQueston
transported this spirit elsewhere. Gardens,
parks beautified city of steel; upon
Niagara's rocky verge blossomed Edens.
Mother, son, visionaries of their time;
these gardens still a living paradigm.
76 Maple Ave.
Dundas, ON L9H 4W4
SONNET NO. THREE
Welcome as an oasis to the eyes
Of travelers in climes of desert heat,
Between oppressive towers of stone, here lies
A garden granting respite from concrete
And asphalt in the city's bustling core.
Shaded by broad-crowned trees, the terraced ground
Surrounds a heart-shaped drive before the door
Of this mansion.
Take time to look around.
Perceive the scent of herbs in the still air.
Admire the fruit trees and the flowerbeds
Shaped by a woman's hands, a mother's care,
Who fiercely wished her private love could spread:
And, impelled by her dream, her son would grow
The parks and gardens of Ontario.
(written by Jeff Seffinga, May 2005)
SONNET NO. FOUR
(Rev. Cal writes home from Glenhurst, Sask.)4
I believe, Mother, you're the only one
Who could appreciate the way I feel
About this sunlight, how it stains unreal
The gray-green vastness of Saskatchewan.
So different from how the summer sun
Filtered through dappling leaves tends to reveal
God's world in softer tones of moss and teal
Among the trees and spires of Hamilton.
With ever present sun and little shade
Comes an oppressive heaviness of heat
Under the constant glare of heaven's dome.
And when perchance I find a sheltered glade
To ease my whirling mind, my aching feet,
I find most comfort when I think of home.
(written by Jeff Seffinga, March 2005)
1 For more information on Isaac B. McQuesten, see his brief biography by clicking on "Family" on the Home Page and then on his picture. Also see W2511, W2520 for details about his mental illness and death.
2 Whitehern Historic House and Garden is home of one of the finest heritage gardens in Canada. See Box 14-110 for a Globe & Mail article by Barbara Ramsay Orr on some of the heritage gardens in Canada.
3 FOR THE TOWER POETRY SOCIETY, see:
4 Rev. Calvin McQuesten preached to several communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan. He also became a homesteader in Saskatchewan. See, W8239, W-MCP6-1.408, W-MCP6-1.410, Box 14-099. For some details on Rev. Calvin's physical and mental disabilities, see his brief biography by clicking on "Family" on the Home Page and then on his picture. Also see W4288, Box 12-501, W5665, W8239, W5199.