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ISLE DE FLEURS*
from Reference (12) - see Bibliography

*NOTE.- 'According to historical account, the first sail craft that ever cruised the island waters anchored off what is now known as Middle Bass, in the latter part of the 17th century. The vessel, bound up the lake, carried a party of French missionaries, among whom was Father Louis Hennesin. Upon this island the missionaries landed, and there conducted the first religious service supposed ever to have been held in the archipelago by representatives of the Christian faith. So delighted with the island and its rich display of floral wealth were these early navigators, that they named it Isle de Fleurs --"Isle of Flowers”.'

 

From a time obscure and olden,

Linked by chain of legends golden,

To the present day,

Comes to us a pleasing story,

Full of reminiscence hoary,

Down the ages grey.

 

'Tis about a lonely islet,

Stretching under skies of violet,

In the hazy West;

Brightly fair among the number

That together calmly slumber

On Lake Erie's breast.

 

Near it one propitious June day,

Anchored fast, a wave-worn brig lay.

After voyage long;

Over leagues of untried waters,

Where the dusky warrior's daughters

       Sang their chieftain's song;

 

While upon the wavelets lightly,

Touched by silver moonbeams nightly,

Sped their bark canoes:

But the white-winged vessel lying

With her tattered pennon flying,

      Resting from her cruise;

 

Was the first sail of the white man

Ever risk of rock and reef ran,

On Lake Erie's wave;

And the painted island savage,

Used alone to war and ravage,

Fearful grew, and grave.

On the beach they quickly gathered,

Youthful brave and warrior feathered,

At a sight so new;

And in silence there awaited

Small boats with intruders freighted,

From "the winged canoe."

 

Facing then the vessel's captain,

Quoth an aged, dusky chieftain:

"Wherefore art thou here ?

Pale-face, tell us:  Cam'st thou hither

All the red man 's hopes to wither ,

By the breath of fear ?"

 

"Cam'st thou to despoil our treasure,

Basely to enslave at pleasure

Youthful maidens fair?

Cam'st for bloody war and pillage,

Ruthlessly to burn our village,

And our braves ensnare?"

 

Then a man of stately bearing,

Symbols sacred meekly wearing

On his priestly gown,

Rose to greet each dusky native,

While a heartfelt hymn oblative

Softly floated round.

 

Spake the priest - a Bible holding,

And its precepts there unfolding -

"Came we that strife may cease !

Fear not these, thy stranger brothers;

This our motto - 'Love to others,'

And our mission - peace."

Then he told the olden story,

Which, transcendent in its glory,

Gilds the sacred Word ,

And the painted island savage,

Used alone to war and ravage,

Marveled as he heard.

 

All the green isle overspreading,

Widely fragrance richly shedding

Through the balmy air ;

Bloomed in wild, unkempt profusion,

'Mid the tangled wood's seclusion,

Flow'rets brightly fair.

 

With the lovely shores delighted,

Which these voyagers had sighted,

And had early hailed -

Isle de Fleurs - "Isle of Flowers" –

Named they thus its pristine bowers

Ere again they sailed.

 

Cent'ries now, with movement solemn,

Every trace has swept before them

Of these voyagers :

Yet this isle of pleasing story

Bears the name and blossomed glory

Which of old were hers.

 

 

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