Bliss Carman's Letters to Margaret Lawrence 1927-1929

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley

Assisted by Margaret Maciejewski



Letter 45

B.C.
New Canaan, Connecticut

26. Dec. 1927

 

 

My dearest Margaret:

 

Delighted to have your last letter this morning with the cut of the Villon Statue,1 and am wondering what authentic inspiration or historic ground the Sculptor had for his work. And the Britannica2 does not help me. However, I trust your knowledge though I have no personal conviction. His inclination to the flowing bowl, with the inevitable "frail"3 in the background are the only traits of his I find natural or human.

Poor Benson.4 I agree with him to an extent. A bejeweled [sic] modern man is as anomaly. "A woman and her rings. A man and his ring," is the way M.P.K.5 describes the desirable and appropriate. Theoretically and usually I only wear one ring at a time. And then they are hardly jewels. Rather, amulets or talismans. Like my marguerite and your swastika, centres for concentration. Mine chiefly N.A.6 Indian. Hence the bracelet, worn by men as much as by women among the Indians of the South West.

I like Mairi7 because it has five letters. But is it not merely a variant of Mary, Marie, Maria? How do you pronounce it? "Mai" same as "my"? However, try it over in your mind and sub-sense for a while.

 

Ever lovingly

 

B.C.

  1. Probably the statue of François Villon (see Letter 34 n.5 and Letters 40 and 44) that was erected in 1881 in the Place Monge, Paris. The December 24, 1927 issue of the Toronto Daily Star contains a picture of this statue over an article describing Villon as "the ‘Vagabond King’" (7). [back]

  2. The Encyclopedia Britannica. [back]

  3. Rush or rush basket. [back]

  4. Nathaniel Anketell Michael Benson (1903-1966) was a Toronto teacher, journalist, and poet who was active in the Canadian Authors Association and a member of the circle surrounding Charles G.D. Roberts. In 1927 he published Poems and won the Jardine Memorial Prize for English Verse. [back]

  5. Mary Perry King. See Letter 6 n.5. [back]

  6. North American. [back]

  7. Evidently, Lawrence had suggested this as an alternative to Sheila (see Letters 34 and 38). Lawrence signs a letter of December 30, 1927 "Mairi" (Mary) and provides a rendition of its Scottish pronunciation. [back]