Bliss Carman's Letters to Margaret Lawrence 1927-1929

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley

Assisted by Margaret Maciejewski



Letter 75

B.C.

New Canaan, Connecticut

13. Nov 1928

 

 

Dear Margaret: "The Tradition of Marriage"1 is here. ‘Tis a fine essay, very fine indeed. It has wisdom, sense, and great truth, also an admirable modern and individual style. You should be able to go anywhere now. I am delighted.

Now as to the rest of your letter, and as to my tour.2 Reports are usually colored to suit the age of romance in which we live; and I know the aptness of poets to paint in vivid hues. My dear, it was an epic of the soul. To return to the Happy Valley after a lifetime! Not even knowing if any of the old friends were alive, and knowing many were not. Then to be gathered in and made to forget the years as if they were not, and by those I did not know existed. Too much for me, my dear. A weeping sentimentalist, as you must know. Heaven is my home doubtless. But Halifax is my haven. I will tell you more again, or as much as you can bear of expatiating rapture! Meanwhile bear in mind that what little birds tell is often foreign language—foreign to facts.

I do hope for the Victoria trip.3 That would be grand. And good all round. Don’t fail to talk with Walter C. Nichol4 in Victoria. He is ex-Governor and a great friend of mine. I’ll write him, if you go.

In Vancouver are lots of my friends. You will be at home. My home is with Dr. Fewster(G.P.)5 2590 Fifth Ave. West (Vancouver) and he will do anything for you. They will take you in and you will be as theirs. They will find you a suitable place to stay. Don’t worry. And don’t hurry back!

Alas, I cannot go West with you. I am due in Minneapolis (University of Minnesota) about 5th Jan. for two weeks. Then Winnipeg two weeks, then Saskatoon two weeks.6

Just now am up to the ears in toil. I do wish you would write and [sic] article on Villon7 and bring out the resemblances as you see them. If explicit, you might raise hell, and float with success on a tide of contumely!! Since you think I am a tradition! Might as well be a vivid one (to say the least)[.]

I shall ask to have you sent some of the Song Sheets which are coming out from the Abanaki Press in Halifax.8 They are not bad. May start something.

No chance of Toronto. Too driven with other demands.

 

 

Love always, dear Margaret

 

B.

  1. Apparently an essay by Lawrence, but not located. [back]

  2. Carman’s reading tour of the Maritimes in October, 1928 (see Letter 70 n.3). [back]

  3. Apparently Lawrence was hoping to visit Victoria, BC. [back]

  4. Walter Cameron Nichol (1866-1928) was a businessman, the owner of the Vancouver Province, and the lieutenant governor of British Columbia from 1921 to 1926. Carman came to know Nichol when he visited Victoria on a reading tour in 1922 (see Letters, 281 and f.) and he dedicated Far Horizons (1925) to him "in Happy Remembrance of a Fine Friendship". [back]

  5. Ernest Fewster (General Practitioner) (see Letter 8 n.13). [back]

  6. Carman is anticipating the "month of lecturing" that he undertook in January and February, 1929: "two weeks in the University of Minnesota [in Minneapolis] . . . two . . . in the University of Manitoba . . . Saskatchewan University for two weeks—then probably to the coast" of California for a vacation (Letters 366). [back]

  7. François Villon (see Letter 34 n.5 and Letters 40, 44, 45, 48, 54, 55, and 77). [back]

  8. During his tour of the Maritimes in October, 1928 (see Letter 70 n.3), Carman and a number of other poets with roots in the region—Charles G.D. Roberts (see Letter 41 n.1), Robert Norwood (see Letter 67 n.3), and Andrew Merkel (1884-1954)—conceived of the idea of publishing a series of poetic "song sheets" under the imprint of the fictitious "Abenaki Press" (a name chosen for its Native resonances). The resulting "Nova Scotia Catches" and "Song Fishermen’s Song Sheets" had little impact outside the Maritimes but served as a vehicle for two younger Nova Scotian poets, Charles Bruce (1906-1971) and Kenneth Leslie (1892-1974). [back]