In Divers Tones

by Charles G.D. Roberts

Edited by Tracy Ware


 

Notes


The purpose of these notes is twofold: first, to identify if possible the previous appearances of these poems, and to note emendations; second, to explain unfamiliar words and important allusions. For the dates, I am indebted to John Coldwell Adams, “A Preliminary Bibliography,” in Clever 221-49; and to Desmond Pacey and Graham Adams, “Notes,” Collected Poems of Roberts 363-49. I have made extensive use of The Canadian Encyclopedia (CE), The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (COD), Norah Story’s Oxford Companion to Canadian History and Literature (1967), and The New Strong’s Concordance of the Bible. All Biblical quotations are from the King James Version. More specific debts are recorded in parenthetical references to the “Works Consulted.”

 

"To My Friend, Edmund Collins"   This poem first appeared as "Rondel—'In Divers Tones' (To J.E.C.)" in Rouge et Noir [Paris] (Mar. 1885).

The word "rondel" in the earlier title identifies the form as a fourteen-line poem in which "a two-line refrain appears thrice in the poem" (Preminger 723).

title Edmund Collins   Collins (1855-92) was a writer and editor who became close to Roberts in 1879 when both were working in Chatham, New Brunswick. Collins was working in Toronto when Roberts moved there in 1883 to work as editor of The Week, and Roberts briefly shared Collins' interest in Canadian Independence. After resigning in opposition to Goldwin Smith, Roberts supported Imperial Federation, but he (along with Bliss Carman and Archibald Lampman) remained friendly to and supportive of Collins during his years of alcoholic decline in New York, where he died in 1892. See Adams, "Roberts, Lampman, and Edmund Collins."

  1,7,15

In divers tones   This phrase, which gives this volume its title, and which suggests the aesthetic of unity in diversity discussed on the “Afterword,” alludes to Tennyson, In Memoriam 1.1-4: “I held it truth, with him who sings / To one clear harp in divers tones, / That men may rise on stepping-stones / Of their dead selves to higher things.”

 

“Collect for Dominion Day”   This poem first appeared in The Century Magazine [New York] (July 1886).

  title

Collect   In the Anglican and Roman Catholic faiths, a prayer, “especially one assigned to a particular day or season” (COD).

  title

Dominion Day   July 1, the summer holiday (now known as Canada Day) in memory of the founding of the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

 

Stay and destroyer   In his “Ode to the West Wind,” Shelley refers to the “Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; / Destroyer and Preserver” (13-14).

  5-6

Who dost the low uplift . . .proud   See St.Luke 1:51-52: “He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.”

  12

blood late shed   The North West Rebellion of 1884-85 (Pacey and Adams 420-21).

 

“Canada”   This poem appeared in the Toronto Globe (Jan. 4, 1886), and then in The Century Magazine [New York] (Jan. 1886). According to Pacey and Adams, an earlier version, dated Jan. 1885, may have circulated privately (413-14).

     See the “Afterword” and Adams (“Roberts” 11) for Roberts’ move away from the republicanism of this poem.

  9,11

Ere   Before (archaic).

  27

Cartier   Jacques Cartier (1491-1557), French explorer who named Canada during his 1535 voyage.

  28

Champlain   Samuel Champlain (1570-1635), explorer and Governor of New France.

  29

Montcalm and Wolfe   The Marquis de Montcalm (1712-1759) and James Wolfe (1727/28-1759), opponents who were both mortally wounded on the Plains of Abraham, September 13, 1759, after which the British took Québec.

  34

Queenston   Niagara site of the battle at which Isaac Brock died in a defeat of an American invasion during the War of 1812.

  34

Lundy’s Lane   Niagara site of a pivotal battle in the War of 1812, at which the British and Canadian troops held their ground.

  39

Chrysler’s Farm   Site (near Long Sault) of a Nov. 11, 1813 battle, at which the British defeated a larger American force.

  39

Chateauguay At this battle, south of Montreal, on Oct. 26, 1813, the Americans were forced to retreat.

  43

Acadia’s chainless tide   The Fundy tides; Acadia was the name of the former French colony in the Atlantic region.

  48

Egyptian sands   Pacey and Adams note that Canadian forces fought in “the Egyptian wars of the 1880s” (416).

 

“Actæon”   This poem was first published in Roberts’ Later Poems (1882), dated “Fredericton, March, 1882.” A partial version (described by Roberts as “somewhat altered & mutilated,” Letters 39) appeared in Our Continent [Philadelphia] (Oct. 17, 1883).

  title 

Actæon   In Greek mythology, while hunting Actæon gazed on Artemis bathing; he was punished by having his own hounds devour him.

  subtitle

Platæa   City in Greece, “located at the foot of Mount Cithæron, about 30 miles northwest of Athens” (Pacey and Adams 402). In Later Poems, the narrator is named Duselia.

  6

meed   Reward.

  21

Acheron   In Greek mythology, a marsh or river in the underworld over which the souls of the dead were ferried.

  23

clave   Clung (past tense of cleave).

  34

himation   Outer garment.

  63

Ere   Before (archaic).

  66 

Cithæron   Mountain named after king of Platæa.

  67

Bœotia   District in which Platæa was located.

  68

Corinthian   From the Gulf of Corinth “between the Peloponnese and central Greece” (COD).

  71

ken   View.

  75

Eleusis   Site of the annual celebrations of Demeter and of the mystery religions associated with her.

  83

Cheiron   The centaur, a mythical creature who brought up Actæon and taught him hunting. Centaurs were mythical creatues half-human and half-horse.

  87

Leto’s son   Apollo.

  96

Snake-root   Plant believed to be an antidote to snake bites.

  99 

Gargaphian  “The valley where Actæon was killed” (Pacey and Adams 402).

  102

platan   Tree used for ointment (Pacey and Adams 402).

  109

Artemis   “Goddess of chastity, childbirth, hunting, and wildlife, daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo” (COD).

  110-11

Bane of swift beasts, and deadly for straight shaft / Unswerving
Artemis was so accurate a hunter that her “arrows were said to inflict sudden death, especially when they caused no pain” (Grimal 61).

  114

buskins   Boots.

  119

athwart   Across.

  148

Asopus’   The river’s.

  168

wist   Knew (archaic).

  169

sward   Lawn.

  172

covert   Shelter.

 

“In the Afternoon”   This poem first appeared in Later Poems (1882), dated 1882.

  14

dikes   Much of this land is reclaimed.

  16

Tantramar   The river and marsh area near the Nova Scotia border, where Roberts grew up. The name comes from “tintamarre” (French for “din”), referring to the noise of wild geese (Woodworth 5).

  17

snuff   Take up the nostrils (as with tobacco).

  18

Westmoreland   The county of the Tantramar.

  25

mullein   Plant with yellow flowers.

  27

vetch   Plant used for fodder.

  27 

convolvulus   Plant with trumpet-shaped flowers.

  43

fain   Gladly.

  44

quaff   Drink deeply.

 

“The Pipes of Pan” This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. Pomeroy states that it was written in the summer of 1883 (48).

     In the “Prefatory Note” to his Selected Poems (1936), Roberts refers to the form of this poem and “The Tantramar Revisited” as “rigid Ovidian elegiac metre,” and he notes the “formal alternation of hexameter and pentameter lines” (Selected Poetry and Critical Prose 302).

  title 

Pan   The Greek god of shepherds and flocks, Pan is conventionally depicted with goat-feet and a reed pipe. In the work of the Confederation poets, he is often seen as a type of the poet. See D.M.R. Bentley, “Pan and the Confederation Poets.”

  1

Olympus   Home of the twelve greater gods in Greek mythology.

 

Tempe   Valley in northeast Greece.

 

Penëus   River in Tempe.

  10

sward   Lawn.

  12

Centaurs   Mythical creatures who were half-human, half-horse.

  13

Artemis   Greek goddess of chastity, childbirth, and hunting.

  14

Phoebus   Apollo, god of the sun; brother of Artemis.

  15

dryad   Wood nymph.

  19

lote   Nettle.

  36

bodeful   Ominous.

  37

coverts   Shelters.

 

“Before the Breath of Storm”   This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1882), dated “Sept., 1882.”

 

“Out of Pompeii” This poem first appeared as “From Fire” in Roberts’ Later Poems (1881), dated “Chatham, Oct. 1881.”

     According to Pomeroy, Roberts wrote the first three stanzas as a boy, “inspired by a picture of the destruction of Pompeii in The London Illustrated News” (13). Ross S. Kilpatrick notes that the Illustrated London News (the proper title) published no such engraving of Pompeii, though “Contemporary eruptions of Vesuvius were frequently illustrated, as were actual excavations at Pompeii, and volcanic fires are certainly highlighted in both texts and pictures” (“Missed” 90). He argues that the “chief literary source” of the poem is Bulwer Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii, which features two lovers who escape by sea.  

  title 

Pompeii   City destroyed by an eruption in 79 A.D.

  31

straitened   Confined.

 

“To Fredericton in May-Time” This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1881), dated “F’ton, May 24th, 1881.” Roberts included it in his account of “New Brunswick” in Picturesque Canada in 1882 (763-64).

 

“In September” This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1882), dated “Fredericton, Sept., 1882.” It was included in the sonnet sequence in Songs of the Common Day and Ave: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary (1893).

 

“Concerning Cuthbert the Monk” This poem first appeared as “Brother Cuthbert” in Roberts’ Later Poems (1881), dated “Fredericton, Dec. 17th, 1881.” It was called “Soliloquy in a Monastery” when it appeared in Roberts’ Poems (1901), a title that indicates the indebtedness to Robert Browning’s “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister.”

  34 

Severn   River in southwest Britain.

  51 

Ere   Before (archaic).

  55 

ween   Suppose (archaic).

  60

Plucked from out the fire this brand!   See Amos 4:11: “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.” See also Zechariah 3:2.

  91

prate   Chatter.

 

“Impulse” This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  15

Reck   Take account of (archaic).

  15

rede   Advice (archaic).

 

“The Isles—An Ode”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  title 

Ode   “In modern usage the name for the most formal, ceremonious, and complexly organized form of lyric poetry, usually of considerable length” (Preminger 585).

  2

embassage   Embassies (archaic).

  28

Here Homer came, and Milton came, tho’ blind.   Two epic poets associated with blindness. Little is known about the ancient Greek poet, but John Milton (1608-74) was blind when he dictated Paradise Lost.

  29

Omar   Omar Khayám, the twelfth-century Persian poet whose Rubáiyát was adapted into English by Edward Fitzgerald in 1859.

  32

Shakspere   Shakespeare.

  35

Shelley   In the twenty-sixth stanza of “Ave,” Roberts’ “Ode for the Shelley Centenary,” the soul of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) is greeted by a diverse group of immortals, including Homer, Milton, Omar, and Shakespeare.

 

“A Serenade”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. 

 

“Off Pelorus”   This poem appeared in Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly [Toronto] (April 1881) and then in Later Poems (1881), dated “Feb. 1881.”

     In the Odyssey, Odysseus has himself bound to the mast so that he might hear the song of the Sirens (“Sea demons, half woman and half bird”—Grimal 421) without being lured to destruction. The crew put wax in their ears so that they are not distracted. 

  title 

Pelorus   “the north-east point of Sicily” (Pacey and Adams 389).

  4

eachwhere   Everywhere (archaic).

  8

Ithaca   Greek island to which Odysseus and his crew are returning from the Trojan War.

  13

elysian   Immortal, ideal. In Greek mythology, the Elysian fields were the place of the blessed after death.

  21

the King   Odysseus, King of Ithaca.

  30

Ilion   Troy.

 

“A Ballade of Calypso”   This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1881), dated “Chatham, Nov. 1881.”  

  title 

Ballade   Old French verse form with three stanzas rhyming ababbcbc and a concluding stanza (the “envoi”) rhyming bcbc (Preminger 65). As Kilpatrick notes (“Editorial Notes” 86), Roberts included four ballades in Orion, and Other Poems (1880). There are three ballades in In Divers Tones.

  title

Calypso   Nymph who lived on the Mediterranean island of Ogygia, opposite Gibralter. In The Odyssey, after Odysseus is shipwrecked, Calypso “loved him and kept him with her for ten years . . . offering him immortality. . . . In response to Athena’s request, Zeus sent Hermes to find Calypso and to ask her to release Odysseus” (Grimal 86-87). After he was released, Odysseus resumed his journey homeward.

  5

full fain   Well-pleased (archaic).

 

“Rain”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. It was included in the sonnet sequence in Songs of the Common Day and Ave: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary (1893). 

  6

miles on miles   The phrase occurs four times in “The Tantramar Revisited” (20-25).

 

“Mist”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. It follows “Rain” in the sonnet sequence in Songs of the Common Day and Ave: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary (1893). According to Pacey and Adams (417), a manuscript of an early version has this note: “In W.B.C.’s room, morning of Feb. 14th, 1885—(Sonnet tournament!) Subject set by Roberts. Form set by Carman.”  

  13

our dear illusions   See “the darling illusion” in l. 63 of “The Tantramar Revisited.”

 

“The Tantramar Revisited”   This poem first appeared in The Week (Dec. 20, 1883) as “Westmoreland Revisited.”

On the poem’s elegiac metre, see the note to “The Pipes of Pan.” See also Jackel 41-46.  

  title 

Tantramar   See note to “In the Afternoon.” The area is distinguished by the fluctuating tides of the Bay of Fundy.

  4

the shadow of pain   See l. 6 of “A Breathing Time.”

  5

chance and change   The phrase occurs in Wordsworth’s “The White Doe of Rylstone” 7: 1595. 

  7

the bosom of Earth   See l. 7 of “A Breathing Time.”

  15

riband   Ribbon.

  17

dikes   Much of this land is reclaimed.

  18

Westmoreland   The county named in the original title of the poem.

  20

Miles on miles   See l. 6 of “Rain.”

  22

rampired   Fortified.

  22

Cumberland Point   Town now known as Dorchester (Pacey and Adams 408).

  25

tawny   Yellow-brown.

  25

Minudie   Nova Scotia village across the Bay of Fundy (Pacey and Adams 408).

  30

scurf   Scaly surface.

  33 

at this season   This phrase (also in ll. 37 and 39) echoes Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” l.12.

  52 

windlass   Winch.

  63

the darling illusion   See “the dear illusions” in l. 13 of the previous poem.

 

“The Slave Woman”   This poem first appeared in Later Poems (1881), dated “June 1881.” It then appeared in The Week (April 24, 1884) and The Century Magazine [New York] (May 1884).

  13

Niger   River in west Africa.

 

“The Marvellous Work”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones

  epigraph

Whitman   The American poet Walt Whitman (1819-92), whom Roberts admired. See “To Henry Scholey Saunders,” May 22, 1926: “I am of course, a Whitman lover, in the same sense exactly as I am a Shakespeare lover or a Keats lover or a Browning lover. I worship him simply as a master poet, & not (deeply though I am in sympathy with his philosophy of life) as a teacher, except in the sense that all the master poets must be teachers indirectly” (Letters 340). The presence of Whitman in Roberts’ meditation on religion and evolution may indicate the influence of Richard Maurice Bucke’s 1883 biography of Whitman. The epigraph is from section 44 of Song of Myself: “Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me, / Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there, / I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist, / And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon” (1152-55).

  10

creeds   are cut too straight See Tennyson, In Memoriam XCVI.11-12: “There lives more faith in honest doubt, / Believe me, than in half the creeds.”

  14

fain   Glad.

  15

liberal   In terms of the theological arguments caused by the insights of evolutionary theory, a liberal interpretation would be the opposite of a literal interpretation of Scripture.

  17

vestiture   Clothes.

  17

motley   An “incongruous mixture,” or “the parti-coloured costume of a jester” (COD).

  26

Eternal Cause   God (in general metaphysical terms).

  36 

Silurian   Third period of the Paleozoic era (438-408 million years B.P.), when land plants and fish appeared.

  37

Devonian   Fourth period of the Paleozoic era (408-360 million years B.P.), when amphibians and forests appeared.

  41

Triassic   First period of the Cenozoic era (65-2 million years B.P.), when mammals became dominant.

  43

Athwart   Across.

 

“A Song of Dependence”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones 

 

“On the Creek”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.  

  32

linden-trees   The Basswood trees.

  39

grackles   Blackbirds.

  41

sere   Withered.

  44

kingfisher   Long-beaked bird that dives for fish.

  60

Illume   Brighten.

 

“Lotos.”   This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1882), dated “Fredericton, August, 1881.” It then appeared in Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly [Toronto] (June 1882).  

  title

Lotos   In The Odyssey, the “flowery food” of the lotus is the source of forgetfulness and indolence. Roberts is indebted to Tennyson’s “The Lotos-Eaters.”

 

“The Sower”   This poem first appeared in Manhattan Magazine (July 1884). It was later included in the sonnet sequence in Songs of the Common Day and Ave: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary (1893). 

     According to Pomeroy, Richard Watson Gilder, the editor of The Century, gave Roberts ”a fine copy of ‘The Sower,’ by the French painter Jean François Millet, which inspired the poet to write his sonnet of that name” (52). 

  5

croft   Enclosed rural area.

  9

glebe   Field.

  13

churl   Peasant (archaic).

 

“The Potato Harvest”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. It was later included in the sonnet sequence in Songs of the Common Day and Ave: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary (1893). According to Pacey and Adams, there is a signed manuscript dated April 7, 1886 (421).

  14

wain   Wagon.

 

“Afloat”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. 

  6

prating   Chattering.

  46

nepenthe   Drug that induces forgetfulness.

  72 

hyacinth   Plant with “purplish-blue, pink, or white bell-shaped fragrant flowers” (COD).

  86

seventh and innermost sphere   Pacey and Adams note that in the Ptolemaic cosmology, the seventh sphere was “the sphere of the stars and beyond it was only the invisible Primum Mobile and the Empyrean or place of God” (423).

 

“Reckoning”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.  

  8

as my own hand hath sown, it reaps   Of many Biblical echoes, see Proverbs 22:8: “He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity.”

 

“In Notre Dame” This poem first appeared as “In Notre Dame, 111 A.D.,”   in The Current [Chicago] (Aug. 16, 1884). 

  title

Notre Dame   Our lady (French), “so named on the feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary” (COD). Notre Dame is a famous cathedral in Paris.

  24

fealty   Allegiance.

  36

the warm gleam of the lustrous south   See Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale” l. 15: “O for a beaker full of the warm South.”

  45

Brittany   Northern coastal region of France.

 

“Nocturne”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. It was later revised as “On the Lagoon” in The Vagrant of Time (1927). 

  title 

Nocturne   Night scene.

  18

coppice   Undergrowth.

 

“Tides”   This poem first appeared in The Century Magazine [New York] (Aug. 1885). It was included in the sonnet sequence in Songs of the Common Day and Ave: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary (1893).

  13

ere   Before (archaic).

 

“Consolation”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.  

 

“Dark”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. It was included in the sonnet sequence in Songs of the Common Day and Ave: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary (1893). According to Pacey and Adams, a signed manuscript is dated Sept. 16, 1886.

  8

straitening   Restricting.

 

“The Footpath”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  8

plover   The “plump-breasted shorebird” (COD).

 

“Tout ou Rien”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  title

Tout ou Rien   All or nothing (French).

 

dole   A small charitable offering.

 

“Salt”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

 

“Khartoum”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  title

Khartoum   “The capital of the Egyptian Sudan” (Pacey and Adams 426).

  7

Gordon   Charles George Gordon (1833-1885), the English general in charge “when the besieged city fell to the forces of El Mahdi in 1885” (Pacey and Adams 426).

  13

own   Admit.

 

“Liberty”   This poem (a translation of Louis Honoré Fréchette’s “La Liberté“) first appeared in In Divers Tones. Pacey and Adams note that the third stanza was quoted in “The Beginnings of Canadian Literature,” a May 1883 Alumni Address at the University of New Brunswick, published in the St. John Daily Telegraph (June 29, 1883). See Selected Poetry and Critical Prose 252.

  title 

Fréchette   Roberts called Fréchette (1839-1908) “our leading French-Canadian poet” (Letters 42), and he invited him to contribute to The Week in 1883. See his letter of 8 Nov. 1883, Letters 36.

  3

drouth   Drought (archaic).

  16

burden   Theme.

  20 

Though there is no period after the end of this line in In Divers Tones, one seems necessary. 

 

 “To the Memory of Sidney Lanier”   This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1881), dated “Chatham, Oct. 1881.” It then appeared in The Current [Chicago] (Mar. 22, 1884).

  title 

Sidney Lanier   Lanier (1842-81) was an American poet whom Roberts admired (see Bentley, “Roberts’ ‘Tantramar’”). After she read the poem, Lanier’s widow sent Roberts a letter of thanks. In his response (“To Mary Day Lanier,” 7 Feb. 1886, Letters 57), Roberts wrote that “upon him I had fixed my faith as the coming master in New World Song! Yet, even as it is, I feel certain that it will be with his fame & influence as with those of Keats; his fame and influence are certain to grown vastly; he will leave a deep mark on the next generation of poets."

 

garnered   Brought into storage.

  7

tares   Plant used for fodder.

 

“On Reading the Poems of Sidney Lanier” This poem first appeared in The University Monthly [Fredericton] (April 1885). Pacey and Adams note that a manuscript of this poem was included in Roberts’ letter to Mary Day Lanier of February 7, 1886 (418).  

  title

Sidney Lanier   See note to “The Memory of Sidney Lanier.”

  1

Flute-player   Lanier was “first flutist in the Peabody Orchestra in Baltimore, Maryland” (Angell).

  4

strait   Strict.

 

“To Bliss Carman, With a Copy of Lang’s ‘Helen of Troy’”   This poem first appeared in The University Monthly [Fredericton] (April 1885). 

  title

Bliss Carman   Carman (1861-1929), Roberts’ cousin and close friend, with whom he shared a lifelong interest in poetry and wildlife. Both studied at the Fredericton Collegiate School, where they came under the influence of George Parkin, who encouraged their interest in both Classical and contemporary poetry (see Adams, Sir 15). Carman did not publish his first collection until Low Tide on Grand Pré: A Book of Lyrics in 1893, but his earliest poems were similar to Roberts’. See the “Works Consulted” for the two reminscences of Carman that Roberts published in 1930.

  title 

Lang’s “Helen of Troy”   Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was an English man of letters. His ‘Helen of Troy’ is “a long narrative poem in six books published in 1882” (Pacey and Adams 418).

 

strait   Strict.

 

“A Ballade of Philomela”   This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1882), dated “Chatham, April, 1881."

  title

Ballade   See the note to “A Ballade of Calypso.”

  title

Philomela   She was the daughter of the King of Athens and the sister of Procne. Procne was given in marriage to Tereus, who raped his sister-in-law and cut out her tongue to silence her. After Philomela revealed his crime in an embroidery, Procne killed her son Itys and served him to his father. Then the two sisters fled and were turned into birds by the sympathetic gods.

  1

crake   The corncrake; a grassland bird with a harsh cry.

  9

covert   Shelter.

  10

brown bird   Probably the nightingale, into which Philomela is changed in some versions of the myth.

  12

Itylus   In what Grimal calls “the Theban version of the legend of the nightingale” (239), Itylus was mistakenly killed by his mother Aedon. The sympathetic gods then transformed her into a nightingale. As Pacey and Adams note, “Roberts has evidently confused the two legends in his reference to Itylus instead of Itys” 390).

  27

no whit   Not at all.

 

“A Herald”   This poem first appeared as “Foretellings” in King’s College Record [Windsor N.S.] (Nov. 1885). It was revised as “Promise” in The Iceberg and Other Poems (1934). 

  1,6

Ere   Before (archaic).

  14

lea   Meadow.

 

 “Winter Geraniums”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  2

Magian   Belonging to a magician (Magi).

 

“A Breathing Time”   This poem first appeared as “A Breathing-Time: Hexameters and Pentameters” in The University Monthly [Fredericton] (Nov. 1882), then in The Century Magazine [New York] (July 1883).

     The poem uses the elegiac meter that Roberts would later use in “The Pipes of Pan” and “The Tantramar Revisited.” See the note to “The Pipes of Pan.”  

  5

the crowd, the blinding strife and the tumult   See Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” l. 73: “Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife . . . .”

  6

Pain, and the shadow of pain   See l. 4 of “The Tantramar Revisited.”

  7

the breast of the Mother   See l. 7 of “The Tantramar Revisited.”

 

“Birch and Paddle”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. 

  title

Roberts used the same title for two articles in Field and Stream Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, 1882 (see Letters 33n).

  subtitle

Carman   See note to “To Bliss Carman, With a Copy of Lang’s ‘Helen of Troy.’”

  11

parle   Speech (French).

  18

coverts   Shelters.

  20

phoebe-bird   Small flycatcher.

  24

snipe   Long-billed marsh bird.

  30

kingfisher   Long-beaked bird that dives for fish.

  31

bodeful   Ominous.

 

“An Ode for the Canadian Confederacy.”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. According to Pomeroy, it was written in 1885 (68).

  title 

Ode   See the note to “The Isles—An Ode.”. The ode “is frequently the vehicle for public utterance on state occasions” (Preminger 585).

  3

Laurentian   Quebec mountains.

  8

this strong North “In the nineteenth century, the north came to stand for the energetic good health that signified moral virtue, and the south for the effeminacy and disease that were seen to result from moral corruption” (Hulan 109).

 

“The Quelling of the Moose”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  title

Quelling   Pacification.

  subtitle

Melicite Legend   Native people (now spelled “Malecite”) who “reside in New Brunswick and southern Quebec . . . . The name Malecite, which means ‘lazy or bad speakers,’ was ascribed to them by the Mi’kmaq. The Malecites’ name for themselves is Wolastokwiyok, meaning ‘people of the beautiful river,’ which relates to the way they view their principal homeland along the drainage basin of the Saint John River in New Brunswick" (Chute 15). D.M.R. Bentley (“Roberts’s Use” 26) finds a probable source in Charles G. Leland’s The Algonquin Legends of New England (1884).

  5

by the fire   Bentley (“Roberts’s Use” 26) notes that Arthur Hamilton Gordon associated Indian legends with campfires in his Wilderness Journeys in New Brunswick, in 1862-63 (1864).

  10

Saguenay   Area in eastern Quebec.

  16

Clote Scarp   Malecite name for the Mi’kmaq’s Glooscap “and the name used by [Arthur Hamilton] Gordon in his version of the legend” (Bentley, “Roberts’s Use” 23). Roberts describes Clote Scarp as a “wise, powerful, and benevolent hero, holding men and beasts and birds and fishes under his kindly sway, and they all spoke one language” (“New Brunswick” 780).

  19

Oolastook   Native name for the St. John River (Pacey and Adams 428).

 

“A Song of Regret”   This poem first appeared in Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly [Toronto] (Nov. 1881).

  6

Russet   Reddish brown.

  7

tawny   Yellow-brown.

  13

carmine   Crimson.

 

 

“The Departing of Clote Scarp”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  title

Clote Scarp   See note to “The Quelling of the Moose.” Bentley demonstrates that Roberts is indebted to the section of Charles G. Leland’s The Algonquin Legends of New England entitled “How Glooskap, leaving the World, all the Animals mourned for him, and how, ere he departed, he gave Gifts to Men,” and to Arthur Hamilton Gordon’s Wilderness Journeys in New Brunswick 1862-63. Since Gordon used the name “Clote Scarp” rather than “Glooskap,” he is probably Roberts’s primary source (Bentley, “Roberts’s Use” 21-24). In his section of Picturesque Canada, Roberts prefaces a prose version of the departing of Clote Scarp with these words: “The stories of his disappearance differed widely; but the one thing certain was that he vanished, and that earth had become a sorry place. One legend of his going reads with the wild, impressive beauty of Celtic tradition. It is the Melicite ‘Passing of Arthur’” (780). As Bentley explains, the allusion is to Tennyson’s “The Passing of Arthur” (“Roberts’s Use” 21).

  5

on this wise   In this manner (archaic).

  42

New tongue Bentley notes the resemblance between this story and the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 (“Roberts’s Use” 23).

 

“A Break”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

  1

hyacinth   Plant with “purplish-blue, pink, or white bell-shaped fragrant flowers” (COD).

  7

lea   Meadow.

  20

amain   Forcefully.

 

“To a Lady, After Hearing her Read Keats’ ‘Nightingale’”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones

  title

Keats’ “Nightingale”   The “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats. In a letter “To Charles Leonard Moore” of 20 Sept. 1884, Roberts wrote that “it is strange we should both worship Keats Shakspere & Aeschylus. The very name of Keats is to me like a breath from gardens of spice” (Letters 42).

 

“Rondeau”   This poem first appeared in Roberts’ Later Poems (1881), dated “Chatham, Nov. 1881.” It then appeared in Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly [Toronto] (Feb. 1882). 

  title

Rondeau A French form that “did not flourish in England until the end of the nineteenth [century], at which time it attracted the attention of Swinburne, Dobson, and other poets who experimented with the French forms.” It “is constructed on two rhymes only, and the first word, or first few words, of the first line are used as a rentrement (partial repetition), which occurs independently of the rhyme scheme, after the eighth and the thirteenth lines, that is, after the end of the second and third stanzas. If we allow R to stand for the rentrement, the following scheme describes the rondeau: R aabba aabR aabbaR” (Preminger 722). Roberts included three rondeaux in Orion, and Other Poems (1880).

  subtitle 

Fréchette   See note to “Liberty.”

  1

Laurels   The “foliage of the bay tree used as an emblem of victory or distinction in poetry” (COD).

  2

Olympian   Associated with Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek gods.

  5

Hellas   Greece.

  10

palaestra-plays   Sporting events.

  13

fillets   Ribbons.

 

“A Birthday Ballade”   The poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. 

  title

Ballade   See note to “A Ballade of Calypso.”

  22

Acadian   Belonging to Acadia, the name of the former French colony of the Atlantic region.

 

“To S___M___.”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones. 

  title

Laurel Boone identifies her as Sophia Margaretta Almon Hensley (Letters 68-69n). In a letter “To William Douw Lighthall,” August 9, 1888, Roberts refers to her as “Miss Sophie M. Almon, of Windsor, N.S. who has written some good & thoughtful verse for the Chicago Current & the Toronto Week” (Letters 86).

  subtitle 

Master Herrick   Robert Herrick (1591-1674), the follower of Ben Jonson and author of many elegant love poems.

  2

Musæus   Mythical musician, “capable of healing the sick with his music” (Grimal 297).

  3

myrtle-wreath   Associated with love.

  3

laurel   The “foliage of the bay tree used as an emblem of victory or distinction in poetry” (COD).

  7

Castaly   Girl (usually Castalia) who threw herself into a sacred spring to escape Apollo. The spring was then named after her.

  7

Daphne’s lover   Apollo; Daphne means “laurel” in Greek, and laurel was “the plant beloved” by Apollo. Daphne was transformed into a laurel in order to escape Apollo (Grimal 128).

 

the bay   The laurel (see note).

 

“La Belle Tromboniste”   This poem first appeared in Life [New York and Chicago] (May 21, 1885).

     According to Pomeroy, the poem was inspired by Roberts’ first trip to New York in 1884 (52).  

  title 

The pretty trombone player (French).

  40

mash   Slang for a sexual attraction.

 

“The Poet is Bidden to Manhattan Island”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones.

     According to Pomeroy, the poem was also inspired by Roberts’ trip to New York in 1884 (52).

  1

shady   The double entendre begins here, since this word refers to both shadows and the morally dubious.

  3

Phyllis   Pastoral name.

  3

swains   Shepherds.

  4

Knickerbocker   Dutch settler of New York.

  6

ballades   See note to “A Ballade of Calypso.”

  12

bucolic   Pastoral.

  14

husbandmen   Farmers (archaic).

  15 

stock   Pun on the stock market and livestock.

  18

Saturn   Roman god of agriculture.

  20 

Arcadian   Pastoral ideal.

  23

bulls and bears   Like l. 15, puns on the two senses of stock—as animals, and as investments that are bullish when rising and bearish when falling.

  25

metamorphoses   Changes of form, as in the work of this name by Ovid.

  26

Proteus   Greek sea god who could assume many shapes.

  31

ducks and drakes   Game played by skimming stones.

  35

dead   Deadbeats are those who owe money (colloquial).

  39

notes   Bank-notes and musical notes.

  44

“pastures new”   See the last line of “Lycidas”: “Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new” (l. 43).

  44

Bowery   An area in Manhattan with a pastoral name--a bower is a pastoral enclosure.

 

“The Blue Violet”   This poem first appeared in In Divers Tones 

  1
ere   Before.