D. C. Scott's The Dating of the Poems


by Robert L. McDougall

E.K. Brown's friendship with Duncan Campbell Scott began in 1940 'and was kept up through a lively correspondence until the poet's death in 1947. From time to time, Brown was to ask Scott for information which he thought Scott alone, or Scott best, could supply. Often the subject was Lampman, or the Lampman notebooks in which Brown was happily foraging during these years. But sometimes it was the old man himself, who would not after all be around forever.


In the summer of 1943, Brown was at Cornell University, where he had recently taken up an appointment as chairman of the Department of English. On the 21st of July, he wrote to Scott about final arrangements for the publication of a posthumous collection of poems by Archibald Lampman to be called At the Long Sault. It was a task in which they had both been involved for almost two years. Towards the end of his letter, Brown turned to another matter. He wrote:


Yesterday my secretary dropped in the mail to you a copy of The Green Cloister, and I meant to write to you at the time. I suddenly remembered that I had not sent it as I planned to do long ago, so that you might pencil your recollections of dates, as you did in my copy of the Collected Poems last year. I shall greatly value your notations. "The Mad Girl's Song" for instance will always be linked for me with the sleepless night in Montreal to which you refer in a note.'


Two weeks later, acknowledging congratulations from the Browns on the oc'casion of his eighty-first birthday, Scott replied: he would be sending back The Green Cloister "very soon." He added wryly: "On the 2nd of August I put my name on it, which will add immensely to its interest and value." On the 12th of August, the volume was returned to Brown. In his covering letter, Scott wrote:


I am mailing The Green Cloister today and have pencilled in dates when I have them. So often lately lyrics were scribbled on bits of paper that were destroyed that I cannot date them. You won't find any notes such as I put for "The Mad Girl's Song"-the poems all have associations, but there is no use making a record of them.

It has not been difficult to locate the two volumes referred to above: both remain in the possession of Brown's widow, Mrs. Margaret Brown of Rochester, New York, and I am grateful to her for allowing me to examine them. The Green Cloister is, as we have been led to expect, an autographed copy, signed on August 2, 1943, and 41 of the 50 poems contained in it are dated in Scott's hand.' The copy of the Collected Poems, a rare bird now, has John W. Garvin's signature on a blank page inside the front cover and shows Scott's pencilled dates for 91 of its 192 poems. In both books, dates are exact as to month as well as year, and in many cases they are exact as to day-ofmonth as well (e.g., June 4, 1914).

The question then arises: what to do with this new-found information, and is it really new, and is it important enough to be made more widely accessible than it is in its present form? The tables looming at the end of this piece make the question seem rhetorical. What I can do here is state briefly the case for publishing them.

Though the tables assume that dating is important, I know very well that the assumption can be questioned. Scott questioned it, a matter of some concern to me, and his Collected Poem of 1926, to which I shall return in a moment, is testimony to his mature decision to present his work outside the framework of chronology. Poets, we may venture to say, are so inclined. Carrying a chronology sufficient to their needs in their heads, they are likely in a collection of their work to see dates as less important than the organic arrangement of poems in such a way as to reflect similarities or contrasts in subject matter, theme, form or mood. By these means they underscore the universal aspect of their art, and who can fail to be in favour of that? Critics sometimes feel the same way. The New Critics did when they isolated the poem from its context. Northrop Frye's approach, when it is archetypal, hints at a chronology but in the end denies it: writers are seen to sit around a table where together they create a "verbal universe" outside time. But other critics, or even poets, or perhaps the same critics or poets at other times, are of a temporal mind. Their interests turn to the genesis, birth and development of techniques and forms, themes and sensibilities, in a particular poet. The early Yeats is not the late Yeats, and the dichotomy invites attention. Or, turning another way, they may wish to follow carefully the shifting relation between the poet and the society in which he lives and writes from year to year; the Idylls of the King cannot be otherwise understood. E.K. Brown, deft in the criticism of poetry outside as well as inside time, considered dates important and went after them. That is why he asked Scott for dates; and was later to make good use of what he learned in the fine Memoir which he wrote for the Selected Poem of 1951. With Brown, then, I assume a general utility for precise dates for the composition of poems, where one is lucky enough to find them. What is the particular utility of the present set?

The crux of the matter here is bibliographical. For the serious student, the path to a chronology of Scott's poems is not an easy one. The Collected Poem of 1926 might seem a good place to begin since this is the most complete presentation we have of Scott's oeuvre from the poet's own hand. But

attention, the principle at work is assuredly not one of chronology. A poem from the Lundy's Lane volume (1916) is preceded by one from Beauty and Life (1921) and followed by one from Labor and the Angel (1898); and poems never before published in volume form (i.e., written between 1921 and 1926) are placed for the most part in a single large cluster between groups of poems already published and of a much earlier date.

The path then leads logically to the discrete collections, of which there were six between The Magic House volume of 1893 and The Green Cloister of 1935." From these sources, approximate datings for the poems have always been available-as they were to Brown when he asked for more information from the poet. With very few exceptions, Scott published in the small collections only poems which had not been published in volume form before. It was not his practice, moreover, to allow a manuscript poem to "sleep" through one publication and be resurrected in the next. The student can therefore safely assume that all poems appearing in Beauty and Life, for example, were written between 1916 and 1922. But no further refinements are possible at this level. Individual poems in the small collections are not as a rule dated; theoretically, all of the poems in Beauty and Life could have been written in 1921, or in 1916, or whatever.

Where else to turn? If the student is ready for some hard work, he will begin a search for poems by Scott in one or other of the serial publications to which Scott submitted them during his lifetime: Harper's, Scribners, Canadian Magazine, Saturday Night, London Mercury, Canadian Forum, etc. Some of these sources have already been pin-pointed. More are sure to come to light. Yet the placing of a given poem by date of serial publication will still leave uncertain the size of the gap between the serial date and the date of composition.

One obvious source remains. It will in fact have been under the student's nose from the beginning, and if he has done his homework well he will soon discover what it is. When Scott answered to Brown's requests for specific datings of the poems, he must have had beside him his precious Notebooks. Five in number by 1943, they contain the drafts, reworkings, occasionally the fair copies of most though by no means all of the poems Scott had written over nearly fifty years. How else, at this late time in life, could he have recalled exact dates? For what reason other than the fact that the Notebooks do not begin until 1898 would he have failed, as the tables make clear he failed, to give Brown any information about poems written before that date? After Scott's death in 1947, the Notebooks were presented by Elise Aylen Scott, his second wife, to the Library at the University of Toronto. Today they are housed in the Thomas Fisher Rare Books and Special Collections Department of the Robarts Library. And there they can be seen and studied.

The tables which follow, then, reflect the Notebooks. Yet as sources they go beyond the Notebooks in some respects. Not everyone can drop down or up to Toronto for a look. Those who might would need to have some weeks to spare, for the Notebooks are chaotic in layout and written in a scrawling hand, and they require much patience and practice to decipher. Scott him

to have datings for such a large portion of the poems by way of a careful intervention on the part of the poet himself. That in itself seems sufficient justification for publishing the results here. It is also a way of acknowledging E.K. Brown's foresight in asking the right questions of the right person at the right time.

As a writer, Scott produced good work for nearly half a century. He did not, though the changes were never radical, repeat himself He was at the same time no recluse. He had a public life of considerable importance in the affairs of the nation. He lived also in the realm of the imagination through decades of the development of Canadian literature and became a kind of tally to the evolving order. I see no reason to take his rebuff to chronology in the 1926 volume as final; and I am sure Brown would agree.


The tables are self-explanatory, but not entirely so. The points of departure are of course the Collected Poen-ts of 1926 and The Green Cloister of 1935. In both volumes, Scott's table of contents reflects the design which each book is intended to exhibit. There is no alphabetical index in either of them. Brown liked the alphabetical index which Scott had supplied for the Lampman Lyrics of Earth of 1.925; and he urged Scott to include one in the shortened Ryerson collection of 1947. 1 agree in principle. I have therefore set the contents of both the Collected Poems and The Green Cloister in alphabetical order. The date of publication given in the second column excludes serial publication, which I have not adequately researched. A key to the symbols for discrete volumes is provided at the end of the tables. In "Other Notes" I have included Brown's comments, where these are substantive and can be identified.


Notes

1 This quotation and other quotations and references which follow are drawn from the texts
of the complete Scott-Brown correspondence which I am currently editing for publication.
Main sources are the Public Archives of Canada, the Aylen papers (working files of D.C.S.)
- and manuscripts in the hands of Mrs. E.K. Brown.
2 1 have counted parts of sequences (such as go to make up "In the Rocky Mountains" and
"A Group of Lyrics") as separate poems. More often than not, as the tables show, the parts
have different dates of composition. I have followed the same practice in dealing with the
Collected Poems.
3 1 exclude The Circle of Affection, the volume of prose and poetry which Scott published in
1947. Although virtually all the poetry in it was "new" in the sense of not having been
published in volume form before, it is deliberately retrospective and has a distinctive
though very generalized chronology of its own.
4 When a Buffalo library, in the Fall of 1944, asked Scott for copies of his books and manu
script poems, he asked Brown's advice. "It would be quite useless," he wrote, "for me to


The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (1926)

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGE IN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

A Flock of Sheep 1893 MH 260

A Legend of 1916 LL "Closed Door 180
Christ's Nativity Sequence" (EK)
A Little While 1926 CP 235
A Masque 27 Jan 1917 1921 B&L 216
A Mood 26 Oct 1922 1926 CP 270
A Mystery Play 1916 LL "Closed Door 86
Sequence" (EK)
A Nest of Hepa- 1905 HW 229
ticas
A Night in 1893 MH 314
March
A Night in June 1893 MH 259
A Road Song 8 Mar 1918 1921 B&L 248
A Summer Storm 1893 MH 263
A Vision 10 Oct 1917 1921 B&L 246
Above St. Ir6n6e 1893 MH 240
Adagio 1898 L&A 214
Afterwards 1898 L&A E.K. gives 20
"1905" and "NW"
After a Night Nov 1916 1921 B&L 258
of Storm
After Battle 25 Nov 1917 1921 B&L 274
An August Mood 20 Apr 1924 1926 CP 277
An Impromptu 19 Jun 1906 1906 VB "Montreal River 135
NB" (DCS?)
An Impromptu 1893 MH 244
An Old Tune 19 Mar 1923 1926 CP 273
Angel 1916 LL "Closed Door 226
Sequence" (EK)
Angelus 1898 L&A 201
At Dawning 21 Jun 1925 1926 CP 278
At Les Eboule- 1893 MH 245
ments
At Sea 24 Apr 1907 1916 LL "Str Potsdam" 236
At the Cedars 1893 MH "1889 S.G. Dom" 14
The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (1926)

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGE ~N
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

At the Piano 1926 CP 272
At William 11 Mar 1906 1916 LL "Adds'Near 160
Maclennan's Florence'in
Grave Lundy's Lane
Vol." (EK)
Avis 1898 L&A "MH and Avis 204
are Companion
pieces altho'writ
ten many years
apart. The Spell
of Sight and The
Spell of Sound"
Bells 20 Oct 1918 1921 B&L 250
By a Child's Bed 25 Jun 1902 1916 LL "Closed Door 188
Sequence" (EK)
By the Shore 26 Sep 1919 1921 B&L 248
By the Willow 1893 MH 162
Spring
Catnip Jack 1901 1905 NW 317
Christmas Folk- 1916 LL "Closed Door 286
Song Sequence" (EK)
Dedication of 1898 L&A 287
Labour and the
Angel, 1898, to
my wife
Dedication of "In 1896 V of V 177
the Village of
Viger" 1896
Dirge for a Violet 1898 L&A 157
Dominique de 1901 1905 NW 321
Gourgues
Dreams and 10 Jan 1926 1926 CP 257
Memories
Dream Voyageurs 18 Jul 1906 1906/1916 VB/LL
223
Dulse Gethering 15 Nov 1902 1905 NW 250
Early Morning 31 May 1925 1926 CP At the end of the 276
first stanza,
"limped" is
barred-and init
ialed'DCS"

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGEfN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME
Ecstasy 12 Aug 1906 1906 VB "Split Rock 179

Portage"
Elisabeth Speaks 25 Nov 1901 1916 LL 174
Equation 1898 L&A 91
Fantasia 24 Apr 1915 1916 LL 211
For Remember- 1893 MH 223
ance
Fragment of an Aug 1911 1916 LL 11
Ode to Canada
Frost Magic 1916 LL 227
Idle to Grieve 25 Jun 1915 1921 B&L 247
1 Do Not Ask 18 Jan 1925 1926 CP 51
Improvisation on 17 Nov 1909 1916 LL 212
an Old Song

Indian Place- 18 Mar 1902 1905 NW "NBks" 22
Names
In Grenada 1921 B&L 284
In May 1898 L&A 254
In November 1893 MH 262
In Snow-Time 21 Jan 1905 1916 LL 235
In the Country 1893 MH 169
Churchyard
In the House of 1893 MH 221
Dreams
In the Selkirks 1921 B&L 27
In Winter 14 Jan 1919 1921 B&L 54
June Lyrics I, II Jun 1923 1926 CP 279



Labour and the 1898 L&A 100
Angel
Last Year 1921 B&L 13

Leaves 17 Nov 1918 1921 B&L 125
Life and a Soul 1905 NW 140
Life and Death 1893 MH 134
Lilacs and Hum- Apr 1917 1921 B&L 76
ming Birds
Lines in Nov & Dec 1915/1916 LL 141
Memory of 1913
Edmund Morris Jan 1914
Lines on a Monu- 17 Nov 1918 1921 B&L 305
ment

20


The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (1926)

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGETN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

Madonna with 15 Mar 1914 1916 LL 246
Two Angels
Madrigal 1898 LA 285
March 1898 L&A 138
Meditation at Pe- 1916 LL 131
rugia
Memory 1893 MH 243
Mid-August Aug 1913 1916 LL 191
Mist and Frost Feb 1913 1916 LL "15nb" (EK) 194
Morning at Pa- Aug 1925 1926 CP "Near St. Malo" 275
rame
New Year's 1916 LL 304
Night, 1916
Night 21 Apr 1905 1916 LL "Good Friday" 255
Night and the 1893 MH 256
Pines
Night Burial in 9 May 1906 1906/1916 VB/LL 57
the Forest
Night Hymns on 13 Sep 1899 1905 NW "Called Sappics 23
Lake Nipigon (Saphics) in
DCS's notebook"
(EK)
0 Turn Once 28 Jul 1912 1916 LL 281
More
Ode for the Keats Jan - Feb 1921 B&L 151
Centenary 1921
Off Riviere Du 1893 MH 239
Loup
Off the Isle Aux 1893 MH 105
Coudres
On the Death of 2 Apr 1918 1921 B&L 158
Claude Debussy
On the Mountain 1898 L&A 253
On the Way to 15 Sep 1901 1905 NW 25
the Mission
Ottawa 1893 MH "Another 136
'Ottawa'in SGD"
(EK)

Permanence 7Mar1919 1926 CP 265

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGEYN

OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES
VOLUME

Portrait of Mrs. 25 Jul 1919 1921 B&L "Ile d'Orleans 219

Clarence Gagnon n.b." (EK)
Powassan's Jan - Feb 1926 CP 59
Drum 1925
Prairie Wind 1926 CP 270
Prayer and An- Nov 1918 1926 CP 215
swer
Prologue Spoken 1926 CP 95
18 Jan 1923
Question and An- 1921 B&L 137
swer
Rain and the 1898 L&A 187
Robin
Rapids at Night Dec 1899 1905 NW 19

Retrospect 1 June 1910 1916 LL "This is anniver- 226

sary of his
daughter's
death" (EK)
Reverie 1-8 Jan 1921 B&L 200
1919
Roses on the Por- 1905 NW 17
tage

Senza Fine 24 Dec 1916 1921 B&L "Heavy sugges- 92
tion in earlier
manner" (EK)

September 1893 MH 85
Somewhere in Feb 1917 1921 B&L 301
France
Song 1906 VB 287
Songs of Four 1898 L&A 289
Seasons

Spirit and Flesh Dec 1919 1921 B&L "Suggestion: 77
compare Senza
Fine" (EK)

Spring Night 3 June 1923 1926 CP 278
Spring on Matta- 1, 2, 3 June 1906/ VB/LL Two notes, stan- 41

gami 1906 1916 zas 9 and 13:
"DCS to change,
letter, Nov. 1943"
(EK)


The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (1926)

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGE fN

OFPOEM WRIWEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

The Anatomy of 1921 B&L "A of M, Part 111 228
Melancholy Sec II M5 Subsec
3"
The Apparition 29 Apr 1900 1916 LL 236
The Battle of 1908 1916 LL 336
Lundy's Lane
The Builder 1905 NW 133
The Canadian's 1898 L&A 288
Home Song
The Closed Door 1916 LL 173
The Cup 1898 L&A 234
The Dame Reg- 1898 L&A 113
nant
The Eagle Speaks Dec 1917 1921 B&L "London 32
Mercury"
The End of the 1893 MH 238
Day
The Enigma 3 Mar 1917 1921 B&L 249
The Fallen 1921 B&L 305
The Fifteenth of 1893 MH 282
April
The First Snow 1893 MH 224
The Flight 3 Jun 1918 1921 B&L 81
The Forgers 1905 NW 207
The Forsaken 1902 1905 NW 28
The Fragment of May 1919 1921 B&L "This is to Pel- 122
a Letter ham Edgar, PE
told me, May 27,
1941" (EK)
The Ghost's 2 Dec 1899 1916 LL 237
Story
The Half-breed 26 Jul 1906 1906/ VB/LL 55
Girl 1916
The Happy Fa- 1898 L&A 231
talist
The Harvest 1898 L&A "Scribners 106
Magazine"
The Height of Nov 1915 1916 LL 46
Land
The Hill Path 1893 MH 242

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGE IN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

The House of the 1901 1905 NW 252
Broken-Hearted

The Ideal 1893 MH 241

The Journey Jun 1921 1926 CP "The London 267
Mercury"
The Leaf 12 Aug 1911 1916 LL "Closed Door 222
Sequence" (EK)
The Lesson 1898 L&A 178
The Lovers 1921 B&L 275
The Lower St. 1926 CP 251
Lawrence
The Mad Girl's 27 May 1924 1926 CP "A sleepless night 266
Song in the Mt. Royal
Hotel!"
The Magic House 1893 MH 202
The Mission of 19 Nov 1899 1905 NW 309
the Trees
The Mower 1926 CP "London 264
Mercury"
The New Moon 20 Jan 1925 1926 CP 274
with the Old
Moon
The November 1 Dee 1912 1916 LL 52
Pansy
The Onondaga 1898 L&A 230
Madonna
The Piper of ArIl 1898 L&A A note in EK's 35
hand on the
effect of this
poem on Mase
field
The Reed Player 1893 MH 261
The Sailor's May 1906 1916 LL 94
Sweetheart
The, Sea by the 25-29 Apr 1905 NW 209
Wood 1900
The Tree, the 2 Jan 1919 1921 B&L 189
Birds and the
Child

The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (1926)

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGEIN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME
The Violet 1898 L&A 233
Pressed in a Copy
of Shakespeare
The Voice and 1893 MH 283
the Dusk
The Water Lily Nov 1919 1921 B&L 197
The Wolf 1898 L&A 218
The Wood by the 25-29 Apr 1905 NW 210
Sea 1900
The Wood 15 Nov 1902 1905 NW 139
Peewee
The Wood Spring 1916 LL 127
to the Poet
Thirteen Songs
I to VI 1898 L&A 292
Vil 24 Feb 1908 1916 LL
Vill 16 May 1900 1916 LL
ix 1916 LL
x 1893 MH
xi 1893 MH
x1l 1893 MH
xill 3 Dee 1916 1921 B&L
Thoughts May 1921 1926 CP 267
To a Canadian 31 Mar 1921 B&L 306
Aviator 1 Apr
1917
To A Canadian 1916 LL 124
Lad Killed in the
War
To the Canadian 16 Apr 1916 1921 B&L 307
Mothers, 1914
1918
To the Heroic 13 May 1906 1916 LL 225
Soul
Two Lyrics I June 1921 1926 CP 269
li May 1921
Twin Flowers on Dec 1899 1905 NW "The [Twin] 18
the Portage Flowers on the
Portage" (EK)

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGE IN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

Variations on a Jun 1919 1921 B&L 64
Seventeenth Cen
tury Theme
Watkwenies 1898 L&A 230
When Spring 1898 L&A 222
goes by
Willow Pipes 1916 LL "Closed Door 220
Sequence" (EK)
Words after Mu- 1898 L&A 232
sic
Youth and Time 1893 MH 121

The Green Cloister (1935)

A Blackbird June-July "Oberhofen/Fin- 14
Rhapsody 1932 ished in London"
24 Sept
1932
.A Fancy 64
A Group of 23 Feb 1929 81
Lyrics-I
-11 & III
-111 12 Sept 1931
A Prairie Water Aug1928 "Red Lake/Sas- 40
Colour katchewan"
A Scene at the Dec ? 1933 48
Lake Manitou
· Secret Nov 1933 78
· Song 23 Jan 1928 79
At East Glouces- Aug 1929 30
ter
At Gull Lake: Autumn 54
August 1810 1934
At Lodore June1934 "Lodore/near 26
Keswick"
At Palma Jan 1933 "Palma" 28
At Sunset 1927? 59
Autumn Evening Nov 1930 44
By the Sea 61
By the Sea Shore 67
Chiostro Verde Feb 1935 "Florence" 21
Como June1932 "Como,, 18

The Green Cloister (1935)

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGE IN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

Compline 36
Earliest Morning 1901 "Early /probably 72
19011,
Enigma 2 Feb 1930 69
En Route 7 Mar 1929 "CPR" 42
Evening at Ra- Mar 1935 "Ravello" 20
vello
From the Head- 1929 46
land

Imogen's Wish 1926 "7 Aug NB" (EKB) 73
In Algonquin 43
Park
In the Rocky
Mountains-I-IV Sept1927 31
_V Aug 1931
-VI 1929
_VII 4 Jan 1930
January Evening 1930 47

Kensington Gar- Nov 1932 "London" 24
dens
On a Drawing of 63
a Hand
On Ragleth Hill July 1934 "Shropshire/ 25
Church Stratton"
Past and Present 1 Jun 1928 80
Reality Oct 1927 9
Spring in the Val- 75
ley
The Bells Spring 70
1929
The Dreaming 1932? 39
Eagle
The Faithful 60
The Fields of Septl.929 12
Earth
The Nightwatch- Dec 1934 "London/ 92
man Garland's Hotel/
Suffolk St."

TITLE DATE DATE OF TITLE OF PAGE IN
OFPOEM WRITTEN VOLUME VOLUME NOTES VOLUME

The Spider and Autumn 85
the Rose 1928?
The Touch of 1 Feb 1931 45
Winter
The Wise Men 83
from the East
Time, the Victor 6 Jan 1929 74
Twilight 1928 77
Under Stars 1927 62