Canadian Poetry in its Relation to The Poetry of England and America

by Charies G. D. Roberts
(Introduced by D.M.R. Bentley)

On the evening of Saturday, March 18, 1933 in Burwash Hall, Toronto the Elson Club held a testimonial dinner in honour of Charles G.D. Roberts. A brief account of the background to that dinner, and of the dinner itself, is provided by Robert’s biographer, E.M. Pomeroy. In her chapter entitled “At Home in Toronto,” which deals with the period following the poet’s return from Europe in 1925, she writes:

     Many of Toronto’s young writers belonged at that time to the Elson Club. John M. Olson was the founder, and Roberts became the Honorary President. The poet had always spent an astonishing amount of time helping young writers,—reading and criticizing their work, and encouraging them generally if he thought them worthy. This group decided to show their appreciation in a very practical manner. They arranged a “National Tribute” which was held in Burwash Hall on March 18, 1933. Sir William Mulock presided and, as reported in The Mail and Empire on the following Monday, “Youth and Age, Church and State, Law and Letters, Institutions and Indi viduals were all Robertsites on Saturday evening in Burwash Hall when Charles G.D. Roberts was tendered a national tribute.” The Prime Minister of Canada, Rt. Hon. R.B. Bennett, and the leader of tuition, Rt. Hon. W.L.M. King, sent greetings; likewise friends and admirers from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The poet was presented with a substantial financial gift and an illuminated address. Roberts expressed his appreciation and Jo Cuhrly remarked that “a prophet is not without honour, or profit, in his own country.” He then delivered an address on Canadian Poetry in its relation to the Poetry of England and America. Music was provided by J. Campbell McInnes who sang Roberts’s “At Thy Voice My Heart,” which had been set to music for the occasion by Dr. Healey Willan. (Sir Charles G.D. Roberts: A Biography, Toronto: Ryerson, 1943, p. 313.)

The signed, holograph manuscript of Roberts’ address, from which the text that follows has bean transcribed, is to be found in the Special Collections room of the D.B. Weldon Library at the University of Western Ontario. It is bound in with several other documents connected with the Elson Club’s “National Tribute” to Roberts, including addresses by John M. Elson and Kathleen M. Hickey (the Society’s President) and numerous letters and telegrams from various admirers and dignitaries, all of which were donated to the University of Western Ontario by John M. Elson himself. It is with the kind permission, not only of the Rare Book and special collections Librarian of the University of Western Ontario, Beth Miller, but also of Sir Charles G.D. Roberts’ widow and literary executor, Lady Roberts, that “Canadian Poetry in its Relation to the Poetry of England and America” is printed here in full.

     The handwritten text of Roberts’ address consists of sixteen consecutively numbered sheets interleaved by one sheet numbered 101/2 and bearing Roberts’ transcription of Archibald Lampman’s sonnet “Outlook.” The unnumbered title page of the manuscript carries the following information, also in Roberts’ handwriting:

Address. Burwash Hall, March 18, 1933
“Canadian Poetry in its Relation to the Poetry
of England and America,”
Charles G.D. Roberts
under the auspices of the
Elson Club
Chairman, Sir William Mulock, K.C.M.G.

After conventional acknowledgments directed towards Sir William Mulock, J.M. Elson, the President and Members of the Elson Club, and the “Ladies and Gentlemen” of his audience, Roberts delivered his address.

     Reflecting Roberts’ division of “English Canadian Poetry into two periods, — the pre-war and the post-war” — “Canadian Poetry in Relation to the Poetry of England and America” breaks naturally into two parts: the first is a discussion of the major figures, sources, and characteristics of ‘Confederation’ poetry and the second, which follows his reading of a poem each by Lampman and Carman, is a briefer discussion of the poets writing in the ‘Modern’ period. Of the two parts of the address the first, with its forthright but modest assessment of Roberts’ own influence on Lampman, its brief estimations of Crawford, Mair, Carman, and others, and its comments on the general and specific sources of ‘Confederation’ poetry is perhaps the most interesting and valuable. Contributing to the interest and value of the opening section is Roberts’ attempt to differentiate English Canadian poetry from the poetry, not only of England and America, but also of “Australia, New Zealand and South Africa,” countries whose “poetry has less of a separate corporate existence than ours, has a more decided tendency to look to the Mother Country for recognition than ours.” To Roberts the uniqueness of pre-war Canadian poetry derives, on the one hand, from its debt to America and France, as well as to Britain, and, on the other, from “the optimism of a young and confidently aspiring people” which, together with an orientation towards the Canadian environment and a broadly “religious . . . attitude toward this life and the future,” not only gives unity to the work of poets as diverse as Crawford and Carman, but also made Canadian poetry relatively immune to the aesthetic individualism, pessimism, and decadence of the European fin-de-siècle. Roberts concludes the opening portion of his address (in which, it should at least be parenthetically observed, he uses the conventional figures of the “stream” / “source” and the “branch” / “stem,” as well as the familiar myth of the Loyalists, in his discussion of the character of Canadian culture and poetry), by reading Lampman’s “Outlook” and Carman’s “Exit Animal” Since no transcription of the Carman poem is present in the manuscript of the address, the text of “Exit Anima” is here supplied from the volume in which it was first published, Behind the Arras; A Book of the Unseen (1895).

     The second part of Roberts’ address is interesting and valuable, not so much for what it says about developments in English Canadian poetry of the post-war period, as for what it tells us about the speaker’s own attitude to those developments. While nobody today would quarrel with the selection of E.J. Pratt as a significant poet of the post-war period, the other two authors who he singles out for special mention and detailed discussion, Wilson MacDonald and Robert Norwood, are not now generally thought to have the stature accorded to them by Roberts. No doubt Roberts’ choice of significant poets may be accounted for, at least in part, by his conservative and reactionary tendencies. It should be remembered, however, that although 1933 saw the publication of Leo Kennedy’s markedly Eliotesque volume The Shrouding, and while a good deal of Modernist verse had been written and published by Canadian poets prior to 1933, at that time New Provinces was only a dim idea in the minds of F.R. Scott and A.J.M. Smith, who would not themselves publish volumes of poetry until the ’forties. And when Roberts does turn to say a “few words about our younger poets” he de livers himself of a tempered endorsement of the modernists’ tendency to look to the “post-Elizabethans” and the “metaphysical school,” feeling, as he says, “that this is not altogether to be deplored, as a reaction against sentimentalism.” Since this guardedly positive assessment of the strain of Modernism associated with Eliot lies between Roberts’ scarcely veiled hostility to Modernism in his 1931 “Note on Modernism” and his self-pro claimed “admiration” of Eliot in his “Introduction” to Flying Colours (1942), it would seem that the 1933 address to the Elson Club marks a transitional phase in his acceptance of and accommodation to the poetic developments of the twentieth century. The affirmation of some (though not all) strains of Modernism in the 1933 address looks forward, in fact, to Roberts’ remarks about the debate between traditional and modern verse in the “Prefatory Note” to his Selected Poems of 1936. “It seems to me,” he writes there, “that it is a matter of the succeeding cycles of reaction. Reaction is life. The more healthy and vigorous the reaction, the more inevitably does it froth up into excess. This excess dies away of its own violence. But the freshness of thought or of technique that supplied the urge to the reaction remains and is clarified, ultimately to be worked into the tissue of permanent art.” Some stature is leant to the contention that Roberts’ address to the Elson Club in 1933 represents a stage on the way to his tempered endorsement of Modernism by the fact that he chose to end “Canadian Poetry in Relation to the Poetry of England and America” with the line that Tennyson repeats in The Coming of Arthur and Morte DArthur — “The old order changeth, yielding place to new” — and, moreover, to follow his address by reading only one poem, the relatively loosely structured, “In the Night Watches,” from That Vagrant of Time (1927), but four, including “The Squatter,” whose “interstanzaic fluidity of line” he considered (in the “Prefatory Note” to his Selected Poems of 1936) distinctly modern, from The Iceberg and Other Poems (1934). The other three poems with which he followed his address, however, — “Taormina,” “To a Certain Mystic,” and “Re-Birth” — reveal, as, indeed, do “In the Night Watches,” “The Squatter,” and “The Iceberg” itself, that there were distinct limits to Roberts’ ability or desire to change in accordance with the new order.

     As has probably already been observed, “Canadian-Poetry in Relation to the Poetry of England and America” contains ideas and passages which appear in at least three other pieces of criticism by Roberts. Of these the first two, the “Note on Modernism” which was first published in 1931 in Open House and the “Prefatory Note” to the 1936 Selected Poems, have already been mentioned in connection with the second part of Roberts’ address. It is also worth mentioning the third, an address given by Roberts at the Mansion House in London, England in July, 1933. According to Pomeroy, Roberts’ subject on that occasion was “Canadian Literature, and more particularly English-Canadian Poetry”; her description of the Mansion House address should establish the connection between it and the first part of the one which some four months earlier he had delivered to the Elson Club:

     He directed attention to the influence in Canadian of American Poetry “the sturdy branch put forth somewhere about one hundred and fifty years ago from the parent stem of English poetry and which has grown so rapidly as almost to rival the parent stem.” Canadian poetry he referred to as “another branch put forth a hundred years later from the parent stem,” and he claimed that “this branch of English poetry, which started hardly fifty years ago, started under happier auspices than its American predecessor, developed more rapidly, and has already attained an authentic separate existence. It is, of course, overshadowed by its great rivals, but is not obliterated by them.” He concluded his address by quoting Carman’s great poem, “Exit Anima.” (Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, p. 324).

     Despite the fact that Roberts’ 1933 address to the Elson Club contains echoes of essays already written and addresses yet to be delivered, and despite — or, equally, because of — the fact that its author’s pronouncements on pre-war poetry had the benefit of hindsight and his prophesies about post-war poets were limited by his own pre-conceptions, “Canadian Poetry in Relation to the Poetry of England and America” is a useful and valuable document for the study both of Canadian poetry and of Roberts himself.

* * * * * * * *

     In the following transcription of “Canadian Poetry in Relation to the Poetry of England and America,” Roberts’ own corrections and additions have been accepted and incorporated; spelling mistakes and errors in dating have been silently corrected; ampersand has consistently been replaced by and; titles of volumes have been italicized; and punctuation has occasionally been added for the sake of clarity. When the sense has required the addition of a word or a syllable, it has been set off in square brackets.

I have no words to thank you — no words to half express my deep and heartfelt appreciation of the very great honour done me here tonight and of the more than generous gift with which I am overwhelmed. You have given a most eloquent and emphatic contradiction to that old whining complaint about a prophet not being without honour except in his own country. For you have made it plain that in his own country a prophet may have both honour and — profit. May I try to show my appreciation, and to justify my self in the role of prophet, by prophesying a distinguished and distinctive future for Canadian Poetry.

I have taken as the subject of my address tonight, “Canadian Poetry in its relation to the Poetry of England and America.” I purposely refrain from saying “of the rest of the English-speaking world,” because the poets of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa seem to be linked more closely and more exclusively with the Mother Country than we are in Canada. Their poetry has less of a separate corporate existence than ours, has a more decided tendency to look to the Mother Country for recognition than has ours. This, for two main reasons, is only to be expected. They are, all three, much younger and less populous peoples than Canada. For all practical purposes they are under but one stream of influence, they inherit from but one source, the Mother Country; while we inherit from three sources, in varying degree, — from the Mother Country, America, and France. The influence of France has been, as yet, comparatively slight upon the poetry of English speaking Canada, which alone I am considering here, — though I hope it may be greatly extended in the future, when the cultural characteristics of the two great races from which we spring may come to be more intimately interfused. But American influence, though altogether secondary to that of England and growing more so as our national consciousness matures, has been strong upon us in two ways. The mass immigration of that strong and dominant Loyalist American stock, influential out of all proportions its numbers, provided us with a great proportion Nonspiritual and intellectual endowment, that element of character which is the ultimate test of a people’s stature, and our social relations with moderns America have had their effect, not invariably a happy one, upon our verse structure and forms.

     Our English Canadian Poetry may be divided, very loosely and for the purposes of this address, into two periods, — the pre-war and the post-war. The pre-war period may be considered as beginning in the 80’s, with the publication of Crawford’s Old Spookses Pass, and Lampman’s Among the Millet, 1888. At this point, if you will forgive me, I am compelled to become personal for a moment. In the course of this survey I am going to disregard entirely my own various books of verse and their influence if any, on the development of Canadian Poetry. But it is necessary, to avoid misunderstanding, that I should refer to my little volume of juvenilia, Orion and Other Poems, which appeared in 1880. This book, which obtained in Canada and abroad a recognition out of all proportion to its merits, has been accepted as a sort of landmark. All the verses it contains were written between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, — most of them before I was eighteen. They are the work of practically a schoolboy, drunk with the music of Keats, Shelley Tennyson and Swinburne. They are distinctly ’prentice work, distinctly derivitive, and without significance except for the careful craftsmanship and for the fact that they dared deliberately to steer their frail craft out upon world waters, — certain of these youthful efforts appearing in the pages of the chief English and American magazines. But the only importance attaching to the little book lay in the fact that it started Lampman writing poetry and was the decisive factor in determining Carman to make poetry his career.

     The distinctively Canadian poetry, of significance beyond the borders of Canada, therefore, may be as beginning with Isabella Crawford’s Old Spookses Pass, 1884; Charles Mair’s Tecumseh, 1886; Archibald Lampman’s Among the Millet, 1888; F.G. Scott’s The Souls Guest, 1888; W.W. Campbell’s Lake Lyrics, 1889; D.C. Scott’s The Magic House, 1893, Bliss Carman’s Low Tide on Grand Pré, 1893. Pauline Johnson’s White Wampum, 1894; [and] Arthur Stringer[’s] Watcher of Twilight, 1894; but it must be borne in mind that for seven or eight years previous to 1893 Carman’s poems had circulated widely in privately printed broad-sheets, and had exerted an immense influence, before his first publication in book form.

     Though Mair’s Tecumseh appeared in 1886, it seems to stand apart from the new movement inaugurated by Crawford, Lampman, Carman and Scott. It marks the end of the old period, — Mair’s first and only other volume of verse, Dreamland and Other Poems, having appeared in 1868. It looks backward rather than forward. Deriving, in its conception and its structure, straight from Shakespeare himself, but with its verbal music borrowed from Keats, it is a dignified and massive closet-drama, dramatic in form but narrative in spirit; and it stands up as a great isolated rock against the incipient tide of Canadian lyric verse. Isabella Crawford, on the other hand, seems to me to be looking forward rather than back. Her verse, though so different, belongs with that of Lampman, Carman, and D.C. Scott. It has a distinction and strength which have not yet been sufficiently recognized. Her early death was a great misfortune to our literature.

     Now, having thus cleared the way, I will try to trace the influences which affected Canadian verse during this first period, and to point out wherein Canadian verse was distinctive from the verse of England and of America. Of course it is obvious to us all, that Canadian verse, like American verse, is but a branch of the one splendid parent stem. American verse, beginning to thrust forth from the parent stem nearly two hundred years ago, has by now attained a stature which fairly rivals that of its parent. Today it would be hard to say which shows the loftier and more sturdy growth. It is my claim that Canadian Poetry, a young shoot which began to bud forth not fifty years ago, started under happier auspices, developed more rapidly, and has already attained an authentic separate existence. It is of course overshadowed by its great rivals, but it is not obliterated by them. When the long but beneficent tyranny of the Tennysonian traction in England — buttressed rather than shaken by Swinburne, Arnold, Morris, Rossetti (rudely assaulted but not overthrown by Browning) at last began to fall into saccharine decay, English poets seemed somewhat at a loss for guidance. Masters of craftsmanship Lip Stevenson, Le Gallienne, John Davidson, William Watson, Henley, Wee, seemed to be groping in all directions for themes on which to exercise their craft. Francis Thompson wrote one magnificent and immortal poem; Alice Meynell produced a tiny sheaf of exquisite and stringently reserved verse, but both sounded their poignant notes upon approximately one theme. The choir had brilliant individual singers, but there was no leader, and the result was a mere confusion of sweet sound. To be sure there were no blatant discords. These were to come later!

     Meanwhile how was it faring with poetry in Canada? For one thing, there was singularly little confusion of purpose, or casting about for themes. In the main it was Nature poetry, of one sort or another. The Canadian scene and the Canadian atmosphere, were always present, sometimes as a very conspicuous background to the subject, sometimes as the subject itself. It was frankly enthusiastic. It was patently sincere. There was never any need to whip up the inspiration. From the “Bite deep and wide, O axe, the tree,” of Isabella Crawford, to the “There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood,” of Carman, there is the note of looking forward, of the optimism of a young and confidently aspiring people. The pervasiveness of this note gave a certain unity to the work of all the otherwise differentiated Canadian singers. It was a note that had practically faded out from the infinitely louder American chorus.

     The influence of Tennyson — with the one brief exception already noted, — is not evident in this Canadian Poetry. It is descended rather from Wordsworth, Milton of the earlier poems, Landor, Keats, Shelley, Blake, and from Arnold in form and language though manifestly not in spirit. It also drew one strong stream of influence from Emerson and the New Eng land school of transcendentalists, to whom it is heavily in debt for its philos ophy and for its employment of the plain, blunt words of common speech. It owes something also to that very great American poet, Sidney Lanier. Whitman’s influence both in thought and in form upon our poetry of this period is entirely negligible. And if I may be permitted to differ flatly from a very distinguished critic, Dr. Cappon, the wonderful poems of Edgar Allen Poe, were almost as negligible in their effect upon us. Even Carman, contrary to Dr. Cappon’s thesis,was not greatly interested in Poe’s form, and with Poe’s philosophy of life he was emphatically out of sympathy. I can detect Poe’s sequence upon one only of our Poets, Tom McInnes, and he belongs to another period. Carman was influenced in one portion of his career by Browning but that influence ultimately worked itself out. And Duncan Campbell Scott now and again shows traces of having fallen under the spell of George Meredith’s more inspired verse. And it may be noted here that our poets were doing thirty or forty years ago what certain of the quieter more serious poets of England have been doing since the war.

     There is another consideration which gives unity to our Canadian poetry of this period. In doctrine, in dogma, in creed, our poets may differ very widely, from strict orthodoxy, through a sort of mystical theosophy, to a Neo-Platonic pantheism or Nature worship. But they all worship. They are all religious, in the broad sense, in their attitude toward this life and the future. They are all fundamentally antagonistic to everything that savours of Materialism, and even of such high and stoical pessimism as that of Matthew Arnold. They are all incorrigible and unrepentant idealists.

     I think I have traced the chief sources from which our poetry has sprung, and indicated, in the main, those characteristics which differentiate it from the work of contemporaries in England and America. I will conclude the survey of this first period by reading a sonnet of Lampman’s and a lyric of Carman’s, two poems which, of their kind, have not been surpassed by any of their contemporaries in England or America. They may serve to illustrate certain of the points which I hope I may be considered to have made:


Not to be conquered by these headlong days,
But to stand free: to keep the mind at brood
On life’s deep meaning, natures attitude
Of loveliness, and time’s mysterious ways;
At every thought and deed to clear the haze
Out of our eyes, considering only this,
What man what life, what love, what beauty is,
This is to live, and win the final praise.
      Though strife, ill fortune and harsh human need
Beat down the soul, at moments blind and dumb
With agony, yet, patience -- there shall come
Many great voices from life’s outer sea,
Hours of strange triumph, and, when few men heed
Murmurs and glimpses of eternity       

                 A. Lampman

Exit Anima

Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abitis in loca?

Cease, Wind, to blow
And drive the peopled snow,
And move the haunted arras to and fro,
And moan of things I fear to know
Yet would rend from thee,
Wind, before I go
On the blind pilgrimage.
Cease, Wind, to blow.

Thy brother too,
I leave no print of shoe
In all these vasty rooms I rummage through,
No word at threshold, and no clue
Of whence I come and whither I pursue
The search of treasures lost
When time was new

Thou janitor
Of the dim curtained door,
Stir told bones along the dusty floor
Of this unlighted corridor.
Open! I have been this dark way before;
Thy hollow face shall peer
In mine no more. . . .

Sky, the dear sky!
Aft, ghastly hoe, good-by!
I leave thee as the gauzy dragon-fly
Leaves the green pool to try
His vast ambition on the vaster sky,—
Such valor against death
Is deity.

What, thou too here,
Thou haunting whisperer?
Spirit of beauty immanent and sheer,
Art thou that crooked servitor,
Done with disguise, from whose malignant leer
Out of the ghostly house
I fled in fear?

O Beauty, how
I do repent me now,
Of all the doubt I ever could allow
To shake me like an aspen bough;
Nor once imagine that unsullied brow
Could wear the evil mask
And still be thou!

Bone of thy bone,
Breath of thy breath alone,
I dare resume the silence of a stone,
Or explore still the vast unknown,
Like a bright sea-bird through the morning blown,
With all his heart one joy,
From zone to zone.

B. Carman

     Between the first and second periods in Canadian poetry there is no break, but rather a very gradual transition. Some members of the first group are in full singing vigour today, as in the case of Duncan Campbell Scott, and have, indeed, more or less identified themselves with the mood and temper, even the external forms, of the second period. Others were already becoming well known in the decade preceding 1914. Preeminent among these is Tom MacInnes, standing somewhat apart from the stream of our poetry, and tracing the inheritance of his very individual talent to Francois Villon and Edgar Alan Poe, with an occasional dash of Keats. And I must mention here that remarkable woman Mrs. Harrison, known as “Seranus,” who began her poetical career with “the stretched metre of an antique song” in Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis, 1891, using old French verse forms and seeking to interpret the spirit of French Canada to English Canada; and who now, in Songs of Love and Labor and in Penelope and Other Poems, brings herself thoroughly abreast of modern movements and methods.

     During and since the War new forces began to make themselves felt in Canadian verse, influencing both its maker and its manner. But in our verse, as in our painting and sculpture, the pervading sanity and balance of the Canadian temperament, its obstinate antagonism to extremes, saved us from the grotesque excesses indulged in by some of our English and American contemporaries. Modernism, so called, came without violence to Canada. It was with us not revolution but evolution. The slender but exquisite genius of Marjorie Pickthall seemed to flourish apart, hardly affected by latterday changes. I can do no more in this paper than touch upon some half dozen of the many singers who now form our choir. Katherine Hale, with her extremely meager output, is nevertheless very significant, because thoroughly modern in theme and treatment. Nature, with her, is always strictly subordinate to human nature. Charlotte Dalton treats big themes in a big way, her intellect and her genius being of the major order. A.M. Stephen, in the breadth and variety of the subjects which he treats, combines both the younger and the older schools. He is at times a Nature poet, at times a poet of humanity. But in the matter of form he has not as yet fully escaped the influence of Amy Lowell and Carl Sandburg. There are many others of whom I would wish to speak but the familiar “exigencies of time and space” forbid. And, of course, my lips are sealed in regard to the Entry of Lloyd Roberts and Theodore Roberts, my son and my brother.

     But there are three poets whom I feel called upon to discuss more in detail, because they represent three distinct trends in Wren Canadian poetry, and differ from each other fundamentally. I refer to Doctor E.J. Pratt, Mr. Wilson MacDonald, and the late Dr. Robert Norwood.

     Dr. Pratt is the most predominantly intellectual. Under whatever he writes the thought processes are definite and precise, whether the writing be lyrical or narrative. Yet the thought is always adequately fused in the emotion. And he has the saving gift, the vital gift, of humour. He is easily the greatest master of pure narrative that Canada has produced. In The Witches Brew, with its vast Rabelaisian humour and grotesque fantasy. “The Cachalot,” with its splendidly robust and red-blooded imagination; and “The Roosevelt and the Antinoe,” with its sustained strength, its gripping directness, its severity of diction and its unflagging interest, — he has given us poetic narratives hardly to be matched in contemporary letters. He is almost exclusively objective.

     Mr. Wilson MacDonald is purely: a lyricist, with a very wide range of form and theme. His best work is forged in the white heat of emotion and is always definitely stamped with his own personality. It is primarily subjective. In his shorter, personal lyrics, such as “Exit,” he achieves at times an unforgettable poignancy. In his passionately humanitarian poems he is modem in spirit, but in form he is distinctly classical. He has been so bold as to experiment frankly with Whitman’s peculiar form and content, and he has justified the experiment. He has succeeded at times in breathing into that harsh fomm a beauty of words and cadences which Whitman never achieved.

     The late Robert Norwood is, first, last, and always a mystic. His great narrative poem, “Bill Boram,” is a lyrico-mystic creation masquerading under a thin disguise of realism. Its emotional fervour is always breaking through the disguise. His religious dramas, The Witch of Endor and The Man of Kerioth, are great Iyrical poems rather than pure drama. His book of dramatic monologues, Browningesque in form but at the opposite pole from Browning in thought, content and approach, are mysticism intellectualized. That peculiarly individual poem, “Issa,” is a mystical autobiography in lyrical form, sustained with almost unflagging fervour throughout seven cantos. It is a remarkable tour de force. The three volumes of lyrics and sonnets contain poems of varying merit, from mediocre religious rhetoric to the highest quality of craftsmanship and lyric significance. But always in the web and texture of them is the pervading sheen of that mysticism which was Norwood’s breath of life. The keynote to all his work is in the line — “And let there be a going up to stars.

     And now let me conclude with a few words about our younger poets, those who are just winning their spurs. And let me say at once that I survey their work with the profoundest satisfaction, feeling that the future of our poetry is in safe hands. It is the perogative of youth to rebel. But our Canadian youth has sufficient sanity to save it from the extravagant and grotesque excesses of rebellion. I find here and there among the young poets a tendency to hark back to the artificiality of the post-Elizabethans, — a tendency, also, to stress the intellectual at the expense of the equally important emotional side of poetry. Some of them show the effect of a study of the works of the so-called metaphysical school, which derives from Ben Jonson rather than from Shakespeare. But I am not sure that this is altogether to be deplored, as a reaction against over sentimentalism. To Beauty, however, if not always to simplicity, they are faithful. There is none of that deliberate sabotage of beauty, that adulation of ugliness in the name of realism, in which certain wild-eyed extremists in other lands are wont to riot. I find traces of T.E. Brown, de la Mare, and Hopkins, — the influence of Emily Dickinson, Elinor Wylie, Edna Millay. I do not, God be thanked, find the influence of E.E. Cummings or Marianne Moore. Among these our younger poets I will not take the responsibility of selecting any names for mention here, lest I should do some an unjustice by omitting them, — or prove myself a false prophet. I will only say that I believe some of them will go very far. Indeed, I think I will even go with them a little way, if my years — and my decrepitude — will permit!

                       “The old order changeth, yielding place to new.

  Charles G.D. Roberts