Readers of Oliver Goldsmith's The Rising Village will be grateful to Kenneth J. Hughes for his pioneering article that appeared in the first issue of Canadian Poetize His reading of the poem offers a healthy challenge to Desmond Pacey's earlier but now largely outdated article, "The Goldsmiths and Their Village' These two articles represent, indeed, opposite extremes in their response to the poem. Pacey assumed that the Canadian poem was an inferior imitation of The Deserted Village by Goldsmith's famous great uncle and namesake, while Hughes claims that The Rising Village is truly Canadian and needs to be read on its own terms. The last three sentences of his article represent the culmination of Hughes' argument: "It should now be clear that Goldsmith was not simplemindedly imitating his great-uncle. The poem and the poet have surely lived too long in the shade of the earlier poet and poem. It is time for the poem to stand by itself for it is most as suredly capable of doing so" (42). I shall argue here that the truth lies some where between these two poles.
Cannot fully accept the suggestion that the poem stands by itself be caus~t seems clear that Goldsmith never intended that it should do so. Hughes himself grants that The Deserted Village is the "predecessor-model" of the Canadian poem (27). He admits that "the comparative approach is satisfying up to a point, but beyond that point it prevents us from under standing the Canadian work in its own right" (29). I would insist, however, that we cannot properly understand the Canadian work in its own right unless we see it in relation to the poem from which it indisputably Denver but derives not as a blatant imitation but in literary terms as part of a conscious and accepted poetic tradition.
Many of the connections between the two poems are obvious (and, need less to say, Hughes recognizes them), but in the interests of my argument I must recapitulate them. First and foremost, of course, no one with the name of Oliver Goldsmith could sit down to write a poem in the early nineteenth century without being acutely conscious of the shadow of the author of The -war of Wakefield, The Deserted Village and She Stoops to Conquer peering over his shoulder. And in choosing his title, he both alludes to the earlier poem and indicates a difference in emphasis. A passage from his autobiogra phy makes the structural connection between the two poems unambigu ously clear:
The celebrated Author of the "Deserted Village" had pathetically displayed the Anguish of his Countrymen, on being forced, from various causes, to
quit their native plains, endeared to them by so many delightful recollec tions, and to seek a Refuge in regions at that time but little known.... In my humble poem, I, therefore, endeavouredtodescribe the sufferings they experienced in a new and uncultivated Country, the Difficulties they sur mounted. the Rise and progress of a Village, and the prospects which prom
he Deserted Village ends with the emigration of the displaced inhabitants, the following extract indicates:
he Rising Village begins where the earlier poem left off.
But there are other noteworthy connections. In dedicating the poem to fi brother, and personally addressing him in the opening lines, Goldsmith is consciously following the older Oliver Goldsmith's procedure not, indeed, in he Deserted Village but in The Traveller (1764). By a curious coincidence, Jth elder~rothers were named Henry, so the names not only of the authors t of thou to whom the poems were dedicated are identical. And above all, course, the Canadian Goldsmith employs the same verse-form. Here I Lust insist that Hughes goes too far in his "political" reading of the poem hen he maintains that Goldsmith uses the rhymed couplet "because, with "balance and antithesis, it constitutes a poetical form appropriate to a so bty in which political power consists of a union of opposites in the alliance Between landed Tory and mercantile Whig interests" (30). This may possi ty be a secondary factor, but the primary reason can only be that this was te verse-form favoured by his predecessor. By means of this common verse ~rm, Goldsmith was able to forge a rhetorical and tonal link with The De ~rted Village and so set his seal on the connection between the two poems.
Goldsmith makes the connection explicit in his opening verse-para ^aphs, first by articulating his intention to "emulate his fame / Whose gen rs formed the glory of our name" (RV, p.2, 11.5-6)5 and second by the refer ~ce to "Auburn's village" eight lines later. There are, moreover, several rect quotations set conspicuously in inverted commas: "lowly train" (RV, .2,1.15; DV, 1.252), "To tell of all they felt and all they saw" (RV, p.5, 1.156; lapsed from DV, 1.92), "man severe" (RV, p.7, 1.231; DV, 1.197). Again, [he village church in unadorned array" (RV, p.5, 1.167) balances "The de ~t church that topt the neighbouring hill" (DV, 1.12); the description of
tavern (RV, pp.4-5, 11.131ff.) is offered as both a comparison with and a contrast to the inn at Auburn (DV, 11.217ff.), while the portrait of the Cana ian schoolmaster (RV, p.7, 11.229ff.) depends for its effect on the contrast ith his Auburn equivalent (DV, 11.193ff.) Furthermore, the account of the portive pleasures" in Nova Scotia depends upon the reader's recognising
And this is the Anglo-Irish original:
I have set these lines side by side because they neatly exemplify the princi ple of similarity with difference which is perhaps the Canadian Goldsmith's most important literary effect. On the one hand, similarity is established through subject-matter and language ("spreading tree," for example); on the other, he makes the point that the charms have indeed fled from England but are recreated in Nova Scotia., ~
There are many other echoes.~ere is the Canadian Goldsmith's descrip tion of the Acadian village as seen, in standard eighteenth-century fashion, from a convenient eminence:
propriately, at dawn instead of in the evening, and his lines set up a compar ison with the Auburn of the past and a contrast with the Auburn of the pres ent. Where the evening setting of the original suggests the end of a process, the dawn of the "imitation" heralds a positive new beginning. I have said enough, I hope, to prove that, while The Rising Village undoubtedly exists as a poem in its own right, it cannot be considered in isolation from the tra dition in which it was written. To ignore or play down this tradition is to do damage to the essential effects of the poem.
Hughes claims at one point that "the two works do not properly belong to the same genre" (28). Here once again I must disagree. This is not merely because I do not share his classification of The Deserted Village as a satire to the neglect of the element of elegy which (to say the least) is just as strong; neither satire nor elegy, in fact, characterizes The Rising Village. But the two poems are linked in a tradition that transcends this kind of generic cate gorization. So influential was The Deserted Village that it fostered a sub genre within the English tradition of descriptive and topographical poetry that may be designated the Village Poem. Examples include George Crali~o The Village (1783), James Hurdis's The Favourite Village (1800), John Clare's Helpstone (1820) and Ebenezer Elliott's The Splendid Village (1833). Remnants of the tradition survived even into the present century; one of Edmund Blunden's poems, "Old Homes," which begins,
is an unusually late instance. As my list indicates, village poetry can include a remarkable diversity of tones and approaches, but all the poems are linked by a specific subject-matter which is partly attributable to their common an cestor. The vast majority of them demonstrate quite explicitly their debt to the older Goldsmith. Moreover, the Canadian Goldsmith is not the only non-English contributor to the tradition. Later in this article I shall have oc casion to discuss an interesting and very early American example, Timothy Dwight's "The Flourishing Village," part of a larger topographical poem en titled Green~ield Hill (1794)_a poem far more obviously derivative from The Deserted Village than Goldsmith's.
First, however, I would like to explore in greater detail some of the sub tler and more problematic interconnections between The Rising Village and The Deserted Village. Here the question of "intention" becomes decidedly tricky. I have, I think, demonstrated that Goldsmith unequivocally related his own poem to that of his great-uncle. But how far can one pursue these in terconnections? I agree with Hughes that he ultimately produces a very dif ferent poem because the circumstances under which he was writing and the conditions he was describing were both notably different. But, once the prin ciple of interconnection is established, all sorts of possible tensions and iro nies can be. - ected in the diverging patterns of the two poems. Many of these are, a~vere, inherent within the material; Goldsmith could not have
"Splendid" and its cognates are recurrent words in The Deserted Village, but they are words of criticism. They stand for "luxury," "opulence," the quali ties that have sounded the death-knell of the old Auburn. Yet the Canadian Goldsmith uses the word (apparently) with approval. Similarly, the couplet praising cities and plains clashes oddly with the values of the earlier poem. For the Anglo-Irish Goldsmith the phrase "merchant's glory" would carry with it a palpable sense of indignant sarcasm, and the poet who lamented the lot of the "sad historian of the pensive plain" (DV, 1.136) could never use the word "plains" in connection with "the farmer's pride"_not, that is, un less "pride" were presented unequivocally as a sin. But the tone of the Rising Village passage does not lead us to suspect that criticism is intended.
Moreover, the immediately succeeding lines raise even greater difficulties:
Can it be, one wonders, that Goldsmith has temporarily forgotten the argu ment of his great-uncle's poem: that the peace and comfort of Auburn are poignant because "all these charms are fled" and the village has been tyran nically uprooted? Possibly he is intending to be ironic here; it would be nec essary, I think, for Hughes' thesis that this should be so. If he is, I can only say that he fails to establish his attitude in an unambiguous manner.
The opportunities for paradox and irony continue in the lines describing the clearing of the forest to make a settlement in the New World. In both
poems (contrary to romantic convention) silence has negative connotations. In The Deserted Village the older Goldsmith laments the passing of sounds of community_lowing herds, playful children, barking dogs, etc., sounds that mark a healthily busy rural world (see 11.125-8 already quoted). The Canadian Goldsmith, by contrast, notes the oppressive silence of the virgin forest:
But (and this is my point) he does not seem to make anything of the con trast. He has led us to expect cross-reference back to the earlier poem, but in this case he raises expectations that he never satisfies. Perhaps he assumes that the reader will register the connection on his own, but I suspect not. Similarly, no English reader (and we recall at this point that the poem was originally published in England) could read the lines about tree-felling with out being struck by the contrast between his own sense of destructions and the positive connotations that come through in Goldsmith's lines:
He would be surprised (even, pert shocked) by the approval in the cul minating next two lines:
Again one~e~e~ aft elaborating commentary from Goldsmith, but he does not provide it. I am frankly undecided whether this is a matter of accident or design.
In his description of the Indian attack, one. would expect an "original" presentation, since the Indians represent a threat unique to the New World. Here, however, Goldsmith surprises us (again, either by accident or by de in the innocent-looking couplet,
It-cci~bines with such words as "usurp," "decay," "robb'd,""scourg'd" and "devastation" to build up an accusation against the mercantile landlord class. That the word is applied in The Rising Village to the murderous Indi ans would seem to indicate a conscious irony on Goldsmith's part, but we cannot be sure.
~ few lines later, however, the associations change dramatically. Unlike Fortunate villagers in Auburn, the Nova Scotian pioneer withstands the Indian attacks. "He still retains possession of the soil" (RV, p.4, l.iO4), we ails t~_ultimatelv it is the Indians shim mint retire cli~cr~mfitPa
One is not over-reading, I think, to note that the Indians here find them selves in precisely the same position as the dispossessed countrymen in The Deserted Village. There is a potentially rich irony in the demonstration that the villagers drive the Indians out of their native haunts just as they were forced into unwilling exile themselves by the enclosing landowners in Brit ain. Perhaps this is a characteristically twentieth-century reading that would not have occurred to Goldsmith or his original readers, yet the pattern is there, established within the poem, backed up by the unequivocal paral lels emphasized by Goldsmith in earlier verse-paragraphs. I do not wish to be dogmatically assertive about all these interconnections, but it seems to me that, cumulatively, they make a point. In view of what I have written, I do not think that Hughes need fear that a stress on the connections with The Deserted Village will necessarily make The Rising Village any less
Parisian of The Rising Viilage with its acknowledged "predecessor-model." I would now like to turn to another North American poem derived from The Deserted Village, Timothy Dwight's "The Flourishing Village." After a brief scrutiny of this poem, we should be in a better position to decide whether some of the difficulties in The Rising Village are to be explained by the poet's individual temperament and ability or by the circumstances of the North American experience.
Timothy Dwight, born in 1752, was a grandchild of Jonathan Edwards. After attending Yale, beginning a lifelong career as a teacher and preparing to enter the Congregational Church, he took part briefly in the War of Inde pendence. In 1783 he was ordained pastor of the Congregational Church at Greenfield, Connecticut, and two years later published his long religious poem The Conquest of Canuan. His most important poem, Greenfield Hill, of we "The Flourishing Village" forms a part, appeared in 1794. The fol lowing year he was appointed President of Yale, where he emphasized theol ogy and religious observance. He published, preached and taught widely un til his death in 1817.9
Greenfield Hill is divided into seven parts, "The Flourishing Village" forming the second section. Dwight explains his original plan in a prose in troduction: "Originally the writer designed to imitate, in the several parts, the manner of as many British Poets; but finding himself too much occu pied, when he projected the publication, to pursue that design, he relin quished it."'_ None the less, the first four parts follow this plan. Part I, "The Prospect," is written in blank verse primarily derived from Thomson's Seasons; II, as we shall see, imitates The Deserted Village and its rhymed couplets; Part III, "The Burning of Fairfield," employs octosyllabics in the tradition of John Dyer and Matthew Green; Part IV, "The Destruc tion of the Pequods," is written in Spenserian stanzas that suggest the influence of James Beattie's The Minstrel. The last three parts abandon any attempt at metrical variety, employing octosyllabics and rhymed couplets once again.
Like the Canadian Goldsmith, Dwight is quite specific about his debt to The Deserted Village. As he writes in his notes to the second part:
It will be easily discovered by the reader, that this part of the poem is de signed to illustrate the effects of the state of property, which is the counter part-to that, so beautifully exhibited by Dr. Goldsmith, in the Deserted Vil l~e. That excellent writer, in a most interesting manner, displays the itched condition of the many, where enormous wealth, splendour, and [usury constitute the state of the few. In this imperfect attempt, the writer wished to exhibit the blessings, which flow from an equal division of proper ty, and a general competence. (p.530)
basic plans, then, appear identical; both show villages successfully de veloping in the New World on socio-political principles opposed to those of the "old country" that saw the devastation of Auburn.
But despite the difference in political attitude (greater, as might be ex pected, in the patriotic American than in the Canadian descendant of United Empire Loyalists), Dwight imitates the Anglo-Irish Goldsmith's po etic effects extremely closely. Moreover, he follows a hallowed eighteenth century tradition in drawing attention to his borrowings and adaptations in the notes appended to his poem. "The Flourishing Village" begins:
schoolmaster which can be compared with those offered by the two (Iolds mith~
Oddly enough, Dwight's general attitudes are closer to the older Golds mith's than are those of the grand-nephew. His references to "empty pride" (p.400, 1.92) and "foul luxury" (p.401, 1.151), one feels, are not merely verbal but ideological debb to the author of The Deserted Village. Moreover, he emphasizes the extent to which Gr~enfield avoids the abuses of Auburn:
We note once again the word "desolation," employed by botti~tte ~olds miths. Here, indeed, the British assault on Fairfield shares with an earlier Indian attack the place of the destructive landlords in The Deserted Village and the Indians in The Rising Village. When Dwight was writing, the War of Independence was not long over. The United States were beginning the slow process of defining their distinction from Europe. Dwight is continually reiterating his belief that life in New England is superior to that in the Old World.
But he can only articulate this connection in the literary tradition he was rejecting. As Kenneth Silverman has written, "the very culture Dwight loathed gave him the only terms he knew in which to express his hopes. Be cause his borrowed language bound him to an English view of his situation, his terms of praise for Connecticut are the conventions and poetic images of a culture that in his view has 'prostituted' them."" The result is decidedly odd. The poem is full of patriotic eulogy for the principles of the United States and criticism (always implicit, frequently explicit) for the inequities of Britain and Europe. But the language, the rhythms, the verse-forms, many of the allusions and references, what :~:w~'m~ht call the "feel" of the
poem_all these inevitably suggest a cultural connection that his argument is denying. Silverman calls the resultant effect "a kind of serious parody";'2 this is a good general description, but it does not establish the precise rela tion between the parody and its original. We are aware of an uneasy sense of disparity between what Dwight tried to put into his poem and what we as readers find ourselves drawing out of it.
A similar (though not, of course, identical) situation confronts us when we turn back to The Rising Village. D.H. Lawrence's famous advice, "Never irust the artist. Trust the tale,"~3 seems to have little application in this con text. While Dwight intends to write an independent North American poem but is thwarted by the English literary tradition he has to employ, Golds mith is in a more complicated dilemma. The links with Britain remain, but the circumstances of life in Nova Scotia continually threaten to upset the balance that is being attempted. In these conditions, how can we be sure whether Goldsmith is upholding the connection or subtly undercutting it?
Hughes argues vigorously in favour of the second alternative; I am not so sure. A decidedly strong point in Hughes' reading of the poem is the way in which he is able to interpret the story of Flora and Albert as an integral part of the poem's argument whereas earlier commentators could only dis miss it as an irrelevant digression. For Hughes, it is an allegory:
[Albert] is the embodiment of the English aristocratic ruling class when im perial-colonial relations were at their best. His perfidious desertion of Flora is thus the symbolic desertion of Nova Scotia by England in the developing period of economic stagnation following the economic boom of the Napole onic Wars.... That Flora is rescued by a peasant implies that a sturdy and self-sufficient Nova Scotia can now go it alone without Britain if necessary. (35)
insistent~hat, on the literal level, Albert is neither En ~lish nor aristocratic, Hughes' reading seems forced. Moreover, Goldsmith specifically offers his story not in terms of England and Nova Scotia but of Ace and virtue. The paragraph introducing the tale (RV, p.8, 11.285-308) is --~equivocal, and I see no reason to doubt the poet's conscious intentions;
that Hughes' interpretation may reveal an unconscious or suppressed reac tion on _toldsmith's part is possible but not demonstrable.
the poem. Hughes sees the parallel invocations to Acadia and Britanniaas decidedly ambivalent:
If [the reader] were a die-hard Tory, convinced that the old mercantile im perial connection of political dependence was a sine qua Ron for the contin ued existence of Nova Scotia, he would see in the last paragraphs of the poem a dutiful Nova Scotia standing beside Mother Britain. If, however, he belonged to the opposite party (including some Tories), he would see that the fully realized Nova Scotia could well exist politically independently of the neglectful mother country but within the new laissez faire imperial eco nomic framework. (35)'.
Here I find Hughes' vocabulary unfortunate. By translating Goldsmith's po etic language into a reductive political rhetoric, he distorts the effect. If we stay closer to Goldsmith's lines, we see that, in the verse-paragraphs devoted to Acadia, he makes two statements that reinforce the connection with The ierted Village, a fact that complicates any political reading.
First, he notes that the changes in the fortunes of the Nova Scotian vil lage Win the opposite direction from those of Auburn. In The Deserted K~aceful and content Auburn is replaced by a desolate ruin; in -N - a ~ ~a, the Indians' "reign of terror" (RV, p.13, 1.506) is followedw how changed the scene!" (1.507)_by prosperity and se c~'w~ 1 joy and plenty crowned" (1.516), though the story of Flora and t (and this in itself justifies the inclusion of the tale) warns that the possibility of decline is ever-present. Second, in describing this prosperity, Golfers another of his puzzlingly ambiguous statements:
"Commerce," "luxuriant," "rich," "splendour." Once again the words with negative connotations in The Deserted Village become positive here. A reader sensitive to the political "message" of the earlier poem cannot help wondering whether commerce and luxury will not have the same baleful effect on the Nova Scotian village as they had on Auburn.
I would like to argue that this is the point of Goldsmith's poem, just as I would like to have argued earlier that he intended the possible link between the landowner's devastation of Auburn and the Indians' attack in Nova Sco tia. But I cannot, in all conscience, do so. They are readings, like those of Hughes, which extend some of the meanings seemingly implicit in the poem, yet they are extrapolated interpretations, not explications of what is de monstrably there in the text. I do not think that we can escape the conclu aion that Goldsmith, for all his merits, failed to communicate (even, perhaps, to recognize) the rich complexities that were available in his material. At any rate, like Timothy Dwight he was unable to reconcile within his poem the conflicting claims of tradition and independence.
In conclusion, I must return to the verse-form of The Rising Village. I have noted that Dwight's G~reer'field Hill employs blank= verse, octosyllabics
a" Spenserian stanzas as well as rhymed couplets. This suggests that Hughes' argument about the relation between political realities and appro priate verse-forms is exaggerated. Numerous verse-forms were available, though it is certainly true that some would prove more suitable than others. I agree with Hughes that the rhymed couplet was "the best verse instru ment in English for his purposes" (42), but would reiterate the prime reason: that The Deserted Village had already employed this form Ed established a traditional precedent.
Ultimately, I cannot accept what seems to me to be Hughes' rigidly det erministic connection between poetry and politics. It provides a neat (I think, too neat) thesis that oversimplifies the issues. The Rising Village is certainly a poem with political implications, but Goldsmith's ability as a poet is in the last analysis distinct from the quality of his response to the po litical tensions of his time. This brings us back, appropriately, to the poetic success of The Rising Village. Hughes maintains that the failure of the poem on its first publication in England "can be explained by the socio-economic industrial revolution which had destroyed the eighteenth-century conditions which in turn had given rise to the heroic couplet" (30). Certainly the poem would have seemed an anomaly in the literary world of Byron, Scott, Southey and Wordsworth, but this is not to be explained solely in terms of history and politics. I suspect that the chief reason for its failure was the un remarkable quality of its verse.
There is no point in trying to disguise the fact that The Rising Village lacks the verbal subtlety, rhythmic range and variety of tone that distin gui~ed The Deserted Village. Goldsmith possessed a notable talent for po etry (one that can easily be underrated_it seems to me far more interesting than Dwight's), but he lacked the genius of his great-uncle. He was unable to dominate words and control metrical effects in the manner of his ances tor; his was not a "new voice" in verse, and his subject-matter required a near ~ The Anglo-Irish Goldsmith created what it is now fashionable to call a persona for his poem; the Canadian Goldsmith did not, and this partly explains why as critics we find ourselves arguing about his intention rather than about his achievement. He was not, like his ancestor, a distinguished "maker." But, while we may regret the unwritten great poem that might have been, there is no excuse for underestimating what we have. The An glo-Irish Oliver Goldsmith was writing at the end of an era; his Canadian namesake wrote at the beginning of another. It would be foolish to expect (or, under the circumstances, to desire) poetic splendour. Goldsmith was able to offer a more modest but also more appropriate achievement. If we wish to allegorize his poem, I believe that an allegory of poetic development in a new land is more applicable than a political reading. Goldsmith's inestima ble contribution as literary pioneer was to raise a solid and serviceable log cabin in the Canadian poetic wilderness. It survives as a historic and signifi
Kenneth J. Hugi~'Wver Obldsmith~ 'him Village'," Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents Reviews, 1 (Fall/Winter 1977), 27-43. Page-references hereafter cited in text.
Desmond Pricey, "The Goldsmiths and Their Villages," University of Toronto Quarterly, 21 (October 1951), 27-38. Subsequent scholarship suggests that Pacey underestimated the evidence that the Anglo-Irish Goldsmith could have cited for "deserted villages" in his own time. For a useful list, see A.J. Sambrook, "The English Lord and the Happy Husbandman," Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, LVII (1967), 1362-4. For Goldsmith's earlier essay on the topic, "The Revolution in Low Life" (1762), see Arthur Friedman, ea., Collected Works of Oliver Goldsmith (Oxford: Clarendon, 1966), III, 195-8.
Rev. Wilfrid E. Myatt, ea., The Autobiography of Oliver Gok~ndth (Toronto: Ryerson, 1943), pp.ll-12.
For The Deserted Village (1770) 1 have followed the text in Volume IV of Friedman's edi tion (see note 2). Hereafter cited in the text as DV.
The most reliable text of The Rising Village (1825, revised 1834) is to be found in Michael narowski's edition (Montreal: Delta Canada, 1968); the most accessible version is in avid Sinclair, ea., Nineteenth Century Narrative Poems (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1972). Both follow the 1834 revision. Hereafter cited in text as RV. Since the lines are num bered in Gnarowski's edition but not in Sinclair's, I give page-references for the latter edi tion and hne~oumbera for the former.
Goldsmith emphasize the point by introducing the echoing phrase, "charms are fled," in the folding line (RV, p.7, 1.267), thus recalling DV, 1.34.
Edm~lu~ English Poems (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1925), p.l5. This pastiche is Menu here since Blunden has shown an into in village poetry in his crit ical writing) ad ell as in his own poetic practice.
These due not, I think, merely modern reactions. Cf. Cowper's "The Poplar Field" and the response of Fanny Price in chapter 6 of Jane Austen's Mansfield Pack.
- man, Timothy Dwight (New York: Twayne, 1969).
0 William J. McTaggart and William K. Bottortf, eds., The Major Poems of Timothy Dwight (Gainesville, Florida: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1969), p.374. Subsequent page-ref erences to Dwight's poetry are incorporated into the text.
:2 Ibid, pp.59-60.
,3 D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literal (1923; rpt. New York Viking, 1964), p.2.
Hughes' reading here skirts around RV, p.l3, 11.523-8 ("These are thy bl~, Scotia ..."), which are difficult to reconcile to his second alternative. I find more convincing his earlier statement, that the "structured juxtaposition of Britain and Nova Scotia in sepa rak verse stanzas at the conclusion of the poem" shows that "Nova Scotia has reached Inaturitv'' (33).
For moat Canadians, the name of Louis Riel is invariably linked to epi thets such as rebel, patriot, prophet, mystic, defender of rights and revolu tionary. Few would add "poet" to this list. Yet, throughout his life, Riel wrote a considerable amount of poetry in the form of fables, love poems, songs, letters in verse as well as political and religious compositions. Al though certainly not in the category of "great poetry," the works neverthe less are not devoid of interest and even assume a certain importance because of the notoriety of their author. By disclosing certain facets of Riel's thought prolapses, they allow us a glimpse of his arresting, often enigmatic personali ty. Until recently, only a small number of the poems had ever appeared in prints With the exception of the poem addressed to Sir John A. Macdonald which appeared in Poesies Religieuses et Politiques, the works discussed in this article are at present available only in manuscript form.2
I have chosen for analysis six poems which, because of their subject mat ter, may be classed under the rubric "political poetry" and which are, in my opinion, representative of Riel's output in thy particular genre. Although there is some doubt surrounding the exact dam ~ compositions I believe that the poems span a period of approximately thirteen years in Riel's life, from 1870 when he was experiencing the immediate repercussions of the Thomas Scott affair, to 1883 when, as an American citizen living in Mon tana, he was jailed on charges of election fraud complicity.4
I have undertaken a semiotic reading of these six works, analyzing the system of signs found in each. The study will emphasize those elements of the Poetic codes which are imbued with the distinctive traits of the poet. A methodology generally associated with the analysis of narrative structures Willie used,6 such an approach being justified by the prosaic, narrative-like quality of much of the corpus.
At the micro-contextual7 (i.e. linguistic or surface) level, the poems ap pear to be quite different. They deal with a wide variety of individuals and groups: English Canada, George Etienne Cartier, Ottawa, Joseph Dubuc, John A. Macdonald and the American Democratic Party. At the macro-con textual (i.e. thematic or deep) level, the poems are, however, remarkably similar. By uncovering characteristic signs encoded in Riel's verse and by hypothetically restructuring the poems, I will attempt to make these simi larities more apparent.
A preliminary structural framework was evolved inductively. Pertinent functional componerlE:~were determined from the composition _
"Crucifiez-le...," then tested against the remaining generically similar poems. A definitive analytic grid was elaborated from these results and an inventory of unities made. The semiotic restructuration has a ternary sys tem. Each poem is structured around three interrelated core acmes:
The Allegation_Discord is revealed in this seme,and a political foe singled out. Riel accuses his adversary of a misdeed which has caused much anguish to him and his people.
The Conflict_In this seme the conflicting nature of the antagonists is made known. While declaring his fundamental opposition to his enemy, not only does Riel describe in great detail the immorality of the latter, he takes pleas ure in itemizing his own qualities or those of his people, whether French Canadian or M6tis.
The Ultimatum_The final seme of this operational~el ~s~4ed in a concluding statement about the polemic. It takes the form of a warning or censure and may involve punitive measures.
The poems will now be examined inch, following the postulated order of composition.
This work is untitled and undated. Since the poem deals with the death of Thomas Scott we can place it after March 4, 1870, the date of the execu tidn of Scott, by a firing squad of Riel's provisional government. The affair raised the ire of English Canada, especially the Orangist factions of Ontario, who demanded the Metis leader's head. ID the poem, Riel justifies the action talten: "L'infame Scott" (v.33) "allait pi Bon fer, la nun' avec malice/ Dans le coeur de son souverain" (vv.35-36). The "~in" referred to is of course Riel who was head of the provisional government. Being guilty of lese-majesty, reasons the poet, Scott therefore deserved to die. (We know historically that Thomas Scott was a belligerent bigot who, after being im prisoned by Riel's men, made life difficult for his captors. On one occasion, he attacked a Metis guard in the prison where he was being held. There is no evidence that he ever physically attacked Riel himself. In the lines I have just quoted, we are obviously witness to a certain poetic licence.)
In the poem, Scott becomes a symbol for English Canada and all its faults. According to Riel, the attacks made against him as a result of the Scott execution are really aimed at French Canada:
In reality, the poet claims, English Canadians do not care about Scott_he was only a pawn. The true motivation for their actions lies else where; they are alanned at the loss of their political power to a "successful rival":
Ce que vous regretter, ce n'est pas la carcasse
De votre fanatisme, allez, vaillants ap6tres
In the second poem o t e corpse attacks Ottawa, capital of the new Confederation and seat of the government that he and the Metis have learned to mistrust so intensely. Speaking collectively, he states: "Le Canada/... avait tache de nous detruire" (vv.22-23). Then, on a personal note, he alleges: "Cette ville damnee/Veut mon trepas" (vv.100-101). Why
In his dealings with the country, he maintains, he has always acted honour ably: "Je n'ai traite/Avec lecanada que selon la droiture" (vv.92-93). And how has the government dealt with him? It has, contends Riel, behaved mis erably; it has treated his "Christiar`" rights like dirt:
Submission to these confederate "pub" (v.49), as the poet calls them, is not possible. With celestial guided either in jail or out, he will continue his fight in order to bring an end to this miscarriage of justice:
English Canadians are not the only targets of Riel's wrath. Some of his own people (Motif or French Canadians) are often subjected to outbursts of poetic diatribe. One such individual is George Etienne Cartier (1814-73) who led French Canada into Confederation. At one time, Riel admired him great ly. In 1865 and 1866, in fact, the young poet wrote three letters in verse to Cartier in which he praises the virtues of the politician." A number of years hater, however, this youthful admiration long since faded, Cartier is now con sidered a traitor and has, by his treachery, inflicted much suffering on Riel:
The poem addressed to Sir John A. Macdonald is Riel's longest poetic world. Tt was c.ompose~d in 18.79 when Riel was in exile in the United States. From the draft ~ Blithe poem which remain today,'4 ~ impious that a good deal of time was spent in its creation. . : ~
The poem is structured on two levels. The first level is personal and is a scathing indictment of Macdonald whom Riel considered a mortal enemy, and the man personally responsible for most of his suffering. Macdonald's government had promised amnesty to the insurgents involved in the Red River U_ri~g of Em. The Prime Minister had however reneged on his
Au lieu de respecter Rune manibre exacts Notre Pacte Et mon droit,
Depuis bientOt dig ens, Sir John me fait la guerre. (vv.l-9)
Macdonald is arrogant and insincere, according to the poet, a man definitely not to be trusted: "Un homme sans parole est un homme vulgaire" (v.10). Moreover, he is a "tra^'tre" (v.37), a "scelerat" (v.45) who has sucked Riel's li feblood ("vous m'avez mange comme un vampire", v.170) by banishing him from his homeland: "C'est a vous", declares the poet angrily, "que j'en veux pour ma proscription" (v.184).
The conflict is intensified by the fundamental differences between the . - men and by their opposing methods of operation: "Vos moyens d'action,
, ne vent pas les miens" (v.179). Riel declares himself "equitable" (v.128) and righteous:
No matter where he was, Riel seemed to have a penchant for getting himself into trouble. During the time he was living in the United States, charges of illegal election practices were brought against him by the Demo cratic party. It was alleged that Riel had encouraged certain half-breeds to vote for the Republican party, the half-breeds in question being unregistered voters. In May, 1883, he was imprisoned for a short while in the county jail at Choteau, Montana; the charges were later dropped. During his incarcera tion, he drafted "The Political voice of Chateau!," the last poem to be exam ined here.
Although written about another political situation, in another country, and in another language, the poem nevertheless exhibits the same semiotic
c~e as the others. The three core semes are immediately identifiable. There is the allegation that certain powerful and corrupt Democrats are try ing to suppress the freedom of the half-breeds (note the play on the word "Chateau," where reside the Democratic officials that Riel is attacking):
uniquely for its esthetic function. A more worthwhile contribution could be made from an analysis of the emotive function of the verse. The semiotic summary of the six political poems, as shown in the schema, should hope fully help with such an analysis. From the summary, the poet's image of himself, and his attitude toward the referents may be determined. It be comes obvious, at a glance, that a highly emotional state is encoded in the poetry.
If we examine the semic paradigms and note the lexical alternatives used in the encoding process, we observe the emergence of certain patterns, patterns which did not perceptibly change during the many years in which these poems were composed. The homologous nature of lexemes contained in the seme "Conflict" is particularly striking. There, dogmatic amplification leads to a sharply defined polarization of values, a trait commonly found in messianic writings. Riel and his long-suffering people are appraised as right eous, just, noble, etc., while the antagonists are adjudged_to list only a few of his derogatory descriptors_dishonest, corrupt and treacherous. These ele ments of the poetic code are obviously impregnated with Riel's particular ex perience, the sermonic overtones of the verse, for example, bearing the dis tinct traces of his religious upbringing, especially of the more than six years spent at the Sulpician seminary in Montreal.
The reduction of the various poetic components to a single semic arche type summarizes a specific conceptual process. This heuristic procedure ex ternalizes the logic firmly established in the poet's unconscious. The contin uous interplay of antithetical symbols, as shown on the schema, discloses a moral universe of contrasting stereotypes. Everything for Riel is either black or white, good or evil. This manichean concept of the world is linked in his mind with the themes of distributive and immanent justice. There are the good, he and his people, victim ad Evil oppression, who will one day be re warded for their sufferings; and the bad, his enemies, who will ultimately be punished for their sins. The political poetry is thus merely the outward man if estation of his singular and unchanging "conscience nemesinque".'6
Reality was distorted for Riel by his rigid dialectical reasoning. He re fused to accept ideological differences; he failed to recognize his own defects, but criticized others for theirs. The distortion of self-image is especially ap parent in "Crucifiez-le...", a poem noteworthy for its prophetic qualities. Riel paints himself as a long-suffering, persecuted outcast who is the saviour of his people. By means of biblical references, particularly his allusion to the crucifixion, the poet assumes Christ-like dimensions. The iconic imprint left in the poetic fabric need not be surprising; it merely reinforces our impres sion of the man who often signed his writings: "Louis 'David' Riel: Prophet, Priest-King, Infallible pontiff".
This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Canadian 8aniwci Re~h A - ocia tion Symposium, University of Western Ontaido, May 1978. 1 am indebted to the SOCIAI Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and to the Calgary Intitute for the Humanities for their support of the research presented in this article. My thanks go also to Thomas Flanagan, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary, for his helpful comments.
ten before then, however, since Riel, using the present tense, addresses Joseph Dubuc as Attorney General, a title borne by the latter only for several months in 1874.
16 The "conscience nemisiaque" of Riel has been discussed at greater length in Ponies de He, op. cit., pp. 36~38.
Charies G. D. Roberts'
:~^ The Tantramar
"The Tantramar Revisited" is Charles'Ci~. Roberts' poetic masterpiece, and it has generally been acknowledged as such.' As early as 1905, in his study of Roberts and the Influence of His Time, James Cappon not only quotes twenty-eight of the poem's sixty four lines, but also characterizes it as "a true whole" which, "amongst all the varieties of [the] Canadian idyll" theretofore attempted by Roberts "leaves the strongest impression of origi nality in tone and treatment."2 The feat accomplished by Roberts in "The Tantramar Revisited," Cappon thought in 1905, "could not easily be repeated."3 Nearly half a century later, in Creative Writing in Canada (1952), Desmond Pacey refers to Roberts' poem as "undoubtedly one of the best . . . ever written in Canada."4 In Ten Canadian Poets (1958) and in a later paper on "Charles G.D. Roberts" (1961) Pacey would go on to describe "The Tantramar Revisited" as "descriptive poetry of a high order"5 and as a poem which, for him, exhibits a "definite and satisfying structure."6 Even more recently, W.J. Keith, while allowing as, in some measure, both Cappon and Pacey had done, that in "thought," "situation," "diction," and "verse fonn", "The Tantramar Revisited" is not absolutely original or especially re marka~dmits that the poem provides the reader with a "compelling experience and, moreover, stands alone amongst Roberts' poems m repay ing "detailed attention."7 Some five years after making these remarks in his 1969 monograph on Charles G.D. Roberts Keith would go further; "The Tantramar Revisited," he says in his "Introduction" to Roberts' Selected Poetry and Critical Prose (1974) shows the poet "at the height of his power," and it transcends the poetry of mere "nostalgia and rural description" to be
"a sensitive and intelligent inquiry into the nature of memory and change." It is not the aim of the present discussion to dispute any of the Moms made by Cappon, Pacey, Keith and others on behalf of "The Tantra - Revisited." On the contrary, the purpose of the following essay is to ex pand upon the necessarily brief examinations of the poem offered by these critics in an attempt to show that it attains to a fine and complex unity of form and language, imagery and thought, that "The Tantramar Revisited"
and of the fact that the elegiac metre itself consists of alternate hexameter and pentameter lines, it seems both prudent and felicitious to say simply that in "The Tantramar Revisited" Roberts first opens with and then plays against a hexameter norm. (More of this, however, in due course.) When commenting on the verse form of "The Tantramar Revisited" most critics, including Pacey, cite the hexameters of Longfellow's Evangeline (1847) as Roberts' precedent and model, usually raking that the poem is deriva tive and reminiscent without being original or innovative. (Pacey, who re marks, rightly, it could be argued, that the "imitation surpasses the model,"'"' provides something of an exception to the general rule.) Of Roberts' familiarity with Evangeline there cannot, of course, be any doubt. Longfellow was one of the poets whose work inspired the Canadian writer "in his earliest days with the love of poetry"' and Longfellow was amongst those to whom Roberts sent a copy of Orion and Other Poems in 1880.~2 Moreover, between the first appearance of "The Tantramar Revisited," un der the title of "Westmorland Revisited," in the December 20, ~ 883 issue of The Week, and its publication in the In Divers Tones volume of 1886, Rob erts made reference in his address on "The Outlook for Literature: Acadia's Field for Poetry, History and Romance" to "Longfellow's handling of Aca dian story" in Evangeline which, he said, had "simply glorified the theme for later singers"'3_a remark which echoes forward to his own A Sister to Evangeline, published in 1898. And in 1890, in an address delivered in Bos ton, he described Longfellow as "the greatest of New England's poets" and Evangeline as an instance of the way in which the Maritime Provinces and the New England States had "acted and reacted upon one another...."'4 The same thing might be said of Roberts' own "The Tantramar Revisited." For the point needs to be made that, while Roberts did not invent a new form for his poem, his decision to remember a-to echo in "The Tantramar Revisited" the verse form, the cadences, and even specific details' of Evangeline is both apt and appropriate, not only because his poem takes as its theme "nostalgic remembrance,"'6 but also because it takes as its subject a portion of the landscape of the Maritimes, and indeed precisely that portion which Cappon appositely calls "the land of Evangeline."'7 The suggestion, then, is that the verse form of "The Tantramar Revisited" is more than mere "masterly"'8 handling of the form that Longfellow had made his own k~vangeline; it is a suitably allusive use of the hexameter by means of which the Canadian poet echoes the American poem and, in so doing, adds historical depth and resonance to his meditation on the effects of time and memory in the region of the Tantramar marshes on the Bay of Fundy. "The Tantramar Revisited" thus gains an historical dimension (and it is worth re membering here Roberts' well-known fascination with the history of the Maritimes) through an allusion inherent in its verse form and its cadences.
The verse form of "The Tantramar Revisited" is interesting for reasons other than its allusiveness. Both Cappon and Pacey have remarked upon the facility and skill with which Roberts handles his metre, the former com menting on the larger effects of the poem and the latter on individual in stances of the poet's skill. To Cappon's broad observation that Old hexagon ter involves Roberts in a "struggle. . Between the r~ mould snd the natural idiom of the language. . .,"'9 a struggle which results in "some rough
lines" as well as in "some freedom and naturalness,''20 may be added the suggestion that this "struggle" is, in fact, consistent with the overall mood and theme of the poem. For by setting up the expectation of a hexameter rhythm and then playing against it the rhythms dictated by the verbal sense and the reading voice, or, to be more specific, by~stablishing a hexam eter norm at the beginning of the poem (the first line lids a full sixteen sylla bles) and then proceeding to modify it with more natural rhythms, (few lines in the body of the poem have more than thirteen syllables). Roberts serves the reader's ear notice of what, in effect, is the imaginative adventure of the poem: the speaker's discovery of the disjunction between his expectation and the reality, between his expectation that the marshlands have not been affected by Time and the reality that, of course, they have. Put somewhat crudely, the suggestion is that, just as the classical metro, which as a classics metre might seem immune to the forces of "change" is, the reader discovers, far from immune to change in "The Tantramar Revisited," so the speaker of the poem comes to realize that even in the landscape of his youth the same forces are at work. Such a correspondence should not be pushed too far; nevertheless it gives credence to Keith's comment that "the form which the poet. . . imposes on his material" in "The Tantramar Revisited" bears a distinct relation to the effect which the landscape has on the poet." "
In his 1961 paper on "Sir Charles G.D. Roberts" Pacey assembles sev eral specific instances of the way in which the poet's metrical and verbal skill allows him accurately to depict features of his beloved boyhood landscape: the word "Laboring" in the first stanza, says Pacey, is "calculated exactly to summon up the picture of . . . long marsh grass . . . constantly in slow, trou bled motion...."; "Turbid", also in the first stanza, "catches exactly the twisting, muddy tumult of the incoming ... tide...."; "barred by the hur tling gusts," with which the first stanza closes, is, to Pacey's eyes, a similarly accurate description of a meteorological effect of the Tantramar area." Drawing in part it would appear (as the present discussion shall again in a eminent) on the theories of Norman G. Stageberg and Wallace L. Anderson regarding sound symbolism in poetry, 2~ Pacey also calls attention to the way in which Roberts "uses the long, unpunctuated line 'Skirting the sunbright upland stretches a riband of meadows,' with its repeated 'r's' and its short vowels, to suggest length and light, and then breaks the next line, 'Shorn of the laboring gra - , bulwarked well from the sea,' in half to give, first, the effect of the short, clipped grass, and, second, the effect of the dike blocking the sea."24 It may also be observed that, on occasion, Roberts uses spondees (seen by Cappon as frequently "awkward"2,), not just to suggest the slow, ponder movement of the speaker's thoughts, but also, as in "Dips from the hill-tops down, straight to the base of the hills" and "Dotting the broad bright slopes outspread to southward and eastward," to convey the spatial forms of the features described, the heavy stresses suggesting bulks and in clines. To convey both the features of the landscape and the effects of light upon its details Roberts draws up the "al" and "sp" sounds (in "gleam," "glance," and "sparkle"26) in the latter part of the poem, just as towards the beginning he draws upon the 'o' sound (as in "come...gone," "swallow," "sorrow," and "shadow") to convey the unhappiness and nostalgia of the speaker. The use of what might be termed visual onomatopoeia, calculated
rhythmical effects, and phonetic intensives in "The Tantramar Revisited" confirms that this is, indeed, "descriptive poetry of a high order" in which each word (and "aslant," "scattering," "vexing," and "green-rampired" are amongst other words whose appropriateness could be explored if space per mitted) and each line have been carefully chosen and constructed to convey "the exact nature of the scene before the poet's eyes."27
Many readers of "The Tantramar Revisited" are initially surprised to discover that it is unrhymed. The reason for this, perhaps, is that the poem contains so many repeated sounds, words and phrases that it conveys the il lusion of rhyme. As W.J. Keith has rightly said (and notice the suggestion that the repetitions have a mimetic quality): "phrases and images within the poem ... recur and repeat, like the pattern of grass and dykes on the marshes."28 Not just individual words, such as the "summers" and "many" of Me opening lines, but also phrases such as "chance and change," "Miles nd miles," "Well I remember," and "Now at this season," as well as the im
~pry of the Tantramar landscape and its human inhabitants, are repeated over and over again, lending pattern and unity to the poem. Roberts' itera tive use of word, phrase, image and, of course, syntax too is precise as well as evoc~ i - _e is not just to lend design and structure to the poem but also to Aliases of the particular locale under observation and a sense of the speaker's emotional respond. to it.
Before turning away from the technical aspect of the poem, one final feature of its verse form demands attention. Since several writers have seen "The Tantramar Revisited" as a poem which anticipates_to quote Pacey_"many of the qualities [that] occur in Roberts' sonnets,"29 it does not seem unfair to ask whether the verse form itself (in addition to the ob servation of the large features of a landscape and the particular details within it that the poem manifests) might not be one of the qualities which looks forward to the sonnets of the Songs of the Common Day volume of 1893. The answer must be yes, for two reasons. Firstly, it seems clear that in "The Tantramar Revisited" the poet is playing the pentameter against the
Hexameter measure and, in the process, allowing the strengths and attrac
26~ons of the five foot line not only to take him away from the 'elevated,' clas sical metres and subjects which had dominated Orion and Other Poems, and which, to some extent, dominate In Divers Tones, but also to move him to wards the sequence of Canadian nature sonnets that is Songs of the Com mon Day. Several of the nature sonnets included in Songs of the Common ay, notably "The Sower," "The Potato Harvest" and "In September", in
appear on either side of "The Tantramar Revisited" in the In Divers Tones volume. And, secondly, it is worth noticing that one of the central stanzas of "The Tantramar Revisited" consists of fourteen lines, that the long first stanza of the poem is end-stopped at the fourteenth line, and that the final two stanzas of the poem, when run together as they are in at least one printing of the poem,30 also total fourteen lines. With only minimal difficulty the poem may thus be seen to contain three fourteen line stanzas, suggesting that the sonnet shape is present as an infra-structure in this ex tended lyric. In structure, as well as in subject, "The Tantramar Revisited" would appear, like the In Divers Tones volume itself, to represent a stage in Roberts' movement from the earlier classical poems towards the nature son
nets to follow, a stage in and a discovery of the appropriate form and voice in which to treat his native landscape.
'I," wrote Roberts in the December, 1897 issue of Forum (New York), "is not mere description of landscape in metrical form, but an expression of one or another of many vital relationships between external nausea afoul 'the deep heart of man.' "3~ The one such "vital relationship" which perhaps overrides all others, certainly the one with which Roberts himself, from his early essay on the pastoral elegy32 through The Heart of the Ancient Wood (1900) to the later animal stories, was vitally concerned, is the relationship between Nature per se and Man per se. It may have been in part from the classical pastoral elegies of Bion and Moschus that the Cana dian poet derived his concern for the fact that Man alone, being both a part f and apart from the natural world, feels the burden of Time and Death, while Nature itself, whether it be through mere endurance (as in the case of geophysical formations such as rock and ocean) or through seasonal and cyclical recurrence (as is the case with trees, grass and other aspects of the vegetable world), seems immune to the forces of Time and Death. Be this as it may, I shall try to show that a concern with the effects of Time and Death on Man and Nature lies at the core of "The Tantramar Revisited" and, moreover, that the interaction between "external nature" and the "heart" of the speaker is the source of the dialectical and dramatic development that takes place in the poem. This development resides in the gradual transfor mation of the speaker's attitude to and perception of the Tantramar land ~GaPe Mom a place where, in contrast to his own life, there has been "no change" to a place where the forces of "chance and change" have also taken their toll. By means of the interaction between the speaker (Man) and the landscape (Nature) the poem explores the effects of Time and comes close to implying that memory is the only means of preserving even the "illusion" that anything or anyplace is outside or beyond the reach of Time.
It is by no means fortuitous that the cadence and imagery of the open ~line of "The Tantramar Revisited"_"Summers and summers have define, and gone with the flight of the swallow"_is reminiscent of two poems by Tennyson, "Tithonus" and the 'Swallow Song' from The Princess. Both these pieces are concerned with the passage of Time and the cycle of the sea sons, and the echoes of them that sound at the beginning of "The Tantra mar Revisited," together with the verbal and syntactical repetitions that are picked up in the second line ("Sunshine and thunder have been, storm, and winter, and frost"), serve notice of the poem's central themes, while at the ne time, setting in motion its cyclical imagery. In fact, it is now possible to recognize that cyclical imagery provides the basis for the first of several interlacing image patterns in the poem. In the first two lines which have al ready been quoted, cyclical imagery is implicit in the repetition of the word "summers," and it is reinforced by the pauses on the commas between 'Rome, and gone" and after "been," "storm," and "winter." Just as these Petitions and pauses serve to emphasize the slow, cyclical movement of Rime as manifested in seasonal and meteorological changes, so the return
and departure of the swallows emphasizes the circular cycle of the seasons. As t - Spa moves forward the recurring cycles of Time are shown to have had their effect, not only on the human world ("Many and many a sorrow has all but died from remembrance, / Many a dream of joy fall'n in the shadow of pain"), but also on mother Earth herself ("Even the bosom of Earth is strewn with heavier shadows"). It is following the line just quoted in parentheses that the speaker focuses on what he initially perceives to be the- unchanged Tantramar landscape. Before proceeding to examine his evolving response to the landscape, account must be taken of the other two image patterns that are implicit in the opening movement of the poem.
The first of these patterns resides in the use of the imagery of darkness and its opposite, light. As has probably been observed in the passages quot ed, darkness is initially associated in the poem with the effects of Time, which brings to the speaker "the shadow of pain" and to the Earth "heavier shadowy" Throughout the poem, in fact, darkness (shadow, night) is associ ated with the forces of "chance and change" and Time, while light (sun shine, day) is associated, initially at least, with the Tantramar landscape and its surroundings, with the area which, the speaker wants to believe, has remained immune to the ravages of Time. The other pattern of imagery in herent in the opening movement of the poem is the one which devolves from the personification of (mother) Earth as a woman, initially with a "bosom" but subsequently with a "riband" ("Skirting the sunbright uplands"), grass that gossips, "scarf," and dawn with "teeth"_a progression which, in its gradual and deliberate accretion of suggestions of disease and mortality to the personified body of the Berth and to the Tantramar marshland, is indi cative of the speaker's gradually changing perception of his boyhood land scape. As shall be seen in a few moments, it is by means of such movements within the image patterns of "The Tantramar Revisited" that Roberts bod ies forth the dialectical and dramatic development of the poem. To detain us a moment longer, however, there is one more set of contrary images in the pomps long opening stanza.
It has already been observed that the images of darkness are comple mented by images of light at the beginning of the poem and that this dark/ light image pattern is, initially, polarized on either side of the central tension of Time vs. stasis which the speaker creates as he sets the transitoriness of his own life against the apparently unchanging quality of his boyhood land scape. Similarly, the poem's cyclical imagery (imagery based, note, on the circle and cognate shapes) is complemented by an opposing body of images based on the horizontal plane ("long clay dikes," "wide red flats," and, of course, the "Miles and miles"_the phrase is repeated four times for emphasis_of "flat," "level" marshlands) and associated solely with the ap parently timeless, static landscape of the Tantramar. Serving a mediatory function between, on the one hand, the speaker's (cyclical, curved) world of change and time and, on the other hand, the supposedly timeless, static (ho rizontal, flat) world of the Tantramar marshes are, of course, the (convex) "green hills" and "sunbright uplands". These "hills" and "uplands" span the gap between the speaker's "vantage-point" and the lower landscape and, moreover, contain signs both of the effects of Time and Nature acting on the human world ("scattering houses,/ Stained with time") and of the human
attempt to transcend Time and Nature (a "meadow/Shorn of the laboring grass, bulwarked well from the sea"). In the first long stanza of the poem, then, the polarity consisting of dark v. light and cycle v. plane, is Wed by the speaker as a bulwark for his notion that, in contrast, to his own world of "chance and change," the Tantramar marshland is static and Timeless.
The point may now be made that in the middle stanzas of "The Tantra mar Revisited" the speaker's comfortable polarities begin seriously to break down and, in the process, seriously to threaten his "darling illusion" as he observes increasingly that the landscape is not entirely light or flat or im mune to the forces that exact their toll on the world of Man, that, in fact, Time, bodied forth in cyclical imagery and in the imagery of darkness, oper ates here too. Cappon is wrong in his contention that Roberts' "lavished the resources of his style a little too freely on [the] description of the empty net-reels"33 in the central stanzas of the poem. For surely the lengthy and detailed description of the "net-reels" is needed to emphasize the fact that cycles, which is to say the forces of Time, are present too in the Tantra mar marshes. Yet the reels are "empty and idle". Time does appear to be standing still. This stasis is threatened by the memories of the speaker, how ever, as he recalls, in stanza two, "the net-reels/ Wound with beaded nets, dripping and dark from the sea" and, in stanza four, in a passage which brings home to him the realization that movement and Time are aspects of the Tantramar Landscape, remembers how "each reel" used to groan under the p_of Agile nets. Related to the repeated references to the circular "net-reels', may lie the increased emphasis on vertical, as opposed to horizontal or planar lines, in the middle stanzas of the poem_such details as a "white sail" and "the slim, gray masts of fishing boats" also representing the human, and, thus, temporal, presence in the landscape. Similarly, the speaker discovers evidence of darkness in the marshland and its environs: the nets that "lie heaped in the gloom of a loft" and loom "sombrely over the land." And, more overtly, his repeated references to the effects of wind and tide (both of which have strong temporal connotations) on the Tantramar marshes serve to reinforce the sense that the landscape is prey to the ravages of Time.
To use the word 'prey' in this context is to suggest another way in which Roberts makes us conscious of his speaker's growing awareness of the fact that the landscape he is visiting is neither timeless nor static. It is in the third stanza that the speaker observes most pointedly the (circular) "reels. . ./ Over the [horizontal] lines of the dikes," and it is here that he al lows himself to imagine the dark, nocturnal and predatory life of the marsh es, the life which reveals unmistakably the presence in the landscape of the forces of mortality, survival and Time. As he imagines the events that occur in the marshes as the sun, in the cycle, note, of a single day, passes from "morning," through "afternoon" and "sunset," to "night" and back to "dawn," he becomes increasingly aware of the presence there, not only of Time, but also of death_death in the personified vegetable world where "gossiping grass" is cropped and stored for consumption by domestic ani mals and death in the world of wild animals, of "foraging gulls," fish-eating "cranes," and the "Winnowing soft gray wings" of predatory "marsh-owls." (The word "Winnowing" as applied to the wings of the owls yokes together
the vegetable and the animal worlds as parts of the food chain.) Even though by the end of the third stanza the speaker is able to imagine "the awakening wind" blowing out of the predatory "teeth" of the "dawn" and to allow a pristine vision of the "shore jewelled with dew" to supplant his dark vision of the real life of the marshland, the stanza closes on an ominous image~"sea-spoiling fathoms of drift-n~tJ Myriad-meshed, uploom[ing] sombrely over the land"_which ensures But neither he nor the reader can quite forget the darker side of the Tantramar landscape. The third stanza of "The Tantramar Revisited" reminds the reader, too, that this is the same Roberts who would go on to publish The Heart of the Ancient Wood in 1900 and nearly three hundred animal stories.
It should now be clear that the third stanza of "The Tantramar Revisited" contains a more complex conception of the speaker's boyhood landscape than the one offered at the beginning of the poem and modified through the first and second stanzas. By the third stanza the speaker has ar rived at a conception of the marshes in which remembrance, imagination and reality are intermingled, a conception in which circle and plane, dark and light, time and stasis, coalesce and threaten to the point of destruction his earlier assumption that only in his boyhood landscape has there been "no change." Little wonder, then, that in the fourth stanza the speaker re treats almost desperately to the realm of memory: "Well I remember it all" the stanza begins, echoing the same phrase in the second stanza but betray ing too, the desire to remember in both senses of the word "Well." He is to be frustrated, however, in ho wish to retrieve pleasant and happy, timeless and static, ~es of the landscape. Instead, his memory offers him a "salt raw scent" (the "raw" itself recalling, through its association with meat, the previous stanza) and the image of labouring "men at the windlass, groaning each reel"~s the "net" is drawn in. In addition to what has already been said about th~'groaning" of the "net-reels," two things in this stanza are especially remarkable. The first is that here, as nowhere else in the pin, the speaker alludes explicitly to human figures in the marshlands, teethe "men at the windlass" and then, in the last line of the stanza, to "each man" returning (in a possible and appropriate reminiscence of Gray's "Elegy") "to his home." The significance of this is that here the speaker is remembering real men in the real world, men working, moving, living, and, inevitably, dying_in a word, being anything but static and timeless. The second signifi cant aspect of the stanza resides in the speaker's memory of "the net,/ Surging in ponderous lengths [which] uprose and coiled." Here the "drift net" has been given a sinister life of its own, transformed, indeed, into the b; viathan of the sea or the snake in the garden, symbols of the mundane, Then world where hard work, linear Time, and, of course, Death are Man's The "well I remember it all!" which follows the description of the "drift net" and which closes the fourth and shortest stanza of the poem is by no means a "throwaway" phrase: repeated in its new context, where the excla mation point assures a strong emphasis on "all!," it indicates that, at last, the full life (which includes Time and Death) of the Tantramar marshes has become accessible to the speaker's memory in all its harsh reality.
of the Tantramar landscape as a place of "change," morpheme" and time and - ~ ~ i_dVes to concentrate, instead, on the present stasis oboe northlands, to
While the stasis and silence of the speaker, the "landscape," the "boats" and the "reels," suggest that the Tantramar marshes can transcend movement and sound in the fixity that is essential to 'still life' (the French term 'nature morte' comes also to mind here), the figure of the predatory "gray hawk slow-wheeling above you cluster of hay-stacks," echoing back as it does to the gray-winged "marsh owl" and the "fresh-stowed hay" of previous stan zas, makes certain that motion, Time and Death, albeit in a slowed-down ("slow-wheeling") form, are ineluctably present in the scene. If the speaker cannot stop time altogether, he can at least focus his attention on features of the landscape that suggest the negation of time: stasis, silence, stillness and, at worst, slow movement and slow time. The "stir" of the "old-time," though still more sweet than bitter to the speaker ("how once it stung me, with rapture,_/ Old-time sweetness," he exclaims, "the winds freighted with honey and salt!"), has been related to the memory of a memory and so dis tanced in a manner which is psychologically analogous to his "spatial de tachment from the scene."35
What, now, is to be made of the final decision of the speaker as expressed in the last lines of the poem?
There is a very real sense in which these lines bring the poem round "full circle,"36 taking the speaker back to his initial attitude to and perception of the landscape. But the conclusion of the poem differs from the beginning in one important respect, namely that having discovered "dissolution and decay"37 in his beloved landscape, the speaker admits the value of and neces sity for illusions. In this context the corollary to "human kind/ Cannot bear very much reality" must surely be "human kind cannot do very well without illusions." It is part of the dialectical and dramatic action of the poem that, even having remembered and imagined the forces of "chance and change" at work in the landscape of his youth, the speaker of "The Tantramar Revisited" should wish, in the final analysis, to preserve the "distance that lends enchantment" to the marshland, to observe only the pleasing outlines and not the disturbing details of the scene, and to preserve intact, if only for a renewal of the psychic interaction between the memory and the remem bered, the "darling illusion" that there is a corner of past space where there is "no change." Part of the enduring appeal of "The Tantramar Revisited" resides in the fact that it does not allow for any simple resolution of its themes. Instead, it admits man's need for illusion as well as reality, and
I should like to suggest, by way of conclusion, one further reason why Roberts' poetic masterpiece, "The Tantramar Revisited," is of enduring in terest and significance. The reason has to do with the position that the poem occupies in the history of Canadian poetry. "The Tantramar Revisited" is, in part, a topographical poem, a piece of verse whose subject, in Dr. Johndon's famous definition, "is some particular landscape." Its topograph ical aspect has formidable precedents in a tradition that stretches back in English poetry, through poems by Tennyson, Wordsworth, Crabbe, Thom son and numerous others, to Denham's Cooper's Hill (1642) and, in Cana dian poetry, through verses by Sangster, Mair, Howe and others, to Cary's Abram's Plains (1789). It is by comparison with Cary's survey of the re sources of Canada, his confident affirmation of the benefits of British rule in Quebec and his optimistic prognosis for the future of the new colony, that a further historical dimension is added to "The Tantramar Revisited." When Roberts' poem was first published in The Week in December, 1883 Canada was not even twenty years old. Yet it was already apparent that a new ur ban, capitalist, industrial age was in the making, an age that would take the young country away from the rural, agricultural, Maritime roots of the post conquest and pre-Confederation period. And when it was subsequently pub lished in the In Divers Tones volume of 1886, which begins with the "Collect for Dominion Day" followed by "Canada," not only the completion of the C.P.R., but also the second of the Riel rebellions, were fresh in the memories of Canadians. With these things in mind, it is possible and plausible to hear in 'Y'he Tantramar Revisited" the strains of an elegiac lament for a lost in nocence and a halcyon past, not merely in the youth of the speaker, but also in the youth of Canada. What Roberts' speaker hopes to find as he revisits the Tantramar marshes is a landscape unchanged despite the passage of Time; what he does find, all other considerations aside, is a landscape with all the signs_a "road," "dikes," "orchards," "houses,/ Stained with time," "villages"_of a human civilization in tune with the natural rhythms of farming and fishing. In a word, he finds Goldsmith's "Rising Village" or Howe's "Acadia" over half a century later. My suggestion, then, is that the nostalgia of the speaker in "The Tantramar Revisited" can be seen, at one
t least, as a nostalgia for the "old-time" of the country itself. That on amination the supposedly '"olden' age of the past may prove to be an illusion is, of course, a major theme of the poem; that, in the final analysis, such a "darling illusion" is necessary, however, is another. "Dreams," as, no doubt, Roberts knew as well as Lampman, are indeed "real."
The posthumous publication of Jones De Mille's poem on immortality Behind the Veil, lends it a faint air of irony, but even this has not proved, over the years since the poem's publication, sufficient to attract readers or critics in large numbers. Nevertheless, the poem does, I believe, deserve seri ous attention, for although it can be shown to owe something to De Mille's reading, particularly his reading of Richter, Tennyson, and 'he Romantics, it also demonstrates not merely considerable individual) :y of thought and feeling, but also a remarkable experience of religiots mysticism. Conse quently it provides new insight into the man who is most frequently knovm to Canadians only as the author of A Strange Manuscript found in a Copper Cylinder, for close study of the poem shoe s him to be a much more thought ful and complex personality than has previously been imagined.
On its publication in 1893, edited by Archibald MacMechar., the poem does not "em to have been widely or enthusiastically reviewed. Although MacMechan's colleagues at Dalhousie praised it's C.G.D. Roberts, who re viewed it for The Week, was guarded in his remarks:
Behind the Veil is interesting in design, elevated in conception, and measur ably skillful in execution; I:ut its importance seems to me not wholly intrin uc. It ~ important as showing an additional and attractive direction in which De Mille's activity found vent. Its emotion should perhaps be re garded as rhetorical rather than essentially poetical; and for all its wealth of fancy and its frequent brilliancy of expression, it impresses me as being less the native utterance of a poet than the tour de force of a gifted and well-e quipped prose writer.3
The skill in execution which Roberts comments upon no doubt resulted from De Mille's study and profession of rhetoric, which culminated in his publica tion of The Elements of Rhetoric4 two years before his death, although to dim Behind the Veil as a rhetorical exercise, as Roberts seems inclined to do hexes seems to me to be much too severe. Certainly, the formality of the stanza, rhyme scheme, and metre suggests the hand of a rhetorician. The poem consists of 125 stanzas of five (occasionally six) lines of unequal length (4-4-4-8-8 feet respectively, with the last foot of the second and of the fourth line incomplete), in a basically trochaic rhythm, rhyming ABABB. It is a difficult and sophisticated stanza form, and is perhaps not ideally suited to
its purpose of narrative discourse. In the margin of the text appear a number of glosses which summarize the action, somewhat in the manner of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. De Mille's glosses, however, are rather more plain and matter-of-fact than Coleridge's, and by reason of their obviously literary derivation they contribute to the impression of a studied rhetoric.
The subject, moreover, lends itself to the type of elevated treatment Wartimes inaccurately identified as "rhetorical". De Mille presents a vision of Immortality described by a narrator who is permitted to journey into the world beyond the veil of mortality and is there instructed in its nature by one of the spirit inhabitants.5 The subject and its development (even allow ing for the abruptness of the conclusion) "undoubtedly on the grand scale. Yet in spite of the formality of the verse and the grandiosity of the theme, De Mille makes it emphatically clear that he at least intends more than a rhetorical exercise. He prefaces the work with a quotation, in the original Greek, from Plato's Apologia Socratis: ~ lath ~ ^~ ~ ~
So again in the case of the poets also I presently recognized this, that what hey composed they composed not by wisdom, but by nature and because hey were inspired, like the prophets and givers of oracles; for these also say -. ~ zany fine things, but know none ~ things they says
This seems to imply. that he felt himself to be inspired in his poem. Certainly it would be pocsibl~o agree with Roberts that the "emotion should perhaps be regarded as rhetorical" if we assume that the poem's emotion is the joy or wonder which might be expected in a discussion of the nature of immortality and human assurance of it through Christ. Such efforts as De Mille does
ce to present these emotions are, on the face of it, stilted and rhetorical. I ld, however, argue that there is an "essentially poetical" emotion pres ent which Roberts overlooks, and that it is of an unexpected nature, since De Mille offers us a vision of the overwhelming vastness and otherness of the Divine Nature, which evokes in him fear and dismay. To demonstrate this vision and De Mille's response to it, it is necessary to examine in some detail his use of his literary knowledge_in particular his knowledge of the writing of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter.
Influence is not easy to demonstrate to everybody's satisfaction. Mac Mechan had no doubts about saying, in 1890 in a lecture on De Mille, that in Behind the Veil De Mille's thought "is based on Richter's prose" (although in the version later printed in the Canadian Magazine he modifies this slightly to read "in thought [Behind the Veil] owes something to Richter's vision of immortality").7 The German Romantic philosopher-novelist, Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, to whom MacMechan refers, wrote two works which might qualify as a "vision of immortality". Although MacMechan does not specify either by title in the lecture, he does refer to it as a "prose poem", which suggests that he had in mind the "Traum uber das All". According to J.W. Smeed, in Jean Paul's "Dreams", this dates from 1820, towards the end of Richter's life, and is one of a group of what Richter called Traumdichtungen, which were written at intervals during his literary career. Smead also points out that De Quincey's translation of it (under the title of
"Dream upon the Universe", which appeared in the London Magazine in 1824), was one of the most popular works of Richter to appear in English.8 Il is this translation which appears in The Campaner Thal and Other Writing' which was published in Boston in 1864 as a part of a series of translations of Richter's works.9 The Campaner Thal itself is the other piece which mighl qualify as the "vision of immortality" suggested by MacMechan for the source of De Mille's ideas in Behind the Veil. But although it is certainly or the subject of immortality, its subtitle being "Uber die Unsterblichkeit de, Seele" (translated as "Discourses on the Immortality of the Soul"), it is no, a prose poem, but a short tale in which the narrative acts as a frame for the discourses placed in the mouths of the various characters.
MacMechan's remark, however, does not necessarily require a choice of the Dream as a source and rule out the other entirely, particularly as the in ternal evidence of the poem itself is against such a choice. This evidence sug gests that De Mille was familiar with both the Dream and the Campaner Thal, and the appearance of both pieces in the one volume in an edition con veniently accessible to him supports this by making such a familiarity not only possible, but even (in view of MacMechan's confident assertion) highly likely.'_ It is with the internal evidence of Richter's influence, however, that I am most concerned, for it is in the pattern of the parallels with and diver gences from Richter's work that De Mille's individuality of thought and feel ing appears most pronounced.
As a general rule, it might be useful to point out that whereas for the most part Richter and De Mille hold their theory in common, their differing personalities divide them sharply on their understanding of it. Enough simi larities exist between their work to allow the conclusion that they have a common concept of immortality, a common cosmology, and a common im age of the barrier between the mortal and the immortal. The feelings and moods which pervade the works (the Dream and Behind the Veil) arise from an interpretation of that theory by two very different temperaments; this temperamental difference may be characterized by saying (using the adjec tives deliberately in their loosest and most popular sense) that Richter has a Romantic and De Mille a Victorian temperament.
The notion of immortality_of some kind of personal survival after death_can, of course, be traced back in most Western cultures as far as the earliest times from which written records survive." At all times, however, the concept seems to involve both the mode of immortality and the form in which the individual survives, although the details may change from culture to culture. Richter and De Mille are in agreement on both the mode of im mortality and on the form of the survivor, although the grounds of their be lief are not the same.
Richter's vision of the mode of immortality is set out- primarily in the Campaner Thal, and is dependent on the absolute difference of nature or quality between the Creator (God) and the creation (including humankind). This difference at once makes immortality necessary and dictates its mode as an asymptotic progress of the soul towards God. The argument for the di fference of quality and for the consequent necessity of immortality is placed in the mouth of a character referred to as the Chaplain:
No immortality but that of moral beings can be discussed, and with them it is a postulate . . . of practical sense. For as a full conformity of the human will to the moral law, with which the just Creator never can dispense, is quite unattainable by a finite being, an eternally continuing progress, i.e. an unceasing duration, must contain and prove this conformity in God's eyes, who overlooks the everlasting course. Therefore our immortality is neces sary. (CT, pp.~29-30l~; ~: :~
Seest thou not from that communion what an eel is caught?
De Mille's thought, hi is _ philosophically sharp than llichter's. For although he says that souls "move in infinite progression", his marginal gloss says that the "highest joy is union with the Infinite" (God), which sug gests that he sees eventual union with God as a possible end to the infinite progression, and he does not, as Richter does (and must, to avoid undercut ting 1~ argument for the necessity of immortality) emphatically deny "created culmination". De Mille simply relies on the constant reiteration of words such as "forever", "evermore", "perpetual", and "unceasing", to achieve the effect similar to that of Richter's flat denial. Moreover, such a denial is not necessary, since an end to "infinite" progress, however illogical, would not destroy De Mille's belief in immortality, since his belief depends not on God's justice, as does Richter's, but on His love:
In Richter's Campaner Thal and Dream the sense of the downward move ment of the Creator's love for his Creation is missing, so that the dynamic movement of his universe is upward only, whereas De Mille sees a constant =`Q-way movement.
There is, moreover, a crucial difference in their concept or definition of union, in the context of union with the infinite. Richter's vision of the ulti mate union is to see the "upright shadows" of the spirits sinking into the sea of light which is the "All" and by virtue of their increasingly rarefied nature disso}nag into union with it_and so ultimately losing their individual iden Uty. By contrast, De Mille's concept is of union as "communion" in which the identity of the individual is retained. The infinite progression towards union with the infinite is made in his vision by "soul with soul in union
wrought" (qt. 98), suggesting that the earthly "sympathetic union" (qt. 64) which he has enjoyed with his beloved would have been, were they to have died and made the upward journey together, a foreshadowing of the ulti mate union with God_a "personal" union rather than an impersonal "blending". Consequently, I think it is fair to say that even in their agree ment on the mode of immortality, the two writers display characteristic dif ferences of emphasis.
They are in agreement, also, on the form in which the individual sur vives. Their common concept of this falls into Antony Flew's third category of postulated spirit-natures, which he calls "the shadow man". The doctrine of the shadow man, he says,
is the claim that a person is a kind of shadow man, sufficiently human and corporeal to overcome the problem of identification with the familiar flesh and blood person and at the same time sufficiently ethereal and elusive to have no difficulty in escaping unnoticed from the ordinary earthly body which is destined to be burned or buried. This view is found in some of the Christian fathers (for instance, Tertullian in De Anima). A similar view is also held by some modern spiritualists_"the astral body" detaches itself at death to proceed on its "journey to the summerland''.U ~ ~
Both De Mille and Richter see the spirit nature as this type of astral body. Richter's narrator describes it at the beginning of his journey through the universe:
Methought my body sank down in ruins, and my inner form stepped out ap parelled in light: and by my side there stood another form which resembled my own, except that it did not shine like mine, but lightened [i.e. flashed (like lightly] unceasingly. (Dream, pp. 328-329)'2
Here it is clearly visualized as an insubstantial counterpart of the physical body, but constituted of light. De Mille's narrator also leaves his body and travels in its non-material counterpart: "like a Thought, a thing of Light / All my spirit darted up to an immeasurable height" (qt. 8). De Mille's spirit forms, although they are less clearly visualized as anthropomorphic forms, are nevertheless still to some extent like the physical forms; this is demon strated by the Seer's unhesitating recognition of "the Loved and the Lost One" in her spirit form (although this recognition is presumably made by his temporarily "immortal" sense, not by his ordinary mortal ones). The im
teriality of De Mille's spirit forms is also made clear, for De Mille's Seer unts that at his departure into the Invisible world, "a sudden sharp con vulAion / Seized me . . . / All mortality departed" (qt. 8). By way of contrast, however, it should be noted that whereas for Richter the Dreamer's body simply "sank down in ruins" (p. 328), De Mille's Seer has had to purge his body of grosser elements by prayer and fasting in order to reach the point of departure. Nevertheless, De Mille is clearly in agreement with Richter on the essentials: that the spirit form, although less substantial than the bodily form, consisting as it does of light, is still recognizably its counterpart. The philosophical arguments against the existence of such a kind of spirit form, which lead Flew to say that it "must be dismissed as a blind alley", both
Elsewhere, however, both Richter and De Mille seem to try to remain close to fact in their common cosmology. The eighteenth century was a time f great astronomical advance and in the early nineteenth century the accu ~ulated knowledge had begun to spread out beyond purely scientific circles. One of the early inheritors of this knowledge is Richter's Dream, which Smeed describes as "a description of the astronomistst cosmos, imbued with metaphysical significance"; he goes on to point out that the essay by Kruger which Richter cites in the preamble to the Dream was undoubtedly where he "had read of William Herschel's discoveries concerning the vastness of the universe, and had realized for the first time the huge, the almost uni maginable predominance of space over matter".~3 Such sources as the Kruger essay would present what has been called "a qualitative picture of the Galaxy as a flattened system of stars and nebulae, isolated in space [which had] emerged about 1785",~4 and from which the 2,500 other nebulae of Herschel's discoveries were visible. This is the picture of the organization of the cosmos in Richter's Dream: the Dreamer and his spirit guide travel among the systems of the galaxy, "through new cycles of heavens ..." (p. 331), or are c~ - With intergalactic space:
the heavens above us appeared to be emptied . .. and I trembled at the thought of the illimitable dungeon of pure, pure darkness which here began to imprison the creation (p. 330)
But even the darkness of intergalactic space is not final, for further and big ger galaxies lie beyond, with further and bigger spaces between them. More over, in order to accommodate the infinite progression of immortality, the cosmos itself must be infinite in size. Impressed by the vast distances he has travelled, Richter's Dreamer asks about thence of the universe:
. it. .
The universe only seems to be infinite to the minds of its finite, created in habitants. The gradations of created being are infinite, but the set (from the infinite Creator's point of view) is finite. "Creation" adds the Guide, "foils the Spirit o'er and o'er, / And its progress ever onward passes thought for evermore". Like Richter's Dreamer, the Seer has "sped alone the skies" where
which have convinced him of the almost unimaginable size of the universe. Also like the Dreamer, the Seer has confronted the vast barrier "inconceivably extending" (qt. 34) beyond the galaxy he has seen so far, which is only the least among "innumerable others, cumulated o'er o' er"; but unlike the barrier in Richter, De Mille's is "as though Creation / Here in one stupendous object all remaining forms had blent" (qt. 35), and being less easily visualized, is consequently to that extent less effective. (Pos sibly at this point De Mille's concept may owe more to Milton's vision of Chaos in Paradise Lost than to eighteenth-century astronomy).
For both Richter and De Mille the cosmos is inhabited by spirits who make the space between the worlds their home. The treatment of inhabited space, however, is not identical. On the one hand, De Mille's Seer is not only constantly accompanied by his spirit guide, but also discovers that "All the wordless void was peopled by that spiritual host" (qt. 48) and these "Intelligences bright" (qt. 45) are instantly visible to his new faculty of Abso Iute Knowledge. Richter's Dreamer, on the other hand, is left alone when his spirit guide has "vanished to its home in the unseen world of spirits" (p. 333), and the guide remains almost the only spirit form that he actually sees. For when, preceding its disappearance, the guide urges him to see "by intuition'',l5 he does not see immortal spirits against a background of the coa~nos, as does De Mille's Seer; instead, the Dreamer's culminating vision is a symbolic representation of the nature of immortality in which individual souls are only "upright shadows in the form of men" (p. 332), blending into the sea of light:
Immediately my eyes were opened; and I looked, and I saw as it were an in terminable sea of light,_sea immeasurable, sea unfathomable, sea without a shore. All spaces between all heavens were filled with happiest light: and there was a thundering of floods: and there were seas above seas, and seas below the seas: and I saw all the trackless regions that we had voyaged over: and my eye comprehended the farthest and the nearest: and darkness had become light, and the light darkness: for the deserts and wastes of the cre ation were now filled with the sea of light, and in this sea the suns floated like ash-gray blossoms, and the planets like black grains of seed. Then my heart comprehended that immortality dwelled in the spaces between the worlds, and death only amongst the worlds. Upon all the suns there walked upright shadows in the form of men: but they were glorified when they quitted these perishable worlds, and when they sank into the sea of light: and the murky planets, I perceived, were but cradles for the infant spirits of the universe of light. (p. 332)
This passage of Richter's (as translated by De Quincey) is worth quoting at some length not merely because of its sheer magnificence, but also because that magnificence demonstrates De Mille's independence of Richter at this point. De Mille offers no pallid imitation of the passage (as he might if he were merely using Richter's thought as MacMechan suggests); he is simply indifferent to this type of effect. Space, to De Mille, is precisely that, and he
uses the cosmos, with almost no symbolic overtones, as the background for a human drama; whereas to Richter, in its symbolic manifestation as light, space is the condition of another mode of human life, and consequently an intro1 part of the general human nature (albeit as yet a potential one for the. We may therefore conclude that with their common cosmol ogy , s with their common understanding of the mode of immortality, though not of the spirit natures that inhabit it), the interpretations of the same theory by these two writers offer sufficient diversity of detail and em phasis to demonstrate unmistakably their characteristic difference of inter est.
Their use of a common image is also marked by an underlying diver gence of interest. Richter's use of this image is characteristically sweeping in concept and exotic in presentation. "Come, then," says his Dreamer's spirit guide, "and wait on me with thy flight, that I may show to thee the universe under a veil" (p. 329). But it is not until the culminating vision of the uni verse as it is manifest to spirit sight is reached that the reader is allowed to ~hat the veil is and what it covers
The suns we" but as ~ He, to planets no more than weavers' shuttles, in relation to the infinite web which composes the veil of Isis; which veil is hung over the whole creation, and lengthens as any finite being
The eyes of the mortal see the universe as composed of stars and suns, sur rounded by seas of darkness; the eyes of the immortal spirits see a sea of light in which float dark islands (the suns and planets); both, however, are equally looking at a mere appearance, since as created creatures they cannot see beyond creation. Only the Creator is outside creation and what veils him from his creatures is the absolute difference, already referred to, between creation and creator which necessitates immortality. The veil for Richter, then is the final mystery of the universe, hiding the face of God.l6
n fact, De Mille read Richter's Dream, the image of the veil of Isis may eve brought up associations of the veil in other contexts, but beyond this general stimulus, De Mille's treatment of the image of the veil has al most nothing in common with Richter's. Indeed, beyond using it in his title, De Mille does not refer to it directly at all. The title-phrase, "behind the veil", is explained by the Oxford English Dictionary as being used "figuratively or allusively, chiefly after Hebrews 6:19; now commonly with reference to the next world". Both Hebrews 6:19 and 9:13 make reference to the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem, where it concealed the Tabernacle from the worshippers, and was entered only by the High Priest and by him only on the Day of Atonement; the veil, according to Matthew 25:51 (AV), was "rent from top to bottom" at the moment of Christ's death. Certainly the re ligiousness of his family background would have made De Mille extremely familiar with these references and with their orthodox interpretation within the Baptist faith (in which he was largely brought up) and the Church of England faith (to which he later turned). In addition, the phrase may have gained in popularity from its use, which Christopher Ricks describes as hav
his would also certainly have been known to De Mille whose reading of In : Yemoriam is attested by his comment on it in the Elements of Rhetoric. There is nothing in De Mille's poem which is not reconcilable with these nearer sources than Richter's Dream, and although the phrase "behind the veil" was less of a commonplace in the period in which he was presumably writing than it is now, it would nevertheless have been even then rather the use of an orthodox but fashionably current phrase, than a startling origi nal invention. Both his concept and his presentation of the image are equally orthodox: plain, simple, and unexotic. The veil, he implies, is the veil of mortality and of the corporeal body. In the Introduction to the poem, the Seer relates how he fasted and prayed
Wearing down my mortal nature 'mid a thousand doubts and fears
The veil in De Mille's concept, then, cuts the mortal off from the immortal, the living from those in the afterlife. The use of the image in so orthodox a
4orm demonstrates once again how far he is from Richter's thought, even vhere they seem to have most in common.
Beyond their common cosmological theory, the divergence between the two becomes even greater. To a certain extent the differences of emphasis and detail in their interpretation of it already show the pressure of their dif fering temperaments. This temperamental difference, which I have already referred to as the difference between the Romantic and the Victorian turn of mind, can now, however, be more specifically defined as a divergence of both personal feeling and private aesthetics. A series of polarities can be shown to exist between the emotional and the rational personality, between the sen suous and the abstract imagination, and between the naturally religious and the orthodoxly religious believer. It is these polarities which distinguish De Mille's vision even further from that of Richter.
The polarity between the emotional and the rational temperament is ev ident in the structure of the Dream and of Behind the Veil and in the pres entation of the spirit guides which accompany their respective narrators When MacMechan refers in his lecture on De Mille to "Richter's beautiful vision of Immortality", he uses the term vision somewhat loosely; in the Traumdichtungen of which the "Traum uber das All" is one, Richter, ac cording to Smeed, deliberately set out "with the aid of images and sequences
which possess much of the freedom of the dream, to express transcendental concepts".~9 He therefore employs prose as best suited to produce the loose organization and pseudo-incoherence of free-association: we drift freely from image to image with little narrative guidance. It is moreover, clearly an nounced as a dream, not only by the title, but also from within; to the narrator's reflections on astronomy succeed "the following dream" (p. 328). In this deliberate creation of a dreamlike structure, Richter seems, we may assume, to be asserting his freedom from the tyranny of rational argument: since the piece is presented as non-rational by its nature as a dream, he can not be required to defend its neglect of logic to rationalist critics.
De Mille, on the other hand, is a rationalist concerned to defeat rational ist critics; his poem is cast deliberately as a vision (that is, a dream in the more formal sense of the biblical dreams of prophecy) rather than an ordi ~wy drum: of the kind Richter was trying to imitate. It is produced, more over, as a result of spiritual discipline (prayer, fasting, and mourning), for he has, as it were, to earn his "Revelation" (qt. 2), and when he enters the "Invisible ... unfolded" (qt. 4), the spiritual sense he is granted is "Knowledge, Absolute and True" (qt. 9). This vision is rationally structured inflections, each of which deals with a particular item of information which DiMille wishes to convey to the reader about the nature of immortality: the perpetuation of earthly happening _1, the structure of the universe as a habitation for immortal spirits in Bathe nature of immortal spirits in 13, and so on. Furthermore, De Millers narrative has an overall dramatic shape to it_the search for and encounter with the spirit of the woman the Seer has loved_and the reader is not only conscious of this narrative frame work, but also aware that everything is artistically subordinated to it. Even more than this, however, the formal precision of the verse assists materially in the presentation of a vision since it constantly provokes awareness of ra tional control.
The differing personalities of the two spirit guides reflect the same polar ity of emotional and rational temperament. Richter's spirit guide is hardly a personality at all: he says little and disappears without warning at the end, leaving the Dreamer alone, and what he does say is more to direct the Dreamer's attention to what is around him than to explain its significance. He is as insubstantial as a personality, in fact, as he is physically. De Mille's spirit guide for his Seer, however, is a very solid and reassuring personality. .H~ function is to answer the Seer's questions and to comfort his considera ~le distress, and his performance of these duties suggests that he was un ~oubtedly a minister and a university professor in his mortal days. Whereas Richter's spirit guide, directing the Dreamer's attention to things, some times seems to be no more than a technical device to move from one image to another, De Mille's spirit guide, by the extent of his personality, is much more. At different times he comforts the Seer's grief, prevents him from fall ing into despair, rebukes his habit of jumping to conclusions, and instructs him on the nature of Divine Love; he also shows himself to be self-sacrificing in that he has left a much higher position in the ranks of the immortals to assist those spirits who are just starting on the infinite progression from earth towards union with God. Consequently, in himself he reifies the kind of divine love about which he instructs the Seer, and which Richter's
The polarity of personality which sets Richter and De Mille apart in the structure of their work is matched by a polarity between Richter's sensuous imagination and De Mille's abstract one. Richter consistently prefers the concrete to the abstract: "Two thoughts are the wings with which I move; the thought of Here, and the thought of There. And behold! I am yonder" (p. 329), whereas De Mille prefers the abstract "the motion of the Spirit with its Will alone agrees" (qt. 27). Richter also prefers the specific to the general: "thy spirit can bear only earthly images of the unearthly", says the spirit guide to the Dreamer (p. 332). De Mille's Seer, however, is not limited to "earthly images", and his freedom is not presented in terms of image or ap pearance, but as "mortal sense . . . grown immortal" (qt. 9), which, although it conveys a more general freedom, is at the same time somewhat vague, since it loses the implication, clearly present in Richter, that the unearthly might be too much for a spirit still earthbound. Richter, moreover, visualizes abstract concepts strongly: "one heaven after another unfurled its immea surable banners before us, and then rolled up behind us" (p. 329), whereas De Mille is content to leave them in abstract terms: "Systems evermore in creasing / Still succeeding . . . / Vast assemblages unceasing" (qt. 31). Here the word "assemblages" is too colourless to convey any visual image. Where De Mille does choose to visualize, his management of detail is excellent:
In tins Description only, of all those m the poem, is there any suggestion of sensuous pleasure in light and its contrast with darkness, such as clearly in forms Richter's culminating vision of the sea of light.
Curiously enough the contrast of imagination seems to have little to do with each man's feeling for the physical world. Richter's hell, as described in others of the Traunrulichtungen, "is born", according to Smeed, "of revulsion against earthly life",20 and it is because of this revulsion that he calls earth a "dirty clod"2' and dismisses the solid heavenly bodies to a minor role in the spiritual universe: "the murky planets ... were but cradles for the infant spirits of the universe". Consequently, "the upright shadows in the form of men" become glorious only "when they quitted these perishable worlds, and w}. they sank into the sea of light" (p. 322). De Mille, by contrast, seems to Have a tremendous affection for the earth: "the spell of earth had bound me", says his Seer, and in the first section of the poem De Mille spends longer on the description of the beauty of the earth (a description which has no counterpart in Richter, whose Dreamer says quickly and apparently with relief, "Soon there remained nothing visible of our system") than is strictly necessitated by his purpose of conveying_in the perpetuation of the images that are projected out into space_the idea that nothing of earth is lost. In Richter we see light travailing towards the earth, but nothing of earth goes outward. The spiritual nr~rPq~ of De Mille's immortals, furthermore, is not
contingent on their distance from the earthly and solid, for "the rolling stars were where they congregated most" (qt. 48), and the spirit guide can descend (as it were) to the Seer's level to attend to his problems and needs, as to the prims and needs of other spirits just leaving earth, without compromis ing his spiritual nature or status (qt. 117, 120). Moreover, when Richter's Dreamer is left alone by his spirit guide, he yearns not for the earth he has left, but for some "sympathizing being" p. 333); but De Mille's Seer, in spite of the continued presence of his syncthizing guide, still finds that "a and and homesick longing / All my momful soul possessed" (qt. 94), and to is a distinctly compassionate feeling about his return to his body, I, his guide tells him, "thy heart still feebly flutters in its soulless tenement" (qt. 124), and this feeling persists in spite of the abruptness of the poem's ending. The Seer, although his vision is described in much less con crete terms than the Dreamer's, is essentially the more solidly anchored to what we think of as concrete reality. ~
The final polarity which sets Richter and De Mille apart is that between the naturally religious and the orthodoxly religious believer. The distinction I am malting here is perhaps best clarified by pointing out that a naturally religious believer is one who can say, as Richter does, "Then my heart comprehended that immortality dwelled in the spaces between the worlds" (p. 332, my emphasis). An orthodoxly relgious believer, on the other hand, is one for whom religion is "revealed", and thus consciously understood. De Mille represents 0a Seer in his grief as being supported by such a conscious understanding of the existence of life after death: "Dead she is not, but Im mortal .... / Soft amid the storm of sorrow came this still consoling thought" (qt. 74, my emphasis). This difference is partly the consequence of the difference between the emotional temperament of Richter and the ra tional one of De Mille, and does not necesarily imply that De Mille's belief is any less sincere than Richter's. It does, however, involve in the believer a radically different type of response to the religious implications of his under standing of the afterlife. Richter's Dreamer experiences an episode of spirit ual comfort and assurance which is without any moral implication or qualifi cation; the sheer size of the universe induces in him, it is true, a spasm of loneliness: "I am too solitary in the creation itself," he tells his guide, and after the departure of his guide he feels the need for the presence of some "sympathizing being". But even so the anxiety and loneliness he experiences are far lea than the sense of inadequacy and fear experienced by De Mille's Seer. The latter's experiences are qualified by moral considerations, as is niade very clear in his response to the idea that all earthly things are projected in images across the universe for ever, for he immediately thinks of his sinfulness: "a thought stood black before me_/ Shall Infinity for ever write the records of my sin?" (qt. 26), a question which is, however, not actu ally put to the spirit guide. The idea of spiritual inadequacy is repeated later in his address to the guide: "Son of Heaven, full well thou knowest / What a thing of nought am I . . ." (qt. 103). Consequently, the journey behind the veil is for him an experience of spiritual chastening, comparable to that of Caleridge's narrator in the Riming of the Ancient Mariner, and it is possible that the marginal glosses, the idea of which De Mille borrowed from Coler idge, are used not merely as literary decoration but as a hint of this parallel
Richter's Dreamer, moreover, at Me end of his vision of the sea of light, realizes that "in sight of this immeasurability of life, no sadness could en dw~r, but only joy that knew no limit" (p. ;332). Vast as it is the universe has ii _om for sadness, and the final point of the Dreamer's experience is that Cloy of immortality (induced by his vision of the Christchild) should in
I-=w~b~t my~appiness survived my dream: and I exclaimed, 0 how beautiful is death, seeing that we die in a world of life and of creation with out end! and I blessed God for my life upon earth, but much more for the life in those unseen depths of the universe which are emptied of all but the Supreme Reality, and where no earthly life nor perishable hope can enter. (P- 333)
By contrast, De Mille's Seer finds that his mortal grief is intensified in the spirit world;
At the end of the poem De Mille's Seer, therefore, takes refuge in his body which will, by its coarser nature, protect him from the "anguish" of his ina bility to communicate with the Loved and Lost One in the afterlife. The point, however, seems to be not that immortality is worthless because it will not reunite him with his beloved, but rather that he still has to develop spir itually to a point where he seeks the highest joy (of union with God), rather than its pale imitation (union with another created being). In this there is a marked contrast between the Dreamer and the Seer_a contrast which is further emphasized by the manner of their entry into the spirit state. On the one hand, the Dreamer slips naturally into the joyous state of the afterlife just as he slips naturally in his sleep into the dream in which that afterlife is revealed to him. On the other hand, the Seer, who has had to discipline his body to obtain his vision of the afterlife, experiences that afterlife as a fur
~er disciplining of the soul (through the guide's instruction). The polarity us indicated emphasizes De~ille's orthodox, conscious understanding of religion as opposed to Richter'~hatural religiousness.
This polarity is further emphasized by the difference in emotional col ouring between the two pieces. The key to Richter's Dream is joy, especially at the end when, at the final vision of the Christchild, the Dreamer is seized with "a sudden rapture of joy such as passes all understanding" (p. 333), and throughout the piece there are several startlingly beautiful images of joy and wonder, such as the return of light after the darkness of the intergalactic
At ~atic moment of Behind the Veil, however, when the Guide an noui~o him, "Lo, before thee, bright and splendid,/ Moves thy Loved One", the Seer finds that all his being sinks "by sudden fear oppressed" (qt. 78), and throughout the poem he is repeatedly overwhelmed by fear and despair, imaged by his comparison of himself to the "fear-bewildered stranger .,/ Reeling o'er the merge of nab", for "So I reeled, and seemed descending dam fathomless abyss" (qt. 91). Indeed, even when his initial fear of his beloved in her spirit form is overcome, he is still "bewildered" by hey "pure celestial glow" (qt. 79). The final impression of the Seer is of a man ~ A whose "belief was rudely clobbered" (to quote Peanuts) and sorely in need of the Divine Love, the assurance of which has been described to him but which he has been unable to take in emotionally.
Paradoxically, however, the very extremity of their difference on this is sue becomes a signal that the essence of the two visions is identical. Both men have glimpsed the "holy"_what Rudolph Otto defines as "the myste rium tremendum et fascinans", which evokes both fear and desire in the beholder.22 Richter has glimpsed one aspect of it, that which evokes desire (and the "rapture of joy" which he records); De Mille has glimpsed the other_the "tremendum", which evokes fear, not because it is menacing or even ugly, but simply by virtue of its "otherness". So that although Richter an6~Iille have only a loose relationship on the purely human and liter ary ~8inoe widely differing tempma~b Separate their interpretations of a c~l~hon~cosmological theory), this gives way on the spiritual level to a shared mysticism and a common vision of the "mysterium". Moreover, the rem - lotion of the centrality of the "mysterium" to De Mille's poem provides a resolution for the several self-contradictions or paradoxes in the poem which are otherwise hard to reconcile. For De Mille writes a poem distin guished by its formality of structure and rational discourse, yet prefaces it with anuotation which defines poetic inspiration as non-rational. He pres ents t.~apparently joyous and inspiring theme of immortality and the spirit Ii 'e in a narrative in which they appear to become a source rather of fear and dismay than of joy and wonder. And in a poem whose cosmology is clearly designed to represent, as a tribute to the Creator, an astronomically accurate picture of the size and magnificence of the universe, almost all De Mille's warmth of feeling is apparently reserved for the vision of the earth it 8elf and for the mortal bodies that inhabit it. Moreover, the grief which is portrayed and which is made the more unbearable for the Seer by the fact that life after death will not reunite the lovers, does not appear (from the lit tle that is known about him) to have any foundation in De Mille's own life. Left unreconciled, such a series of contradictions could add up merely to what Cogswell has called "a bad poetical exercise" in rhetorical Reconciled, however, in terms of a vision of the "mysterium", they fall into place as a se ries of attempts to recognize, comprehend, and accept the fear and the desire evoked in the creature by the vision of the creator.
The reconciliation is not total, but nevertheless most of the major difficulties can be answered. The formal precision of the verse, for example, emerges as an attempt to control an overwhelming experience, and is per haps rather overdone, since what is intended to control ends up by almost totally concealing that experience; the vision must be brought under some
degree of control, however, as much to allow the visionary to cope with it, as to enable him to communicate it to others. Furthermore, the Seer's appar ently naive mistakings of lesser spirits for "the Infinite" also fall into place as repeated attempts to keep things down to manageable proportions; the Seer is already overwhelmed by the spirit guide's appearance in all its jesty_to assume that this is the "Infinite" protects him, as it were, from lving to face the knowledge that something even greater and more over elmingly majestic exists. Moreover, since the Seer's understanding of the joy and wonder of immortality and Divine Love is evidently clouded by his much more immediate emotional encounter with the "otherness" of the Di vine Nature, the Divine Love must be asserted consciously in the poem; yet such a conscious (and, I believe, genuine) affirmation is insufficient to bal ance out the visionary impact of the other, and hence appears merely as a rather ponderous "sermon" on the subject. The warmth of feeling reserved for the earth also seems less strange in this context, for the earth is now seen as that part of the created universe which can be praised uninhibitedly be cause its relatively small size and its familiarity set it within the Seer's ca pacity to comprehend and love. On the other hand, a grief which has left no observable trace in De Mille's own life-history (if indeed it ever had a bio graphical source) is, by force of its association with the spirit universe, itself magnified to cosmic proportions. These reconciliations, therefore, which bring apparent paradoxes into a comprehensible pattern, offer the critic and the general reader an opportunity to take a new and less dismissive view of the poem. ~ ~ ~
Behind the Veil is, consequently, a surprising, even a startling poem, if it is looked at closely, although it must be admitted that in purely poetic terms it is not a wholly successful one. Just as surprising is the character of James De Mille which, in so far as the poem (and especially its persona-narrator, the Seer) can be said to represent the writer in some way, emerges from its pages. It is hard to reconcile either the sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued social critic who wrote the Strange Manuscript, or the sober and respectable Dal housie professor who wrote The Elements of Rhetoric, with the religious mystic whose vision is recorded in Behind the Veil. The solemn Victorian gentleman who stares from the frontispiece of the published version of the poem is not as straightforward as he looks, and the fiction of the Strange lanuscript may prove less strange than the fact of Behind the Veil.
The translation quoted here is from Plato, "Apology", in Plato, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phacdrus ed. with an English translation by Harold N. Fowler (London: Heine mann; Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1914, r/p 1966), p. 85.
Archibald MacMechan, "James De Mill [sic]: The Writer and the Man" (Dal.MS 2.82.G. in the Killam Library Archives of Dalhousie University); Canadian Magazine 27:5 (Sep tember 1906), pp. 404-416.
Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, The Campaner Thal and Other Writings (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1864). In this edition The Campaner Thal is translated by Juliette Bauer and the Analects from Richter (which include the "Dream upon the Universe") are translated by Thomas De Quincey. Subsequent references to the Campaner Thal (abbreviated to CT in page references included in the text) will be to this edition. All subsequent references to the "Dream upon the Universe" (abbreviated to Dream in the text) will also be to this edi tion: where I have found it necessary to refer to the original German, references are given to the text as interpolated into Der Komet in Jean Pauls Samtliche Werhe, Pt. I, Vol. 15 (Weimar: Hermann Bohlaus Nachfolger, 1973), pp. 113-117.
The Archivist of Brown University informs me that a thirty-volume set of Richter's works (published in Berlin in 1840) has been in the Brown University Library since 1845. De Mille could read German, so it is possible that he may have become familiar with the Campaner Thal and the "Traum uber das All" in the original German during his years at Brown. The text of Behind the Veil does not offer any evidence to show whether he read it in the German or the English translation. The only direct evidence I have of his acquain tance with Richter is that he cites De Quincey's memories of his translation of Richter (in an essay on Style) in his textbook on rhetaric (Elements of Rhetoric, pp. 280-281, _299).
Antony Flew, "Immortality", in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Paul Edwards, Vol. 4 (New York: Macmillan and The Free Press; London: Collier-Macmillan, 1967), p. 139. Flew notes that "the literature on the philosophical problems involved in the question of future life begins with Plato" (p. 139). And a future state of immortal spirits is vividly de picted as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh about 3,000 B.C.
13 Smeed, p. 30n.
14 William H. McCrea, "Structure and Properties of the Universe", in Encyclopedia Britannica (15th Edition), Vol. 29, p. 1013.
15 This is the one point from which it might be assumed that De Mille knew the German rather than the English version. For where De Quincey's translation reads "But thy spirit can bear only earthly images of the unearthly; now then I cleanse thy eyes with euphrasy; look forth, and behold the images" (p. 322), the German reads, "Aber dein Geist vertragt nur irdische Bilder der Ueberirdischen; schaue die gilder!" (p. 116). "Schauen" here seems to be used in its sense of "to see by intuition", and De Mille's faculty of "Absolute Knowledge" (qt. 9) has more in common with this concept than with De Quincey's Mil tonic~herb "euphrasy" (cf. Paradise Lost XI, 1. 414).
16 Richter's allusion to the veil of Isis seems to be, directly or indirectly, to the veiled statue of ISD supposed to have existed in the temple at Sais, which bore the inscription "I am all that has been and is and will be; and no mortal has ever lifted my veil", and which is men tioned by Plutarch in De Iside et de Osiride, Ch. 9, and by Proculus in In Platonis Ti maeum Commentaria. "Hence", according to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1970), "to lift the veil of Isis is to pierce the heart of a great mystery".
Tennyson, In Memoriam LVI, in The Poems of Tennyson, ed. Christopher Ricks (London: Longman's, 1969), 11. 25-28. The last line is the QED's earliest citation for the phrase (1860\.
18 The manuscript of the poem was found among De Mille's papers after his death, according to MacMechan's prefatory note to the published version, and no date for its composition has been established. I am presuming,~ntatively, that it was written towards the end of his life, and most probably subsequent ~js move to Halifax in 1865.
19 Smeed, p. 3.
20 Smeed, p. 32.
21 In Bauer's phrase, "the dark, dirty clump of the sensuous world" (Ct. p. 37), "clump" translates the German "Klumpen" although "clod" would be as accurate and also convey the imag~of Richter's original more clearly.
The poetry of Isabella Valancy Crawford has not gone completely unad mired she her death in 1887, though it has never been elevated to the stat ure of ~ work of Lampman and Roberts. Students of Canadian poetry, throughout this century, have generally been aware of a handful of lyrics and of the narrative poem Ma~olm's Katie, or at least of excerpts from this long work. Based on these poems there has developed a view of the poet_as a brilliant but unironic possessor of a sensuous, romantic imagination_which, while not untrue, seems now somewhat incomplete. A new complexity concem~ng Crawford's perception of the world has been sug gestd recently by the discovery of an unfinished narrative poem, called var iously The Hunters Twain, Narrative Two and Hugh and Ion. This frag ment of eight hundred and forty lines which, one can speculate, likely repre sents Crawford's final literary project during the last period of her short life, presents a marked contrast with the earlier poetry and particularly with the earlier narrative poem. Not enough of the unfinished poem exists to allow us to say that Crawford was entering a new stage in her development; at the least, however, it reflects a significant departure for her, not only as poet but also as social critic.
. - J~alcolm's Katie, Crawford's major narrative production published in -1884, stands out sharply among the many narrative poems of the nineteenth century on the basis of its poetic integrity and imaginative strength. While appearing on the surface melodramatic and stereotyped, Crawford's love story is compelling and powerful; what seems at first a conventional conflict between rival suitors for the hand of the heroine becomes a serious, even profound, account of philosophical, social and ideological confrontations. These wider implications of the poem are, however, contained in and con trolled by the undisguised, almost aggressively foregrounded, romance su perstructure. The symmetrical, enclosed romance framework of Malcolm's Katie is articulated with such confidence and exuberance that one feels that Crawford must have accepted the romantic vision without ambiguity; the poem in all its aspects provides clear evidence that the poet understood the implications of the romance form and was in complete control of her materi al. However, while Malcolm's Katie, considered in isolation, appears lucid, self-confident, dynar~c~add unambiguous, when it is juxtaposed with Hugh and Ion interesting questions Reread.
The first thing to be said about Hugh and Ion is that its fragmentary na ture must make every comment tentative; no critical agreement has been reached so far about such basic matters as the order of the text or the assign ment of speeches. Nevertheless, if we accept the edition of the fragment pre pared by Glenn Clevericertain broad outlines appear. In general, we can see that the-incomplete work is a kind of inversion or parody of the earlier, finished poem, and that the romantic idealism which provided the structural core of Malcolm's Katie is, in Hugh and Ion, pulled inside out and subjected to rigorous questioning. Several episodes in the unfinished poem seem com sciously to parallel important scenes in the earlier work, with the differences in emphasis and atmosphere making Hugh arid Ion a sort of gloomy, dis torted mirror image of Malcolm's Katie.
The action, in Malcolm's Katie, begins with a ringing affirmation of the power of love. The pledging of eternal vows between Max and Katie in the first section provides the impetus for the circular, and essentially comic, movement of the poem back to reaffirmation. The opening section of Hugh and Ion also shows us a lover taking leave of his beloved, but the mood, tone and situation are precisely the opposite an unnamed, predatory woman casually rejects her suitor and sends him away in despair. This "falcon lady" with a "hard, high soul," who blinds herself against the mystery and power of love with a "jewell'd hood," is the reverse image of Katie. The connection between them is made unmistakable by the use of related descriptive im ages: early in Part One of Malcolm's Katie, Katie's "small, rose face" is de scribed as "A seed of love to cleave into a rock/ And bourgeon thence until the granite splits/ Before its subtle strength;"2 the spiritual distance be tween these two women is illustrated when the falcon lady is described in the first lines of the fragment as having "within the strong stone of her soul/ A little feeble seed of womanhood."3
In Malcolm's Katie love is a powerful and positive force. Max and Katie, by virtue of their love, inhabit a special world which has, according to Max, "its own sun_its own peculiar sky,/ All one great daffodil."4 In the second poem, however, the matter of love is seen in a much more ironic light. For the falcon hay, love is "the deep, dense darkness of the soul/ Beaten by arms that passionately grope/ And catch the void." (32-4) Love is an illusion which leads only to "vinle Hate_or to languid Loathing," (112) and this she rejects in favour of a soulless, superficial, patrician mode of existence; ro mantic love is rejected, as Christ was rejected, in favour of Barabbas, who appears here as a portly stockbroker. who
- When Max leaves Katie at the end of Part One, he proceeds immedi ately to the forest where, spurred on by love, he begins to build their future home. No discontinuity is suggested between the settlement where Katie's father has his home and mill, and the "dim, dusky woods" where Max in tends to repeat the process_all that divides one from the other is time and a good deal of axe-labour. In stark contrast to the idyllic setting at the start of Malcolm's Katie, the opening sections of the later poem are set in a demonic urban world which is separated from the pioneer pastoral world of the earlier poem by more than just an interval of time. Life in the "infant city", where it appears that the rejected lover must stay until spring, is an extension of the materialistic, exploitive ethic of the falcon lady:
lithe city ~ a <I of vice^and squalor surrounded by an un touched wilderness, and no continuity whatsoever exists between the two settings. All of the evils of a materialistic, class society have been walled in, and any vision of the wilderness as a "bounteous mother" able to succour all of the "fleers of the waves of want"5 has been walled out. The sense of the containment of the fetid city by the primal forest is nicely conveyed both in the structure and the content of the following passage:
With the illimitable wilderness around
Both Malcolm's Katie and Hugh and Ion are constructed on the dialecti cal tension between meaning and meaninglessness, but the treatment of the debate in the two poems is quite different. In Malcolm's Katie the conven tional nature of the form seems to direct, even demand, a somewhat rigid, black-and-white resolution of the dialectic. The central episode of the poem, both structurally and thematically, is the confrontation of Max and Alfred in the forest, a relatively short but highly charged scene which ends with the apparent victory of Alfred. The melodramatic rivalry of the two men over shado - Intellectual debate between nihilism and faith; Alfred is seen as a villain ~ remains one, despite some attempts by Crawford to imply an eventual unification of contraries.
The scene in the unfinished poem corresponding to the confrontation of Max and Alfred again shows significant differences. It is, first of all, much longer_almost five hundred of the eight hundred lines are devoted to the wilderness debate, which makes it the major section of the poem. As well,
gues; Hugh and Ion are not rivals in love but friends who amicably disagree about philosophical questions. It is unclear which of the two, if either, is the rejected lover of the first section, and while such details of narrative continu ity might have been clarified with revision, it could also be a conscious at tempt to suggest that both hope and despair can emerge from rejection.
The spokesman for Hope is Hugh, whom we meet first in the city, react ing with revulsion to the human degradation that is all around. With the coming of spring Hugh goes to the wilderness to be purified, but pledges to return to redeem the people of the city from the Barabbas-ethic, even against their will if need be; ~ ~-~ ~ .- ~ i. n . -A ~
The spokesman for Despair is Ion. At another time Ion was an artist who enjoyed considerable success, but with the coming of a "troublous love" he "flung/ His canvas to the dust" and "hurri'd far/ Into the wilds from his false falcon love." (603-613)
We observe the two friends for one full day, from before dawn until after nightfall, and as they camp, fish and canoe together they debate the great question of life: do events move according to a plan towards harmony and order, or is life a constant, and losing, struggle against chaos? Hugh is regen erated by the wilderness and sees evidence for Hope everywhere; the large, beneficent pattern can be perceived, he argues, if we have the strength "To clamber up God's breast, and look abroad/ From thence across the universe, and see/ All His broad purpose." (410-12) Ion scorns and rejects such self-in d~ance _'Full-fed and prating peace from dimpling lips;" (424) he opts in stead for "despair's strong certainty_I'll stand/ On that grim cliff, and dominate the world." (397-98) Hugh sees in the wilderness the answer to the vice and woe of the city, and he describes his idea in term`: that c:~:t the unselfish, inclusive paradise
day neither side has weakened; the debate is unresolved and both men go to sleep.
The completely enigmatic final section of the fragment, which breaks off In mid-sentence, gives one little help in speculating about a possible resolu tion. Is Hugh's terrifying nightmare, in which he iB hanging on a sheer cliff face, a psychic trial from which he will emerge able to translate his program into reality? Or is it a vision of the true state of spiritual affairs? One view is suggested in Glenn Clever's "Introduction": "Ion's realistic humanism stands out against the blurred idealistic values represented by Hugh and offers a tentative resolution of the major tensioned Although Ion's ironic and pessimistic perspective is not as extreme as Alfred's bleak vision of "the I blank paths of Space and blanker Chance,"' the latter is rejected so emphat ically in Malcolm's Katie that it is difficult to conceive of Crawford abjuring her idealism so completely. To suggest that Ion's view would ultimately pre vail in the finished poem is to imagine Crawford making a tremendous imag inative leap away from the romantic optimism of Malcolm's Katie.
Another ending, perhaps more likely, might see Hugh return in some manner to the city to effect a reconciliation between the wilderness and the city. The description of Hugh prepares us for his role as an intermediary be tween the two worlds:
Whether Crawford means literally that Hugh is a blond Metis, or whether it iB only that he has a strong spiritual affinity with the Indian way of life, the implication is that he has a foot in both worlds.8 A reconciliation between the city and the wilderness, by creating an alternative society in a forest col ony, would only be a partial solution, however. The city, still inhabited by the falcon lady and the Barabbas-people, will remain. The serpents of indi vidualism and materialism are securely within the garden now, and will not commit suicide in despair, like Alfred, in the face of unshakeable virtue. The redemptive: potential of Hugh, though real, is very tenuous in comparison with that of M6x and Katie. h i~er set
tlement is an emphatic and exuberant "Yes!"_it is possible to reshape the wilderness in humane and creative ways. The process of building a nation in that poem is a manifestation of the power of love, as much as is the union of two lovers. This unblinking optimism, however, appears to change in Hugh and Ion to an attitude of more than a little misgiving. When we move from Malcolrr~'s Katie to Hugh and Ion we move from a rural, pastoral world -~^-^ Art+ fryer a rot malevoleT~men can live in harmony with other
men and with nature, to a demonic, urban world of isolation and blindness which has wilfully cut itself off from the regenerative power of the wildernese. The confident innocence and romantic idealism, which account for much of the inner fire of Malcolm's Cable, have simply ceased to be operative in the world of the unfinished poem. The romantic framework has been shattered, and the distortions and discontinuities that remain work to undermine any sense of gratuitous optimism. Nowhere else in nineteenth-century Canadian literature, with the exception of Lampman's "City of the End of Things", is there another example of the creative imagination being brought to bear, in so Blakean a manner, on the nascent social evils of the '`infant city." ~ ~ ~
It is John Masefield who provides a clue as to the possible source of "On the Way to the Mission." In his "Foreword" to Scott's collected Poems, Mas efield writes:
After [the] poems of primitive Canada come some of the transition from savage to pioneer life. Of these, the best is the vivid ballad On the Way to the Mission, describing a crime common enough in the days of the pioneers, the murder of an Indian by white men who hoped to rob him of his furs. Parlunan quotes a fragment of a play upon such a theme. In Mr. Scott's bal lad the murderers find that the load on their victim's sled is not fur but the body of the Indian's dead wife.'
A search through the works of Francis Parkman reveals the "play" to be Major Robert Rogers' Ponteach: or the Savages of America (London, 1766), the first two scenes of which appear as an appendix to The Conspiracy of Pontwc.2 Each of these two brief scenes is illustrative of a different atrocity perpetrated by the white man upon the Indian. In the first (Act I, scene i), some natives at a trading-post are persuaded to barter away their furs in ex change for rum. In the second (Act I, scene ii)_that with which "On the Way to the Mission" has the more obvious affinities_two Englishmen treacherously shoot a "couple" of Indians and rob them of their cargo of furs. Of course Masefield does not explicitly say that Scott's poem is based upon Rogers' play; perhaps he was only drawing a vague comparison be tween the two works.3 Nor are the resemblances between the poem and the play so overwhelming as to rule out the possibility of a coincidental similari ty. Yet, Parkman does make a plausible candidate for the source of "On the Way to the Mission."
Written in 1901,4 "On the Way to the Mission" was first published, so far as we know, in Scott's third book of verse, New World Lyrics and Ballads (1905), a volume which contains at least one poem the source of which is defi nitely known to be Parkman.5 As well, a confluence of events suggests that, around the turn of the century, Scott was very interested in the writings of the famous American historian. Of these a grand Canadian edition had ap peared only the year before the composition of Scott's poem (see note 2 be low) and a selection, edited by Scott's close friend and confident, Pelham Ed gar, - ,s published in the following year (see note 5 below). (Both of these
editions, were the product of Morang, the Toronto firm which was also to be responsible for publishing New World Lyrics and Ballads and for which both Scott and Edgar laboured during the early years of the cen tury as joint editors of the Makers of Canada series.) It is also worth noting the interesting possibility that Archibald Lampman_another close friend of Scott_had used the works of Parkman as a source for one of his own narra tive poems, "At the Long Sault," written in 1898-99.` It is reasonable, there fore, to suppose that Masefield's allusion to "a fragment of a play" is a ~: vert allusion to the source of Scott's poem.
Keeping in mind that we cannot be certain that Rogers' play is the source, let us, for the moment, assume it to be so, and examine the implica tions of that assumption. Comparing the poem and the play,7 we are struck by certain differences between them: (1) The Indian characters in Ponteach are probably both men (this is not explicitly stated but there is no evidence otherwise) whereas in "On the Way to the Mission" they are a man and a woman who are, moreover, husband and wife. (2) The Indian's toboggan in Scott's poem does not contain a treasure of furs but rather the corpse of the
~rife. (3) The Indians in Ponteach are not Christians. Indeed, one of the hite men uses this fact to rationalize his subsequent behaviour towards them:
By contra in Scott's poem the Indians are explicitly characterized as Christians: "Under her waxen fingers / A crucifix was laid. / He was drawing hoedown to the Mission," (il. 49-51). (4) In Ponteach the focus is upon the white men; the Indian characters do not have even a word of dialogue. In Scott's poem the focus is upon the Indian (see, especially, ll. 4, 17-19) and it is the white men who are the background figures.
The cumulative effect of the changes which we suppose Scott to have - - de is quite clear: it is greatly to enhance the element of pathos in the story and to increase the reader's sympathy for the victimized characters. This is interesting for what it may tell us of Scott's feelings towards the na tive peoples, with whose well-being he was, as an official in the Department of Indian Affairs, concerned. Equally interesting are the consequences which the changes have for the meaning of the poem.
In Ponteach the irony can already be found in the "savage" behaviour o f the Europeans (who even go so far as to scalp their victims). In Scott's poem this irony is seemingly extended: the white men are still "savage," being fearful and superstitious into the bargain (they mistake a bird for a "spirit"8), but now it is the Indians who are the true "Christians." Yet_irony heaped upon irony_the Indians' Christianity does not save them from being further victimized by the white man. Indeed it is "On the Way to the Mission"_the way of Christian passivity_that the victimiza tion occurs. Furthermore, while in Ponteach the
certainly brought out (for instance, in their reason for scalping the Indians), in Scott's poem this trait is emphasized to such a degree as to imbue it with a special significance. Three times the white men are described as "servants of greed" (11. 3, 30, 38) and their lust for furs is also conveyed in the following passage: "But they saw the long toboggan / Rounded well with furs, / With many a silver fox-skin, / With the pelts of mink and of otter," (11. 26-29). This emphasis suggests that the white men are to be seen as metonymicof the fur-hungry Europeans generally, who, in colonizing the "New World," did an injustice to the land's aboriginal inhabitants. The entire drama of Scott's poem, then, can be regarded as symbolic of the relations between white man and Indian, at least at one point in history. Thus to contrast "On the Way to the Mission" with its possible source in Parkman gives Scott's Poem a significance which is not so apparent when it is read in isolation.
John Richardson (1796-1852) is generally regarded as Canada's first na tive-born novelist to gain an international reputation. His narrative poem Tecumseh, in Byronic Ottawa rima, was published in 1828 only two years after Lord Byron's death. Although Richardson was born in the same year as Thomas Chandler Haliburton, his three-decker novel Ecarte, concerning gambling and low life in Paris, was published in 1829, seven years before the first Sam Slick volume appeared. In the following year, Richardson's long poem of social satire, Kensington Gardens, was published, as was his novel Frascati's, another three-decker and also set in Paris. All these works were published in London, and already the dashing young Richardson was be coming the talk of the town. In 1832 his most successful novel, Wacousta, was first put into print in London; within six months it was appearing on the American frontier, in the Ohio State Journal, and in one year a dramatized version began its successful run in New York City. ~
Yet, although he early established his reputation in th~gentle arts of lit erature and poetry, Richardson was pre-eminently a military man. Many of his works bear ardent witness to this, from his Tecumseh and Movements of the British Legion, to Guard in Canada (about his constant embroilment in duels and affairs of honour), Wacousta (Pontiac's Conspiracy, 1763-5), and his novels and historical narratives of the War of 1812-14, such as Canadian Brothers, Hardscrabble, and Canadian Campaign and War of 1812, to name a few. Richardson's autobiographical accounts, Personal Memoirs (1838) and Eight Years in Canada (1847) clearly substantiate his military habits and interests. It is not, I think, by chance that Richardson preferred always to be known by his military title_and thus has his name come down to us: Major Richardson.
The following notes represent a foray into the documentation of Richardson's military career. They take him from the start of his service in 1812, as a Volunteer, and his first commission as an ensign recommended by Sir George Prevost, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces, at Kingston, Upper Canada, in 1813, until he was placed on half pay in the West Indies, in 1818. These extracts were mostly drawn from the War Office Monthly Re
turn of Services, in the Public Record Office (PRO), London, in 1969, under the expert guidance of Commander Michael Godfrey, then the Search As sistant in the Rolls Room. The Appendices contain other military records, briefly spanning the period beginning with Richardson's position as a Gen tleman Volunteer with the 41st Regiment, Fort Maiden, Upper Canada, in 1812, to his retirement from active service and the sale of his commission in 1840, after he had returned to Canada from Spain and England. This infor mation is taken from the annual Army List, most of it from the unique an notated set held in the Ministry of Defence Library, London.
Name, "John Richardson" / Age on first appointment, "Fifteent' ~ l~te~6f | appointment, promotions, etc., "Joined the 41st Foot on active Service as a | Volunteer in June 1812_Taken prisoner by the Americans and detained 12 | Months_Obtained an ensigncy August 3d. [possibly altered to a '5', but the |
(WO 31, vol. 379)
These are bundles of folded manuscript leaves with cover-title card: "Commander in Chief Memoranda, 5th to 12th August, 1813", and with a nanuscript inventory inside entitled:- "Memoranda. P,qgula.~& 5th August
1) Letter from Sir George Prevost at Quebec, 5th April, 1813, with many recommendations for promotion, including these:- "Messrs. Jarvis, Richardson4, and Thompson, are at present Volunteers with the 41st5 and 49th Regiments. . . The above Young Gentlemen are all upwards of Sixteen years of age and eligible for commissions . . . Geo. Prevost . . ."
2) Inventory leaves with outside title "Memoranda . . ." (as above) under page heading "8 Foot":- ''Vol.lunteer] Richardson to be Ditto [i.e. Ensign, from line above] vice Kidman"6.
3) Leaf with outside title:- "8th Foot. Lt. Thos. Cross, Ensign Veith, En sign Kidman . . . 5th Augt. 1813" Inside the leaf:- "Kingston, Upper Canada, 10th June, 1813. Sir - . . . and for the Ensigncies, I must beg leave to submit for His Royal Highness's favourable consideration, the several Young Gen tlemen now serving as volunteers on active duty in this country, who have been recommended for Commissions in my previous dispatches ... [e.g. 5 Apr. 1813, above] George Prevost, Commandt. of the Forces". A separate slip enclosed, in a contemporary hand but partly in pencil WhprA~C: +hA HA+_ ters are entirely In ~nk:
Kidman~Sick leave to 2d of August [etc ]. _ ."
Items 2 and 3 above show that Richardson was promoted from a Gentle man Volunteer to Ensign Kidman's position while the latter was on sick leave till 2d Aug. 1813. William Kidman was himself promoted however, effeet~w 4th August (cf. Army List, 1814, p. 159)7, so that Richardson gained the penitent rank of Ensign not upon the termination of Kidman's sick leave lot oh the date of Kidman's promotion. Desmond Pacey, in his "A Colonial Romantic" (Canadian Literature, 2, p. 28) says that Richardson was commissioned Ensign 3d August 1813, the day Kidman would have re ported back from sick leave; but the Army List just cited shows that Richardson's promotion was not effective till 4th August. The actual dates were always adjusted to avoid conflict of seniority.
111. T?ze Military General Servi~, ~1814, a Roll of the Names of the 26,240 Officers and Men of the British Army who Fought in the Penin sula and Elsewhere ... Compiled by Col. KO.N. Foster. [n.p., Germany 1947]. This book is without imprint, but the Foreword is dated "Germany, January 1947". The book was printed in Germany. Page 318 records as fol
It is interesting to notice that Richardson was keen enough to apply for the MGS, even though he was 3,000 miles from Europe. The MGS Medal was not issued till 1847 (Wellington opposed it), and in that year its approval was advertised throughout the worlds. Those eligible had to apply in writing_so Richardson did so from Canada. Those killed in action in the Napoleonic Wars, or who died before 1847, did not get the medal.
Extracts referring to George Richardson, meaning John Richardson9. Gentlemen Volunteers were not listed, so the earliest reference to Richard son is on his promotion to Ensign:
"Ensigns George [i.e. John] Richardson 4 do. [i.e. 4 Aug. 1813]". 1815,p. 177: 8th or King's Regiment of Faot.: "Ensigns George [i.e. John] Richardson 4 do.". 1816, p. 215: [John Richardson promoted to Lieutenant with 8th Regiment 27 July 1815] 8th or King's Regiment of Foot: - "Leintenants George Rich ardson 27 July , date of promotion to Lieutenant]".
And so on_the Army List continues, but the foregoing exhibits the sort of information that a continuing search will yield, even for just one officer.
to was told that no other set with marginal and interleaved manuscript annotations exists, but I found another, differently annotated, in the Army Historical Section Library, Ministry of Defence, London.)
1815: PRO Document No. IND:5505, on p. 177, shows George (i.e. John) Richardson under Ensigns, from 4 Aug. 1813 (correct), but the name is ruled out m ink and "Lt" entered in ink. Opposite, on an interleaved page, is a manuscript list of ensigns, one line of which reads:- "Robert Young 27 July v. Richardson" (i.e. on 27 July 1815 Richardson was promoted and Young became his vice, that is, took his place_correct).
1816: PRO Document No. IND:5506, on p. 215, shows George Richardson under Lieutenants, from 27 July 1815 (correct), name ruled out in ink and manuscript note in column: "1/2 pay". (Correct, as of 1st Oct. 1818, when John Richar~laon returned from Barbados_cf. WO 21, vol. 172, above, and under 1818, below. Note that though this is the 1816 Army List, it could have taken a couple of years to annotate it up to date.)
find Richardson, one must check the column marked "station" for Barbados. The volume above represent:- 2505_1816; 2506_1817; 2507_U118; 2508~1819. From the other evidence, this is the maximum pe riod during which John Richardson could have served in the Barbados with
18111: Monthly "Return of the General and Staff Officers at present serving in the Windward and Leeward colonies under the command of Major Gen eril George William Ramsay commanding the Forces. Head Quarters Anti gua, 25th of December, 1816". Section headed "Remarks. Shewing the Regi ments or Detachments which may have arrived at, or left, the station during the preceding month . . . " (WO 17/2505/A):
(Note:-the dates of disembarkation refer to officers and men of 14 different regiments; the 2d Foot is first on the list, but this and the 6th West India Regiment both arrived in the Transport Wilson.)
"2d Foot Lieutenant G. Richardson" The 'G' here is unmistakable, and quite dissimilar from the Js on the same page_so the forename 'George' continues in error! At the head of this 2d Foot list is "Lt. Col. H.C.E.V. Graham", officers, present; and absent, "Col. Jas. Coates"; then follow Renames of Majors, Captains, Lieutenants, etc. (WO 17/2505/B).
1817: "General Monthly Return of Quaky, 1817". "Regi ments, 2d Foot":
1818: At 25th Sept., 1818:- "List of the Officers Present, 2dFoot,G. Richardson" but line drawn through his name and "Lieut. G. Richardson" added in fish darker ink at the bottom of the list of "Officers Absent" (as though the change were made after the record had been completed, and thus very recently). The entry under "Officers Absent" reads in full:
"~Lieut. G. Richardson, Commander of the Forces [officer granting the absence] 16th Sept. 1818, to be placed on Half Pay". Under the same date, there is a page headed:- "Regimental and Staff Officers who have obtained leave of absence during the preceding month to return to England . . . Lieut. G. Richardson, 2d Foot, 16th Sept. 1818, for the purpose of being placed on Half Pay". Richardson's name is last on the list; all the other names above (6) are dated in August, the "preceding month" of the Return, as stated in the heading. So again, Richardson must have got his name in just as the re tum was being made, and perhaps with his usual urgent nature he requested the change be recorded immediately. Note that the official reason given for Richardson's leave of absence to return to England is "for the purpose of be ing placed on Half Pay", whereas the reason he gave in the record of his mil itary service (WO 21, vol. 172) was "both from private motives and from ill
_Swath permission to leave the West Indies granted, 16 September 1818, Richardson could have left for England on or any time after that date. I con tinued the search for a more precise date of his departure. His name is not given under "Remarks" for the month, and there is no indication Richard son was sick.
(Note:- The meaning of the asterisk )< is not known to me, but it may be simply a clerical symbol to draw attention to a late and out-of-order entry.)
Above two entries: WO 17/2507/C & D.
_At 25th October 1818: Richardson's name is absent from the "List of Officers Present", but still included with "Officli*Absent", thus:- "Lieut. G. Richardson, Commander of the Forces [apron - Officer], 16th Sept., To be placed on Half Pay". (WO 17/2507/E) Again, Richardson is not mentioned under "Remarks" for the month, and there is no indication that he is sick (under "Regimental and Staff Officers who have obtained Leave of Absence ... to Return to England" the reason given for one officer is "Benefit of Health"; but no such reason is given for Richardson in the similar entry for last month, Sept.~.v.). Commander Godfrey stated that though sick ab sences are usually reported, if Richardson's name is still listed he could still be on the island; but apparently since on half-pay as of 16th Sept., he is not on strength, simply waiting for a ship to return to England. So the search continued.
(Note:- I observed that in March 1818, the 2d Foot are serving in Barba dos; in April, they are serving in St. Vincent; in May there are detachments of the 2d Foot in Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent; June, St. Vincent (only); July, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia (though, as in other months, the "General Monthly Return" shows only St. Vincent_these entries are not clear and need further examination); August, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia; Sept., St. Vincent_and here Richardson goes on half pay. It seems that Richardson might have spent some months in St. Vin
cent, and perhaps in others of the islands mentioned, for all the detachments are staffed with officers. Only the Muster Rolls are likely to settle Richardson's exact whereabouts, and even this is not a certain reward for the long search~time required. In his "Recollections of the West Indies", al rea~y cited, Richardson mentions visiting only Barbados, Grenada and To b~o, ~ this is new information.
US 25th November 1818:- "Officers Absent, Lieut. G. Richardson, [granted by] Commander of the Forces, 16th Sept. 1818, until placed on 1/2 Pay" [Lord Combermere was Commander of (he Forces_he Signs all the re turns "Combermere, C. of the Forces" or "it~ombermere, Commr. of the Forces", etc. Remark the future tense: "until". (WO 17/2507/F)
(Note:- Under "Remarks", several ships are recorded as having left for England, with men whose service had expired. There is no other reference to Richardson in the Nov. 1818 returns, however.)
Moat 25th January, 1819:- Richardson's name is omitted from "Officers Absent" list, nor is he under "Officers Present"; and it is the same for Febru ary. Richardson has evidently sailed, but there is no explanation under "Remarks" for January or February 1819, nor elsewhere in the Returns for the two months. However, the "Remarks" for January refer to the ships London and Thomas as having arrived from London on 13th and 16th Jan. 1819, respectively. It seems quite likely that they brought confirmation of Richardson's save arrival in England, and that his name was carried as Ab sent until this news reached the West Indies headquarters. Although per ha. - A:- - ~R~ can indicate the exact date of Richardson's de pa~re from-the West Indies, the evidence is reasonably clear that he sailed 16t. September or soon after, reaching England in time to be placed on half pajamas he himself states: WO21, vol. 172) on 1st October, 1818.
~Note:- These War Office Monthly Returns are a mine of information, but very detailed, and need lengthy study and~alysis.)
In several places Richardson's name is given as George Richardson, but this seems to begin when a dash given under George in the line above, is as sumed to mean "ditto'. This is evidently an error of interpretation, the dash apparently meaning 'forename unknown'. Commander Michael Godfrey, Search Room Assistant in the Rolls Room, at the PRO, was so sure that this is an interpretative error that he corrected the entry in the Army List, and said he had no objection to being quoted in his opinion.
The Prevost letter of Quebec, 5th April 1813, cited under II above (WO 31, vol. 379), contains what appears to be the beginning of this mistake, where the following is given- -i
Gegrge Jarvis :~ -. ~i; :~. . Richardson Augustin Thompson This is picked up in the cover title: volr. Geo. Jarvis
volr. Richardson volr. Aug. Thompson
e dash would seem to indicate that Richardson's forename was unknown at that moment, and not that it was the same as the one in the preceding en try. Another manuscript page in the same bundle (WO 31, vol. 379), but un dated, containsa list of names of promoted officers and volunteers in the "8 Foot" regiment, all bracketted to the name "Lt. Gen. Sir Geo. Prevost". Two of the lines run as follows:
vol. George Jarvis, to be Ensign vice Vieth vol. Richardson to be ditto vice Kidman
The second line here is the only line on the page in which the first name bears no forename or initials. This seems to substantiate the interpretation that Richardeon's forename was unknown during this period of his promotion to Ensign. ~
"Lieutenant_William Kidman 4 Aug. 1813 [date he became Lieutenant].
.... nines omitted! ..................
"Ensign_George Richardson ['George' given for 'John'] 4 do. [i.e. 4th Aug. 1813, the 'do' being a contraction of 'ditto']".
Army List, 1816, Annotated, held in PRO, p. 215, shows George Richardson as holding Lieutenant Mnk since 27 July 1815, and as being on half-pay at the time the 1816 vol. was annotated, usually about two years' later.
Army List, 1820, p. 597, shows John Richardson as Lieutenant in the 92d Regiment of Foot from the 27 July 1815, and on English Half-Pay from the 1st Oct. 1818. The promotion to Lieutenant date agrees with the Army Logiest?
Thins, confirms that the George Richardson of the Arm.v [lint for 1~14-lf;
The following is in extension of Richardso~i~anu~ not record of his military service to 1828, as cited under I above (WO 21, vol. 172). The re sume is pieced together from a close reading of the annotated set of issues of the annual Army List held in the Army Historical Section of the Ministry of Defence Library, Whitehall, London, England. ~ ~.~i.~ At
(From 1813 to 1819, Richardson is listed as George; from 1820 to 184O, as John; from 1818 to 1840 Richardson was on half pay continuously.)
Richardson took the place of Lieutenant Gray as an active officer, and Immediately sold his commission to Ensign Swinton_cf. Army List 1840, July, p. 923.
~ (Note:- Richardson was a major only in the British Auxiliary Legion in Spain, not in the British Army (cf. Personal Memoirs, e.g. p. 52 and 73, where he describes himself as Lieutenant Richardson of His Majesty's Army). Occasional issues of the Army List indicate what commissions are worth. The issue for 1841 (the closest one to 1840 which includes the com mission evaluation list) suggests _700 for a lieutenancy on the active list, and _335 for one on the half pay list. A military historian assures me, however, that this was only an indication. Richardson could have obtained considera bly more for his commission if the demand were great_and the promptness of the sale suggests that it was. Note, too, the skill with which Richardson managed to arrange his transfer to the active list, the sale of his commission, and his retirement, all on the same day. This increased the value of his pen sion as well as of his commission. It is chuff Richardson.)
On the evening of Saturday, March 18, 1933 in Burwash Hall, Toronto the Elson Cldbbeld 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 Presi dent. 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 ap preciation 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." Tll&Pri~ 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: ~ ~ Thy, Toronto: Ryerson, 1943, p. 313.) ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ i- ~ -if <
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 tel
egrams from various admirers and dignitaries, all of which were donated to the University of Western Ontario by John M. Els~self. It is with the kind permission, not only of the Rare Book and Sp~ollections Librar ian 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 consecu tively numbered sheets interleaved by one sheet numbered 101/2 and bear ing 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
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 antis a briefer discussion of the poets writing in the 'Modern' period. Of the two parts of the address the first, with its forth right 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 sepa rate 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 Amer ica and France, as well as to Britain, andiron the other, from "the optimism of a young and confidently aspiring people - 'which, together with an orienta tion 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 Eu ropean fin-de-siecle. Roberts concludes the opening portion of his address (in which, it should at least be parenthetically observed, he uses the conven
tional 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 Cana dian 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 au _}.i~s win he singles out for special mention and detailed discussion, Wil soD 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 al though 1933 saw the publication of Leo Kennedy's markedly Eliotesque vol ume 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 hos tility to Modernism in 1~; 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 tran sitional phase in his acceptance of and accommodation to the poetic develop ments 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 fresh ness of thought or of technique that supplied the urge to the reaction re mains 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 El son 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 m The Coming of Arthur and Morte D'Arthur_"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" it self, 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-~etry in Relation to the Poetry of England and America" contains ideas and passages which ap pear 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 Man sion House in London, England in July, 1933. According to Pomeroy, Rob erts' subject on that occasion was "Canadian Literature, and more particu larly 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 Caries APT "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
ars ago, started under happier auspices than its American predecessor, de ~eloped more rapidly, and has already attained an authentic separate exist ence. 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 - lima." (Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, p. 324).
Despite the fact that Roberts' 1933 address to the Elson Club contains ech oes 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 hot) 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 stud_profit. May I try to show my appreciation, and to justify my self in the role of prophet, by prophesying a distinguished and distinctive fu ture 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 Aus tralia, 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 de ided 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 proportior~o its
Our English Canadian Poetry may be divide- loosely and for the purposes of this address, into two peri~ls,_the pre-war and the post-war. The pre-war period may be considere~s 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 de
~elopment of Canadian Poetry. But it is necessary, to avoid misunderstand g, that I should refer to my little volume of juvenilia, Orion and Other Poen", 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 'poultice work, distinctly der ivitive, and without significance except for the~ltreful craftsmanship and for the fact that they dared deliberately to st~liii 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 attach ing to the little book lay in the fact that it started Lampman writing poetry
and was the decis~r us Carman to make poetry his ca reer. i: ~: ~ ail ~ A: i ~
The distinctively Canadian p~.~nificance beyond the borders of Canada, therefore, may be ~ as beginning with Isabella Crawford's Old Spookses' Pass, 1884; Charles Mair's Tecumseh, 1886; Ar chibald Lampman's Among the Millet, 1888; F.G. Scott's The Soul's Guest, 1888; W.W. Campbell's Lake Lyrics, 1889; D.C. Scott's The Magic House, 1893, Bliss Carman's Low Tide on Grand Pre, 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 vol ume of verse, Dreamlar~ 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 bor rowed 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, be ginning to thrust forth from the parent stem nearly two hundred years ago, ha by now attained a stature which fairly rivals that of its parent. Today it trould be kard 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 ov ershadowed 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, Amoldl,~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 di rections 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 indi vidual 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 differenti ated 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 negligibl - 'their effect upon us. Even Carman, con trary to Dr. Cappon's thesis,~ft greatly interested in Poe's form, and with Poe's philosophy of life he was emphatically out of sympathy. I can de tect Poe's Sequence upon one only of our Poets, Tom McInnes, and he be longs to or:ter period. Carman was influenced in one portion of his career by Browm~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
nore serious poets of England have been doing since the war.
~here is another consideration which gives unity to our Canadian po Stag 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 fu t~e. They are all fundamentally antagonistic to everything that savours of Materialism, and even of such high and stoical pessimism as that of Mat thew Arnold. They are all incorrigible and unrepentant idealists.
~ think I have traced the chief sources from which our poetry has sprung, and indicated, in the main, those characteristics which differentiate t from the work of contemporaries in England and America. I will conclude he survey of this first period by reading a sonnet of Lampman's and a lyric f Carman's, two poems which, of their kind, have not been surpassed by ny of their contemporaries in England or America. They may serve to illus trate certain of the points which I hope I may be considered to have made:
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 Fran,cois Villon and Edgar Alan Poe, with an occasional dash of Keats.-`nd 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 seek ing 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, th0~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 Ameri can contemporaries. Modernism, so called, came without violence to Cana da. It was with us not revolution but evolution. The slender but exquisite genius of Marjorie Pickthall seemed to flourish apart, hardly affected by lat terday 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 thor oughly 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 fonn he has ~ as yet fully escaped the influence of Amy Lowell and Carl Sandburg. 7~ are many others of whom I would wish to speak but the familiar "exigenci - ~ 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 mq~e in de tail, because they represent three distinct trends in Wren Canadian poet ry, 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 Iyrical or narrative. Yet the thought is always adequately fused in the emo tion. 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 grip ping 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 Iyridt,~ 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 Iyrico-mystic creation masquerading un der 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 Iyri cal 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 prerogative of youth to rebel. But our Cana dian youth has sufficient sanity to save it from the extravagant and gro tesque 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 tend ency, 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!
Interviewer: Dorothy, you've published 14 books of poetry in the last 45 years, the first being Green Pitcher in 1928 when you were nineteen. Could you tell us how that first book came about? What were the contacts that you had at that time, if any, with other writers in Can ada, and what was it like to be a woman poet in those years?
Respondent: Well, I had tit unusual background because my mother Flor ence Randal was -poet. She began to write when she was about twenty and she published in a magazine called Massey's Magazine, in Toronto, in which you will find Archibald Lampman, Charles G.D. Roberts and Bliss Carman. She wrote poems but she got no recognition from anybody, certainly not from her widowed mother or younger sisters and brothers. But she apparently had this great
_',-/ I?, .. .h Bait and goodness knows how it arose because she had no back
~- Ad except Compton Ladies College, which was a rather well known Anglican school. She never talked to me about those early ye - , so it was a tremendous shock for me to find her poems in this magazine.
Interviewer: How old were you when you found them?
Respondent: Oh, I found them a few years ago. She died in 1953 and I'd never known about her poetry. I always thought she was a journal iat. But in Massey's Magazine there were also short stories written by "Florence Hamilton Randall" So she had ambition as a very young girl, but she knew no literary people. However, she must have had some newspaper connections because she got a job on the Ottawa Journal as women's editor_society editor. This obliged her to go to all the openings of Parliament and all the "do's." Then she got her chance towards the end of the Boer War, 1902. Ottawa asked for 30 Canadian teachers to go and teach Boer children English in the Transvaal. So Florence went to Johannesburg, and then Middle burgh where she spent a year teaching. As well, she wrote regularly for the Ottawa Journal and also for the Winnipeg Telegram I think it was. When she came back to Canada, about 1904, some of the family had left Quebec and gone out to Winnipeg to look for jobs. That was what brought Florence to Winnipeg and to a job as secre tary for Sanford Evans of the Winnipeg Telegram. One of the re porters she met was J.F.B. Livesay, my father. Recently I went ' through all the files of the newspapers in Winnipeg, The Free Press
and Telegram and so on, and I found an extraordinary Christmas page about Canadian books_book reviews_and one of them was about Archibald Lampman and Duncan Campbell Scott who were cited as examples of a Canadian Literature that was beginning to de velop. The article was signed "Frederick Thigh." My father was named John Frederick Thigh Livesay! So before I was born they were both interested in the Canadian scene. It was rooted in them. Although he was an immigrant from England, she was obviously teaching him.
Interviewer: Did your parents give you Canadian books to read when you were a child?
Respondent: Oh, yes. My father was of an English family and had emi grated as a young man of twenty to relatives in Ontario. but he really wanted to go to university and be a historian_he was mad about history, but instead he went farming and harvesting and all the usual. Eventually, because he understood British soccer, he was given the job of sports editor on the Regina Leader Post. And then he moved to Winnipeg and the Telegram where he met Florence Randall That's a very long beginning to tell you how I came to write in the twenties! But my mother was an extremely interesting per son. Not only was she writing poetry and sketches for several Cana dian papers and magazines, she had a column in the Free Press as well. These columns show that she was having to adapt to speaking of frivolous women's affairs but all the time being really interested in the psychology of parents and children and so on, especially after her marriage in 1908. In Winnipeg she also got very interested in several ethnic groups. She received letters and corresponded with many Indian children in Manitoba. Also we had these_servants they were called_immigrant girls who came to learn English and agreed to spend a year as a domestic. They were mainly Polish and Ukrainian. And when my mother heard these Ukrainian girls sing ing their folk songs as they did the housework, she got a Ukrainian Baptist minister (who had been a socialist) to come and translate the songs that she liked, in rough prose. She then rendered them into English verse. Her translations were published in Poetry Chicago, alongside Ezra Pound's work. All during World War I she was doing this for a collection called Songs of Ukraina, which was published by Dent and she received very good acclaim in The Lon don Times. So you see the whole atmosphere was one of writing. Be fore I could read or write she encouraged me to tell her stories. She'd write them down on a typewriter and because she ran a children's column she put my stuff in the Free Press. Later, because she had received recognition for Songs of Ukraina, she began to subscribe to the American liberty magazines of the time_The Dial, and Harriet MOnrGe,B Poetry Chicago. We had these all the time in the house. That was how, from the beginning, I was influenced by imagism and ~_ ,.,.~.~v+~wiell. .., Williams, Pound....
Interviewer: What age were you, around fifteen or sixteen?
Respondent: Yes. In Toronto. We had moved there in 1920.
Interviewer: How did you come to publish the first book at 19? Did you send out the whole collection?
Respondent: Nc~here again my parents, I'm afraid I was horribly over taken by em_I mean I never showed my mother my poems. I hid them in a drawer, but she found them. I was furious.
Interviewer: Were you scared?
Respondent: Oh yes, very shy. I just wrote them for myself. A bosom friend at school read them. However, my mother sent one or two out to newspapers. The Vancouver Province published the first poem, sending me a cheque for two dollars. I was about fourteen or fifteen, so this was quite a thing at school. Anyhow it was the whole Imagist Movement that started me off. Mother had some good friends who were poets, the imagist Louise Morey Bowman, who has almost been forgotten but who was one of the first Canadian imagists; and then W.W. Ross. And she got to know Robert Finch and Raymond Knister, because she decided to publish an anthology of contempo rary Canadian poetry about 1927 or 1928, when I was starting unit versity. Robert Finch would come over to have afternoon tea with her, and talk about his poems and play the piano.
Interviewer: Your parents figure in A Winnipeg Chum slid in some Doems. . .
Respondent: I felt guilty about never having included my mother in any poems. You see, in later years, I felt veer hostile to my mother.
Interviewer: I remember a phrase where you speak of "hating the chains that parents make."
Respondent: She was a very W.A.S.P. type of person. We had to go to church every Sunday and to Sunday school. Everything was very moral and upright and all that kind of thing.
., were a woman writille in those daYs never aroused any anxiety about inadequacy?
Respondent: Well, my mother was a woman! And my father was an enthu siastic advocate of women as creative artists. He got me every possi ble book by every possible novelist, starting with Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte. He was devoted to the work of Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Richardson, and he had all their firit editions that he had got from England. I remember him giving me A Room of Oh's Own, and saying "Go thou and do likewise." But he and I probably thought the only thing to do was to be a novelist and I really wanted to write prose very, very much. My first novel, or novella, I wrote in France in 1929. I took out two chapters and they were printed as short stories in Northern Review. "The Climb" is about P`w~
. i: ~ ., ~ ~ i. - .. ~ .~
Interviewer: We want to ask you a general question about literature in Canada at that time. Reading your work and other contemporaries it doesn't seem that Eliot had that much influence. We were talking to Robert Kroetsch whose theory it is that Canadian literature moved from the Victorian period into Post-Modernism, and never Gem through the period of Modernism we associate with Eliot and Joyce.
Respondent: Well, the reason is very interesting. I think he's right that the twenties were mainly influenced by the American movement_Carl Sandburg, Vachel Lindsay. Lindsay came to Hart House and my mother told me about his climbing on a table, blowing balloons around. Then she showed me his poems. So it was almost entirely the American poetic influence that I had, and not the Modernist or British Of course I had been given presents of contemporary British poetry; mainly that of the Georgians. I did not care for the senti mental school of English war-poets, but Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Edward Thomas (a lyric nature poet) were great favour ites. About this time I also discovered Robert Graves, Laura Riding and the imagist "H.D.". And I was especiij~tirawn to the free rhythms in Katherine Mansfield's and D.~wrence's poetry. These why all "outsiders" I would say, not in the Pound-Eliot n. 4~1 only came to read Eliot in my fourth year at the Uni
versity of Toronto. That was in 1931, when a very erudite Dutch man came to the University of Toronto to teach economics. He was a Marxist and had been to Russia and he just had flocks of students in his apartment because he was the only person who was really a free mind on the campus. I remember him as a completely sophisti cated European_he had records of all kinds, he had books of all kinds we'd never seen. You know what you learn in English courses at Toronto. They end at 1850 or something! So there was this book on the shelf "Ash Wednesday" and I said "Oh what's this?" "Oh", he said. "This is a great new poet. You ought to read him." So I be gan to read and said "Oh yes, this is lovely." So he said "Take it",_sled his name and gave it to me. I still have that little book. That Emmy first contact with Eliot. When I went to the Sorbonne that winter and did the "Diplome d'etudes superieures" I decided to do the Symbolists and Metaphysicals, using Eliot and a Sitwell and also Huxley's poetry.
Interviewer: But somehow one never feels that Eliot influenced you.
Respondent: No, I was very critical of him, you know. I thought he was horribly derivative. I was reading all the great French symbolists, es pecially Laforgue, and I saw Eliot just picked up phrases from them.... I thought "O. the wretch." But the odd thing was I never came in contact with Pound until many years later. The strange thing is that Pound at that ~ didn't seem to be known or talked about. ~ ~ ~
Interviewer: He wasn't making any real impact on Canadian poetry_
Respondent: Well, or even in France that year and in England when I went to study at the British Museum, to study the Sitwells and so on, there was no feeling of Pound's impact. There was Yeats of course, and then it was the Sitwells who simply took over. I was absolutely entranced by Edith Sitwell's use of language and music. I think in a poem like "Fantasy in May" you can feel her influence.
Interviewer: I sensed that the famine you were worlting on were symbolist but I was tracing it back to the work of a writer like Emily Dickin son, not as an influence but almost as a kindred spirit.
Respondent: I did indeed come to her as I finished university. Although Elinor Wylie I'd known before that. This bosom friend of mine and I would just go round in a daze after reading Wylie. But Dickinson influenced me, I guess, in a kind of slow way through the years. I did
~ . ~ -
D0nne, Marshall, Herbert. I just loved Herbert. And at the Sorbonne I }idd an oral to do, translating Donne into French!
Interviewer: I'd like to ask you about being in Paris as a student in the twenties. What was it Lose? ~ . .
Respondent: Well, I didn't know anybody of that famous group_Callaghan and Glassco. I came after them, so I missed all that; it was just a kind of an echo when we'd go to those cafes where they had been. But we had a new group, you see_Leon Edel was there doing his first work on Henry James and we were very close friends in Paris that year. In fact, at one point, four of us Canadians lived together in an apartment at the Porte D'Orleans. And the other influence was Stanley Ryerson, who was doing a thesis on Vico. All he had learned about symbolism through Vico I would mull over. And then we both got extremely involved in the left wing polit ical movement. And that changed all one's perspectives on literature and art.
Interviewer: I was interested in the fact that Proust_re a social worker in He thirties. Was that a direct consequence of your interest in Marx ~ item?
Respondent: It was a direct consequence of the Depression. All of us, in cluding Leon Edel came home from Paris very alienated and there was nothing_there were no academic jobs; I had thought I'd be a lecturer in French, you see. That's why my father subsidized me to go there, so that I could come home and teach. I had graduated in Honours French and Italian. But there were no jobs at all and by this time, in Paris I had got very interested in Marxist theory and the Depression just proved that everything was right that Marx had said; capitalism was collapsing. So I decided I wanted to get as close as I could to the whole thing first hand. I think they were just begin ning to open a social science diploma course at the University of Toronto_under two very interesting men_one of them was Harry Cassidy who eventually became Minister of Welfare of B.C. and who was very interested in government welfare and all that kind of thing: the whole social organization of society and problems of pov erty and wealth. He was very knowledgeable but he wasn't a Marx ist and I would have great arguments with him. He was a close friend of Earle Birney. That's how I came to know Birn~.r'~. ^~ - this professor, Harry Cassidy.
it. The Montreal experience came out of the fact that at the School of Social Work we were allowed to do one year's apprenticeship and then get a diploma. And so a friend and I went together to Montreal and lived on St. Denis in the French area and worked for the Family Welfare Bureau or whatever it was called_Family Service Agency_which worked with Protestant families, French and En glish. We were paid sixty dollars a month each. My friend went her way, which was not Communist at all, and I went my way which was very active in that direction. It was about the worst possible year in Quebec for police attacks on ~ unemployed. The Theatre of Action had been very excited abo~6rhat happened to a worker named Nick Zynchuk, who was innocently getting his belongings out of a house where he was being evicted and the police shot him add haled him. The Theatre group wrote an agit prop play on Zyn chuck and then in Toronto they did Eight Men Speak, about the eight Communists who were put in Kingston Penitentiary. I was ac tive in this whole cultural movement started by the Theatre of Ac tion. So it must have been after they had performed the Zynchuck play that I wrote the poem called "Nick Zynchok," but it was never published at the time. That whole era was one of interest in poetry and oral poetry and a Brechtian or "guerilla" theatre. There was a strong cultural movement in Canada. The "Theatre of Action" be came a part of the Progressive Arts Club and we had writers' groups, drama groups, music groups, dance groups and so on right across Canada. And out of that eventually grew, from the early sectarian magazine called Masses (which I think was flourishing about '32,) New Frontier which came out in '36. The whole emphasis across Canada on a cultural, social revolutionary kind of art carried me, as one of the editors of New Frontier, right out West. We stopped off in several cities giving lectures on the new poetry of Auden and Spender and so on. E.K. Brown was then head of English at Mani toba and I remember he organized a meeting for me.
Interviewer: Was Bimey doing much at this point?
Respondent: Oh no. He was immersed in Chaucerian studies and Trotsky
ism; he wasn't writing at all. file Reds writing much later.
Interviewer: I suppose the next important change in your career was your trip to Africa and the writing of "The Colour of God's Face." Africa seems to have had a considerable fascination for Canadian writers when you think of Margaret Laurence, Dave Godfrey. Was yours an interest in Africa as an emergent culture, in other words, a political interest?
Respondent: Well, I didn't know what I would find but I had had a year in Paris with UNESCO, mostly in the Education Section, and I saw there was a great need for English teachers so I applied and eventu allv not there mvRelf. It was very fortunate for me that T hit the
time and the country, you see, that was going to be able to move over into independence without violence_which was northern Rho desia. But there were very tense situations in Nyasaland and South ern Rhodesia you know. The whole thing was very close to eruption but fortunately, because there was such a large black population, the British government dealt with them sensibly and said "You may have the referendum_one man, one vote". The impressive experi ence for me was the fact that we had fought all through the thirties for a changed society_we thought the War would bring an entirely new social world into Canada; soldiers would come back and would refuse to be treated as they had been before and we would change society_then it all collapsed. Nothing happened except the Korean War_a terribly dark victory. So we felt we had lost on all those fronts. The thing about Rhodesia for me was the fact that I was liv ing through a complete change in society which succeeded; of course it didn't succeed in being socialist, but it took the first step of being nationalist and free from colonial chains and we had been very much under colonial chains in Canada. So it was a great psychic re lease for me to be close to these people who were changing their soci ety. And they achieved it_they got their freedom and now of course I still am most happy because Kaunda is doing such a fine job. He is a marvellous man. He was a follower of Ghandi. I met him when he was one of the teachers on our staff, near Lusaka.
Interviewer: Did you feel the pressure of English colonialism in Canada_culturalcolonialism? i- - ~ ~- ~ ;
Respondent: Well, both my parents were very anti-British and very nation alist. There was a tremendous nationalist movement in Canada in the '20's in all the literature and my parents were_my father was one of these Englishmen who was against being an Englishman and wanted to be a Canadian so the whole influence was for independ ence. But by the time the '30's came there was a great change. The strange thing was that as soon as the Internationalist Crisis hit the world, everyone became an internationalist. We were as much at home in New York as in Toronto, as leftists you see, or in Europe or in Russia or wherever. The whole nationalist thing suddenly fell away completely in the Depression years because we believed that there had to be international revolution which would change every country and make it socialist.
Interviewer: But you would still call yourself a socialist.
Respondent: Yes, I don't believe in the capitalist system.
Interviewer: Earlier you mentioned different form of "The Colour of God's Face." It was published as a sequence of four poems in a pam phlet in 1965 and then included in the Collected Poems about seven years later. You changed the order of the sequence and substituted "Initiation" as the first poem and entitled the whole thing "Zambia". What were the reasons for those changes?
Respondent: Well, there's another version of the poem you know in a mag azine called Cyclic published in Montreal. It's a middle version. Well, I came back to Canada not having written for three or four years and I felt utterly out of the scene of poetry. Moreover, I was not well. I'd had malaria and other bugs, and I sort of lay around in Vancouver until I recuperated. So it would have been, I guess, the next summer, '64 when all that Black Mountain crowd came to Van couver for about a month. They were there reading poetry: I think Robert Duncan, Charles Olsen, Ginsberg. I started going to their
it Pleadings and I think it must have been that summer that I decided I
<--` Cad to get out of my system what had happened to me in Africa and so I began writing a number of poems which were separate poems, and then I began to think of them as a whole but I was absolutely terrified to show anybody these poems; I didn't feel that I could write. I simply thought I had lost it completely. But I remember Anne Marriott came over one afternoon to see me in a house I had bougl`t u;' Vancouver and I felt "I've got to have the courage to read this to het.~got to know if there's anything in it" and so I read through That Could become "The Colour of God's Face", and she said she liked it_she's a critic of mine, a severe critic, she doesn't like my stuff much_but she said she found that very moving. So I sent a couple of the poems from it to Birney who was editing Prism Intentional and he published the "African Villge" one. Anyhow, I began to get some confidence but I never could see, never had any one to help me see how it should be arranged together. So it was just a constant trying to find out what was the best organization for it. And if you saw the middle one, the Cyclic one it's probably different
Interviewe~r:~e~n Came tlie lJnqucet Bed in '67_which is one of your most moving books with, I think, some of your best poems such as "Without Benefit of Tape" and "The Emperor's Circus," and "The Incendiary." You had mentioned in the blurb of that book that you had been influenced by the way the young poets were writing on the West Coast_was that that Black Mountain group that you referred to earlier?
Respondent: Well, it was Tish. The Black Mountain had co~p because of the interest on the part of Tish. It involved Frank Winy, George Bowering, Lionel Kearns. I went to Warren Tallman's poetry eve nings and I got Robert Duncan on tape.
Interviewer: Was the "Zambia" sequence written after you'd come in con tact with the Tish group?
Respondent: Not really. It was that summer when they were all reading, but I hadn't studied their approach. It was the following winter after-I'd studied the theory behind it and Olsen's Manifesto and all those things. I went into that very deeply before I began tape rec ording the poets and linguistically analysing the way they were reading. All that came after the poem was written. The rhythms of the poem really related to African rhythms.
IRK - wer: To African drum rhythms.
Respondent: Yes. I knew the students awfully well and they recorded for me and so on.
Interviewer: I was just going to ask you a question about "Without Benefit of Tape." That's my favorite poem in The Unquiet Bed. It begins "The real poems are being written in outports / on backwoods farms / in passageways whose pantries still exist / or where geraniums / nail the light to the window." I was just wondering if you intended that almost as a manifesto for Canadian poetry?
Respondent: Oh, yes I did, yes. I'd come back to a new world where oud denly everybody was talking poetry and it was very exciting; not just one or two young poets reading but coffee house readings, you know, three times a week. Milton Acorn was around too and there was great excitement all the time. No, I was very exhilarated by this changing scene. I met Red Lane and I felt that he was Kelly with it; that he, and eventually his brother Pat of course, were not academ ics at all but were working people who really felt the pulse of the country. It was the first time I discovered to} m.Canada.
Interviewer: Yes, you seem to be calling for a sense of place in Canadian poetry.
Respondent: Yes, that's it, yes. And almost in counteraction to ~ Ameri" can Tish thing which was rootless, I think. But on the other hand I had as my advocate Olsen who said: "Locus, there must be locus." We must take the place, the Locus, and dig down into our own place - - where we're bum I felt the Tish Group needed that lesson.
Interviewer: Is the abortionist a metaphor in the poem?
Respondent: No, but the "born upside down" is a metaphor.
Interviewer: It is puzzling poem though, because it ends with your refer ence to yourself "No one remembers Dorothy was ever here." ~ i- ~ ~
Respondent: Well now when I read it E leave ant that section. I find the poem ends better without that last section. Also, David Arniason said to me once: "Why in the hell did you add that business about the moon and a belly." I said "How did you know it was added?" "Why", he said, "in the anthology of Milton Wilson those lines aren't there." So he said, "I knew that must have been an earlier ~ - ~ - version." So then I told him the very complicated story which I --I
won't bother you with: as to why the moon and the belly got in. At the last minute just as they were putting the book to press I wired this change to the Ryerson editor. But Arniason said it spoils it, be cause all the rest of the poem is very straightforward and personal and suddenly you're introducing this kind of literary thing. And of course I find this perceptive. I hadn't realized it had this effect. So the version that you should look at probably is the one in Milton Wilson's Poets Between the Wars.
Interviewer: When I was reading through the Collected Poems as a whole and read through Winnipeg Childhood_it fascinated me that there were several images that recurred extensively and one of them was the fantasy of flying; it seemed to me that movement somehow worked as a very special metaphor for you. There's the one lovely poem titled "Where I Usually Sit" where you talk about "I stay in love with movement"_and how this is a compensation for aging.
R_lent: Yes. The flying goes way back. That's a poem several young people have liked best and I'm very fond of it.
Interviewer: In the years from The Unquiet Bed onwards I felt a deepen ing sensuality in your work. Reading the poems I felt more and more that you were moving perhaps towards what Yeats called "the celebration of the bodily imperative" as a stay against aging. I found that the image of nakedness was always present_nakedness as a means to honesty. Could you comment on that? or add to that?
Respondent: Well, I think that through the earlier part of my life I'd never been able to express the feelings of close emotional relationship in words. In later life, from having a very colourful and rejuvenating sepal relationship, a love affair with a younger man_I suppose Af rica has freed me to be able to speak about it. That was probably what happened. It was a great pleasure to be able to speak about it and the poems were written really as letters to the man. A dialogue by means of poems. Though you don't hear the other end of the line'
Keith Richardson, Poetiiand the Colonized Mind: lYsh, with a Preface by Robin Mathews. Oakville, Ontario: Mosaic Press, 1976. 79 pp. $3.95 paper.
Few literary quarrels in this country have been so rancoro~ so fo~ standing as the one centred on a batch of young Vancouver poets and critics, principally Frank Davey and George Bowering. In the early 1960s they edi ted Tish, a mimeographed "newsletter" of contemporary poetry, which was polemical and defiantly contemporary. It was also often narrow and cranky. Right from the start it excited and offended people. Al Purdy, initially sym pathetic, soon turned sour when Bowering made fun of Milton Acorn. (Purdy argued that Bowering was "damn near neurotic" in insisting upon "silly strictures" for poetry.) The complaints have poured in steadily ever since. Keith Richardson's book, Poetry aru] the Colonized Mind: Tish, is a recent expression of that opposition.
Richardson's case is simple. American poets, especially the "Black Mountain" writers, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson, who visited Vancouver in the early 1960s, had an enormous impact on many of the young Canadian poets then studying English at the University of Brit ish Columbia. People like Fred Wah, Frank Davey, Jamie Reid, David Cull and George Bowering, having fallen under the spell of their visitors, rapidly became colonized (or more colonized) by American cultural imperialism. They took over American voices, interests, and values; and they swallowed an American ethos of individualism. As a result, they wrote weak derivative poetry and neglected their own literary tradition. In Richardson's words, "The Tish poets' belief in the U.S. Black Mountain poetics entailed a dis missal of Canada as an entity requiring its own particular forms of expression."
The idea sounds inviting: yet another example of arrogant Americans trying to call the shots, and bug-eyed Canadians eager to sell out the home quarter. But the analysis is misleading. To begin with the beginnings: there ~ no~l~mogeneous Black Mountain school. There is Creeley, who writes tight' tenuous, domestic poems; Duncan who writes allusive, erudite poems studded with archaic words and visions; Olson who writes prosy epics weighted with American place. Nobody could confuse their poetry. What they do have in common are assumptions about the nature of the universe and of mankind's (and therefore of poets') positions in it. To be somewhat
simpleminded aft the point for the sake of brevity, "fish" poetics em phasizes the need for a literature written in process, so that the poem can register the dynamics of a universe that we should not, that we finally can not, fix or hold. Creeley, Duncan, and Olson all believe in a poetry of process, but they do not speak with one voice. Therefore, to argue, as Richardson does, that these poets represented a single model for writing is to misgauge their writing and their impact in Vancouver.
It certainly is true that their trips to Vancouver helped shape the writers they met there. But understanding the nature of their influence needs more knowledge and thought than Richardson has brought to his examination of the subject. His determination not to understand leads him to misinterpret Bowering's statement about what it means to be a Canadian. Bowering writes that American poete~&-ught me not to proselytize about my place nor to claim that I can interpret it for my own power_but to pay attention to it." That statement, Richardson claims, shows that Bowering has surren dered to American forces of occupation. Richardson is so willing to put the worst possible construction on whatever his subjects say that he rewrites their statements: "Bowering said that 'the most valuable find for the Amer ican reader is poet Robin Blaser.' With Bowering's confusion over cultural place names, he doubtless meant the recommendation of Blaser for all Tish readers, Canadian as well." Similarly, on those occasions when Bowering and Davey state their own reservations about what they were doing, Rich ardson resorts to snide dismissal. To Bowering's admission in Canadian Literature that Tish suffered from a "messianic intolerance" in its early stages, he responds with the speculation that "Bowering had perhaps come to realize that the poetic exclusiveness for which Tish was known could be a liability." Frank Davey gets the same treatment. In 1962, during what Rich a~on calls "the height of Frank Davey's involvement with the newsletter," Davey wrote an important article on little magazines in Canada. In it he stated that the editors of Tish "seem to have made a fetish out of belligeren cy. A lot of their poetry seems weak and irrelevant." Such comments, Rich ardson intimates, give only "an ostensibly objective, third-person descrip tion of Tish."
Aside from its cynicism, Poetry and the Colonized Mind is weakened in ways. There are numerous confusions or oversights in it. For instance,
4~i~ardson quotes as proven fact a second-hand report on what Olson was alleged to have said about the desirability or inevitability of an American takeover in Canada. A few pages later he quotes another second-hand ac count about how Olson, distrusting nations, hopes "the term 'United States' will pass the way of all those meaningless things, generalizations: oblivion." The disparity between the two reports does not even register with Richard son.
The most serious deficiencies in Poetry and the Colonized Mind are its blind~in';istence on "the Canadian poetry tradition" and its willful ignorance of Charles Olson's precepts. While maintaining that the Tish people opened a beachhead for an American cultural invasion, Richardson would have us believe there has always been a definite Canadian tradition remarkably di fferent in nature from the kind of writing Bowering and Davey have done. He names no names, he mentions no poems, he describes no features of
"the" poetry. Evidently the mere saying makes it so. His arbitrary assertion becomes all the more unconvincing when he invites us to recognize only a single tradition. Such exclusiveness will not bear examination. Modern Can adian poetry, like modern American poetry, possesses no one centre;it is richly varied. Richardson seems to think of "the" tradition as something so fixed that it can permit no divergence and no evolution. As near as I can tell, this exemplary writing is formally conservative, intellectually rather than experientially founded, and concentrated somewhere in Eastern Canada.
Tish poetry is proudly West Coast. Olson, chief theoretician for the edi tors of that magazine, insisted that poets must write in their own unique voices out of their own particular places, "foolishly 'local,' heavy with particulars," as he recommends. No other places and no other voices_certainly not Olson's world and Olson's voice_would do. Be in Van couver, of Vancouver_here, now (in 1962)_that is what Olson said to Lionel Kearns and Daphne Buckle, David Dawson, Jamie Reid and David Cull, and all the others. It's you and your world that go into your poetry. Writing out of Olson's poetics, then, means anything but imitating his par ticular form of writing. His notion of locus stresses the necessity of attending to the things in the instant and in the spot of creation. A local pride in a local tongue. In a sense Canadian writers become more "Canadian" the more they are influenced by Olson's poetics. - - ~.;~
There is a related point Richardson has overlooked. The Vancouver crew saw their magazine as a vehicle for contention and for trying out possibili ties. Because for them (whether or not they realized it at the time) it served as a place where they could immediately, feverishly, practice their appren ticeship, it would be wrong of us to view their reviews, editorials, letters, notes, articles, poems and essay-poems as their last or best word. In his ret rospective "Introduction" to the Talonbooks reprint of the first 19 numbers, Davey asserts that the series delivered a record of work-in~progress. Davey, chief apologist for Tish, was only 22 when it started. The others were young enough that some of their contributions suff;e~ from ignorance, oonfu~on, embarrassing glibness, and adolescent posting
Finally, Poetry and the Colonized Mind misses the mark because it does not ask the right questions. The issue of nationalism is, I have tried to argue, essentially mistaken. More urgent concerns, I shoed think, are the implica tions of Tish poetics and the accomplishments of its practitioners. Sister Beverley Mitchell is about the only critic wl~-lias intelligently explored those issues, with the result that her "The Goner of Tim" ~ the best single piece on the group.
There is no opportunity in this account to evaluate the t}ieory and prac tice, but I want to suggest two reservations I have about what appears in Tish, No. 1-19 One of them has to do with the poems published in it. A fair number of them are failures. Many read as thinly disguished essays on poet ics. There is little pleasure in digging through a bagfull of poems, each of them earnestly and explicitly telling how the poet would write poems and what poems are. Other poems speak feverishly of "my poems" as though the poem had, each of them, bushed of them in hand.
Still, other poems work in their own terms~not trying to make any thing more of life than it is, sounding "the personal song of a man interact
ingwith the universe around him and inside him." The aesthetics of "projective" verse emphasize the need to be honest to the particulars of ex perience taking shape in the poem. Unfortunately, fidelity to an experience does not ensure good poetry. However faithful a poet may be to an occasion, and therefore true to the writing of poetry in process, the result will matter to a reader only if it has power and resonance for him. Mere recording, de void of metaphor, can be appallingly flat and inconsequential. By itself, tone-leading of vowels and consonants can dish up thin, cold porridge.
Obviously, the poet who writes in process takes a great risk of failure. However, the depth and range of experience a poet brings to his work can improve his chances of transcribing a poem that matters. That may be one of the reasons why the best poems in the early issues of Tish come from Bowering, who is a few years older than the others (26 at the time Tish be gan). David Dawson's first contributions flounder for want of something to record. They improve tremendously as they take on concrete life, until he comes up with some of the best work in Tish, No. 1-l~"tentative coastlines" and "Tinandra"_concrete, rich poems in beautiful rhythms. Al most all the regular contributors_Wah, Cull, Davey_get better as they go along. ~
Then there are the impressive new writers who turned up in th~ew sletter from time to time. In Tish, 17 five good pieces by Diane Wakoski ap pear. At the time she was relatively unknown, having only just issued her first book of poems. Following, as they do, 352 pages of work by the same 5 or 6 people, her poems gain the advantage of freshness. The same sense of discovery comes with Carol Berge's publication in No. 17 (probably the best number in the first series, as it also included strong poems by David Bro mige, libel Mu, Dan McLeod, and a perceptive Purdy review by Bow ering). Berge-ca~e out of nowhere at the time (though she and Wakoski both were included in LeRoi Jones' 1962 edition of Four Young Lady Poets). There are other pleasant surprises: Daphne Buckle in Tish, 12, Luella Booth in Tish, 16, Peter Auxier in Tish, 18 and in Tish, 19. Their emergence speaks well of the creative ferment at the magazine and the judgment of its editors.
Undoubtedly Tish's insistence on printing and supporting only poems that conformed to its taste gave the organ its edge. That edge was both heady and irritating. The excitement of doing something here, now, reckless ly, insolently, runs throughout Tish. So does a querulous bad temper that takes the form of intolerant pronouncements about other forms of writing. The urgent desire to bring poets and professors to their senses led to some crabbed and cranky attacks on other writers. Even when the Tish people made their case with good humour, they were inclined to use their literary terms honorofically, however much they may now deny it.
C.H. Gervais' collection of fugitive "fish" material, The Writing Life, shows as much. A few of the entries, in particular the interviews with Stan Persky and Gladys Hindmarch, are sloppy and uninformative, and some tim - ,3~erksy's case, downright egotistical. Some entries do little more ~ ah personalities (Persky, Hindmarch, and Carol Berge). At least Mane co~i~u'tion is execrably written (Gervais' own "fish: A Movement").
Another, Bowering's "How I Hear Howl," is so peripheral that it should not be there. (Gervais would have been far better off with Bowering's "The New
American Prosody," or "Dance to a Measure," a brilliant piece that explains W.C. Williams' poetics better than anything I have seen.) One of the entries (Bowering's "The Most Remarkable Thing about Tish") is only a summary note. The rest of the selections vary in value.
Most of Davey's pieces (four of them_five counting the Komisar inter view with him) show impressive knowledge, intelligence and sophistication. He probably has become the best apologist for experimental writing in Can ada. Certainly he is now the most conspicuous as editor of Open Letter, and author of From There to Here: A Guide to English-Canadian Literature Since 1960. His command of the field is so great that opposing critics like
ichardson look all the more ineffectual. Davey makes a good case for the origins, nature, and the contributions of Tish in the history of Canadian po etry, rightly arguing that its poetics are hardly peculiar to Vancouver, an earlier version having arrived in Eastern Canada from Williams through people like Louis Dudek and Raymond Souster. If Davey's youthful effu sions in the early sixties do not always hold up under scrutiny, he certainly holds no illusions in retrospect about the deficiencies of the 'smartass' stance in Tish. At times what it published was stupid, snobbish, frivolous, pedantic, wordy, and pretentious, he says in his "Introduction" to the recent reprint. Davey's shrewd assessment of Tish's role in Canadian poetry also emerges in the Komisar interview where he has some interesting things ~ say about the recent emergence of Canadian poetry from colonial status. ~
The Writing Life records the scattered attempts of the Tis/~ine and to defend their poetics. Most of those efforts are worthwhile in their own rights Apart from the Davey interview, however, only two selections actually attempt to assess Tish in hindsight_Warren Tallman's "Wonder Mer chants: Modernist Poetry in Vancouver During the 1960's" and Sister Bev "ley Mitchell's "The Genealogy of Tish." I have already spoken well of hIitchell's article as the best single survey of the subject. Tallman's essay is oddly disappointing. He, more than anyone else, introduced the Black Mountain people to Vancouver. For several years he served as supporter and intellectual centre of what came to be the Tish crew. But his account loses value as it meanders all over the map. He takes too long in coming to the point and, once he does, passes over the individual poets with such speed and such lack of illustration that they end up sounding much like one anoth er. The problem is hardly lack of insight, as his penetrating comments on Daphne Marlatt (Buckle) indicate. But he dissipates his paper, perhaps out of a desire to pay tribute where it is due and to avoid signs of favouritism.
Tish No. 1-19 and The Writing Life assemble many of the documents necessary for work yet to be done in the area. Serious research will also in volve careful reading of the numerous poetry books published since 1962 by the Tech editors and associates. Whatever the studies reveal, I hope they will