A New Dimension: Notes on the
Ecology of Canadian Poetry

by D.M.R. Bentley

I think success in verse is due largely to getting the right form for the right content, fitting them together to produce something with a new dimension, so to speak.

—W. W.E. Ross to A.J.M. Smith, April 14, 1944.1

When, towards the beginning of his topographical poem Quebec Hill; or Canadian Scenery (1797), J. Mackay asks:

Ye who, in stanzas, celebrate the Po,
Or teach the Tyber in your strains to flow,
How would you toil for numbers to proclaim
The liquid grandeur of St. Lawrence' Stream?2

he poses a question which, though it defies ultimate answer, raises issues that are of major importance for Canadian poetry.  The implications of Mackay's question lie in the direction of the relation between imported poetic forms and vernacular Canada content, of the ontogeny of Canadian poetry.  Not only does Mackay's imaginary conversation with the poets of the classical, European tradition give recognition to the difficulties that face the poet who would "celebrate" and "proclaim" features of the Canadian scene (and earlier in the poem he doubts also the adequacy of his "weak numbers [to] emulate the clime") but his question, in the terms of its asking, seems to recognize two options that are open to the would-be poet of Canada:  either to employ forms and techniques ("stanzas," "numbers") which might be suitable or adaptable to the Canadian reality, or conversely, to shape or adapt ("teach") the Canadian reality to conform to the stylistic contours of an imported poetic.  The fact that Mackay's question excludes a third possibility, namely that forms and techniques either of indigenous or ex nihilo creation are, or will become, available in Canada, points, not to a colonial lack of perspicacity or originality, but towards a major characteristic of the Canadian poetic continuity from his day to the present — that its history as regards form and technique is a history of importation and adaptation, that where formalistic and technical innovations have occurred they have been, in global terms, relatively minor.  They have been, in truth, mutations of forms and techniques developed elsewhere, usually in Britain, France, and the United States.  In The Educated Imagination, and again in the "Conclusion" to the Literary History of Canada, Northrop Frye writes:

. . . literature can only derive its forms from itself. . . . This principle is important for understanding what's happened in Canadian literature.  When Canada was still a country for pioneers, it was assumed that a new country, a new society, new things to look at and new experiences would produce a new literature.  So Canadian writers ever since, including me, have been saying that Canada was just about to get itself a brand new literature.  But these new things provide only content; they don't provide new literary forms.  Those can come one from the literature Canadians already know.3

The truth of which Frye speaks bears particularly on Canadian poetry, where the practice from the first to the last has been to import forms and techniques — the heroic couplet, the sonnet, the eclogue, Keats's ode stanza, terra rima, free verse, concrete, projective verse (there is no need at this point to expand the list) — and to fit them to Canadian content, often transmuting one, or the other, or both in the adaptive process.  It is thus possible that part of the distinctiveness of Canadian poetry resides in what may be called its ecology, in the reciprocal relations between its imported literary organisms and their uniquely Canadian environments and contents.  If this is so, and the present discussion is of course predicated on the assumption that it is, then a study of the ecology of Canadian poetry promises to be extremely rewarding.

     Before proceeding to set forth more fully the ecological model thus provisionally proposed, two facts need to be squarely faced and their implications briefly examined.  It has frequently been observed that literary developments in Canada lag behind those in the major literatures and that Canadian literature as a whole has had virtually no impact outside Canada.  From these observations, which, needless to say, are of a descriptive not a prophetic nature, it follows that Canadian literature is derivative and relatively uninnovative, that in world terms it is a minor literature, just as, say, British architecture, Irish painting, and Swedish music are, in their own ways, minor.  This is not to say that Canadian literature, any more than British architecture, is lacking in distinctiveness or distinction.  On the contrary, the forms and techniques that Canadian poets have imported, unlike the products of Detroit and Coventry, do not become obsolete and cannot be superseded, so long as there are gifted poets to transplant and to vernalize them with intelligence and creativity in physical and cultural environments as distinctive as those of Canada.  Canadian poetry, though its forms and techniques are imported and though it has not, so far, produced innovations of the major kind that effect the course of poetry elsewhere, is yet a distinctive body of literature by virtue of the talents of its authors and by virtue of its uniqueness as, in A.J.M. Smith's words, the "record of life in the . . . circumatances of a northern plantation."4

     As Smith's definition indicates, critics and poets in the past have on occasion had recourse to biological metaphors in their efforts to describe Canadian poetry.  In his "Preface" to the 1913 Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, for instance, Wilfred Campbell commented that "true British-Canadian verse, if it has any real root . . . must necessarily be but an offshoot of the great tree of British literature . . .," adding that "What is purely Canadian in this offshoot of the parent stock must be decided . . . ."5 And in his 1933 address on "Canadian Poetry in its Relation to the Poetry of England and America" Charles G.D. Roberts referred to Canadian poetry in English as "but a branch of the one splendid parent stem . . . ."6   Not surprisingly, writers less Britannic and Imperialistic in their orientation, as well as more recent, than Campbell and Roberts, have tended to abandon the root-stem-branch metaphor in favour of a less dependent, and more ecological, formulation:  in a letter to John Sutherland in Northern Review, Louis Dudek challenged his fellow Canadian poets "to create a native Canadian literature by transplanting the great common tradition to our own soil and keeping it alive. . .";7 in Julian Park's Culture of Contemporary Canada (1957), Roy Daniells describes Canadian writing as "a late germination in a cold northern climate . . ." and one of its forms (the novel) as an organism that "grows slowly, with all the contortion and tenacity of a pine on a rock slope . . .";8 and in the Literary History of Canada (1965), the general heading given to the section on writing prior to 1880 is "The Transplanting of Traditions."  Whatever considerable differences separate these various applications of biological metaphors to Canadian literature, taken in the aggregate they adumbrate the ecological model to be explored here.  According to this model, however, the "transplanting of traditions" has neither been confined to the early period of Canadian poetry nor been achieved at any particular point in the more recent past.  It has been a continual process; and it is a continuing one.  From its beginnings to the present the Canadian poetic continuity has involved the transplantation of organisms from elsewhere and, beyond this, their selection, importation, and adaptation in a manner which though — to use Huxley's terms — ethical or human as opposed to cosmic or natural is nevertheless consistent with the ecological process in being region-specific with regard to the various physical and cultural environments that go to make up Canada.

     An ecological approach to Canadian poetry offers certain, distinct advantages.  The most obvious of these is that it furnishes the critic with a metaphorical yet precise vocabulary of terms such as fitness, adaptation, mutation, hybrid, mongrel, entropy and syntropy.  Corresponding, as they do, to phenomena in the world of Canadian poetry, these terms provide criticism with a suitable means, not just of describing, but of making distinctions between and connections among, the many varieties of that poetry.  A less obvious, but no less certain, advantage of the proposed ecological model as conceived here is that it is not bound by the 'necessary and sufficient conditions' clause that applies to theoretical models in the so-called 'hard' physical and natural sciences.  Nor is it blind, like the speculations of the pseudo-sciences (psychoanalysis and astrology, for example), to the possibility of counter-examples which may constitute unassimilatable exceptions to its formulations. Rather, the present ecological approach is consistent with the methodology of what Quentin Gibson in The Logic of Social Enquiry (1960) calls a "factors theory."9  Such a theory provides a model of explanation that is rigorous yet flexible enough to allow a multiplicity of factors and tendencies — in this instance such variables as the accrued associations of verse forms, the metaphysical co-ordinates of individual writers, and cultural climates of different regions — to be taken into consideration and to be weighted according to the requirements of particular instances and circumstances.  It may also be counted an advantage that an ecological approach to the importation and adaptation of forms and techniques in Canadian poetry, far from calling into question the distinctiveness of that poetry, promises to cast into a new relief its fabled 'mapleness' and 'mooseness,' to demonstrate that poetry written in Canada, like the flora and fauna (not to say the people) that have migrated, survived, and evolved here, displays morphological qualities that are both distinctively regional and distinctively Canadian.

     One ramification of this ecological model is that the cognates of Louis Hartz's 'fragment' or 'lunar' theory of The Founding of New Societies, which has been given uneasy application to the "two-fragment" society of Canada by Kenneth D. McRae, must for the purposes of literary investigation be displaced or modified by two factors:  firstly, by the recognition that Canadian poetry, like Canadian culture, is more dependent on, and — to use Malcolm Ross's word — "open"10 to, other cultures than the American society which provides Hartz with his primary model and, hence, has not undergone the process of "escape from the past . . . closing down of the future [and] interior unfolding"11 of which Hartz speaks; and, secondly, by the realization that Canadian poetry exists, metaphorically speaking, not in a Ptolemaic universe but in a Copernican one — a universe in which the Canadian poet stands at the centre only in his own and his critics' illusions.  (Margaret Atwood's "Progressive insanities"12 of the pioneer who proclaimed "himself a centre" may well provide an unintentionally instructive parable concerning the dangers of failing to recognize this last aspect of the Canadian poet's and critic's predicament.)  If Canada is a fragment, it is a fragment of the sun (or suns) which, for literary intents and purposes, has been continuously though erratically irradiated by energy sources — Morley Callaghan's contentious "sources of light"13 — outside itself.  This 'solar' theory of Canadian poetry, though a more accurate metaphor than Hartz's for conceiving the relation between Canadian developments and the sources from which they derive at least part of their energy, is probably better applied to incoming ideas of the philosophical and scientific variety than to imported poetic forms, which are more in the nature of organisms than energizing forces.  The attractive but fanciful idea now arises that if a unified, ecological field theory for Canadian poetry were to be constructed it would conceive imported forms as transplanted organisms, imported ideas as irradiating energy, Canadian environments as nurturing soils, and the synthesizing property which several writers, including Margaret Atwood, have seen as the outstanding characteristic of the Canadian mind, as among the major elements in its basic equation. Such a formulation might provide a means of describing the factors at work, say, in Archibald Lampman's "Among the Timothy," where the stanzaic form derives from Arnold's "Thyrsis" and "The Scholar-Gipsy," the philosophical energy from Emerson, and the local elements from the Ottawa Valley, or in Irving Layton's "A Tall Man Executes a Jig," which puts Nietzschian concepts to work in seven sonnets of Apollonian form and Dionysian energy.  The primary focus here, however, is not on the process of (photo) synthesis but on the relation between imported forms and techniques and Canadian content, with particular, though not exclusive, attention to the Canadian landscape which, as Northrop Frye amongst others has pointed out, is ineluctably bound up with that old bugbear, the Canadian identity.  Frye's famous riddle of "'Where is here?"14 will not be solved by the present enquiry, but in evitably it lies in the background of an ecological approach to the importation and adaptation of forms and techniques in Canadian poetry.

     The immigrant and pioneer poetry of the Pre-Confederation period affords ample instances of Canadian content being adapted — or, to recall Mackay's word, 'taught' — to conform to the demands of imported forms and techniques. In Canada: A Descriptive Poem (1806), published less than ten years after Mackay's Quebec Hill, Cornwall Bayley describes Canada as "Canadia,"15 thus altering the very name of the place to conform to the demands of the decasyllabic couplet; clearly Bayley was one of those poets for whom the metrics of neo-classical verse were more important than, in R.E. Rashley's words, "the mere name of the country. . . . "16  By way of illustrating his contention that Canada's "earliest immigrants" tended to translate the "Canadian scene" into "language and forms usually infelicitous because they reduce the new experience to . . . familiar European terms . . . ," Rashley notes that in The U.E. — A Tale of Upper Canada (1859) by William Kirby the Indian's móccasin is made to scan moccásin because "the movement of the line requires it."17  Rashley's point is a valid one which could be corroborated by examples drawn from the work of many early immigrants.  One such is Adam Allan, whose "Description of the Great Falls of the River Saint John in the Province of New Brunswick" (1798) in the terms of neo-classical architecture — "Pilasters, arches, pyramids, and cones, / Turrets enrich'd with porticos and domes; / In artless order, — form'd by [frozen] surge and spray"18 — is a striking example of imagistic malapropism, a species of what, in the terms of our ecological approach, may be called mongrelism — i.e. the ludicrous mixing of incongruous imported and vernacular elements.  Of course, mongrelism is most readily noticeable at the level of diction and imagery in very early Canadian poetry.  (Bayley's description of an Indian wearing "snow-sandals" and a "crown of Feathers"19 [my italics] furnishes another piquant example of it.)  This is so because the rhetorical and periphrastic eighteenth-century verse that served as the models for the "dear bad poets / Who wrote / Early in Canada"20 is itself poor in resources for the description of external nature and, hence, not easily adaptable to the Canadian scene.  The difficulties with which the earliest poets writing in Canada were faced are, in fact, those which James Thomson also confronted and which Wordsworth and others solved for a later generation of Canadian poets.

     Illustrative instances of formalistic mongrelism and of its opposite, syntropic hybridization are furnished by Canada's nineteenth-century importers of ottava rima, a form which by the eighteen 'twenties was for North Americans indelibly imprinted with associations of Byronic wit and the Byronic hero.  When intelligently imported and creatively hybridized by George Longmore in The Charivari; or Canadian Poetics (1824), ottava rima provides a fitting vehicle for a witty, satirical, and probably allegorical depiction of matrimonial and literary affairs in the Montreal of the eighteen 'twenties, when the Act of Union between Upper and Lower Canada was a major political issue.  But when, four years later, Byronic ottava rima was used by John Richardson as the vehicle for his Tecumseh; or the Warrior of the West (1828) the result is a less successful hybrid.  For while the form seems congruent with what Richardson saw as the "wild [Byronic] poetry"21 of Tecumseh's character, the rhythm of "inflation and deflation" which is built into its abababcc rhyme scheme and which makes it appropriate for poems that are, in Byron's own words, "meant to be a little quietly facetious about everything,"22 serves to diminish, even to undercut, the stature of the hero of the War of 1812.  And when, in 1848, ottava rima was famously put at the service of the Temperance movement by Alexander Kent Archibald, the ludicrous result is, in Fred Cogswell's words, "an excellent example of incongruity"23 — in ecological terms, a vintage instance of formalistic mongrelism.

     It should be clear now that Canada's "earliest immigrants" and pioneer poets were on occasion capable of avoiding mongrelism and, indeed, were far from incapable of fitting adaptations.  The Loyalist Joseph Stansbury, for instance, quite effectively employed the Venus and Adonis stanza in his "To Cordelia," opting for the toughness of tetrameter lines and the repetitiveness of a couplet rhyme reiterated throughout the poem's seven stanzas, to express the bitterness of his response to Nova Scotia and the obsessiveness his desire to return home:

Believe me, Love, this vagrant life
    O'er Nova Scotia's wilds to roam,
While far from children, friends, or wife,
    Or place that I can call a home
Delights not me; — another way
My treasures, pleasures, wishes lay.

In piercing, wet, and wintry skies,
    Where man would seem in vain to toil,
I see, where'er I turn my eyes,
    Luxuriant pasture, trees, and soil.
Uncharm'd I see: another way
My fondest hopes and wishes lay.24

There are also instances when the pressure of emotions and events imaginatively experienced in Canada wrung passages from the early poets which, though conventional in form, are remarkable for their fitness and power.  One such passage, as has been argued elsewhere,25 is Thomas Cary's description of Niagara Falls in Abram's Plains, where a triplet is used in a poem otherwise written entirely in heroic couplets to mark a moment when it is as if his subject — the size and sublimity of the Falls — were "stretching their container and almost bursting out of confinement."26   Another such passage is to be found among the heroic couplets of Joseph Howe's Acadia (1874) where the event described, an Indian attack on a settler family, calls forth devices such as enjambement, alliteration, and rhythmical variation which combine with vigorous verbs to animate the form in a manner reminiscent of the later Dryden:

But now, en masse, the shrieking fiends leap in,
Till wounded, faint, o'erpowered, the Father falls
And hears the shout of triumph shake his walls.
The wretched Mother from her babe is torn,
Which on a red right hand aloft is borne,
Then dashed to earth before its Parents' eyes,
And, as its form, deform'd and quivering lies,
Life from its fragile tenement is trod,
And the bruised, senseless, and unsightly clod,
Is flung into the soft but bleeding breast
To which so late in smiling peace 'twas press'd.27

Adumbrated here, it is tempting to suggest, is the possibility of "form, deform'd" under the pressure of Canadian experience.  Howe's more well-known tendency, of course, was towards mongrelism; in Acadia there is also to be found, not only an Indian wigwam described as a "proud . . . dome" in a "sylvan city" but also that notoriously "gay moose" which in "jocund gambol springs, / Cropping the foliage Nature round him flings."  He could even, when the couplet form required it, "painfully twist his forest lore":  to "lend every grove a charm," and the "charm" a rhyme, he has "The bending Sumach and the downy Palm. . . . "28   Thus it is that when Howe refers to an Indian canoe as a "bark" one is inclined to disallow the possibility that he perceived a felicitous congruity between his imported poetic diction and the native Canadian content.  There is a temptation to quote against Howe the editor of The Canadian Literary Magazine's threat, delivered in 1833, to "tomahawk every ignorant and conceited trespasser upon Parnassus, and hang up his scalp, as a trophy, in the Temple of Apollo."29   The temptation is especially seductive since the editor's threat, being a concatenation of classical and Indian references, is itself a fine example of mongrelism.

     A temptation not to be resisted, however, is to quote two stanzas of Nathaniel A. Benson's "Canada" the poem which closes his anthology of Modern Canadian Poetry (1930).  It is not to be resisted because Benson's poem, which marries the tune rhythm of the first three lines of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to a personified Northland, sings aloud the fact that mongrelism did not cease to exist in Canadian poetry with Confederation.  Here is the beginning of what Benson fondly calls "Canada":

I have seen her in the quiet of the evening in the fields,
I have sensed her in the dusk-time that the star-decked prairie yields.
She has poised on purple mountains when my lonely step drew near,
And the North's green fires at midnight were her altar-lights austere.

Her voice is in the thunder of the raptured Falls of Bow,
In the memory of Daulac dying greatly long ago.
Her song is in the music of awakened April rills,
She whose spirit walked with Lampman on his silent wooded hills.30

Lampman should have been living at the hour when this poem was composed, for Canada certainly had need then of his ecological intelligence and creativity.  There is a morbid amusement akin to that provided for our ancestors by the simple-minded to be derived from Benson's "Canada."  It is quoted here, in the context of other more or less ecologically successful passages, not for amusement's sake, however, but in order to make the point that, since the process of importation and adaptation in Canadian poetry has been and still is a continuing one, discriminations and distinctions within it can be made only if the meaninglessly general use of terms like colonial and derivative is abandoned in favour of the attempt to arrive at individual judgements that are couched in more precise terms and based, in A.J.M. Smith's wordy "careful examination of every poem, line by line and stanza by stanza."31

     Such instances as those anthologised in the last few paragraphs of the Canadian vernacular being infelicitously and, at times, ludicrously conjoined with imported poetic and stylistic conventions, of nature in a special Canadian way imitating art, are not to be confused with the use made by many Pre-Confederation, and, indeed, more recent writers (including, for instance, the D.C. Scott of "A Scene on Lake Manitou" and the George Bowering of "A Sudden Measure"), of conventions such as or akin to the picturesque and the pastoral to order and to "celebrate" the Canadian scene, albeit in conformity with an a priori and idealized model.  "Unstructured / space," to borrow another phrase from Atwood's "Progressive insanities of a pioneer," "is a deluge," and our ancestors in this space, contrary to the psychoanalytical myth of 'breakdown as breakthrough' which was promulgated in the 'fifties and 'sixties by Herbert Marcuse, R.D. Laing, Norman O. Brown and others and thereafter imported to Canadian literature by D.G. Jones, Atwood herself, and followers, were correct in perceiving the necessity to maintain control and establish order in their adopted landscape.  Poets such as the Thomas Wry of Abram's Plains (1789) and the Oliver Goldsmith of The Rising Village (1825) must be recognized, not for failing to embrace chaos, but for using the heroic couplet, often in conjunction with such conventions as the 'Here / There'32 direction of the picturesque, to reinforce and reflect the order that, in their view, was being conferred on the landscapes of Quebec and the Maritimes by (British or Loyalist) civilization.  Nor should the real Susanna Moodie (as opposed to the brilliant figment of Atwood's imagination) be censured for raising "imaginary houses and bridges on every picturesque spot. . . ."33  Mrs. Jameson could almost be commenting on the connection between the pioneer's and the artist's urge to form when she describes the estate of Colonel Light on the Thames near Woodstock, Ontario:  one bank of the river, she writes, is given over to a "lawn, tolerably cleared . . . " while the other has been "managed with great taste, and a feeling for the picturesque . . . ," adding: "the Colonel being himself an accomplished artist accounts for this."34  Robert Kroetsch almost certainly intends irony in Seed Catalogue (1977) when he offers as one of the answers to the question "How do you grow a poet?" the reply" We give form to this land by running / a series of poets and three strands/of barbed wire around a 1/4-section."  Yet he allows Rudy Wiebe almost the last word, ostensibly quoting the prairie novelist to the effect that "'You must lay great black steel lines of / fiction, break up that space with huge design and . . . / . . . build a giant artifact. No song can do that . . . "35   Wiebe probably underestimates the power of poetry to come to terms with the prairie.  Be that as it may, however, it is to the hypotactic tendencies of our pioneers and artists, to their urge to organize the external world, whether with fences or rhymes, barbed, steel, or pentameter lines, farms or forms of fictions, that we owe the beautiful (as opposed to sublime) landscapes of Canada, as well as the poems which "celebrate" and "proclaim" those landscapes.

     The position has now been reached where it becomes possible to recognize that relatively enclosed and enclosing poetic forms, especially those whose traditional associations are societal, as is the case with the heroic couplet and the sonnet, have been during most of the history of writing in Canada, the forms most ecologically fitting for the 'patchwork' landscape which surrounds and includes the house, farm, village, and town.36  Just as the picturesque convention provided the early settlers and artists with a means of emparking the Canadian landscape, so the heroic couplet, particularly when end-stopped to invest it with what Sidney Lanier calls "four-squareness"37 as in Cary's couplets describing meadows, cottages and a church in Abram's Plains,38 and the sonnet, particularly the Petrarchan sonnet, with its spatial division between a blocked octave and sestet, furnished Canadian poets of the 'Confederating' period and before with 'framing' or 'fencing' structures suitable to the features of the cultivated and civilized baselandscape.  The ecologically fitting Petrarchan sonnets which surround the landscapes and structures of Charles G.D. Roberts' "The Pea-Fields" and "In an Old Barn" thus stand in a continuity which stretches back to the heroic couplets of Mackay's Quebec Hill and Goldsmith's The Rising Village and forward well into the present century, to the vignettes of habitant life cast in sonnet form that comprise F.O. Call's Homespun volume of 1926 and to the rhymed couplets of Leo Cox's depiction of the village of "St. Pol", Quebec.  Of course there is no tradition of great house poems in Canada (though the treatment of the Hotel Dieu in Abram's Plains does have affinities with "Appleton House"); there is, however, a continuity of building poems which includes the demotic quatrains of Alexander MacLachlan's "We Live in a Rickety House" and the appropriately irregular quatrains of Phyllia Coate Stratford's "Garden Shed."39

     A particularly interesting instance of this continuity is provided by the Earle Birney poem which is entitled "Smalltown Hotel" in David and Other Poems (1942) and "Decomposition" in Selected Poems (1966). In its original version the poem is a firmly contoured, symmetrical octave stanza rhyming abbaccdd, with the precarious unity of its two component quatrains preserved syntactically and by enjambement:

Cornered by two sprawling streets
The yellowed stiff hotel is stuck
A golden tooth within the buck-
Mouthed prairie town. Agape it greets
The evening's halfmoon sky.  Within
The fly-loud dining-room a thin
Old waitress chants the bill-of-fare
To one bored traveller for kitchen-ware.40

In its revised form of 1966, the removal of such words as "Cornered" and "dining-room," which in the first version had laid before us, like the octave stanza itself, the architectural structure of the hotel, is reinforced formalistically by a change to a weakened, and in one instance ("stuck") internalized, rhyme scheme, a slightly deregularized rhythm, and the elimination of all punctuation.  In its new form the poem is indeed a study in "Decomposition":

A golden tooth within the buck-
mouthed prairie town the yellow
stiff hotel is stuck and stuck
within it like a deadened
nerve a thin grey wai-
tress drones the bill-of-fare
to one pained salesman for enamelware.41

Two further things may be said of this poem: firstly, that its terminal, Eliotic rhymes are appropriate to its matter (less appropriate, perhaps, is the echo of Yeats's "Lake Isle of Innisfree" in the first version), and, secondly, that, flying in face of the received view that Imagism is an appropriate poetic for the Canadian hinterland, it applies lessons learned from the imagists to what is, in fact, a suitable subject.  For the laconic, impersonal, and implicitly picturesque imagist poem, as A.J.M. Smith's difficulties with "The Lonely Land," together with the successes of W.W.E. Ross and Raymond Knister, clearly show is a fitting vehicle, not for wide open spaces, but for minute particulars and landscapes.

     Birney's "Smalltown Hotel" and "De-composition" point up another factor that must be taken into account in an ecological approach to the poetry of the baseland, namely that the architectural and agricultural features characteristic of baselandscapes are far from always in a static condition.  Farms and villages, for instance, may be expanding — a fact which adds formalistic resonance to The Rising Village, a poem in which each heroic couplet so to say, added to its predecessor like the timbers of a wooden building and the fields of an expanding farm — or they may be in a state of decadence — a fact which adds similar resonance to the relatively loose, open-ended form of Al Purdy's "The Country North of Belleville."  There is not space here either to examine in detail the poems of Goldsmith and Purdy or to do more than mention the titles of some other important Canadian poems — Lampman's "A Niagara Landscape," Livesay's sonnets of farm life in "The Outrider," Klein's "Montreal," Birney's "Bushed," Bowering's "The Streets of Calgary," and Kroetsch's The Ledger — which call for detailed examination in terms of the baseland continuity of closed and fixed forms.

     Some light may be cast on this continuity by the fact that the word stanza, which can be applied not only to such forms as the quatrain and ottava rima, but also to the couplet (particularly when blocked) and to the sonnet (and its component parts), originally meant — in the words of Johnson's Dictionary — "a room of a house."  For this fact may help towards an appreciation of the fitness of contoured, indeed, architectural, forms like the blocked couplet and the Petrarchan sonnet for landscapes consisting of formal shapes such as fields and houses which, particularly in the early period of highly visible "contrast between creation and chaos," were cast into striking relief by their unformed and aleatory background. In the Canadian context the parallel drawn by Klein between sonnets and "self-contained cottages"42 "(albeit in Poetry's suburbia") should be as well-known as Donne's famous likening of the sonnet to a "well-wrought urn."  Yet Donne's notion of the sonnet as a receptacle will remind some readers of the "cyanide jar" of Margaret Avison's "Butterfly Bones; a Sonnet Against Sonnets."  Nor is this for the present discussion an irrelevant response.  The tendency of the sonnet to "fix" its subject matter in a static and potentially deadening enclosure is well-understood by Avison, so well in fact that in "Snow" and "Butterfly Bones" she brilliantly uses formalistic strategies, including the burying of rhymes, and, especially, the playing of the Petrarchan against the Shakespearian structure, to subvert the fixing effect of the closed form, to render it a dynamic vehicle for the "jail break" and "recreation" of the "optic heart."   The practice of numerous Canadian poets, from the Thomas Cary of Abram's Plains to the Sid Marty of " Invitation and Covenant," and including particularly the Charles G.D. Roberts of "Ice," "The Brook in February," "The Stillness of the Frost" and, of course, "The Winter Fields" sonnet, indicates that in these "few acres of snow," as Voltaire called Canada, poets have well understood the ecological fitness of closed forms and restricted rhymes for what Frances Brooke's Arabella terms "frost pieces."43

     It has very likely been preying on the reader's mind for sometime now that the religion between closed, geometrical, fixed forms and either (or — as in the case of Robert's "The Winter Fields" — both) the shapes of the baseland or the shapes of winter cannot be the only criterion for judging the ecological fitness of an importation and adaptation.  Unquestionably other considerations need to be taken into account. One of these is the question, which may be examined briefly here through the work of Archibald Lampman, of whether an imported form and technique is ecologically fitting in terms of the metaphysic, cosmology, and developmental trajectory of the given poet.

     Louis Dudek, seemingly oblivious to the sonnets of Avison and Layton and, understandingly, to the sonnetal structures that underlie Purdy's "Necropsy of Love" and Birney's "Alaska Passage," describes Lampman as "the last remarkable exponent"44 of the sonnet in Canada.  Certainly Lampman, to judge by his critical comments (in At the Mermaid Inn, for instance) and poetic practice, was aware of the ecological fitness of the sonnet in particular and closed forms in general for descriptions of certain subjects, including those of the baseland, and of certain states, including those characterized by fixity, arrested movement, and entrapment.  In "The Frogs," for instance, the modified Petrarchan sonnet form and, within it, heavily rhymed couplets whose effect is delaying and arresting, serves to reinforce formalistically the dangerously langurous, solipsistic, and even narcotic state (two points of departure for the poem are Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" and Tennyson's "The Lotos-Eaters") induced by the murmurings of the "Breathers of wisdom won without a quest . . . ."  In the third and fourth (or 'noon' and 'night') sonnets, where the sextets, rhyming deedff and cddcee, each contain two couplet rhymes, matter and manner conspire insidiously to lead the listener "astray," to coerce him into the attractive delusion that "life" is not, as Lampman, like Keats and Tennyson, well knew it to be, full of "sorrow [and] upreared dismay," but "only sweet."  Here is the third of the five "Frogs" sonnets:

All the day long, wherever pools might be
    Among the golden meadows, where the air
    Stood in a dream, as it were moorèd there
For ever in a noon-tide reverie,
Or where the birds made riot of their glee
   In the still woods, and the hot sun shone down,
   Crossed with warm lucent shadows on the brown
Leaf-paved pools, that bubbled dreamily,

Or far away in whispering river meads
    And watery marshes where the brooding noon,
    Full with the wonder of its own sweet boon,
Nestled and slept among the noiseless reeds,
    Ye sat and murmured, motionless as they,
    With eyes that dreamed beyond the night and day.45

A far cry this from the "thoughts grow[n] keen and clear," the mind made sharp and lucid, by the noon light in "Heat."  Together with such words as "Stood," "moorèd," "still," "brooding," and "motionless," the heavy double rhymes and hot-house form of the "Frogs" sonnet mirror the physical and psychological effect, the "drowsy numbness" induced by the seductive murmurings of the frogs, as does the absence of the volta, an omission which, appropriately, allows the listener no pause to gather his rational thoughts against the delusive "noon-tide reverie."  It is an understanding of Lampman's metaphysical orientation that enables us to see why "The Frogs" is a successful instance of importation and adaptation, in ecological terms, a creative or syntropic hybrid.

     Similarly, a knowledge of Lampman's attitude to the city enables us to see that the tight, cross-rhymed quatrains of such pieces as "The City," "The Impression" and "The Poet's Song" serve to reinforce formalistically, not only the contoured shapes of the city, but also the fact that in these poems (as, incidentally, in the rhymed quatrains of Alden Nowlan's "Warren Pryor"), the city is a realm of entrapment and oppression.  Indeed in "The Poet's Song" (a much underrated poem) closed quatrains give way to vigorous tetrameter couplets whose rhymes draw together a series of septains when the focus shifts from the stasis and sterility of the city to the violence and inspiration of a storm in the countryside.  In the final stanza of the poem, an eight-liner whose rhyme scheme, ababccdd, is that of the two central stanzas of Wordsworth's "The Solitary Reaper," the abab rhyme of the quatrains intrudes again briefly as the focus returns to the city to be finally replaced by the couplets of the romantic poet in and above his natural environment:

That night, when the fierce hours grew long,
Once more the monarch, old and gray,
Called for the poet and his song,
And called in vain. But far away
By the wild mountain-gorges, stirred,
The shepherds in their scratches heard
Above the torrent's charge and clang
The cleaving chant of one that sang.46

It might at first seem strange that in "The Poet's Song," or, for that matter, in "Heat" and "Among the Timothy," Lampman does not employ forms freer than rhyming couplets and fixed stanzas in his depiction of the external nature whose revitalizing energy his speakers flee the city to absorb.  One reason for this, that the firm contours of such forms reflect at the descriptive level the cultivated landscape of Lampman's Ottawa Valley, does not provide the full explanation unless complemented by the more metaphysical consideration that for Lampman and his fellow 'Confederation poets,' particularly Campbell, Roberts, and Carman, regular stanza forms were the embodiment of a balanced, ordered, and harmonious relationship between man and an external nature which, for them, was predictably recurrent in its cycles and ordered in its forms.  Hence, the hexameter couplets of Lampman's "The Woodcutter's Hut" and the regular quatrains of Roberts' "The Solitary Woodsman," two poems which depict human figures who are "Fellow to the falling leaves,"47 who are attuned to the rhythms of nature, who are "rhythmed and matched in rhyme," as Duncan Campbell Scott says of the "Three axe-strokes" in "The Fragment of a Letter."48

     In the last phase of his creative career, in the Alcyone volume and the other posthumously published poems, Lampman was more painstakingly than ever exploring the ramifications of design and order, or the lack of such, in poems like "The City of the End of Things," "The Land of Pallas," and "At the Long Sault: May, 1660."  In the first of these, Lampman's dark and wintry vision of the dreadful consequences of urbanization and materialism, life rhythms that have become mechanical repetitions and natural cycles that have become hideous routines are fittingly described in cross-rhymed tetrameters whose energy is demonic and whose music is "inhuman."49  (The fact that Lampman uses the same form for divergent purposes in different places and at different times emphasizes the importance of the metaphysical and developmental dimensions of the ecological process and, in so doing, calls to mind the fact that different poets may import the same form and adapt it to their own special purposes.  Such is the case with Layton'a use of a "three-line" stanza, with unmistakable echoes of Dante's Inferno. . ."50 to describe a "city . . . in flames . . . " in "The Improved Binoculars" and Klein's use of terza rima, the very embodiment of Dante's trinitarian Catholicism, as the vehicle for "The Cripples (Oratoire de St. Joseph)," his depiction of faith practiced and lost.)  In the sister poem to "The City of the End of Things," "The Land of Pallas," Lampman fittingly embodies his utopian vision of a pastoral society where "order. . . divine beauty and peace. . . "51 (emphasis added), together with a measure of sexual equality, reign supreme, in lines of weighty, classical hexameters which, while accommodating many, individual rhythmic variations, are arranged in cross-rhymed quatrains whose rhymes are, perhaps — but only perhaps — fortuitously, both masculine and feminine.  And in the last poem mentioned above, "At the Long Sault:  May, 1660" Lampman, consistent with another ecological continuity which will be examined in a moment, employs fractured lines and irregular rhythms — a form bordering on free verse — to present the workings of a non-teleological, Darwinian nature in an area of conflict far from the baseland, but returns aptly to regular quatrains for the poem's final, heraldic vision of a feudal and urban order that has been preserved at the cost of the lives of Dollard des Ormeaux and his men.  It should be clear from the sheer intelligence and creativity of Lampman's ecological practice that he stands in the first rank of Canadian poets.  It should thus come as no surprise that in one poem, "The Dog," his understanding of the ecological decorum of poetry enabled him, in a spirit of play, to produce what is, in essence, a mongrel about a mongrel — an irregular sonnet describing a beast whose "queer feet [are] / Planted irregularly" and who chases a ball up to, but not beyond, a "broken-fence. . . . "52

     To this point the emphasis of the discussion has fallen primarily on the ecology of imported poetics in the cultivated base landscapes of Eastern and Southern Canada.  The broadly alternative landscapes, those of the non-agricultural hinterland, are not to be ignored, however, for since the late nineteenth century the North and the West have been of growing importance both as a subject and locus for Canadian poetry and as an image and metaphor for the Canadian identity.  Indeed, it is in The Canadian Identity that W.L. Morton, in affirming the "existence in Canadian art and literature of distinctive qualities engendered by the experience of northern life," makes the observation that, while "the art of the baseland is the lyric . . . ," there is in "the art of the hinterland" a "tendency to the heroic and the epic, to the art which deals with violence. . . . "53  Of course, it is the E.J. Pratt of a poem such as Brébeuf and His Brethren, with its savage violence, its Christian heroism, and its epic devices who comes to Morton's mind as the chief practitioner of the art of the hinterland.  Now the baser instinct of the literary critic might be to dismiss an historian's use of the term "epic" as too general and imprecise to be of practical value in a discussion of poetic form.  The formalistic significance of Morton's perception is discovered, however, by Hegel's comment that "Epic poetry . . . maintains a regular progression through all its convolutions without compartmentalizing itself into stanzas."54  For it surely follows that if "compartmentalizing" stanzas of various kinds provide the fitting forms for the baselandscape then more open forms such as blank and free verse must be ecologically congruent with Canada's hinterlandscapes, with the terrains which writers as diverse as Anna Jameson, Susanna Moodie, Stephen Leacock, and Lionel Stevenson have described using words like "unmeasured," "interminable," "endless" and "illimitable."55   Both blank and free verse are, relative to such forms as the couplet and the sonnet, open, expansile, nongeometric and, if not strictly speaking "unmeasured," "interminable," "endless," and "illimitable," then certainly lacking in what Barbara Herrnstein Smith calls "formal determination" and "closural resources."56

     Two legitimate apprehensions might have been provoked by the preceding paragraph, one that there is a great difference between blank and free verse and the other that there is a vast difference between the hinterland terrains of the Prairie, the Rockies, the Shield and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Both can be allayed by remarks in Paul Fussell's Poetic Metre and Poetic Form, the first by his endorsement of Theodore Roethke's view that " 'there is, invariably, [behind free verse] the ghost of some other form, often blank verse . . . " and the second by his recognition of the affinity "in theme as well as theory [between] free verse and the sea. . . . "57  This second observation is particularly useful because it calls to consciousness the fact that all Canada's hinterlandscapes, ad mare usque ad mare, via that "ocean . . . of grass,"58 the Prairie, and "that sea of mountains,"59 the Rockies, have been seen to exhibit similar affinities with the sea.  It is these connections between blank verse, free verse, and the ocean that provide the cement in the ecological continuity of the hinterland.  And that continuity is one which enables us to perceive the fitness, not merely of the relatively free verse of Lampman's "At the Long Sault . . . " and of Roberts' "The Iceberg," but also of the blank verse descriptions of the Prairie — "vast ocean's paraphrase"60 as it was termed by Charles Mair (who learned his ecological lesson, incidentally, from William Cullen Bryant's "The Prairies"61) — in Mair's own Tecumseh, in Part II of Isabella Valancy Crawford's Malcolm's Katie, in D.C. Scott's "Lines in Memory of Edmund Morris," and in the opening sections alike of Wilfred Campbell's "The Discoverers" and Tom MacInnes' "Cactus."  This is the continuity against which the blank verse of Pratt's long poems, particularly Towards the Last Spike, must be viewed.  The more recent, free verse manifestations of the same continuum are too numerous to mention, let alone discuss in detail, though they would certainly include the Arthur Stringer of Open Water, (1914), the Anne Marriott of The Wind Our Enemy (1939), the Earle Birnsy of The Straight of Anian (1948), the Ralph Gustafson of Rocky Mountain Poems (1960), the John Newlove of Black Night Window (1968), the Eli Mandel of Stony Plain (1973) and the Al Purdy of The Cariboo Horses (1965) and North of Summer (1967). All these writers, and other still more recent ones of the much-vaunted West Coast and Prairie renaissances, have written poems which bear out the observation of A.M. Stephen in the "Foreword" of his own Verendrye (1935) that "the rhythm of life peculiar to . . . the elemental vastness and beauty of our wide open spaces in Canada and the United States will often find its most fitting expression . . . in organic rhythms and the freedom of irregular verse. . . ," "forms differing greatly from the old familiar patterns."62

     Ecologically it should be clear why the non-agricultural terrain of the hinterland is best fitted by relatively open forms.  But what happens when closed stanzaic forms are imported and adapted to the wilderness and subjected to the pressures implied by the question, asked anonymously in the "Foreword" of Gustafson's Rocky Mountain Poems of "How, in symbology or cartography, [to] put eleven-thousand foot peaks . . . into a dozen or two lines?"63 or, indeed, the comment made by Purdy in the "Postscript" to North of Summer that "you'd have a helluva time shoving vast lonely distance into poems?"64  Of course, Gustafson's own answer to a question that uncannily echoes Mackay's of nearly two centuries earlier was to use a muscular, short lined free verse (a form reminiscent, not fortuitously, of the young Indian woman's "Tramp" through the wilderness in the first part of Duncan Campbell Scott's "The Forsaken") as a vehicle for descriptions of his hikers' experiences in the Rockies.  And Purdy's well-known response to the "vast lonely" spaces of the Arctic was to use a short-lined, open-ended free verse and to concentrate, by his own admission, on details and on people — a characteristic, needless to say, of hinterland poetry, which is, as a result, rich in flora and fauna, and rich, too, in anecdotes (full, in fact, of sloughs and ships, and arctic rhododendrons, and cactuses and Sam McGees).  But, again, how are fixed and closed forms adapted by poets under the pressures of the hinterland?  The answer, as might be expected, is that they are expanded. One instance of this is provided by MacInnes who wrote two of his early hinterland poems "The Chilcoot Pass" (1898) and "Lonesome Bar" (1907)65 in stanzas consisting of nine lines of iambic pentameter rhyming abbaccacd, followed by an alexandrine rhyming d. Clearly an expansion of the Spenserian stanza (the adequate medium, it should be remembered, for Sangster's trip down the picturesque St. Lawrence), the MacInnes ten-liner still functions well as a narrative vehicle for hinterland anecdotes.  But it also attempts, through its extra line and, occasionally, through an extension of the alexandrine as in "To mark the flight of Arctic hours gigantic shadows creep,"66 to accommodate and describe the terrain and characteristics of the Northwest.  (The fact that MacInnes uses a pure Spenserian stanza in "On Beacon Hill," a poem of 1902 named for the area in Victoria, B.C., and which celebrates Imperialism among the city's "tangled gardens,"67 lends probability to the suggestion that he expanded the form in response to the hinterland).  Another instance of expansion as a means of adapting a fixed form to the demands of the hinterland is provided by Birney's "David" (1940).  There the already loosened terza rima of Archibald MacLeish's Mexican epic, Conquistador,68 is expanded to a quatrain whose enlarged capacity, rising rhythms, and irregular rhymes serve at once to accommodate the "frozen ocean of rock. . ."69 that is the Rockies and to underscore the human order and the humanity which the narrator imposes and discovers there.  (The fact that the ghost rhyme scheme of "David" is abba, that of the In Memoriam stanza, is surely appropriate to the elegiac tone of the poem).  The style of Birney's "David" may not be wholly "indigenous and independent"70 as Desmond Pacey claims, but it is, within its own limitations, an ecologically fitting mutation.

     If there were world enough and time, as, by most accounts, there is in the hinterland but is not in an essay, it would be possible to ask, and to answer ecologically, the questions of when, where, by whom, and with what degree of fitness were various expanded, free, and open forms imported into Canada and adapted to the Canadian scene.  In order to answer such questions comprehensively another factor, over and above a poem's particular subject-matter and its author's particular metaphysic, must often be taken into account.  This factor, alluded to in passing earlier, is the cultural and political climate of Canada and its regions.  When notice is taken of the fact that four writers of the West, Tom MacInnes, Wilson MacDonald, Robert Service, and Emily Carr, together with four mavericks of the East, Dr. Bucke, J.H. Brown, Flora MacDonald and Lawren Harris, were amongst the first in Canada to experience the influence of Whitman, and when notice is taken of the preference by many established Eastern poets in the first half of the present century for Arnoldian as opposed to Whitmanian free verse, there begins to emerge a pattern which can only add to our understanding of such things as the Tish movement in Vancouver and the virulent reactions to it in certain quarters of Eastern Canada.  A provocative and informative syllogism could be constructed from Edwin Fussell's remark that "free verse [was] as inevitable as the Declaration of Independence"71 and Northrop Frye's contention that Canadian culture has its origins in a rejection of the American revolution72 to yield the deduction that free verse, particularly of the "radical" American tradition of Whitman, Pound, Williams, and Black Mountain, and Canadian culture, particularly of the Tory, Eastern, and European traditions, are incompatible.  And if there is in Canada, as Frye argues, "a traditional opposition to the two defects to which a revolutionary tradition is liable, a contempt for history and an impatience with law,"73 and if it is true, as Fussell says, that poetic "technique, sensibility, and culture are absolutely inextricable one from another,"74 then it should also follow syllogistically that Canadian poetry will incline towards the forms and rhythms which are sanctioned by tradition and obedient to laws.  As far-fetched as these conclusions may seen, they do help to explain a number of things, including the persistence, even predominance, of fixed forms in Canadian poetry well into the present cen tury and the indifference, even hostility, towards 'American' free verse in the politically-sensitive period prior to the Second World War.

     In 1930 Nathaniel Benson, writing in the foreword to his Modern Canadian Poetry anthology, could distinguish between the "splendid free verse of the type written by Matthew Arnold and Charles G.D. Roberts" and "the other, fiercely modern distinctly American type of free verse" to which he was "not partial."75  Three years earlier, in his Pine and Palm volume of 1927, Hyman Edelstein had been less analytical and more succinct, simply dismissing all free verse as "Yankee."76  And sometime later W.W.E. Ross would recall, though his memory for dates was inaccurate, that it was a "reaction against the 'North American' style" that prompted him "after the Declaration of Westminster" to abandon the imagistic free verse of his Laconics volume of 1930 and to publish, in 1932, a book of Sonnets.77   As Ross's chronologically erroneous but politically telling remark indicates, fixed forms such as the sonnet — which Karl Shapiro describes interestingly enough, as an "un-American activity"78 — have appealed to some Canadian poets, including the majority of the 'Confederation' and McGill groups, because their use implied an alignment and continuity with the English and European traditions.  In 1947 John Sutherland truculently described as "Other Canadians" those poets who were following "American literary models rather than English ones" and accurately predicted that "the American example [would] become more and more attractive to Canadian writers" resulting in the existence of " 'schools' and 'movements' whose origin will be American."79  More recently, Dennis Lee has argued that, since the 'fifties, Canada has been to all intents and purposes an American colony and aligned himself with George Grant whom he sees as affirming a classic European tradition over a liberal, American one.80  It is the purpose of an ecological approach to study patterns rather than to lament for nations; nevertheless, the point may be made that if the choice of models for emulation and the selection of forms for importation is partly conditioned by, and, hence, revelatory of, cultural and political climates then an ecological approach to Canadian poetry may well supply some clues to the riddle of "Where is here?"


I should like to thank Professors Malcolm Ross, A.G. Bailey, W.J. Keith, and Carl Klinck who read and commented upon this paper.  I should also like to thank the several colleagues and students at the University of Western Ontario who contributed to the development of the paper or who discussed it with me after hearing it delivered as a colloquium in November, 1980.

  1. "On Poetry and Poets: the Letters of W.W.E. Ross to A.J.M. Smith," ed., and with an Introduction, by Michael E. Darling, Essays on Canadian Writing, 16 (Fall/Winter, 1979-80), 82.[back]

  2. Three Early Poems from Lower Canada, ed. Michael Gnarowski (Montreal:  Lawrence M. Lande Foundation, 1969), p. 47.  Hereafter cited as Three Early Poems.[back]

  3. The Educated Imagination (Toronto:  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1963), pp. 15-16.  See also "Conclusion," Literary History of Canada, gen. ed. Carl F. Klinck (University of Toronto Press, 1965), p. 835. Hereafter cited as "Conclusion."[back]

  4. "Introduction," The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse (Toronto:  Oxford University Press 1960), p. xxiv.[back]

  5. The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse (Toronto:  Oxford University Press, [1913]), p. viii.[back]

  6. "Canadian Poetry in its Relation to the Poetry of England and America," ed., and with an Introduction, by D.M.R. Bentley, Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, 3 (Fall/Winter, 1978), 81.[back]

  7. Quoted by Milton Wilson in "Other Canadians and After," in Masks of Canadian Poetry, ed., and with an Introduction by A.J.M. Smith (Toronto:   McClelland and Stewart, NCL, 1962), p. 131.[back]

  8. "Literature:  Poetry and the Novel," in The Culture of Contemporary Canada, ed. Julian Park (Cornell University Press, 1957), pp. 25 and 29.  See W.H. Kesterton, A History of Journalism in Canada (McClelland and Stewart, Carleton Library, 1967) for an application of the biological metaphor to another medium and Eli Mandel, Another Time (Erin Ontario:  Press Porcepic, 1977) for a use of the term ecology in a manner that differs from the above.[back]

  9. See particularly "The Use of Tendency Statements," The Logic of Social Enquiry (London:  Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960), pp. 141-155.[back]

  10. "Introduction," Our Sense of Identity (Toronto:   Ryerson, 1954), pp. xi-xii.[back]

  11. The Founding of New Societies (New York:  Harcourt, Brace, 1964), p. 15.[back]

  12. The Animals in That Country (Toronto:  Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 36.[back]

  13. Quoted and attacked by Fraser Sutherland in "In Defense of Laura Secord," Northern Journey (Ottawa:  ampersand press, 1971), p.8.[back]

  14. "Conclusion " p.826.[back]

  15. Three Early Poems, pp. 80 and 81 for example.[back]

  16. Poetry in Canadathe First Three Steps (Toronto:  Ryerson, 1958), p. 44.[back]

  17. Ibid. Although Rashley does not specify the particular poem to which he is referring, and, in fact, is making a point regarding pioneer poetry in general, he probably had the second canto of Kirby's poem in mind.[back]

  18. Recently made readily accessible in Literature in Canada, ed. Douglas Daymond and Leslie Monkman (Toronto:  Gage, 1978), pp. 62-63.  Hereafter cited as Literature in Canada.[back]

  19. Three Early Poems, p. 78.[back]

  20. James Reaney, "To the Avon River Above Stratford, Canada," Twelve Letters to a Small Town (Toronto:  Ryerson, 1962), p. 2.[back]

  21. "Preface," Tecumseh; or the Warrior of the West, ed., and with an Introduction, by William F.E. Morley (Ottawa: The Golden Dog, 1978), p. xi.[back]

  22. Quoted in Paul Fussell, Poetic Metre and Poetic Form (Rev. ed. New York:  Random House, 1965), p. 146. Hereafter cited as Poetic Metre.[back]

  23. Literary History of Canada, p. 107.[back]

  24. Literature in Canada, p. 51.[back]

  25. See "Thomas Cary's Abram's Plains (1789) and Its 'Preface,' " Canadian PoetryStudies, Documents, Reviews, 5 (Fall/Winter, 1979), 18-19.[back]

  26. Poetic Metre, p. 132.[back]

  27. Poems and Essays, ed., and with an Introduction, by M.G. Parks (University of Toronto Press, Literature of Canada, 1973), pp. 24-25.[back]

  28. Ibid.  See Parks' Introduction, pp. xxiii-xxv and pp. 9, 11, 12, 13.[back]

  29. In volume I, number 1 (April, 1833), 2; quoted in W.H. New, "New Language, New World," in Awakened ConscienceStudies in Commonwealth Literature, ed. C.D. Narasimhaiah (New Jersey:  Humanities Press, 1978), pp. 361-362.[back]

  30. Modern Canadian Poetry, ed. Nathaniel A. Benson (Ottawa:  Graphic, 1930), p. 226.  Hereafter cited as Modern Canadian Poetry.[back]

  31. "Canadian Poetry A Minority Report," University of Toronto Quarterly, 8 (January, 1939), 128.[back]

  32. See note 25 and Gerald Lynch, "Oliver Goldsmith's The Rising Village: Controlling Nature," Canadian PoetryStudies, Documents, Reviews, 6 (Spring/Summer, 1980, pp. 44-45.[back]

  33. Roughing It in the Bush (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, NCL, 1962), p. 155.[back]

  34. In Search of Myself (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, NCL, 1974), p. 230.[back]

  35. Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, ed. Clara Thomas (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, NCL, 1965), p. 80.[back]

  36. Seed Catalogue (Winnipeg:  Turnstone,1979), pp.25-27.[back]

  37. The Science of English Verse, in The Centennial Edition of the Works of Sidney Lanier (Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins Press, 1945), II. 157.[back]

  38. See note 25.[back]

  39. Canadian Forum, October, 1929, p. 16.  I am grateful to Peter Stevens, "The Development of Canadian Poetry Between the Wars and Its Reflection of Social Awareness," Ph.D. Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1968, p. 24 for calling attention to this poem.[back]

  40. David and Other Poems (Toronto:  Ryerson, 1942), p.21.[back]

  41. Selected Poems (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, 1966), p. 115.  Frank Davey, Earle Birney (Toronto:   Copp Clark, 1971), pp. 58-59 places the two versions of Birney's poem side by side and comments briefly on them.[back]

  42. Klein Papers, Public Archives Canada. I am grateful to Noreen Golfman for this quotation.[back]

  43. The History of Emily Montague (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, 1971), p.122.[back]

  44. Selected Essays and Criticism (Ottawa:  Tecumseh, 1978), p.351.[back]

  45. The Poems of Archibald Lampman, (Including At the Long Sault) (University of Toronto Press, Literature of Canada, 1974), pp. 7-10. Hereafter cited as The Poems.[back]

  46. The Poems, pp. 210-214.[back]

  47. Charles G.D. Roberts, Selected Poems (Toronto:  Ryerson, 1930), p. 40.  See also Kathy Mezei, "Lampman Among the Timothy," Canadian Poetry Studies, Documents, Reviews, 5 (Fall/Winter, 1979), p. 70, n. 26.[back]

  48. The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, 1926), p.122.[back]

  49. The Poems, p. 180.[back]

  50. Louis Dudek, Selected Essays and Criticism, pp. 245-246.[back]

  51. Archibald LampmanSelected Prose, ed. Barrie Davies.  (Ottawa:  Tecumseh, 1975), p. 103.[back]

  52. The Poems, p. 121.[back]

  53. Contexts of Canadian Criticism, ed. Eli Mandel (University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 66.[back]

  54. Asthetik, ed. F. Bassenge (Frankfurt, 1955), II, 394.   Translated by Gordon Tracy.[back]

  55. In respectively, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, p. 30, Roughing It in the Bush, p. 23, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, NCL, 1931), p. 30, and Appraisals of Canadian Literature (Toronto:  Macmillan, 1926), p. 35.[back]

  56. Poetic Closure; A Study of How Poems End (University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 78 and 84.[back]

  57. Poetic Metre, pp. 82 and 85.[back]

  58. See Sir William Butler, The Great Lone LandA Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the North-West of America (London:  Sampson Law, 1872), pp. 199-200.[back]

  59. The Collected Poems of E.J. Pratt (Toronto: Macmillan, 1958), p.560.[back]

  60. Dreamland and Other Poems; TecumsehA Drama, ed., and with an Introduction, by Norman Shrive (University of Toronto Press, Literature of Canada, 1974), p. 21.[back]

  61. See ibid p. xxi.[back]

  62. Verendrye; A Poem of the New World (Toronto:  J.M. Dent, 1935), p. viii.[back]

  63. Rocky Mountain Poems (Vancouver:  Klanak,1960), n.p.[back]

  64. North of Summer; Poems from Baffin Island (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, 1967), pp. 82-83.[back]

  65. See Complete Poems of Tom MacInnes, with an "Afterword" by F.P.  (Toronto:  Ryerson, 1923), pp. 99 and 282.[back]

  66. Ibid., p.105.[back]

  67. Ibid., p. 120.[back]

  68. See Davey, Earle Birney, p. 91.[back]

  69. Ghost in the WheelsSelected Poems (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, 1977), p. 21.[back]

  70. Ten Canadian Poets (Toronto:  Ryerson, 1958), p. 296[back]

  71. Lucifer In Harness; American Metre, Metaphor, and Diction (Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 11.[back]

  72. See "Letters in Canada:  Poetry, 1952-1960," in Masks of Canadian Poetry, ed. A.J.M. Smith (Toronto:  McClelland and Stewart, 1962), p. 101.[back]

  73. Ibid.[back]

  74. Lucifer, p. 9.[back]

  75. Modern Canadian Poetry, pp. 10-11.[back]

  76. See Esther Safer Fisher, "The Life and Poetry of Hyman Edelstein," Canadian PoetryStudies, Documents Peviews, 6 (Spring/Summer,1980), 9.[back]

  77. See "On Poetry and Poets," pp. 94-95 and Peter Stevens' "Development of Canadian Poetry," p. 115.[back]

  78. "Seed Catalogs," Collected Poems, 1940-1978 (New York:  Random House, 1978), p. 207.[back]

  79. "The New Poetry:  A Manifesto," in The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada, ed. Louis Dudek and Michael Gnarowski (Toronto:  Ryerson, 1967), p. 59. [back]

  80. See "Cadence, Country, Silence:  Writing in Colonial Space," Boundary 2, 3 (Fall, 1974), 151-168.[back]