Letter 1

P.O. Department, Ottawa
6 Sept. '88                       

Dear Mr. Lighthall

     In regard to the "Frogs"1 I had myself always been under the impression that the subject of my verses were Frogs, until I was informed a year or so ago by two men, one of whom was a distinguished scientist that the soft high steady trilling which is the sweetest of all the voices of the Spring2, is made by the Toads.  However the general impression is that they are Frogs, and I think perhaps you had better alter the title3 of my sonnets to Frogs, if you intend to use them.

Yours very truly               
A. Lampman                   

  1. "The Frogs", Among the Millet and Other Poems, 6-9. [back]

  2. Lighthall took this cue from Lampman, and supplied a footnote in his anthology in which he described the trilling of the frogs [toads] as, "The orchestras of frogs are a notable feature of settlement life.  Their singing, in the distances of forest rivers, is really very musical" (Lighthall, Songs of the Great Dominion, 426). [back]

  3. Why Lampman would be considering altering the title of "The Frogs" at this stage is unclear since the sonnet sequence bears that title in Among the Millet, a collection which he had been preparing for publication that year.  Moreover, and, as he admits in this letter, he had had his mistake pointed out to him by his distinguished scientist friend, "a year or so ago".  He did, however, refer to the poem as "Toads" [crossed out] in the last line of this letter.  D.C. Scott throws some light on this matter in his note for an "Introduction" which accompanied his letter of 18 January 1943 to E.K. Brown.   Scott says, "A.L.'s frogs were Toads.  I have confirmed this fact from a naturalist.  He [Lampman] came to know that but found it impossible to be accurate.   That long trill we hear in Spring is the Love-call of the male toads.  There are several kinds of frogs including bull-frogs and they all have voices but moderate and unromantic and therefore not available for Poetry" (McDougall, The Poet and the Critic [:] A Literary Correspondence Between D.C. Scott and E.K. Brown, 50). [back]