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CanLit Challenge 1867-1913 > Canadian Poetry from the Beginnings Through the First World War, #51

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message 1: by Ibis3 (last edited Jun 20, 2011 01:58PM) (new)

Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
Canadian Poetry from the Beginnings Through the First World War by Gwendolyn Davies I've put the discussion of this book in this folder even though the dates of the poetry contained therein overlap on either side, since the bulk of them fall within this period.

I expect this book will take several months to read, so I'll be continuing on with other CanLit Challenge books to read alongside this one.

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
I've read the first few poems. I was kind of floored by Anne Hecht's bridesmaid poem. Well, not really. But still. It's like reading a poem in praise of slavery.

Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) A copy of this has just made its way to me via inter-library-loan; I haven't read poetry like this since high school. Are you working through them methodically, or just browsing through according to your mood?

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
Buried In Print wrote: "A copy of this has just made its way to me via inter-library-loan; I haven't read poetry like this since high school. Are you working through them methodically, or just browsing through according t..."


I'm reading them in order because I wanted to get the sense of the evolution over time (it's the historian in me). It doesn't feel like a chore though, because I'm reading several other books too. I'm currently reading Oliver Goldsmith's poem (Village Rising I think it's called?). It's kind of fun because I can see echoes of some of the other CanLit books in it.

Are you planning to browse according to mood? I'd be keen to hear whatever you have to say about any of the poems.

Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) Another collection I might follow my mood, but I'm with you on this one, thinking historically, at least for now, until I've had more of a taste of the volume...mainly because I'm not sure I'd ever be in quite the right mood for the really early stuff. ::grin:: Wish there was some commentary here too, as I'm not familiar with most of these folks in Part One. Doesn't it feel a bit of a blur, or are you more familiar?

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
Buried In Print wrote: "Another collection I might follow my mood, but I'm with you on this one, thinking historically, at least for now, until I've had more of a taste of the volume...mainly because I'm not sure I'd ever..."

So far, it's all new to me, and yeah, the first 30 pages or so were kind of a blur of anonymous and unknowns.

Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) Okay, I've read those first 30 pages and, yes, it's all a mass of "long-ago-ness". I'm thinking about pulling out a copy of Charlotte Gray's Museum Called Canada to get a sense of just how different the country was between the first poem (1628) and the one I just read earlier today (1783).

Obviously I could just keep reading, but I'm curious now...I guess I hadn't really considered how long the history of this country in verse might be.

Is anyone else reading this, or is it just the two of us for now?

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
I guess it's just us.

Another thing I didn't quite have a handle on until I'd read some of the other books in the Challenge, is how different the various regions were in terms of settlement etc. When Ontario was still frontier bush, Nova Scotia and Quebec were much more settled. When Ontario was relatively urbanised and modern at the beginning of the twentieth century, the west was still very much like the east had been a couple hundred years before.

I'm up to Charles Sangster in the book, btw.

Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) So I did buy a copy of the Charlotte Gray book which seems to be just what I needed as a companion for this anthology; I love the concept of it (recreating a museum on the page, with photographs of artifacts and landscapes and artwork arranged into chapters, er, "rooms"). It provides a context that I wasn't finding in the brief introductions to each set of poems.

Took my time with TMCC at the beginning (it covers a couple billion years in the first six chapters) to get a bit of perspective, but I've just entered the "room" of New France (which is followed by a series of rooms also captured in the poems of the anthology's first 80 pages).

If you were already at Sangster's selections at the end of August, I'm not sure that I can catch up to you, now that I've restarted, (I'm afraid to ask where you're at!) but I have been steadily working at it in my own way. Now that I'm feeling so much more comfortable in the time period, my pace will increase. (Also because I can only renew this anthology one more time! Heh.)

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
No worries, I kind of stalled (not really--I put it aside on purpose) because there are a few books I need to finish by the end of the month. So I'm still at the same spot. :)

The Gray book sounds really good.

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) Thoughts on random poems:

- Henry Kelsey's poem fit perfectly with my reading of Pauline Holdstock's 2011 novel Into the Heart of the Country, which really brings that time to life

- funny that the 18thC poem "On Being Asked What Recollection Was" seems to hint at later Canlit's obsession with memory

- also that this poem, the first identified as being written by a woman, isn't at all concerned with mountains or bears, sailing or storms (same with the domestic preoccupations of Anne Hecht: makes sense)

- O'Dell had this right "From Age to Age, with just applause, His name shall be convey'd." and I vividly recall Brock's role -- and that famous image of his red coat worn at the Queenston Heights battle of 1812 -- from Canadian social studies classes as a girl

- their history of oral tradition means there's no written verse from natives to contrast with Goldsmith's "Behold the savage tribes in wildest strain / Approach with death and terror in their train" in "The Rising Village"

- "The Miner's Tale" - how dramatic! makes me wonder what his longer works are like (also curious why he wrote under a pseudonym)

- generally, it's easy to see how contemporary Canlit came by its tradition of talking landscape and critters, long descriptions of the natural world

I'm at Sangster now, too: are you ready to move ahead or are you distracted by other reading now that I've finally caught up? (I know, it took me ages)

message 12: by Ibis3 (last edited Sep 30, 2011 04:50PM) (new)

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I'm right with you. Just read the first Sangster poem yesterday. Yay!

I do find it fascinating to look at the early poetry as themes at the beginning of the CanLit conversation which we later see echoed in more familiar and more recent works (e.g. The Miner's Tale & No Great Mischief). It's also interesting to match up the poems with themes in books of around the same period (The Rising Village with The Backwoods of Canada or
The Man from Glengarry).

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) My next batch: Alexander McLachlan to Charles Mair

- Interesting to see more of the dual-identity theme again, that sense of having made a deliberate decision to leave a land behind but still feeling such a strong tie to it despite the love of the new-found-land.

- What a sales pitch in this one (McLachlan), eh? "Where none are slave, that lordly knaves / May idle all the year; / For rank and caste are of the past, - / They'll never flourish here!"

- social conscience in "The Drunkard's Child" (Yule), "A Popular Creed" (Anon.) and "The Factory Girl" (Phillips) and, also, "The Song" from "The Last Bison" (Mair) start to feel so much more modern

- yet the plea for the life of Riel (Machar) feels so much of another time, when it wasn't unusual for newspapers and pamphlets to publish verse to express public protest (and now we tweet)

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
I still have Machar and Mair to read, so I'll come back to you on those, but I just thought I'd come and share my thoughts on

Sangster - I can see why he was popular. Some nice landscape/wilderness poetry. Not quite as pantheistic as the English Romantics, but I guess he's a bit late for that, eh?

McLachlan - I thought the calling out of the Church's hypocrisy rather modern in sentiment (also called to mind something of Such Is My Beloved of a later era)

Leprohon - Disappointing. I liked her novels, but I'm so not into the submissive, dutiful wife thing. Blech.

Heavysege - Would have liked to read more since this was the poet/author that Solomon Bridgetower was studying in Leaven of Malice if I'm not completely misremembering it (was it Solly or another character?? I'm sure I'd remember for certain if I'd seen it on the page rather than listened to it...).

Phillips - Sad that we still don't have pay equity almost 140 years later. Surprised that even then people (and a man yet) were calling for it though.

Anon's "A Popular Creed" - Made me think of the Occupy Protests: "So get ye wealthy, no matter how,/'No questions' asked of the rich I trow,/Steal by night and steal by day,/(Doing it in a legal way)"

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
I just wanted to let you know that I've moved this book off of the Currently Reading shelf to make room for the November Book of the Month and Vimy which I should be starting in the next ten days or so.

I'm now reading the section on Isabella Crawford.

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) How funny: I had to return my copy to the library, and my re-quested copy just made its way back to me. So I've been juggling shelves too!

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) I just finished the section of Crawford's poems last night, but I know I didn't do them justice.

I think if I'd been living during her time, I would have been a huge fan, but I found myself just skimming, so I went back and read aloud, but even though my mouth was moving, my brain was still skimming. (::sigh::)

Ironically, she is the only poet whose work I actually have in my own collection (other than Robert Service). But I recall buying it because it was connected to another author having read her (maybe L.M. Montgomery?), not so much because I planned to read it myself.

BTW, I'm quite enjoying the comments you're leaving on individual works, even though I'm not responding directly to them: picture me nodding along with you on the other side of this connection.

(As opposed to nodding off, which I was doing in this last set of poems: sorry, Isabella.)

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I've got 9 pp left to go with Malcolm's Katie. I'll tell you my impressions once I'm done, but I want to confess from the outset that before now I'd never heard of Isabella or her poem. I looked her up on Wikipedia today and was surprised to read that it "has achieved 'a central place in the canon of nineteenth-century Canadian poetry.'" The defusers of the canon don't seem to be doing a very good job.

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) Well I sure didn't get the memo from them either; her poetry was never covered in my English classes. I think the reference to her work came via L.M. Montgomery's journals, but I'd have to re-read to know for sure. Quite an accidental spotting for sure.

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) So I skipped ahead to the Afterword and I understand what you were saying now about that group of poets; I feel a little better about the similarities I was sensing. At least it wasn't all in my head! And once I got to Bliss Carman that had dissipated a bit anyhow.

It still surprises me how much of it is landscape based, seasonal-based, but I actually quite like it. I just need to take it in small doses.

My bookmark is at Duncan Campbell Scott, but I read ahead with some of the slimmer sections, so I have a dozen poets left to read. I'm hoping to finish them this month because my library copy will soon be non-renewable again.

I should have just bought a copy, but I thought it was OP and have only just realized today that it's not; it is one that I'd like to have on my shelves to refer to later.

How goes your reading of it now?

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I kinda took a break to concentrate on Vimy, which I finished today. I'm planning next to read straight through Duncan Campbell Scott (I'm now in the midst of Charles G.D. Roberts -- whom my brain wants to keep reading as J.D. Roberts, the MuchMusic VJ-cum-CNN correspondent). The final hundred pages look like they'll be pretty quick going by comparison, and I too, plan to be done for sure by the end of December.

[Note for later readers of the thread: I said in a progress update that I knew what BiP meant about the poems blurring together 'Yes, I do. They're kind of samey. Which seems to make sense because I get the impression that they (the group we're reading right now) knew each other and must have had similar feelings about poetry--if they were in England, I imagine they would have been a "school".']

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) It's been awhile since I raved about Charlotte Grey's The Museum Called Canada, but I have been reading along with it the whole time (and now have all the more modern years left to deal with, those which extend beyond this collection).

But I''ll mention it now because I read the Pauline Johnson poems recently, and Charlotte Grey has a section called "Going Native: The Two Lives of Pauline Johnson" in TMCC, which was a perfect companion piece for the poems.

It includes a full page photograph of the Performance Costume that PJ wore, explaining which elements of it were authentic and which were "cobbled together mostly from commercial sources". It's not as though this is the most amazing essay ever, but it *is* interesting, and, more importantly, it brought another dimension to this handful of poems for me, makes them stand out.

I feel as though my exposure to many of these poets (especially those of whom I'd not heard previously) has just slid past in a blur; I actually had already read some of PJ, so she would have stood out for me anyway here, but I wish I had this other layer of background for some of the other poets herein. Know what I mean?

Nonetheless, it's interesting to see some connections as we read along. For instance, John Arthur Phillips' 1873 "The Factory Girl" with Marie Joussaye's "Only a Working Girl" from 1895, and George Copway's poems with Chief K'hhalserten Sepass' poem.

And I've also found another layer to poets whose work I'd had very limited exposure to before, like Robert Service. I loved the inclusion of the final poem in his section (won't spoil it for you if you haven't gotten to that one yet, but I'm sure you'll know what I mean, immediately upon finishing it)!

I guess, in summary, for me this was a good introduction and parts of it very effective and worthwhile for me and the other parts were just a reminder of the gaps which exist in my reading (which I might or might not be able to fill); I'm glad to have read it though. Looking forward to your thoughts!

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) P.S. I meant to add that my last renewal (for the second time!) is up soon for this one, hence the long post and short-work (?) of finishing!

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Ibis3 | 322 comments Mod
I haven't had a lot of time to read in the past couple of weeks, but this is now my only "currently reading" book (aside from an audiobook while driving). Today, I finished Charles G. D. Roberts' section and am starting on Bliss Carmen.

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) I thought the former was fine, and I enjoyed Bliss Carmen's poems (somehow I had the idea they were relatively inaccessible, but enjoyed them nonetheless). I hope you've added something else to your Currently Reading pile; this one, alone, would be a bit much I think. ;)

message 26: by Ibis3 (last edited Dec 20, 2011 05:31PM) (new)

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Buried In Print wrote: "I thought the former was fine, and I enjoyed Bliss Carmen's poems (somehow I had the idea they were relatively inaccessible, but enjoyed them nonetheless). I hope you've added something else to you..."

Nope, still just the poetry. Although I have been out a lot in the car & shops listening to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I very much wish to finish it (i.e. the poetry) before the new year.

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I didn't make it. I'm still on Pauline Johnson. Other books are waiting for me, but I'm still going to read this exclusively until I'm done. Half a year should be more than enough time to be reading one book!

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Buried In Print (BuriedInPrint) Heheh. On the other hand, I'm sure students spend a full year with it when they are reading it for courses. If you adopt that perspective, you're way ahead of the bookish game!

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Books mentioned in this topic

Canadian Poetry from the Beginnings Through the First World War (other topics)
The Backwoods of Canada (other topics)
The Man from Glengarry (other topics)
No Great Mischief (other topics)
Such Is My Beloved (other topics)