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THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY 1. POETRY (List II) E. K. BROWN At the outset it should be admitted that 1935 has not been a decisive year for Canadian poetry. Scores of volumes have come to the office of the QUARTERLY, some fat, some thin, some well printed by the great publishing houses, some botched by small presses which have wisely suppressed their names. In none of them can one discover such evidence of a new talent as.Miss Audrey Alexandra Brown revealed in 1931 or Mr. Leo Kennedy in 1932. A number of our best poets have published new works during 1935; in none of their volumes is there a marked lapse from their best previous achievements: but in none of them is there a. marked success in striking out along new paths, or an 'evident power to do better what they have done well already. Among the most solid gains of the year are three collected editions indispensable to students of Canadian poetry: The Complete Poems oj Francis Sherman, edited with a long memoir by Dr. Lorne Pierce, Selected Poems (1915-1935) by A. S. Bourinot, with a prefatory note by Sir Andrew Macphail, and Tom Macinnes's Rhymes oj a Rounder. Sherman's work is all over thirty years old and it is perfectly congruous with the prevailing tone of that large body of quietly beautiful lyric poetry which in the last decades of the nineteenth century inspired so many with hope for the future of Canadian literature. Sherman had not Carman's command of rhythm or Lampman's sensibility to colours and forms, but he had strong emotions of a kind easily expressible in verse and a sufficient mastery of his medium to communica~e them. Some of the poems which Mr. Bourinot has reprinted were written as recently as 1931, but his slender volume also recalls the work of Carman and Lampman. His touch is 'softer than Sherman's, and his range is narrower: the conventional aspects of Canadian nature, the more notable ·themes which war suggests to a sensitive mind, and love as the Victorian sonneteers conceived it. He develops his themes with a laudable economy of language, at times reaching austerity, and· a sure sense of what is beautiful in a quiet way; Tom MacInnes is worlds apart from poets such as Sherman and Mr. Bourinot: he is one of the few Canadian poets who have something unusual t:,o say and who say it with an unusual accent. Most 362 LETTERS IN CANADA: 1935 of his successful poems are in medieval verse forms-the ballade, the cantel) the villanelle. fA form with five stanzas, each rhyming a b a a b, he has christened a "mirelle:" "I made up the name and form of 'mirelle' for myself in Montreal because it sounded that way."] A long postscript, dated 1912, and entitled "Somewhat Concerning Ballades" describes the source and growth of his interest in intricate and exquisite verse forms, some adaptations which the character of the English language has suggested to him, and the types of emotional effects to which these forms lend themselves . "Virility, colour and euphony are," he affirms, "the qualities most worth while in any poem." Virility healwayshas, although often it is simply the virility of the barbaric yawp. At his best he unites virility with euphony; colour, however, in any usual sense of that vague abstraction, is not more often present in his verse than in the work of most poets. One beautiful poem in which all the qualities he admires appear I shall quote: THE TIGER OF DESIRE VILLANELLE Starving, savage, I aspire To the red meat of all the World: I am the Tiger of Desire! With teeth bared and claws uncurled By leave of God -r creep to slay The innocent of all the World. Out of the yellow glaring day, When I glut my appetite, To my lair I slink away. But in the black retllrning night I leap resistless on my prey, Mad with agony and fright. The quick flesh I tear away, Writhing till the blood is hurled On leaf and flower' and sodden clay. My teeth are bare, my claws uncurledOf the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 362-367
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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