Canadian Singers and Their Songs
AUTHOR OF "THE ST. LAWRENCE AND THE SAGUENAY AND
OTHER POEMS," "HESPERUS AND OTHER POEMS
AND LYRICS," "OUR NORLAND," ETC.
A COLLECTION OF
PORTRAITS AND AUTOGRAPH POEMS
EDWARD S. CASWELL
McCLELLAND & STEWART
PUBLISHERS - TORONTO
COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1919
BY MCCLELLAND & STEWART, LIMITED, TORONTO
PRINTED IN CANADA
PAGES Frontispiece 9 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100 102 104 106 108 110 112 114 116 118 120 122 124 126 128 130 132 134 136 138 140 142 144 146 148 150 152 154 156
IN presenting to the public this "portrait gallery" of Canadian poets—an enlargement of a brochure published some sixteen years ago—the Editor does not claim to have included in it all who might be considered entitled to admission. Criticism doubtless will be made in some cases, on the ground either of inclusion or exclusion, but it is believed that the collection will be recognized as fairly representative of this department of Canadian literature. In the decade and a half which has passed since the publication of the first edition many strong, clear voices have joined the national chorus, and the Editor deems himself fortunate in having secured contributions from so many of these new singers.
The reader will not be surprised to observe how largely the Great War is reflected in these pages. A special interest attaches to the poems of Lieut.-Col. McCrae, Major Langstaff and Lieut. Trotter. The death of these gallant officers, while it has enriched the country's honor-roll of achievement and sacrifice, has at the same time robbed our literature of the riper product of powers rich in promise.
No apology need be made for giving to Charles Sangster the distinctive place he holds in the book. He has been called the "Father of Canadian Poetry," and there are few who will differ with the late Dr. Dewart in his estimate of Sangster's genius as "more truly Canadian than that of any other poet of distinction in this Province." For the photograph the Editor is indebted to Mr. Rod Sangster, of Montreal, a son of the poet; and for the poem to the late Mr. Charles H. Gould, M.A., Librarian of McGill University, to which institution the manuscript poems of Sangster, revised shortly before his death, were committed for keeping.
Through the kindness of Mrs. A. M. Tremaine, of this city, the Editor was permitted the use of a slight M.S. book of poems of Joseph Scriven, author of "What a Friend we have in Jesus," on the inside of the back cover of which the poet had inscribed what without doubt would seem to be the first draft of his famous hymn. This little paper-bound book, comprising ten pages of poems written by his own hand, was given by the author to Mrs. Tremaine's father, the late John Charles Benett, of Brantford, in the early '50's. Scriven was then living in that City, where for a time he conducted a private school for children, of which school Mrs. Tremaine in her early childhood was a pupil. The hymn as reproduced here (p. 129), it will be noticed, not only differs in some of the lines from the version in use to-day, but is lacking eight lines of the latter. There would seem to be no doubt that it is the hymn as originally composed by the author. As beyond question the best-known piece of Canadian literature, it is well worthy of a place in this collection.
Sincere thanks are due to the writers and to the friends of deceased writers whose generous co-operation has made this publication possible; also to the several publishers who have consented to the use of copyrighted poems. The kindly response from all quarters has made the task of collection, somewhat arduous in itself, a very real pleasure throughout. Acknowledgment also is gratefully made of the valuable assistance received from Mrs. Jean Blewett and Miss Helena Coleman. It is hoped that the taste here given may serve to whet the appetite of the reader for a closer acquaintance with the work of the writers represented in this little volume.
The clouds roll over the pine trees,
Like waves that are charged with ire;
Golden and glory hued, their crests,
Ablaze with a gorgeous fire.
The sun has gone down in splendour,
The heavens are wild with flame,
And all the horizon is burning
With colours that have no name.
And over the mighty forests
The mystical hues are spread,
Calm as the smiles of the Angels,
Still as the peaceful dead.
And the lake, serene and thoughtful,
And the river, deep in dreams,
And the purple cliff in the distance,
Are robed with the glory-gleams.