The verses in this
volume signalize the Canadian self-consciousness of a pregnant destiny,
and envisage the spirit of Canadian democracy. With the exception of the
Prologue, the Epilogue and the little sheaf of Lyrics, the "Songs" are
fourteen-line poems in the so-called Shaksperean sonnet-form, but were
not conceived and constructed as sonnets as such.
I remark this to save
our polite detectives of literature from the subtle discovery of what is
a suspicious, though really innocent, literary diversion, and our myopic
critics from the painful necessity of elaborating the obvious.
Personally, I regard the Introductory Essay, not in itself, but in its
bearing on the future history of Canadian Literature, as significant.
The interest of the poems is chiefly historical and patriotic. As poetic
pabulum they are neither strong meat nor fancy pastry, but the sincere
embedment of thought, sentiment, and emotion well worth expressing, and
expressed by one who has chosen to do so (a verse rather than in
pedestrian prose. The poems are no worse—and no better—in conception and
structure than what might be as read-.]y accomplished by any man of
education and literary instincts, with a gift of rime and rhythm. The
scheme itself and the intermittent composition inevitably caused some
repetitions in general conception and in epithets. No one could be more
conscious than myself of these defects or inelegancies, but I confess my
inability to remove them The only criticism that would really hurt and
that I would really resent would be by anyone who would rank them with
the positive banalities of Kipling's verses in the recent joint-history
of England. But if the poems, along with the Introductory Essay, at all
assist in promoting sane patriotism (which means respect and love for
the history and institutions of one's own country, without implying or
fostering disrespect for other civilizations), they will have
accomplished their purpose and have justified their publication in this
0. D. L.