About the Author

Michael Gnarowski

Michael Gnarowski co-edited The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada, compiled The Concise Bibliography of E nglish Canadian Literature, and edited the Critical Views on Canadian Writers Series for McGraw-Hill Ryerson. He has written for Encyclopedia Americana, The Canadian Encyclopedia, The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Biography, and The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry. Gnarowski is professor emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Books by this Author
Duncan Campbell Scott

Duncan Campbell Scott

Selected Writings
edition:eBook
also available: eBook Paperback
tagged : canadian, essays
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Pauline Johnson

Pauline Johnson

Selected Poetry and Prose
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : canadian
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Ringing the Changes

Ringing the Changes

An Autobiography
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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The Voyageur Canadian Essays & Criticism 2-Book Bundle

The Voyageur Canadian Essays & Criticism 2-Book Bundle

Selected Writings, A.J.M. Smith / The Kindred of the Wild
edition:eBook
tagged : canadian, essays
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The Voyageur Classic Canadian Fiction 7-Book Bundle

All Else Is Folly / Pauline Johnson / The Town Below / Self Condemned / Storm Below / The Yellow Briar / Maria Chapdelaine
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The Yellow Briar

The Yellow Briar

A Story of the Irish on the Canadian Countryside
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : classics
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Maria Chapdelaine

Maria Chapdelaine

A Tale of French Canada
by Louis Hemon
introduction and notes by Michael Gnarowski
translated by W.H. Blake
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I Dream of Yesterday and Tomorrow

I Dream of Yesterday and Tomorrow

A Celebration of the James Bay Cree
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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Making of Modern Poetry in Canada

Making of Modern Poetry in Canada

Essential Commentary on Poetry in English, Third edition
edition:eBook
tagged : canadian
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Robert W. Service

Robert W. Service

Selected Poetry and Prose
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : canadian
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The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada

The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada

Essential Commentary on Poetry in English, Third edition
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : canadian
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Flying a Red Kite
Excerpt

Brandishing a cornucopia of daffodils, flowers for Gloria, in his right hand, Arthur Merlin crossed the dusky oak-panelled foyer of his apartment building and came into the welcoming sunlit avenue. Grey-green poplars and shining maples leaned encouragingly over him like counselling elder sisters, whispering messages, bough song, bird song, in his responsive ears, in an evening of courtship. He sang softly in stop time:
There’ll be no one unless that
Someone is you.
I intend to be
Independently
Blue oo oo oo
Da da da dee dum.
Volkswagens are period pieces, he thought, circa 1954–1958, the sense of period. Thirty years from now Volkswagens will look quaint, fixing a colour page or an old movie as exactly in time as an Apperson Jack Rabbit does now. If I conserve my Volkswagen and drive it ten more years, I’ll begin to be a period piece. He slid back the sunroof and rolled away into the sound of cicadas, the little engine grinding like a coffee mill, energetic, valiant.
Up the avenue and around the corner he surprised his favourite antique, a 1929 Oakland Landaulette, all rich brown body and stiff black leather upperworks, owned by a doctor’s widow, ghosting home from the drugstore, its timeless driver erect on the mohair cushions. She preserved the car in exquisite running order as a memorial; Arthur had often discussed it with her. Tonight, as every time he saw the car, his fancies and recollections merged in a Gestalt that shot him back there when the 1929 Oakland was modish and new. He could be there in imagination in his body, his present age, in 1929, in 1829. My grandmother was born in 1870, he thought amazed, and could have spoken to men who knew Mozart, it’s possible. You can be there. 1929.
My father had a 1929 Essex Challenger, dark blue, with chased imitation silver handles on the inside of the doors, with little window blinds that rolled zipping up and down, with creamy-fringed tassels. It could take Roxborough Road hill in high gear from a standing start. Then he was three-dimensionally in the car, his thirty-four-year-old self, the day they started for the cottage at Rouge Hills in the early summer of 1931. The upholstery, a deep-piled dark blue, exhaled puffs of linty smoke when you bounced on it, motes dancing in the shafts of sunlight. If you drew the blinds, a darkness loomed in the back seat.
His mother said: “Stop for gas, Alex!”
His father said to the garage attendant: “Castrol, please, and put the cap on good and tight.”
They didn’t see him there, thirty-four year-old ghost from 1961, in the little boy squirming on the back seat. He shrank into the little boy and swelled into himself in his coffee-mill Volkswagen, and there were two of him, four years old and thirty-four.
“Put the cap on good and tight.” Alex turned to Margaret. “Did I ever tell you about the man who drank all the liquor?” They nodded their heads and gazed lovingly at each other and (thirty-) four year old Arthur looked on, feeling safe and happy.
Five years later they changed the name and called them Essex Terraplanes and then just Terraplanes and at last they stopped making them. They don’t even make Hudsons anymore but we were able to keep that car until the war was halfway over. The two of him expanded into three — as multiple as he ever became, even with his sense of period. I was learning to drive our old Essex the day I first saw Mrs. Vere in Westport. It must have been 1942 because I got my driver’s licence the next year, in the other car. I might have had the Essex for my own; but it died with sixty thousand miles on the clock the second time around, a bare grey spot that always hurt my eyes on the upholstery in the driver’s seat.
We were by the slips when she came along in the Saturday morning sun. The codgers stared behind her and gossiped as she passed, mourning Lieutenant Vere, hero of Pearl Harbor, and commending his widow’s fair beauty. Her four-year-old trailed behind her and, Heavens, thought Arthur seeing it, relishing it, the ghost of twenty-three-year-old Gloria was in that toddler, and I couldn’t see her. I saw Mrs. Vere, how I saw her in white tennis shorts, mourning behind her, fine gold fuzz on her legs catching the sun. I saw the glint, cowering in my rickety Essex. How she strode, how she put forward her perfect ankles, coming to look at the sunlight on the water. She looked, oh she looked like a girl, like an attainable girl to me at fifteen, and how I loved her as she sauntered along I feel still, all three of us feel, four, fifteen, and thirty-four, comfortably here in my little period piece.
On the other bucket seat the paper cone of flowers moves lazily with the car’s motion, wetness from the leaves shining on the leather, tiny rustle of green leaves, flip of the yellow blossoms catching Arthur’s eye as he rolls along in June, coming for Gloria, thinking of her marvellous mother at twenty-six. She looked like a co-ed, with that funny authority one’s older sister has, that sway compounded of a trifling difference in age and a cloud of otherness, mystery of being a woman. How I adored Mrs. Adam Vere, that golden widow as she said, looking into my Essex: “Where do we swim around here, that’s safe for children?” She listened attentively to my knowledgeable counsel.
Love me or leave me
And let me be lonely.
You won’t believe me
But I love you only.
I gaped, I croaked, I blushed:
“At the Boating Club,” I told her, “afternoons I’m on duty as a lifeguard and I’ll look after your little girl.” I scarcely looked at the toddler out of the corner of my eye, using her as a comic prop, an introduction-arranger, something out of a comic-strip or the opening paragraphs of a Ladies Home Journal story. There are ghosts out of the future, the unborn, as well as the dead from the past. How could I fathom marriageable Gloria, twenty-three, inside a pouting four year old? I looked instead at her unmarriageable mother and yearned and Gloria has her revenge.
She turned away and the back of her knees dimpled at me, her thighs like butterscotch, to the edge of her shorts. Fifteen is hell! I shook all the way home and the knob of the gearshift loosened in my hand. And all that summer I bounced baby Gloria through the wavelets at the water’s edge, on her stomach, on her back, rolled her yellow red blue white beachball along the sand and chased it when the wind caught it and she cried, and Mrs. Vere laughed.
“Get it, Arthur, get it!” they commanded together, their voices blending. That ball took off, sailed, spinning along the tops of the ripples, nothing inside to hold it down. I often chased it a quarter of a mile, coming back digging my toes into the beige sand to lie panting beside Mrs. Vere, while Gloria jumped up and down on my sacroiliac.
“Don’t jump on Arthur, sweetie, he’s winded!” I peeked, pulse racing, through a screen of sand at an expanse of butterscotch flank, and pressed my aching adolescent length flat on the sand’s heat.

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God's Sparrows

God's Sparrows

by Philip Child
series edited by Michael Gnarowski
introduction by James R. Calhoun
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also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

Chapter 1

In the beginning the wizened, cone-headed, shrimp-coloured little bundle of flesh tied with a diaper and known as Daniel Burnet Thatcher reposed like a vegetable in the midst of the family that was so much more aware of him than he of them. First he felt the fear of noise and the fear of falling, never entirely to be lost until Daniel Thatcher should lose hold and fall out of the body. Then came sight and smell. Then walking.… Pen, taking the baby by the hand walked on the snowy sidewalk and began to step high and stamp the snow off his feet; Daniel did likewise. Then came speech, and with it the binding sense of time. “Tomorrow is Christmas, Daniel, and you will see a wonderful tree, all lighted with candles.” “When is tomorrow? Is today tomorrow?” He was taken in to see the tree and his little tummy tight as a soccer football was distended with ice cream. “Do you think he will remember this, Pen?” Maud Thatcher asked her husband. “At two years? Hardly, Maud. He might remember seeing dim faces about a tree, but without recalling how he felt.…”
Dan with his brother and sister lived in Ardentinny, a square house of trimmed stone with tall stone chimneys, built on a hill so that it could overlook the town of Wellington in Ontario without too vulgarly congregating with more plebian houses. Maud Thatcher’s grandfather, Sir Cyprian Burnet, had built it early in Queen Victoria’s reign to resemble an old country manor house. It was solid and feudal looking and the very devil to heat in winter.
The children’s room on the top floor was large and full of angles and shadows caused by the slope of the gabled roof. Dan, as the oldest, slept in a four-poster with a network of cord instead of springs, sagging in the centre like a fallen cake. It stood so high that he could look down through the window upon Galinee Street leading to Wellington’s “downtown” and upon the roofs and chimneys of Wellington itself. He always went to sleep to the tinkling of a music box which faithfully repeated “Take a pair of ruby lips” over and over without having to be rewound. When the leaves fell, he used to long for the first snow, and often, going to the window at night and seeing a sheet of moonlight on the lawn, he would think snow had come. When at last it did come by stealth, always taking him by surprise, then it was glorious. He would wake up, perhaps on a Sunday morning, to find the snow clinging in dazzling white clouds to the branches and covering the roofs of the town, and the air coming in at the open window made his cheeks tingle as he lay listening to the spitter-spangle of church bells playing “Hark the Herald!” …
It was Pen’s custom to pronounce a special sort of grace at breakfast: “Children, may we all use this day well. Amen.” This gave one a sense of dedication to the day, though as a doubter he conscientiously refrained from associating Deity with his wish. To himself he always added: “May I not lose my temper with Daniel. If I have to punish him, may I punish him dispassionately. Amen.”
He had made up his mind to launch his children into the twentieth century unchristened, “with no millstones from the past about their necks.” This decision Maud had bowed to — for the time being; in fact, she never opposed him directly in anything. But she could never understand why Pen had to torture himself by thinking differently from other people. It only made one unhappy. When there was a thing to do, something that people did — like christening, why could one not simply do it without worrying?
“The children are growing older, Pen,” said Maud one Sunday at breakfast. “I have been thinking over what you said about their being ‘undisciplined little barbarians,’ and I think you may be right … wouldn’t it be wise to take them to church — a little?” Once, a year before, during Pen’s absence, Maud had taken Dan and Alastair, but the experiment had not been exactly a success and Maud’s nerves, though strong, had only held out until the second hymn.
After a moment’s hesitation, Pen agreed. After all, what harm could it do? He groaned. “I’ll have to put on my ‘Sunday-go-to-meeting’ clothes.” This homely joke belonged to Pen’s father and had its roots in the past; for Pen, the meeting house had long since changed to “the church.”
The news was broken to the children.
Alastair was frankly overcome by a sudden illness, which he did very well, and upon being ruthlessly put to bed, resigned himself, merely asking for the mechanical windmill and the box of British grenadiers. But the other children, never knowing their own minds as well as Alastair, fortified besides by the knowledge that going to church was a grown-up thing to do, submitted to being dressed in their best. Presently, they set forth in the victoria, behind the coachman wearing in his silk hat the Burnet colours.
They were late. All the rear pews were occupied, so they had to sit under the pulpit. “Now be quiet children and listen,” whispered Maud. It was all right while the choir marched in singing “Onward Christian Soldiers,” which gave Joanna a glorious thumpy feeling like watching the circus parade that time. But after a short time nature began to assert itself. Dan’s mouth dropped open and he began to twist and turn and invent things for his fingers to do. Joanna, with a woman’s social sense, twisted less, but she stood up when others sat down, and when others sat down, she stood up and sat down, and finally, during a lull in matins, she whispered sibilantly, “Mother, why am I here?” Dan began to punch his father gently, and at last folded himself jackknife fashion over the back of the pew in front.
Ssh, dear,” whispered Maud fearfully.
Why did you have to whisper in church? The clergyman boomed down at you from the high platform that was like a turret in a castle. “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
“Father, I’m tired. Can’t we go now?”
“In a minute, Daniel; have patience.”
“I can’t, father.”
“Think of something nice, Dan,” said Maud.
The clergyman was reading the first lesson from the Book of Job. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul? “I am Job,” thought Pen. “On me is put the curse of unbelief.”
A canticle filled the church with thundering squadrons of praise. Praise him and magnify him forever. Maud was thinking of that poet (she never could remember the names of authors) who said the Benedicite was like a wave turning over? Kipling was it? “Must tell Joanna that.” Dan was pulling in turn each of the buttons of his father’s coat. It was rhythmical to do that; it helped when you turned being bored into rhythm. Pen, unconscious of his nervous habit, fidgeted and muttered under his breath, “Damn fool! Damn fool!” The Benedicite rolled on with its inexorable praise. First the natural phenomena, then the creatures of the earth from the whales to children of men, then “O let Israel bless the Lord,” with a change of tune that gave one a new lease of life. Asiatic imagery for Anglo-Saxons, thought Pen. They had got to the beasts and cattle, and after another quarter of a page they could sit down and Dan’s patience might revive. A woman with a tinny soprano lifted up her praise with immolating vigour just behind Pen’s ear, dominating everyone else in church, imposing her ego. These little egotisms of people bothered Pen, he could never see beyond them. Maud’s voice, “Dan, dear, don’t wriggle!” Praise him and magnify him forever. A part of Pen’s mind not under control, thinking of Dan, said fervently, “Not forever!” It was like those moments, he thought, when you are in a cab on the way to the station. You will miss the train. The coachman flicks his horse and it giddaps into a shambling trot while mentally you push the cab to its destination.
At last the third hymn, the one before the sermon. You could go out. Hats and coats. Dan’s hat mysteriously missing, to be finally retrieved from under the next pew but one.… They are out in the frosty air in the carriage going home. The children at last are quiet, for there is always something fresh to look at when you go for a ride. “The choir sings beautifully, don’t you think?” remarked Maud. “The children behaved very well considering —”
Pen felt worn out and church always made him morose. “It’s nice,” he said, a sense of duty reasserting itself, “to get the children into the habit of going to church.” In his own ears his voice sounded thin, not from the depths of his convictions. It can do no harm to “expose” them, he thought; it might take. And any help a man can get — The end of life, sudden darkness, oblivion.

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