The Beginnings Of A National Literary Tradition — страница 3

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a preoccupation with dreams and reverie. Landscaping for him was a way of exploring consciousness: the aesthetic, moral, mythical, and religious aspects of human existence, of Canadian existence. Nature poetry had been one of the dominant genres for nearly a century and a half, and by the 1890’s many critics were tired of it. Therefore while Lampman was alive, his popularity as a poet had not yet reached its full potential. However, Lampman’s skill as a naturistic poet allows us to experience his poetry not just to read it. His poems are of a “natural description and those in which he communicated and recreates his own response to countryside, have stood the test of time”(Keith 22). Lampman’s poetry is fundamentally emotional and retrospective on one hand, and on the

other it is intellectual and progressive. His intellectual position tended to be idealistic and austere. While Lampman’s poetry can be accused of being limited in range, it is notable for its descriptive precision and emotional restraint. Lampman wanted very much to affirm the sweetness of life and the virtue of hope unfortunately his circumstances often made that difficult. Poor health, financial worries, the death of a son, and an especially painful extramarital attachment to fellow postal worker Kate, as we find out in the 1940’s after the publication of a book of poems about her, took their toll on him. However, the poet’s own personal attitude toward his art can be best summed up in his poem “The Poet’s Possession” from The Poems of Archibald Lampman: Think not,

O master of the well-tilled field, This earth is only thine: for after thee When all is sown and gathered and put by, Comes the grave poet with creative eye, And from these silent acres and clean plots, Bids with his wand the fancied after-yield A second tilth and second harvest be, The crop of images and curious thoughts. This poem depicts Lampman’s method of creating his poems. He looks at the scene and then tries to give it a second life through poetry. Lampman’s poetry is an introspective study of the individual in relation to nature. Lampman states “I feel and hear and with quiet eyes behold”(qtd. in Rashley 77). Lampman can feel Nature as it exists. The Canadian wilds hold a type of magic for him. He was drawn to nature because “in the energies of his own soul he

is aware of a kinship to the forces of nature and feels with an eternal joy as if it were part of himself, the eternal movement of life”(Connor 128). To Lampman, man is part of Nature and Nature is an expression of the spirit. The conflict of science and religion has been replaced with a new concept of man and Nature. To be “in contact with Nature there is a heightening of sensitivity, a feeling of limitations having been lifted”(Rashley 91). This idea that we are somehow linked with Nature is an integral part of Lampman’s poetry. It is here that a parallel can be drawn from Lampman’s poetry to that of the Romantics. Although Lampman has been criticized for ‘copying’ the style and content of the English Romanticists movement, it is evident that while he is

influenced by this movement he is by no means duplicating it. Lampman and his contemporaries shared a respect for tradition. He sought from the English Romantics “instruction not in what to see or how to feel, but in how to express what he saw and how he felt”(Brown 90). He used their skill and knowledge to better his expression of himself. Lampman admired much about the Romanticists because he saw the post-Romanticists movement of his own time as “dreary and monotonous realism and [a] morbid unhealthiness of [the] soul”(Early 142). This admiration of Nature and its relationship with man was as much moral as it was aesthetic. Truly great poetry strengthens the understanding and the spirit. The poetry of the English Romanticist movement served to remove the ‘gloom’ of

human existence. Lampman had many qualities within himself that attracted him to the English Romanticists. Lampman, like most of the Romanticists, saw science and poetry as cooperative modes of knowledge. He shared the Romanticists “concern for salvaging spiritual values from what he believed to be an obsolete religious system and for adopting these values to a human, rather than supernatural, dispensation”(Early 141). The similarity in the belief that poetry’s true purpose is to advance the human spirit toward ultimate renovation and transfiguration engaged Lampman to the English Romanticist movement. To Lampman and the English Romanticists “nothing in Nature is ugly either in itself or in its relations to its surroundings, and that any other condition is due to the