Sunday, 26 January 2014

"Canadian Poets of the Great War" - Review

I mentioned this book briefly yesterday - I am very grateful indeed to Christine from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada for sending me a copy of the book "Canadian Poets of the Great War".  Christine came second in the International Section of the 2013 Pendle War Poetry Competition.  You can hear Christine's very moving poem here:

Christine knows that I am researching women who wrote poetry during WW1 - thank you Christine.  Whilst I am hoping to include examples of poetry from all corners of the globe in order to illustrate that this was the First World War, I am particularly aware of the sacrifice made so willingly and so often by our cousins in Canada.   As Stanley Kaye (who started the Facebook Group Remembering the First World War in 2014 one hundred years) always says - WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

I have now had a chance to look at the anthology of poems which was edited by William Douw Lighthall and published in 1918 for The Royal Society of Canada.  The reproduction of Volume XII - Third Series 1918 - has been printed by BiblioLife LLC as 'part of an unique project that provides opportunities for readers, educators and researchers by bringing hard-to-find original publications back into print at reasonable prices'.   

This is an enchanting anthology containing some of the poems written by Canadians about the First World War.  Some were written by serving soldiers, some by women - and I will be having a closer look at both poems and poets and adding them to my ever-growing list - and one in French. 

As Mr Lighthall so aptly sums up on the final page of his anthology:

"There will never be a greater fight.   There will never be a vaster battlefield..."

"The poets may perhaps not yet be born who shall invent utterances that shall be truly worthy of the innumerable heroic achievements, the Galahadic dedications to the supreme sacrifice, the wonderful idealism of the whole crusade..."  - page LXII.

My thoughts entirely!

Do have a look at the publishers' website -

Photo:  Canadian National War Memorial Vimy Ridge, France.   Google Images.


by René d'Avril.

"Beaux et forts, l'œil hardi, cambrant leur haute taille
Affrontant les dangers trops connus, - la mitraille,
Les gaz, le froid, le chaud, la boue, et loin des leurs
Ne pensant qu'au pays dont flottent les couleurs, -
Pays qui les rassemble en un même uniforme.
Ils sont aux premiers rangs de cette lutte énorme,
Héros de bronze clair qu'envierait un sculpteur.

Ils ont quitté le sole du logis enchanteur,
Plus de rire d'enfants, sous le ciel gris de France
Mais l'attaque de nuit, l'implacable défense
Et la gloire qui passe en funèbre appareil.

.    .    .    .    .

Ils sont du Canada, non loin de Montréal ….
Vast image émergeant des brouillards de la Somme:
O grands lacs, O grands fleuves lents, grands champs de blé,
Pays ou tout est grand, même le cœur de l'homme!

(Paris, Hôpital de l"Ecosse) - page LIX of the Anthology.

(I think that should be 'surtout le coeur de l'homme'...)