Crawford and Gounod: Ambiguity and Irony in Malcom’s Katie

By Robert Alan Burns

For more than seventy years, Isabella Crawford’s critics have continued to bring forward Tennyson’s idylls as possible sources for structure, plot, and theme in Malcolm’s Katie.1 Crawford’s lack of formal education and the obvious influence of Tennyson on her style have led critics to the easy conclusion that her most fully realized major work reflects the mind and art of a single master. This simplisitc view not only distorts the relationship of Malcolm’s Katie to Crawford’s earlier work, but it also fails to take adequate notice of the larger cultural, intellectual, and political contexts out of which the poem arises.  The themes of Malcolm’s Katie, which critics attempt to trace in Tennyson’s idylls, are manifestly apparent in Crawford’s earlier lyrical, satirical, and narrative verse, much of which bears little stylistic resemblence to Tennyson’s work. Although the Tennysonian medley-poem may suggest in broadest outline the structure of Malcolm’s Katie, none of Tennyson’s idylls is more than superficially similar — in either plot or form — to Crawford’s poem.

     Interestingly, it is Dorothy Livesay, one of those most responsible for the habitual linking of the names of Crawford and Tennyson, who has more than once suggested another, non-literary model for the form of Malcolm’s Katie and Hugh and Ion. With what is probably more poetic intuition than scholarly deliberation, Livesay detects in Crawford’s alternation of narrative and lyric passages the operatic interplay of recitative and aria.2 The only known poem in which Crawford makes use of a particular opera is “At the Opera,” where she integrates a gala performance of Gounod’s Faust with the subject and theme of her poem.3 Crawford’s subtle, indirect comparison and contrast between the characters of Marguerite and the central figure of her poem indicate that the poet had at least read Michel Carré’s libretto. Since Gounod’s Mireille was at that time as popular as Faust, it seems reasonable to speculate that if Crawford knew Faust, she probably knew Mireille.4 Within the context of a detailed examination of the effects of ambiguity and irony in Malcolm’s Katie, this essay sets forth an argument that Gounod’s Mireille is a principal source for the plot in Crawford’s poem.  This essay also shows how Crawford adapted and modified lyric and dramatic elements from Mireille to enhance the complexity, irony, and ambiguity that help to make Malcolm’s Katie nineteenth-century English Canada’s richest, most controversial, long narrative poem.  The plot of Mireille, a lyrically pastoral work set in rural Provence, is nearly identical with that of Malcolm’s Katie.


In the opera, Mireille (Katie), the daughter of a wealthy farmer named Ramon (Malcolm), loves Vincent (Max), the son of a poor laborer. After Mireille and Vincent have pledged their love to one another (Malcolm’s Katie, Part One), a wealthy cattleman named Ourrais (Alfred) enters the scene and declares his love for Mireille. Mireille rejects Ourrais, but Ramon promises to bring his daughter to her senses. Vincent’s father then approaches Ramon to request Mireille’s hand for his son. When her lover’s father is angrily rebuked, Mireille declares that she will marry Vincent and no one else. At this point, having promised each other to meet again, Mireille and Vincent are separated. The climax of the action occurs in Le Val d’Enfer. After an argument, Ourrais strikes Vincent and, believing he has killed his rival, drowns while attempting to escape. In the original version of the opera, Vincent, Ourrais, and Mireille all die; but Gounod and Carré revised both the score and the libretto to suit the vanity of Madame Carvalho, who sang the role of Mireille at Le Théatre Lyrique in 1864. In the revised version, Vincent miraculously survives to be reunited with Mireille, whom he discovers at the point of death after she has made a long and difficult pilgrimage across the Desert of Crau to pray for Vincent at the Church of Les Saintes Maries. As Mireille and Vincent are reunited, Ramon appears, is overcome with compassion, and acquiesces in their marriage.

     Few changes would have been necessary for Crawford to adapt the plot of Mireille to the requirements of Malcolm’s Katie. First, she would have reduced the number of major characters to four, eliminating Vincent’s father and sister as well as the witch Taven. In Malcolm’s Katie, the rival Alfred enters the scene after Max has left for the west, and while Alfred is not as pleasing to Malcolm as Ourrais is to Ramon, Malcolm does accept Alfred as a serious suitor for his daughter. Max, like Vincent, is poor and therefore unsuitable to marry a rich man’s daughter. As Ramon says to Vincent’s father in Mireille:

Quoi, j’aurai sans repos travaillé si longtemps,
   Pour assurer la paix de mes vieux ans
Et laissé quelque bien a ceux de ma famille
   Et puis ton fils maudit me volera ma fille
. . .5

Both Ramon and Malcolm have worked long and hard for their wealth, which Carré and Crawford describe in remarkably similar terms:

Les blés murs couvent la plaine
L’aire bientôt sera pleine
Des grains jaune comme l’or
Le divin maître du monde
Force la terre féconde
A nous livrer son trésor
. . . . (p. 22)

For Malcolm, as for Ramon, it is in the nature of things for “Le divin maître” to transmute the harvest into golden treasure:

       . . . those misty, peak-roof’d barns —
Leviathans rising from red seas of grain —
Are full of ingots, shaped like grains of wheat.
His flocks have golden fleeces, and his herds
Have monarchs worshipful, as was the calf
Aaron call’d from the furnace . . . .6

Adding the allusions to the golden fleece, the worship of wealth by monarchs, and the golden calf expands Carrés metaphor so that the analogy between the gold colour of the grain and gold-as-wealth takes on sinister, ironic implications.

     In Malcolm’s Katie Gounod’s Val d’Enfer and Desert of Crau merge in the Canadian wilderness, seen by Malcolm as “yon unco place” and by Max as so desolate as to be an unsuitable spot to call upon the name of God. Instead, in his confused passion Max invokes Satan for a sign to murder Alfred.7 Unlike Ourrais, Alfred survives his flight from his wilderness confrontation with his rival nearly to drown later in his attempt at murder-suicide with Katie. Like Vincent, Max miraculously survives, and Crawford only slightly modifies Gounod when she allows Max to arrive at the last minute to save both Katie and Alfred. In the final scene the presence of the child bearing Alfred’s name constitutes another minor variation from Gounod’s plot.

     Like musical comedy today, opera in the nineteenth century attracted a widely diversified audience. If Mireille may be said to be a principal source for Malcolm’s Katie, then Crawford’s poem may represent an attempt to utilize a popular, non-literary medium as a basis for a new poetic form in which narrative, dramatic, and lyric materials could be presented to an expanded popular audience.  The failure of Malcolm’s Katie to achieve wide readership in the nineteenth century may have owed more to the circumstances of its publication than to any fault inherent in the poem.  Printed privately under the supervision of a female neophyte in an industry dominated by experienced men of business, Old Spookses’ Pass hardly could have done better if it had been issued gilt-edged in leather binding. The problems of distribution alone must have been enormous.


Among Crawford’s recent critics there continues to be considerable disagreement as to what Malcolm’s Katie really is, and, as might be expected, this disagreement has contributed to a lack of consensus on the poem’s literary merit. At mid-century A.J.M. Smith praised Crawford’s wilderness poems for vigor and for “a boldness or imagery” unique in nineteenth-century Canadian poetry. “In Malcolm’s Katie,” he wrote, “. . . the spirit of the northern woods has passed into the imagery and the rhythm of the verse.”  At about the same time, E.K. Brown saw in the poem “the best image a poet has given us of Canadian living in the years following Confederation.” Some fifteen years later, R.E. Rashley was less positive, calling the poem “a blind alley of experiment in style.” More recently, Robin Mathews has praised Malcolm’s Katie for its nationalism and Kenneth Hughes has found its Marxism profound. Frank Bessai, one of Crawford’s more sympathetic readers, judges Malcolm’s Katie to be “a failure . . . due in no small part to the expectations which we ordinarily bring to narrative poetry in the nineteenth century.”8   Apparently, the lack of consensus on Malcolm’s Katie results as much from the predispositions of the critics as from the poem’s intractability to standard critical approaches.

     If Crawford was attempting to develop a new poetic form in Malcolm’s Katie, an inductive, exploratory critical method would seem to be the most likely route to discovery and illumination.  Roy Daniells and D.M.R. Bentley have suggested similar critical approaches that respond to the unique character of Crawford’s verse rather than impose preconceived notions and values on the work.9 Daniells delineates his method in a single, perspicacious comment: “her poems . . . tend to invite two readings — a straightforward and an esoteric — with very different results.” Dismissing the surface text of the poem as ridiculous, Daniells sees real importance in the poem’s “ability to pull raw landscape into an interior world of passion and fulfillment.”10 The significance of Daniells’ approach for the present discussion is that it suggests a double reading of Crawford’s poem; unfortunately, it may also lead the critic to endorse one reading at the expense of the other, rather than to ascertain what, if any, are the relationships between the surface text of the poem and its more serious, ironical, and ambiguous subtext. D.M.R. Bentley speculates that the two readings invited by Crawford’s verse arise from the poet’s conscious desire to appeal simultaneously to two different audiences:

In what way did her assumed or actual audience and format modify the form, content, and even (or especially) the title of poems . . .? Was the aim of the double title of Malcolm’s Katie: A Love Story both to attract the simple-mindedly romantic reader and to alert a ‘fit audience . . . though few’ to the ironical possibilities of the poem, to the fact that, to the end, ‘little Katie’ remains ‘daddy’s girl’?11

Although Bentley’s view of the poem as a simultaneous appeal to opposite audiences apparently endorses one level of meaning as more authentic or consequential, we shall see that the numerous interpenetrations between the surface and subtext make both levels necessary for the full emergence of the poem’s metaphysical centre.

     Among those who have judged Malcolm’s Katie a failure, perhaps the most emphatic has been Desmond Pacey.  Pacey’s remarks reveal the difficulties that can arise when a critic confines himself to a straightforward reading of the poem:

Malcolm’s Katie . . . conducts a group of pasteboard characters through a wildly improbable sequence of events.  Violent deaths and fortuitous rescues occur on almost every page, and the dialogue is stilted and unnatural.12

In light of Pacey’s modernist perspective, some of his objections are understandable.  With the exception of Alfred, all of the characters are one-dimensional; the speech is declamatory, and the action is melodramatic. All of these elements reflect the poem’s operatic origins.  But no one dies in Malcolm’s Katie, violently or otherwise, and there are exactly two fortuitous rescues (three, if we count separately Max’s rescues of Katie and Alfred) in a poem of over 1,300 lines.  Since it is not likely that Pacey would purposely distort the truth, his inaccurate description of Malcolm’s Katie, persisting through the second “revised and enlarged” edition of Creative Writing in Canada, may indicate his unconscious reaction to something in the poem. The main plot of the poem may be readily summarized: true love triumphs over enormous difficulties; nation-building continues; everyone becomes rich and lives happily ever after. This is Daniells’ straightforward reading, the stuff of popular romance.  Pacey’s comments seem to reflect simultaneously his conscious rejection of this surface text and his unconscious reaction to the subtext, which presents a vastly different view of the world. Nearly a third of Malcolm’s Katie — over four hundred of the roughly 1,300 lines — is saturated with highly charged, intensely kinetic imagery, evoking a vibrant, restlessly animate landscape that becomes devastated by mankind’s violence.   This could be the turbulence that Pacey senses “on almost every page.”

     Malcolm’s Katie becomes more amenable to explication to the critic who uses Daniells and Bentley as points of departure, taking into account the milieu in which the poem was written, its implied audiences, and Crawford’s earlier work. Among the more persistent fictions obscuring the poet’s life and work is a sentimental view of Crawford as a reclusive young genius who, although subjected to poverty and repeated deaths in her family, exhibited in Malcolm’s Katie and other poems an irrepressible spirit of optimism.  This attractive portrait, popular among critics and biographers, is reinforced by two false notions: first, that Crawford was all but unknown as a writer during her lifetime and, second, that Malcolm’s Katie was the product of her young womanhood. The myth of Crawford’s obscurity was originally perpetrated by Ethelwyn Wetherald, W.D. Lighthall, and Hector Charlesworth and has been passed along without critical scrutiny by A.J.M. Smith and Desmond Pacey.13 If they can be taken at face value, however, Crawford’s obituaries in the Evening Telegram, The Globe, The Week, and Arcturus indicate that the poet enjoyed considerable recognition in her home city.14 Furthermore, her death notice in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, a very popular weekly among American middle-class women, suggests that she had attracted an international following.  Printed in the “Death Roll of the Week” on February 18, 1887, the item reads as follows: “February 14th [sic] — in Toronto, Canada, Isabella Valancy Crawford, the well-known authoress.”  More than three years before she died, Crawford had been well enough known for Leslie’s to use her name to advertise a forthcoming double holiday issue of the paper.15  Since the evidence clearly indicates that Crawford was known in Canada, well-known in the United States, and well-reviewed in Britain, it seems reasonable to disregard the myth of her obscurity.16

     The tradition that assigns the writing of Malcolm’s Katie to Crawford’s youth (25 years old or younger) originated in a unsubstantiated assertion by Maud Miller Wilson that was handed on by John Garvin and has been kept current by Dorothy Livesay, Catherine Ross, and James Johnson.17 If, as Kenneth Hughes avers, “Malcolm’s Katie is the poetic expression of MacDonald’s National Policy,” the poem could not have been written before the election year of 1878.18 It is likely that the poem was written after August, 1879, for Max’s radical portrait of Commerce is an elaboration of the one adumbrated in “War.”19 Moreover, a case can be made for placing the completion date of Malcolm’s Katie after October, 1883. Textual evidence proves that Crawford wrote Hugh and Ion by incorporating previously published lyrics into the narrative text.20 Similarly, in “Gisli, the Chieftain,” published in Old Spookses’ Pass in 1884, several lines are added to the original newspaper version of “The Song of the Arrow” to incorporate the lyric into the text of the longer poem. If Crawford followed the same procedure in Malcolm’s Katie, then the poem was not finished before June 1, 1883, the date upon which “The Blue Forget-me-not,” a lyric from Part Five of Malcolm’s Katie, was published in the Toronto Evening Telegram.  Since “The Song of the Arrow” appeared in the same paper on October 9, 1883, it appears that Crawford may have been working on “Gisli, the Chieftain” and Malcolm’s Katie at about the same time. From the general level of artistic maturity, it seems fair to conjecture that all four of Crawford’s published longer narratives, Malcolm’s Katie, “Gisli, the Chieftain,” “The Helot,” and “Old Spookses’ Pass,” were written in the two-year period immediately preceding their publication.   In any case, there is no reason to belive that Malcolm’s Katie was written before 1878, at which time Crawford’s writing career was well underway.

     At twenty-eight Crawford was a tough-minded professional, supporting herself and her mother by writing popular romances. By Victorian standards she was already advanced into spinsterhood, and so in order to make her living, she became a master of romantic illusion, which she served up copiously in short stories and serial installments to the magazine-and-newspaper-reading publics of the United States and Canada. Her serial novels were published in Canadian newspapers such as the Toronto Evening Globe and The Fireside Weekly, and her stories are known to have appeared in The Popular Monthly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, and St. Nicholas, the latter three of which were American publications.21 Since Crawford claimed to have “written largely for the American press,” it is reasonable to suspect that much of her published work remains undiscovered in nineteenth-century magazines and newspapers.22

     Crawford emerges from the stark, fragmentary record of her life as the embodiment of the artist-as-survivor, trudging doggedly from one editorial office to another, rejected first by The Week and then by Arcturus. After being brushed aside by editor Charles G.D. Roberts, she showed her practical determination by returning to the offices of The Week following Roberts’ resignation from the magazine. Apparently, on her second visit, she was informed by Mrs. Harrison that The Week did not pay for poetry.23 True to her professional attitude, Crawford did not give her work away.  And Crawford was both a professional romance writer and a serious poet. Since she depended on her writing for her living, she was forced to publish her poetry where she would be paid for it — in the daily and weekly newspapers. Here, she maintained her artistic integrity by indirection, double-entendre, and irony. In 1885, using such devices of literary concealment, she was able to write immensely popular verse praising the courage of volunteer soldiers, battlefield nurses, and medical corpsmen while indirectly criticizing the campaign to suppress the Metis in the Northwest. The “two readings” identified by Daniells, then, are conscious effects of simultaneous presentation, as conscious in Malcolm’s Katie as in “The Red Cross Corps,” “The Gallant Lads in Green,” and “Nurse Miller.” As Bentley suggests, Malcolm’s Katie is designed to appeal simultaneously to two diametrically opposite audiences. On the vulgar level the poem presents a popular romance, contrived to attract a wide readership so that the tough-minded professional could make money.  On the serious level irony and ambiguity complicate and often contradict the surface text so that Crawford’s more serious readers are able to witness the destruction that may be wrought in the names of love and National Policy. By the time the serious reader has completed an examination of Crawford’s often disturbing and bleak vision, the subtitle of Malcolm’s Katie has taken on almost unbearably ironic implications. For from the first line to the last, Crawford’s poem encourages ambiguous and ironic reading.


For readers familiar with Crawford’s artistic development, the first four lines of Malcolm’s Katie exhibit a complex array of countervailing impulses:

Max plac’d a ring on little Katie’s hand,
A silver ring that he had beaten out
From that same sacred coin — first well-priz’d wage
For boyish labour, kept thro’ many years. 24

On the romantic surface there is here the sentimental appeal of the gift that has been crafted by the giver himself, an effect enhanced by the more obvious implications of the adjective “sacred” as well as by a possible echo of the beaten gold in Donne’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.” Obviously, Max is ambitious, hardworking, frugal, and religious in his devotion to Katie. Yet there is nothing of the ethereal delicacy of Donne’s “gold to ayery thinnesse beate” in the harsh, almost brutal, image of the ring “that he had beaten out.” The hammer foreshadows the axe. Furthermore, Max’s regard of the coin as “sacred” suggests that the foundation of his sense of values may be similar to the suitor’s in “A Wooing,” where love is debased to the level of the marketplace. Crawford’s cynically satirical treatment of courtship in “A Wooing” provides revealing correspondences with Part One of Malcolm’s Katie.25

     Beneath the romance of Max’s having engraved his and Katie’s first initials in the silver of the ring “in such a way,/ That M. is part of K., and K. of M.,” Crawford seems to imply that money compromises the basis of the bond that holds Katie and Max together — a pledge redeemable in cash and property as soon as Max has hacked his fortune out of the wilderness.26 As though aware of the ambiguous significance of the ring, Max inveigles reassurances from Katie in order to assay the mettle of her feelings:

Yet tell me, dear, will such a prophecy
Not hurt you sometimes when I am away?
Will you not seek, keen-ey’d for some small break
In those deep lines to part the K. and M.
for you. . . . (p. 40)

Owing perhaps to her eagerness to placate Max’s anxiety, Katie’s elaborate response is unconsciously equivocal:

If hearts are flow’rs, I know that flow’rs can root —
Bud, blossom, die — all in the same lov’d soil,
They do so in my garden. If I am a bud
And only feel unfoldment — feebly stir
Within my leaves; wait patiently; some June,
I’ll blush a full-blown rose, and queen it, dear,
In your lov’d garden. (p. 41)

Hearts, Katie’s trite metonymy for love, may “Bud, blossom, die.” To this note of transience, Katie unintentionally and ironically adds a hint of uncertainty as she attempts to characterize the potential growth in her feelings for Max. Consequently, Max replies that he is not altogether satisfied with Katie’s answer to his questions: “Yes — crescent-wise — but not to round, full moon.”

    There is a two-fold irony in the running together of the letters in the engraving of the ring.  Katie’s father has the same initials as her fiancee, and Malcolm’s wealth acts simultaneously as a bond between father and daughter and as an obstacle to be surmounted by the lovers.  The situation is presented straightforwardly in Mireille, where Vincent’s father shouts at Ramon: “Garde ton trésor, vieil avare,/ C’est ton orgueil qui les sépare.”27  Katie’s position is far more ambiguous than that of Mireille, for it is the future wealth represented by the ring that will enable Max’s claims on Katie to supersede those of Malcolm. The ambiguity of Katie’s position is underlined with subtle irony by her preference for the unique design of Max’s engraving over the more traditional “double hearts” motif.

    No one is more sensitive to, or covetous of, Malcolm’s orgueil than is Max, whose regard for the outward and visible signs of wealth, particularly Malcolm’s wealth, is everywhere apparent in his speech. Max perceives and describes Malcolm’s husbandry of nature in the imagery of one who dreams of treasure. Looking at a hillside field next to a lake, he sees “a lover king":

In cloth of gold, gone from his bride and queen
And yet delayed because her silver locks
Catch in his gilden fringes. . . . (p 42)

With obvious envy, Max imputes the Midas touch to Malcolm, whose barns contain not grain but ingots, whose flocks are fleeced in gold and whose herds provoke worship like “the calf/ Aaron call’d from the furnace.”  The allusion to Aaron’s furnace summons up the iconography of “Moloch,” in which Crawford employed similar imagery with relentless irony.28

    Max’s envy of Malcolm is not confined to possessions but comprehends the older man’s accomplishments as well.  When Katie points out that Malcolm has worked for all that he owns, Max concedes, revelling in the violent details of what he imagines Malcolm’s “battle” with the wilderness to have been like:

They drew the ripping beak through knotted sod,
Thro’ tortuous lanes of blacken’d, smoking stumps;
And past great flaming brush heaps, sending out
Fierce summers, beating on their swollen brows. (p 42)

This is the first glimpse that Crawford gives her readers of the ruined landscape hidden beneath a screen of romantic illusion throughout the poem. As a pioneer himself, Max describes Malcolm’s “hot conflict with the soil” as less glorious but more honourable than the incursions of “Commerce, with her housewife foot upon/ Colossal bridge of slaughter’d savages,” in collusion with Church and imperial state, despoiling and exploiting natural resources and aboriginal peoples: “In one sly, mighty hand her reeking sword;/ And in the other all the woven cheats/ From her dishonest looms” (p. 43). However much Max insists upon the distinction between chopping down trees and cutting down “savages,” his description of the previous generation of pioneers as “warriors of the Axe” to whom accrue “outspreading circles of increasing gold” convinces the serious reader that, for Crawford, the sword and the axe are one. The last line of the narrative text in Part One is Katie’s prayer, “God speed the axe!", a prayer that seems at once an innocent expression of a young woman’s longing and an ironic conjuring of a blighted landscape.

    (It is worth noticing that Max’s position in relation to Malcolm can be seen as analogous with that of John A. MacDonald’s Canada to the imperial monarchy that had settled British North America in previous generations. Even though the goal of National Policy was to build a nation, it should be remembered that MacDonald considered himself a British subject, whose government provided Canadians with the political advantages of a parliamentary monarchy extending from England. Just as Max shares Malcolm’s values and hopes to emulate the older man’s achievements, so MacDonald sought to enlarge the Dominion by the imposition on the west of a preconceived pattern of settlement and development.  In Malcolm’s Katie, Max may be seen to embody the vanguard of pioneering activity resulting from the implementation of National Policy.)

    Max’s perception of the settled landscape in terms of wealth reflects the Scots Calvinism of his background, which, in the nineteenth century, equated natural with fallen and motivated the puritanical settler to destroy the wilderness and its inhabitants, making way for the building of a new Earthly Paradise and the concomitant acquisition of private wealth, the outward sign of Election. The narrative text of Part One ends with Max and Katie putting the final touches on their plans, which specify in what sounds like contractual terms what each of them will do to achieve their common goal. As Katie plies Malcolm with her kisses, so Max will ply the bush with his axe.

    Katie’s “God speed the axe!” is followed immediately by a romantic love-lyric, whose positioning reinforces its ambiguous content. A comparison of the lyric with its counterpart in Mireille illuminates the ironic use to which Crawford put this and other lyrical sequences occurring in the first five parts of Malcolm’s Katie. Mireille’s first arriette is a waltz-song added to the first-act score to show off Madame Carvahlo’s vocal brilliance. Entitled “O légère hirondelle,” the song is Mireille’s apostrophe to a swallow to carry her message of love to Vincent.

O légère hirondelle, méssagère fidèle,
Vers mon ami vole gaiment
Et conte-lui mon doux tourment

Parle-lui pour moi-même,
Et dis-lui que je l’aime
Vincent peut croire à mon serment

Vole, vole gaiment!

This song occurs at the beginning of Act One, serving to introduce the love-interest and to bring the lovers together. Like the swallow, the song itself acts as a vehicle of communication between Mireille and Vincent.  In Part One of Malcolm’s Katie, Katie and Max are already together, about to venture forth upon an enterprise that, while it will separate them temporarily, will ultimately pay considerable dividends for their investments of time and effort.

    In the nineteenth century the name hirondelle was applied to small steam-driven river boats, perhaps of the same sort that plied the Otonabee River near Crawford’s home in Peterborough. Given the poet’s knowledge of French, a transition from “O légère hirondelle” (“O light swallow” or “O light river boat") to the more appropriately Canadian image of “O light canoe” should have been natural and easy.

O light canoe, where dost thou glide?
Below thee gleams no silver’d tide,
But concave heaven’s chiefest pride.

Above thee burns Eve’s rosy bar;
Below thee throbs her darling star;
Deep ’neath thy keel her round worlds are!

Above, below, O sweet surprise,
To gladden happy lover’s eyes;
No earth, no wave — all jewell’d skies! (pp. 44-5)

In “O légère hirondelle” the swallow is a means by which a message is to be carried to a destination specified in the second line of the song. In “O light canoe” a vehicle of comrnunication becomes a vessel of communion, an image of containment whose destination is uncertain: “where dost thou glide?" The very medium through which the canoe moves is ambiguous (“no silver’d tide") and illusory (“No earth, no wave — all jewell’d skies!”). To Max and Katie the canoe behaves more like the bird than the boat, floating aimlessly through the skies, its passengers experiencing a delightfully confused state of romantic illusion that will continue for Max throughout the remaining six parts of the poem.30

    Part Two of Malcolm’s Katie brings Max to the convergence of the Canadian forest wilderness and the great western prairie. There he will try his axe on the virgin timber covering the slopes where he plans to build his homestead. Crawford dramatized the destruction of the forests in a poem entitled “The Ghosts of the Trees,” where all of nature recoils at the devastation.

The silver fangs of the might axe,
  Bit to the blood our giant boles
It smote our breasts and smote our backs,
  Thunder’d the front-clear’d leaves —
     As sped the fire,
  The whirl and the flame of the scarlet leaves,
     With strong desire
  Leaped to the air our captive souls.31

The poem is narrated by the trees themselves or, more properly, by their newly released souls, which report the surprise expressed by the surrounding air that the trees should possess spiritual, as well as corporeal, natures:

While down our corpses thunder’d
The air at our strong souls gazed and wondered;
  And cried to us, “Ye
Are full of all mystery to me! (p 130)

Similar sentiments are registered on behalf of the animal kingdom by the personified eagle, who evokes his airborne point-of-view in Crawford’s typically arresting figurative manner:

  “I downward swept, beguil’d
By the close-set forest gilded and spread
A sea for the lordly tread
  Of a God’s war-ship —
I broke its leafy surf with my breast;
  My iron lip
I dipp’d in the cool of each whispering crest;
  From my leafy steeps,
  I saw in my deeps
Red coral the flame-necked oriole —
But never the stir of a soul
        Heard I in ye —
Great is the mystery!” (pp. 131-132)

As the eagle represents the animal kingdom, so the river symbolizes the range of power and substance in the physical environment, stunned by the revelations of the axe. After a ninety-two-line Whitmanesque catalogue of the effects of the waters on the physical world, the river adds its own note of astonishment to those of the air and the eagle:

     “I list’ning heard
  The soft-song’d bird;
The beetle about thy boles.
  The calling breeze
  In thy crests, O Trees —
Never the voices of souls!” (p. 135)

Crawford’s ability to animate the landscape has become a commonplace in the discussion of her work. Using personification and intensely verbal imagery, she keeps the features of the physical universe in constant motion, often as much a part of the dramatic foreground as her more naturally animate human characters.32 “The Ghosts of the Trees” sets forth the view that the entire universe is both physically and spiritually alive, even though its spiritual character may become apparent only after its corporeal destruction. To Crawford, then, the cutting down of the forests may have seemed an act of murder on a massive scale. In both “The Ghosts of the Trees” and Malcolm’s Katie, the poet seems purposely to imbue the landscape with energy, vitality, and diversity to enhance the tragic effect of its ruin.  More than two-thirds of the narrative text in Part Two of Malcolm’s Katie — 240 of 358 lines — is devoted to the evocation of the immense vitality of the Canadian wilderness. In the last third of the narrative text, Max Gordon eradicates that vitality.

    Borrowing the figure of the South Wind from Longfellow’s borrowed Ojibway pantheon, Crawford opens Part Two by personifying the beginning of autumn at the time of the first frost. After fourteen lines the poet temporarily sets aside the personification to allow for more natural sources of movement to animate the landscape, in this case a prairie sunrise rendered in a series of progressively metamorphic images modulated through fifteen decasyllabic lines.  Here, as elsewhere, the poet’s source may be The Backwoods of Canada, a work whose author was known personally to Crawford during the time that they both lived in Lakefield. Mrs. Traill’s original describes the first appearance of a uniquely Canadian landscape to the eye of a newly arrived European:

Sometimes the highlands are suddenly enveloped in dense clouds of mist, which are in constant motion, rolling along in shadowy billows, now tinted with rosy light, now white and fleecy, or bright as silver, as they catch the sunbeams. So rapid are the changes that take place in this fog-bank, that perhaps the next time I raise my eyes I behold the scene changed as if by magic. The misty curtain is drawn up, as if by invisible hands, and the wild, wooded mountains partially revealed, with their bold rocky shores and sweeping bays.33

Crawford’s version transfers the scene from the Saint Lawrence River valley to the Canadian prairie, superimposing the imagery of waves, mist, and surf onto a vast ocean of bison:

At morn the sharp breath of night arose
From the wide prairies, in deep struggling seas,
In rolling breakers bursting to the sky
In tumbling surfs, all yellow’d faintly thro’
With the low sun — in mad, conflicting crests
Voic’d with low thunder from the hairy throats
Of the mist-buried herds; and for a man
To stand amid the cloudy roll and moil
The phantom waters breaking overhead
Shades of vex’d billows bursting on his breast
Torn caves of mist wall’d with sudden gold,
Reseal’d as swift as seen — broad, shaggy fronts,
Fire-ey’d and tossing on impatient horns
The wave impalpable — was but to think
A dream of phantoms held him as he stood. (pp. 45-46)

Through the dynamic fusion of prairie mist, bison herd, and sunrise, Crawford’s poetic method transforms a pleasantly stirring scene into an explosion of surreal movement wherein the eye of the observer is never allowed to rest on a single, stationary feature of the terrain. Instead, the viewer witnesses a constantly changing pattern of shape and colour, highlighted by sound and movement from “the mist-buried herds.” These lines are usually quoted to illustrate the mythopoeic character of Crawford’s verse, and they certainly do reveal the poet’s ability to combine European and North American elements in such a way as to force the reader to look at something in a new way, to see, in effect, what a prairie sunrise does, rather than what it is. The seemingly modernistic quality of the sequence arises out of the way the poet handles movement. More than any of her older or younger contemporaries, Crawford employs verbal imagery to generate, modulate, and expand metaphor. Here, in just fifteen lines of blank verse, she utilizes twenty-three verbs, verbal modifiers, and nouns derived from verbs to evoke unceasing motion accompanied by vivid changes in shape and colour.

    Following the prairie dawn sequence, Crawford turns her reader’s eye to the forest in Indian summer, where she reverts to Ojibway myth to personify the forces of nature. Again, she alternates personification with natural animation to dramatize the change of colour in the autumn foliage and to describe the effects of frost and cold in the encroachment of winter.

    Into the fullness of the wilderness autumn strides the impercipient Max, and in twelve short lines “the labourer and lover” blithely chops down the tallest and most ancient trunk in the forest. Max is assisted by a half-breed lad, cheerfully but unwittingly helping to bring his people to a pass similar to that of “the mossy king of all the woody tribes.” In this almost malicious application of Tennysonian periphrasis, Crawford appears to link the fates of the boy, his people, and the forest. By personifying both the individual tree and the forest as a whole, the poet intensifies the effect of the violence with which the lover attacks the wilderness:

. . . the bright axe cleav’d moon-like thro’ the air,
Waking strange thunders, rousing echoes link’d
From the full, lion-throated roar, to sighs
Stealing on dove-wings thro’ the distant aisles.
Swift fell the axe, swift follow’d roar on roar,
Till the bare woodland bellowed in its rage
As the first-slain toppled to his fall.
“O King of Desolation, art thou dead?” (p. 50)

To Max the wilderness is Desolation, fallen and worthless, to be burned clean to make way for the building of the New Eden. As she described the destructive effects of the axe and slash-fire, Crawford may have remembered Mrs. Traill’s bitter observations for the previous generation:

. . . the axe of the chopper relentlessly levels all before him. Man appears to contend with the trees of the forest as though they were his most obnoxious enemies; for he spares neither the young sapling in its greenness nor the ancient trunk in its lofty pride; he wages war against the forest with fire and steel.34

Throughout the remainder of Part Two, Crawford presents the stark contrast between Max’s idealized dreams and the reality of their fulfillment. Now that Max has begun the work of transforming the landscape, he can experience first-hand the soldierly exhilaration that he had earlier attributed to Malcolm in describing the older man’s “hot conflict with the soil":

Soon the great heaps of brush were builded high,
And like a victor, Max made pause to clear
His battle-field, high strewn with tangl’d dead.
Then roar’d the crackling mountains, and their fires
Met in high heaven, clasping flame with flame.
The thin winds swept a cosmos of red sparks
Across the bleak, midnight sky; and the sun
Walk’d pale behind the resinous, black smoke.
And Max car’d little for the blotted sun,
And nothing for the startl’d outshone stars. . . . (p. 51)

Obsessed by his ideal of love, Max has blotted out the sun and stars, traditional sources of vitality and aspiration. At this point Crawford introduces the cosmic daffodil, meant, I believe, to be an incongruous, outrageously excessive image, which is appropriate and ironic as an embodiment of Max’s idée fixe:

For love, once set within a lover’s breast,
Has its own Sun — its own peculiar sky,
All one great daffodil — on which do lie
The sun, the moon, the stars — all seen at once,
And never setting; but all shining straight
Into the faces of the trinity, —
The one belov’d, the lover, and sweet love!35

It is probably not accidental that Crawford uses the word peculiar to characterize the daffodil sky and its omnipresent light of love, greater than all of the natural sources of light, shining directly “Into the faces of the trinity,” blinding it to the surrounding devastation. In “The Roman Rose-Seller,” Crawford mentions “the daffodil that blows all about the earth.”36 The daffodil is an import from Europe and, as such, in the context of Malcolm’s Katie, becomes an appropriate symbol for the pervasive influence of European culture and the British Empire — as foreign and colonial as the preconceived sense of order that Max imposes “with fire and steel” upon the North American wilderness.

    Crawford frames the illusion of the daffodil sequence with the reality of the ruined landscape. The next line is simple and declarative: “It was not all his own, the axe-stirr’d waste.” Along with Max, National Policy has attracted to the west an array of failures and social misfits, whose children quickly learn to emulate the violent behaviour of their parents:

                                         So shanties grew
Other than his amid the blacken’d stumps;
And children ran with twigs and leaves
And flung them, shouting, on the forest pyres,
Where burn’d the forest kings. . . . (p. 52)

On the heels of the lean weaver and the pallid clerk come “smooth-coated men,” men of commerce and industry, who add the power of advanced technology to the work of the axe and the slash-fire. Crawford’s repeated criticism of business and industry provides a background against which to examine the process of industrial expansion as it is dramatized in Malcolm’s Katie.

. . . mills to crush the quartz of wealthy hills;
And mills to saw the great, wide-arm’d trees;
And mills to grind the singing streams of grain;
And with such busy clamour mingled still
The throbbing music of the bold, bright Axe —
The steel tongue of the Present — and the wail
Of falling forests. . . . (pp. 52-53)

In this obviously equivocal celebration of progress in the building of the new nation, the mechanized violence of the verbs “crush,” “saw,” and “grind” is contrasted dramatically with the natural fullness and vitality of “wealthy hills,” “wide-arm’d trees,” and “singing streams of grain.” By substituting arms for limbs of trees, Crawford provides a measure of cruelty to the lumber-saw, since, blended with the “clamour” of industry and the “throbbing” of the axe, one may yet detect the “wail” of dying forests.

    The final narrative sequence of Part Two contrasts Max’s dreams of his future with Katie and the present bleak reality. “There,” he tells his neighbors, “shall be our home — / On yonder slope, with vine leaves about the door!" The last two lines of the narrative supply an ironic commentary on Max’s effusiveness:

And the black slope all bristling with burn’d stumps
Was known amongst them all as “Max’s House.”

Crawford follows this pointed irony with what has become one of her most famous lyrics. The long and continuing popularity of “O, Love builds on the azure sea” suggests that, if it had been given a chance, Crawford’s attempt at simultaneous presentation to popular and serious audiences might well have succeeded; for, of all the lyrics in Malcolm’s Katie, this one responds most fully to Roy Daniells’ “two readings.”

O, Love builds on the azure sea,
   And Love builds on the golden sand;
And Love builds on the rose-wing’d cloud,
   And sometimes Love builds on the land.

O, if Love build on sparkling sea —
   And if Love build on golden strand —
And if Love build on rosy cloud —
   To Love these are the solid land.

O, Love will build his lily walls,
   And Love his pearly roof will rear, —
On cloud or land, or mist or sea —
   Love’s solid land is everywhere! (pp. 53-4)

The double entendre of this poem is apparent on the face of it. Straightforwardly, the lyric says that love needs no support from the outside; it is the self-sustaining vision of the daffodil-trinity. The parallel ironic reading indicates that love so deludes the lovers that they are unable to discriminate among such features of their surroundings as cloud, mist, air, land, sea, or sand. Love is an illusion with “lily walls” and “pearly roof” whose “solid land is everywhere.” The reader is left to attempt to reconcile the parallel readings, and there is no reason to believe that Crawford preferred the first over the second.

    In Part Three Crawford introduces Malcolm and Alfred, both of whom exhibit complexity and ambiguity. Malcolm Graeme is an exemplar of success through hard work, self-discipline, and faith. In late middle-age he is a man in whose character opposing elements complement, rather than contradict, one another. Reflective and enterprising by turns, Malcolm’s thought alternates between reminiscences on past accomplishments and plans for the near future, a process in which he involves Katie:

His seldom speech ran thus two diff’rent ways:
“When I was but a laddie thus I did”;
Or, “Katie, in the Fall I’ll see to build
“Such fences or such sheds about the place;
“And next year, please the Lord, another barn.” (pp. 54-55)

To Max Gordon the taciturn Malcolm seems an immensely forbidding presence, “mighty . . . Self-hewn from rock, remaining rock through all” (p. 42). While Katie uses similar imagery to describe her father’s strength of will, she realizes, as Max does not, that Malcolm’s “grim, grey, somewhat stern” exterior camouflages a doting parent who has provided his daughter with the benefits of education from “city schools [where she] had learn’d the city ways.” In addition to yielding to Katie the sovereignty of the household wherein she wields “her sceptre . . . queenly,” Malcolm has taught his daughter the principles of farm management.

And Malcolm took her through his mighty fields,
And taught her lore about the changing crops;
And how to see a handsome furrow plough’d;
And how to choose the cattle for the mart;
And how to know a fair day’s work when done;
And when to plant young orchards; for he said,
“God sent a lassie, but I need a son —
“Bethankit for His mercies all the same.” (p. 55)

Because of her city education, her experience in housekeeping, and her practical training in running the farm, Katie would seem to be ideally suited to become the wife of a pioneer who could fill the place of the son that Malcolm feels he needs. Katie wants Max to become that filial surrogate, but she understands and shares enough of her father’s intransigence not to broach the matter prematurely. Katie is willing to wait for Max to earn her hand by his toiling alone for years to prepare a suitable home for a woman who has been nurtured in wealth and comfort. Even though she may burst spontaneously into song in praise of true love, she is apparently unwilling to forsake her comfortable position in her father’s household for the rigours of the unsettled west. And while she has promised to do her part by softening her father’s resistance to their marriage, it is clear that Katie’s is by far the easier half of their lovers’ bargain, a pledge that she pursues none too assiduously:

                            . . . she had too much
Of the firm will of Malcolm in her soul
To think of shaking that deep-rooted rock
But hop’d the crystal current of his love
For his one child, increasing day by day,
Might fret with silver lip, until it wore
Such channels thro’ the rock, that some slight stroke
Of circumstance might crumble down the stone. (p 56)

Katie’s patient hope that “the current of his love” will eventually bring Malcolm around to her point-of-view is confidently based on her frequent success in manipulating her father’s affection. In Part One, when Max asks her how she will move her father, Katie replies, “I’ll kiss him and keep still — that way is sure . . . I have often tried” (p. 44).  Time works in Katie’s favour, for while her father grows more doting, Max has sufficient opportunity to prove himself worthy to join the family as husband and son-in-law. In the meantime, while Max chops away at the wilderness, Katie may amuse herself with her new suitor, who, although encouraged by neither Katie nor her father, continues to enjoy Malcolm’s hospitality and his daughter’s company.

    Crawford’s initial portrayal of the suitor Alfred suggests that the poet might not have altogether shared the generally negative opinion of him held by her critics, whose descriptions of Alfred’s character range from a stereotypical villain of a melodrama to “a dark satanic force . . . the antithesis of all that is truly human.37  Between these extremes, critical portraits of Alfred exhibit a gamut of metaphysical, moral, political, and economic peccability. To one commentator he is the “Angel of Death . . . anti-love and anti-progress.”38 Another sees him as “a crafty counsellor,” an atheist, and a sensualist,39 while a third perceives in Alfred the allegorical embodiment of the evils of capitalism.40 Frequent repetition by critics of epithets such as “rapist,” “sensualist,” “devil,” “satanic,” and “villain” has the effect of reducing Alfred’s character to an aggregate of metaphysical and moral simples and, moreover, encourages facile, superficial judgments over close examination of Crawford’s text.

    Alfred is a complex mixture of obliquity and virtue, and, when she introduces him, Crawford puts especial emphasis on his attractiveness — moral as well as sexual:

                                             . . . the azure eyes
And Saxon-gilded locks — the fair, clear face,
And stalwart form that most women love.
And the jewels of some virtues set
On his broad brow. With fires within his soul
He had the wizard skill to fetter down
To that mere pink, poetic, nameless glow,
That need not fright a flake of snow away —
But if unloos’d could melt an adverse rock
Marrow’d with iron, frowning in his way. (p. 56)

The details of Alfred’s physical appearance imply the opposite of villainy. He is blond, handsome, muscular, and powerful. If anything, he is the male counterpart to Katie herself, right down to the azure of his eyes. While he possesses only “some” of the virtues available to the ideal romantic hero, Crawford suggests that his “broad brow” contains ample space for additional gems of goodness. To complement Alfred’s implied potential for moral growth — growth which he in fact achieves by the end of the poem — the poet provides him with a Heathcliff-like capacity for great passion, upon which he exercises the “wizard skill” of self-control.

    Even though Malcolm has misgivings about Alfred, the older man acknowledges that his daughter and her new suitor “make a bonnie pair” and that, since Alfred “knows the ways of men and things,” an eventual match between the two is not altogether out of the question.  Katie, of course, will not be moved in her devotion to Max, and so Alfred’s assets and liabilities as a possible husband are not at issue in her mind. Alfred takes her implied refusals with inward protestations of equanimity, revealing in his first interior monologue that it is love of Malcolm’s money rather than passion for Katie that motivates him to persist in his courting. He expresses his indifference with considerable eloquence:

O, Kate, were I a lover, I might feel
“Despair flap o’er my hopes with raven wings;
“Because thy love is giv’n to other love.
“And did I Love — unless I gain’d thy love,
“I would disdain the golden hair, sweet lips
“Air-blown form and true violet eyes
“Nor crave the beauteous lamp without the flame;
“Which in itself would light a charnel-house. . . . (p. 57)

Even as he asserts his immunity to love, he acknowledges both Katie’s outward attractiveness and her inward beauty.  Furthermore, Alfred’s thinking vacillates on the question of Katie’s love, for although he says he is willing to settle for “lesser treasure than the whole,” he realizes that Katie is neither a “diamond lacking flame” nor a “rose with all its perfumes cast abroad.” Rather she is a “bright consummate blossom,” reminding him of others he was once capable of loving.

                            . . . Gone, long gone, the days
“When love within my soul forever stretch’d
“Fierce hands of flame, and here and there I found
“A blossom fitted for him — all up-fill’d
“With love as with clear dew — they had their hour
“And burn’d to ashes with him. . . (p. 58)

With the discovery of love’s pain and transience, Alfred lost his faith in any sort of immortality, and so with fatalistic logic, he now seeks comfort in the inevitability of oblivion: “There is no Immortality could give/ Such boon as this — to simply cease to be!” (p. 58). Alfred’s pessimism reflects both his personal experience and the spirit of an age in which the Higher Criticism and the discoveries of science were eroding the doctrinal foundations of religious faith. In late nineteenth-century Canada this tendency would be offset somewhat by the emergence of the social gospel; but in Europe writers were pointing the way to the development of literary Naturalism with its deterministic account of universal processes. Alfred’s world view, like Hardy’s, is essentially tragic, and, in at least one instance, Alfred’s diction assumes a distinctly Hardian character:

What was blindly crav’d of purblind Chance
“Life, life eternal — throbbing thro’ all space,
“Is strongly loath’d — and with his face in dust,
“Man loves his only Heaven — six feet of earth! (p. 59)

Brooding, eloquent, passionate, and attractive, Alfred is presented less as an arch-villain than as a disillusioned romantic idealist, whose villainous behaviour results from a dislocation of moral values in an age of social, intellectual, economic, moral, and religious turmoil. An intellectual and spiritual déracinée, Alfred is descended from figures such as Richardson’s Lovelace and Byron’s Manfred, and he is related to Stendahl’s Julien Sorel, Lermantov’s Pechorin, and Turgenev’s Bazarov.41  However, unlike the typical superfluous man of the nineteenth-century continental novel, Alfred remains salvageable; for beneath the morbid rhetoric with which he characterizes his treachery, his better impulses often work against his conscious motives, in one instance prompting him to heroism.

    When Katie falls beneath the logs floating in her father’s mill pond, Alfred leaps without thinking into the pond, dashes aside the “bark’d monsters,” and pulls her to the surface by her hair.  In rescuing Katie, Alfred becomes trapped and seriously injured in the log drive.  All of his care, however, is for Katie, whom he holds toward the warming rays of the sun in order to bring her to consciousness. As he attempts to revive her, his thoughts more closely resemble those of a passionately concerned lover than of a calculating fortune-hunter:

Dead, dead or living? Why, an even chance.
“O lovely bubble on a troub’d sea,
“I would not thou shouldst lose thyself again
“In the black ocean whence thy life emerg’d,
“But skyward steal on gales as soft as love,
“And hang in some bright rainbow overhead
“If only such bright rainbow spann’d the earth. (p. 62)

Whatever he may say to convince himself otherwise, it is obvious that a man who blurts out “‘O Kate!’/ And once again said, ‘Katie! is she dead?’” feels more than a mere proprietary interest in the object of his solicitude.

    Ironically, Katie’s near drowning is caused by her spontaneous impulse to gather the lilies that symbolize the love she shares with Max. Singing a markedly erotic “lily-song” written for her by Max, Katie is lured by the “white smiles” of the “silver lilies” onto the log drive, which she crosses by hopping barefoot from one of her father’s “brown-scaltd monsters” to another. When she reaches “the last great log of all,” she falls into the pond beneath the drive.  The irony of the situation is manifold. Blinded by illusions of love and security, Katie miscalculates the mortal danger inherent in what she clings to most tenaciously: her father’s wealth, as embodied in the logs bearing his (and Max’s) initials, and Max’s love, symbolized by the ironic “lily-song.” She is saved, temporarily at least, by Alfred, whose vision is unclouded by illusions of security and enduring love.  Alfred’s later attempt to take advantage of their altered relationship may as well be motivated by the unconscious feelings he inadvertently reveals during the rescue as by the cupidity he so readily confesses:

So, Katie, tho’ your eyes may say me ‘Nay,’
“My pangs for gold must needs be fed,
“And shall be Katie, if I know my mind.” (p. 59)

In fact Alfred is no more greedy than Max, only more straightforward about coveting Malcolm’s wealth. Max’s avarice is more pernicious because it is unconscious, surfacing in the iconographic imagery with which he describes his dreams and aspirations. Max wants to transmute the base metal of the wilderness into an alloy of wealth and power, and he will cheerfully destroy the face of nature to achieve his goals. By contrast, Alfred’s ambition may be self-serving, self-indulgent, and even selfdestructive, but it poses little threat to the world around him. Unlike the “social-soul’d” Max, Alfred is an isolated, alienated individual, fully conscious of his own insignificance in the face of the powerful forces that shape the destinies of men and nations. At his villainous worst, he is a failure — as the results of his abandonment of the injured Max and the attempted murder-suicide with Katie amply demonstrate. Both of these failures illustrate the individual’s helplessness before the inexorable working of destiny, embodied in the figure of Max, the deluded, self-righteous, and virtually indestructible instrument of history.  The conflict of reflective, agnostic consciousness and the active, credulous will to power and wealth is dramatized in the wilderness confrontation between Alfred and Max.

    At the beginning of Part Four, Crawford juxtaposes the personified North Wind, an object of mockery who “fights with squaws,” “takes the scalps of babes,” and “slays the dead” with Max, wielding his axe against the helpless forest. As Northrop Frye has noted, Max’s song, “Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree,” encourages an ironic reading in the context of the devastation that Crawford has rendered so graphically.42 As such, Crawford’s placement of Max’s song parallels her treatment of lyric sequences in the first three sections of the poem. Alfred’s profound and eloquent rejoinder to the boastful and superficial optimism in “The Song of the Axe” has been noted by both Frye and George Woodcock.43  Woodcock sees Alfred’s speech as the more “telling” account of the condition of men and nations.

Below the roots of palms, and under stones
“Of younger ruins, thrones, tow’rs and cities
“Honeycomb the earth. The high, solemn walls
“Of hoary ruins — their foundings all unknown
“(But to the round-ey’d worlds that walk
“In the blank paths of Space and blanker Chance). . . . (p. 66)

Drawing inferences from geology, biology, astronomy, paleontology, archeology, and the Higher Criticism, Alfred’s argument reverberates with literary echoes from the Renaissance to the nineteenth-century, foreshadowing similar treatment of similar ideas in Hardy, Yeats, Eliot and others. Closer to home, the content and texture of Crawford’s verse in Alfred’s speech and elsewhere in Malcolm’s Katie impinge upon the work of two of her younger compatriots, Charles G.D. Roberts and Duncan Campbell Scott:

Wrecks plunge, prow foremost, down still, solemn slopes,
“And bring their dead crews to as dead a quay:
“Some city built before that ocean grew,
“By silver drops from many a floating cloud,
“By icebergs bellowing in their throes of death
“By lesser seas toss’d from their rocking cups,
“And leaping each to each; by dew-drops flung
“From painted sprays, whose weird leaves and flow’rs
“Are moulded for new dwellers on the earth,
“Printed in the hearts of mountains and of mines. . . . (p. 67)

While Alfred’s perspective is geologic, reducing to futility and insignificance the human details of growth and decay, Max’s sense of time is conditioned by his involvement in the present moment. Alfred meditates on time; Max functions in it, defining it in terms of action. To Max, time is subsumed by history, and history is a dynamic process of growth to which he can sense with exhilaration the contribution he is making by his labours:

See friend,” he cried to one that look’d and smil’d,
“My axe and I — we do immortal tasks —
“We build nations — this my axe and I! (p. 66)

As he labours, time and history merge for Max in an eternal present, wherein the task of building is continuously performed. This eternal flux is transcended only in the cosmic stasis of Max’s daffodil vision, his ideal of love through which he believes he can “Possess the world and feel eternity” (p. 69)

    From his position of detachment, Alfred sees Max’s sense of himself as a builder of eternal nations to be the delusion of a man trapped in the present. Alfred is able, as Max is not, to perceive that building and destroying are the simultaneous effects of a single act, eternally repeating itself in the blind dialectic of history. At the centre of Alfred’s cosmology is the figure of Time, personified as a winged female, who forgets what has occurred as soon as it is past. One after another, civilizations rise and decline, simultaneously created and destroyed by oblivious Time:

Still she forgot her molder’d thrones and kings,
“Her sages and their torches, and their Gods,
“And said, ’This is my birth — my primal day!’

Again she hung her cities on the hills,
“Built her rich towers, crown’d her kings again,

And said, ‘I build for Immortality!’ [As]
“Her vast hand rear’d her tow’rs, her shrines, her thrones;
“The ceaseless sweep of her tremendous wings
“Still beat them down and swept their dust abroad;
“Her iron fingers wrote on mountain sides
“Her deeds and prowess — and her own soft plume
“Wore down the hills! Again drew darkly on
“A night of deep forgetfulness. . . . (p. 68)

It is Alfred’s winged figure of Time, not Max’s cosmic daffodil, that supplies the controlling metaphor for a serious reading of Malcolm’s Katie. The entire text of the poem comprises a simultaneous presentation of contrarieties: the illusion of permanence in the mutability of the temporal, creation as destruction, love as death. In his failure to recognize his own destructiveness, it is Katie’s Max, not Alfred, who takes the side of the devil. This alliance surfaces when Alfred challenges Max’s faith in himself and in Katie. Faced with Alfred’s powerful argument and apparent evidence of Katie’s inconstancy, the desperate Max calls upon Satan for a signal to kill his tormentor. Ironically, it is God, not Satan, who responds by striking Max down.

    In her apparent adaptation of the confrontation scene in Mireille to the requirements of Malcolm’s Katie, Crawford temporarily reverses the roles of the two principle players, assigning an important speech of the suitor Ourrais to Max and the position of the lover Vincent to Alfred. In Mireille Ourrais warns his rival to go away before he, Ourrais, loses his temper and kills Vincent:


Tu veux donc que ma main te ploie
Et te brise comme un roseau,
Et te jette comme un proie
Aux loups affamées de la Crau
. . .
Va-t’en; n’excite pas ma rage
Je te déteste, — je te hais
Votre amour m’irrite et m’outrage
C’est toi qu’elle aime, et je l’aimais
Par le ciel — si tu tiens à vivre
Séparons nous — éloigne-toi
Un transport furieux m’enivre
Je ne suis plus maître de moi
. . .


Quel transport furieux t’enivre?
Séparons-nous, — éloigne toi
Demain si je cessais de vivre
Mireille mourrait avec moi


Va-t’en — vat’en! — Malheur à toi.
[Ourraise strikes Vincent with his trident.]


O Mireille! je meurs pour toi! (p. 19)

Max’s parallel speech responds both to Alfred’s argument and to his claim that he, Alfred, now enjoys Katie’s favour. It is in the latter focus, however, that Max’s speech most resembles that of Ourrais:

Stand back a pace — a too far reaching blow
“Might level your false head with yon prone trunk — 
“Stand back and listen while I say, You lie!
“That is my Katie’s face upon your breast,
“But ’tis my Katie’s love lives in my breast —
“Stand back, I say! my axe is heavy, and
“Might chance to cleave a liar’s brittle skull.
“Your Kate! your Kate! your Kate! — hark, how the woods,
“Mock at your lie with all their woody tongues.
“O silence ye false echoes! not his Kate
“But mine — I’m certain I will have your life!”
“Well, strike, mad fool,” said Alfred, somewhat pale;
“I have no weapon but these naked hands.”

Aye, but,” said Max, “you smote my naked heart!
“O shall I slay him? — Satan, answer me —
“I cannot call on God for answer here.
“O Kate — !” (p. 70)

In Mireille Ourrais’s speech is the direct expression of his jealous anger over Mireille’s love for Vincent. Crawford’s handling of the confrontation scene complicates the situation through Max’s refusal to acknowledge his doubt of Katie’s devotion. The effect of the jealousy is similar, however, as Crawford transforms Ourrais’s “Va-t’en!” into Max’s “Stand back, I say!" The final result of the confrontation is altered in Malcolm’s Katie by divine intervention, a device that allows Max to return to the lover’s position as the recipient of a potentially fatal blow. Vincent’s final “O Mireille!” is echoed in Max’s cry, “O Kate — !"

    Alfred’s first reaction to Max’s accident is intellectual, reasoning that if there were any justice — any reason for faith — he, rather than Max, would have been the one struck down. Up to this point, apparently, Alfred’s doubt has not altogether hardened into disbelief. Now, however, Alfred appears to become convinced of the absence of design or purpose in the development of events: “This seals my faith in deep and dark unfaith.” Interestingly, even as he discards his remaining teleological and moral baggage, he nevertheless retains the imagery of the Christian cosmology in his musing. His “unfaith” is “dark,” and he compares his dedication to the goal of deceiving Katie into marrying him with that of “a fabl’d devil to the soul/ “He longs for with the heat of all hell’s fires” (p. 71). While some readers may detect evidence of diabolism in this inflated language, Alfred maintains his intellectual integrity and the spirit of the Higher Criticism by providing a gloss for his own text: “These myths serve well for simile I see” (p. 72).

    No sooner has Alfred claimed to abandon skepticism for utter faithlessness than his better nature prompts him to behave in a manner contradictory to his thinking. Over a passage of twenty-six lines, he struggles with the impulse to rescue Max, and, even though Alfred is given to hyperbole, the tone of his internal discourse indicates that his abandonment of Max is by no means easily accomplished:

. . . Down, Pity! knock not at my breast,
“Nor grope about for that dull stone my heart;
“I’ll stone thee with it, Pity! Get thee hence,
“Pity, I’ll strangle thee with naked hands. . . . (p. 72)

Alfred’s villainy is cultivated over an impulsively generous nature that continues to rebel against his will despite the “wizard skill” of his self-control. In this situation — similar as it is to Katie’s mishap in Part Three — he can hardly control the Samaritan reflex:

Down, hands! ye shall not lift his fall’n head
“What cords tug at ye? What? Ye’d pluck him up
“And staunch his wounds? There rises in my breast
“A strange, strong giant, throwing wide his arms
“And bursting all the granite of my heart! (p 72)

Finally, ambition overcomes compassion, and Alfred leaves Max to die.

    In the first three parts of Malcolm’s Katie, the ironic presentation of the dark and destructive side of human nature is achieved by arrangement of ambiguous texts within contexts that at once allow for straightforward readings and invite ironic interpretations of the same material. Crawford’s handling of the love-lyrics in the first three sections, for instance, encourages simultaneous contradictory readings that shift almost imperceptibly from positive to negative in a manner resembling the interrelation of figure and ground in a Japanese line drawing. So, a given lyric may contradict the surface plot even as it appears to support it. In Part Four, “The Song of the Axe” receives similar treatment.

    Crawford handles the lyric sequences differently in Part Five. Here, there are two short lyrics framing a dramatic interchange among Malcolm, Katie, and Alfred. The first of the poems is a love-song sung by Katie, the second a lyric commentary on the relationship of love and death. Both poems contain ironic elements, but their irony is intrinsic and plot-related — it does not arise out of the relationship of the lyric with its immediate context. Katie’s song, “Love’s Forget-me-not,” is sung in praise of the constancy of love through the vicissitudes of circumstance. In the second stanza she appears to describe her own situation without realizing that she is doing so.

Love plucks it from the mosses green
  When parting hours are nigh,
And places it love’s palms between,
  With many an ardent sigh;
And bluely up from grassy graves
  In some lov’d churchyard spot,
It glances tenderly and waves
  The dear “Forget-me-not!” (p. 75)

The reader believes, as Katie does not, that Max is dead, and so the reader’s delusion becomes the context in which the ironic poignance of the last four lines is allowed to blossom. This poignance is intensified in the second poem as the link between love and death is expanded to the point of contradicting Katie’s thesis. After Katie finishes her song, Malcolm asks Alfred if, during his recent sojurn in the west, he had met Maxwell Gordon.  Malcolm’s question indicates that he associates Katie’s song with Max’s absence and causes the reader to suspect that Katie’s father may have been aware from the outset of the connection between his daughter and Max. This suspicion is confirmed when Malcolm leaps to the erroneous conclusion that when Alfred refers to Max’s wife, he must be talking about Katie.

    Despite the evidence of Alfred’s false revelations, Katie persists in her belief in Max’s faithfulness. While Katie remains firm, Alfred is betrayed by his own passionate nature, for by the conclusion of Part Five, it is apparent that he has fallen in love:

                               “O Katie, child
“Wilt thou be Nemesis, with yellow hair,
“To rend my breast? for I do feel a pulse
“Stir when I look into they pure-barb’d eyes —
“O, am I breeding that false thing, a heart? (p. 77)

To Alfred, a heart is a “false thing” in that it betrays to an illusion of emotional fulfillment and spiritual transcendence his sense of the vacuity and evanescence in reality. Once again, his nature contradicts his opinions, for the man who believes himself no longer capable of love has begun to feel affections reawaken. Rather than suffer the pain of either love or conscious, Alfred vows to extinguish sensation in what he terms “the soft embrace” of the “Nothingness” beyond death (p. 78).

    Crawford ends Part Five with a lyric poem that acts as a commentary on the relationship between love and death in general and, in particular, on the effect on Alfred of his growing affection for Katie.  The second lyric contradicts both Katie’s “Love’s Forget-me-not” and Max’s ideal of immortal love as an eternally blossoming, self-sustaining daffodil.  True love, says the concluding lyric, is neither eternal nor self-sustaining; it blossoms in the company of cold truth, pain, pity, and death:

But with Love’s rose doth blow
                          Ah, woe! ah, woe!
Truth with its leaves of snow,
And pain and Pity grow
   With Love’s sweet roses on its sapful tree!
      Love’s rose buds not alone,
      But still, still doth own
   A thousand blossoms cypress-hued to see! (p. 79)

The ramifications of this complex view are pushed wider in the subsequent blank-verse sequence with which Crawford introduces Part Six. The passage is set off by quotation marks, creating a sense of its being spoken by an omniscient commentator, similar to choral speeches in Greek tragedy. Sorrow says the voice, a “Dark matrix,” supplies nourishment to strengthen the developing human soul, which may not achieve transcendence “Without the loud, deep clamour of her wail/ The iron of her hands, the biting brine/ Of her black tears” (p. 79). Since sorrow is described as a “dark mother” from which the soul achieves its “last birth,” it seems reasonable to conclude that the dark side of human nature and experience comprise essential and integral features of the universe adumbrated in Malcolm’s Katie.

    On the surface Malcolm’s Katie ends on a note of optimism and hope, but Katie’s final speech is not without elements of equivocation. The final scene of the poem is pastoral and idyllic and features a gathering of Malcolm, Max, Katie, and little Alfred (named for “one who sinn’d and woke/ To sorrow for his sins”) on the “trellis’d porch” of their new home. Encouraged to speak by Malcolm, Max compares the homestead to Eden, Katie to Eve, and, by implication, himself to Adam. In her turn, Katie contradicts what Max has said, suggesting, again by implication, that her husband’s view is deficient.  While she obviously means to compliment Max, she manages instead to reveal his intellectual weakness:

O Adam had not Max’s soul,” she said
“And these wild woods and plains are fairer far
“That Eden’s self. O bounteous mothers they!
“Beck’ning pale starvelings with their fresh, green hands,
“And with their ashes mellowing the earth,
“That she may yield her increase willingly.
“I would not change these wild and rocking woods,
“Dotted by little homes of unbark’d trees
“Where dwell the fleers from the waves of want, —
“For the smooth sward of selfish Eden bowers
“Nor — Max for Adam, if I knew my mind!” (p. 85)

Here, Katie recapitulates the major themes of the surface-text, connecting romantic love with progress and the building of the nation. Katie is able, as Max is not, to conceptualize a way of life that integrates husbandry with preservation of the wilderness so that the new pioneers may enjoy both the harvest of the earth and the beauty of “these wild woods and plains.” Katie’s vision is not without qualifications, however, for not only does her final phrase, “if I knew my mind,” inject a note of ambiguity at the very end of the poem, but it also recalls the now-reformed Alfred’s earlier use of the same phrase to punctuate his determination to achieve his own way with Katie and her father’s fortune. Crawford’s application of the same phrase to only these two characters may have been intended to invite comparisons. If Katie, like Alfred, does not know her mind, then her entire final speech may be read ironically.

    According to Robin Mathews, Malcolm’s Katie is a “moral and optimistic” poem about love. “It is about romantic love, familial love, love of work and virtue, love of the land, love of power and wealth, and love of nation.”44 If, as David West avers, “Mathews’ main argument is incontrovertible,”45 it is valid only on the vulgar level, for Crawford’s subtext constitutes a serious qualification and complication of Mathews’ thesis. At best, Mathews is only partially correct, for Malcolm’s Katie is also a poem about destructiveness, self-deception, exploitation, greed, and the futility of human aspiration and endeavour, all of which contribute to the dark, ironic undercurrent of the poem.


  1. See Lawrence J. Burpee, “Isabella Valancy Crawford,” in his Little Book of Canadian Essays (Toronto: Musson, 1909), p. 2; E.K. Brown, On Canadian Poetry (Toronto: Ryerson, 1943), p. 42; Dorothy Livesay, “The Documentary Poem: A Canadian Genre,” in Contexts of Canadian Criticism, ed. Eli Mandel (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971), pp. 270-71, and “Tennyson’s Daughter or Wilderness Child? The factual and literary background of Isabella Valancy Crawford,” JCF, 2, no. 3 (Summer 1973), p. 165; Roy Daniells, “Crawford, Carman and Scott,” in Literary History of Canada: Canadian Literature in English, 2nd ed., ed. Carl F. Klinck, et al. (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1976), I, 424; Fred Cogswell, “Feminism in Isabella Valancy Crawford’s ’Said the Canoe’,” in The Crawford Symposium, ed. Frank M. Tierney (Ottawa: Univ. of Ottawa Press, 1979), pp. 79-80; and Elizabeth Waterston, “Crawford, Tennyson and the Domestic Idyll,” in The Crawford Symposium, pp. 71-75. See also Crawford, “Malcolm’s Katie,” MS, Lorne Pierce Collection, Queen’s Univ. Archives, p. 2. Crawford was apparently aware of the superficial resemblences between Malcolm’s Katie and The Princess, for she deleted the phrase “sweet and low” from one of Max’s speeches in Part I. It seems that Crawford was conscious of Tennyson’s influence and was striving to overcome it.[back]

  2. Livesay, “The Hunters Twain,” Can.  L., no. 55 (Winter 1973), p. 76, and “The Life of Isabella Valancy Crawford,” in The Crawford Symposium, p. 6.[back]

  3. Published in the Toronto Euening Telegram, 27 October 1882.[back]

  4. See Donald Jay Grout, A Short History of Opera (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1947), I p. 335; and Rene Dumesnil, Histoire illustrée du Théatre Lyrique (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1953), p. 150.[back]

  5. Libretto, Mireille, by Michel Carré and Charles Gounod, ed. M. Variol (New Orleans: M. Variol, 1891), p. 16. Plot synopsis and most quotations are from this text.[back]

  6. Crawford, Malcolm’s Katie, in Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems (Toronto: Thomas Bain and Sons, 1884), p. 42. All quotations from Malcolm’s Katie are based on this text. [back]

  7. Malcolm’s Katie, p. 70.[back]

  8. Smith, “Introduction,” The Book of Canadian Poetry (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1943), p. 15; Brown, p. 42; Rashley, Poetry in Canada (Toronto: Ryerson, 1958), p. 43 Mathews, “ “Malcolm’s Katie’: Love, Wealth, and Nation Building,” SCL, 2, no. 1 (Winter 1977), p. 60; Hughes, “Democratic Vision of’Malcolm’s Katie’,” CV III, I, no. 2 (Fall 1975) p. 44; and Bessai, “The Ambivalence of Love in the Poetry of Isabella Valancy Crawford,” Queen’s Quarterly, 77 (1970), 417.[back]

  9. See Daniells, p. 424; and D.M.R. Bentley’s review of The Crawford Symposium in “Letters in Canada 1979,” UTQ, 49, no. 4 (Summer 1980), pp. 453-455.[back]

  10. Daniells, p. 424.[back]

  11. Bentley, p. 454.[back]

  12. Creative Writing in Canada, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Ryerson, 1961), p. 70.[back]

  13. Ethelwyn Wetherald, “Introduction,” Collected Poems of Isabella Valancy Crawford, ed. J.W. Garvin (1905; rpt. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1972 with additional intro. by James Reaney), p. 16; W.D. Lighthall, “Introduction,” Songs of the Great Dominion, ed. W.D. Lighthall (London: Scott, 1889), p. xxvi; Hector Charlesworth, “The Canadian Girl an appreciative medley,” The Canadian Magazine, 1 (March-October 1893), p. 190; Smith, p. 14; and Pacey, p. 68.[back]

  14. "A Reporter’s Diary,” Toronto Euening Telegram, 14 February 1887; “A Talented Lady Dead,” The Globe (Toronto), 14 February 1887, p. 8; Seranus, “Isabella Valancey [sic] Crawford,” The Week, 4 (24 February 1887), pp. 202-3; and “Editorial,” Arcturus, 19 February 1887, p. 84.[back]

  15. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 18 February 1887, p. 6, and December 8, 1883, p. 242.[back]

  16. Seranus, p. 203; and Reaney, “Introduction,” Collected Poems of Isabella Valancy Crawford, pp. xxii-xxix. [back]

  17. Maud Miller Wilson, “Isabella Valancy Crawford,” The Globe (Toronto), Saturday Magazine section, 15 and 22 April 1905, p. 8; Garvin, “Who’s Who in Canadian Literature: Isabella Valancy Crawford,” Canadian Bookman, 9, no. 5 (May 1927), p. 132 Ross, “ ’Narrative II’ — the unpublished long narrative poem,” in The Crawford Symposium, p. 107; Johnson, “ ’Malcolm’s Katie’ and Hugh and Ion: Crawford’s changing narrative vision,” Canadian Poetry, no. 3 (Fall/Winter 1978), p. 56.[back]

  18. Hughes, p. 45.[back]

  19. The Toronto Evening Telegram, 4 August 1879.[back]

  20. See Robert Alan Burns, “The Intellectual and Artistic Development of Isabella Valancy Crawford,” Diss. Univ. of New Brunswick, 1982, pp. 186-7.[back]

  21. I discovered one of Crawford’s children’s stories entitled “The Good-Natured Bear,” in St. Nicholas: Scribner’s Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls, 4 (December 1876), pp. 135-8.[back]

  22. See Elsie M. Pomeroy, “Isabella Valancy Crawford,” Canadian Poetry, 7 (June 1944), p. 36.[back]

  23. See Pomeroy, Sir Charles G.D. Roberts: a biography (Toronto: Ryerson, 1943), p. 50, and Katherine Hale, “Biographical,” in Isabella Valancy Crawford, Makers of Canadian Literature, gen. ed. Lorne Albert Pierce (Toronto: Ryerson, 1923), p. 10.[back]

  24. Malcolm’s Katie, p. 40. Also see MS, Lorne Pierce Collection. Crawford revised “youthful” in the MS to “well-priz’d” in the published poem, enhancing the reader’s sense of Max’s cupidity.[back]

  25. For the text of “A Wooing,” see “Isabella Valancy Crawford,” in Canadian Poetry, vol. 1, ed. Jack David and Robert Lecker, New Press Canadian Classics (Toronto: General Publishing and ECW Press, 1982), pp. 43-45.[back]

  26. Malcolm’s Katie, p. 40.[back]

  27. Mireille, p. 16.[back]

  28. The Daily Mail (Toronto), 6 November 1874.[back]

  29. Michel Carré et Charles Gounod, Mireille, opéra tiré de poéme de Frédéric Mistral, partition chant et piano (Paris: Choudens, 1901), pp. 31-8.[back]

  30. See MS, Lorne Pierce Collection. In the published version, Crawford revised a simpler, more straightforward second stanza, thus enhancing the effects of illusion and ambiguity. Following are the lines from the MS: “Above, below, Eve’s rosy bar — / Above, below her darling star — / No ripple his bright flame to mar.”[back]

  31. Old Spookses’ Pass p. 130.[back]

  32. See Hughes, p. 38, and Margo Dunn, “The Development of Narrative in the Writing of Isabella Valancy Crawford,” MA thesis Simon Fraser 1975, p. 19.[back]

  33. Catharine Parr Traill, The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters from the Wife of an Emigrant Officer, Illustrative of the Domestic Economy of British North America (1836; rpt. Toronto: Coles, 1971), p. 13.[back]

  34. Traill, p. 197.[back]

  35. See Brown, pp. 44-5. Brown characterizes the extravagance of the daffodil image as “utter lawless wildness.” See also James Reaney, “Isabella Valancy Crawford,” in Our Living Tradition, 2nd and 3rd series, ed. R.L. McDougall (Toronto: Carlton Univ. Press, 1959), pp. 277-84.  Reaney takes the daffodil out of context, making it more grotesque by attributing the meaning of the poem and indeed of all Crawford’s work to this single image.  Reaney does, however, acknowledge the dark side of Crawford’s meaning.[back]

  36. For the text of “The Roman Rose-Seller,” see David and Lecker, pp. 40-41.[back]

  37. Reaney, p. 285; and Hughes, p. 40.[back]

  38. Bessai, p. 416.[back]

  39. Mathews, p. 56.[back]

  40. Hughes, p. 44.[back]

  41. Bazarov is a nihilist. See David S.  West, “‘Malcolm’s Katie’: Alfred as nihilist not rapist,” SCL, 3, no 1 (Winter 1978), pp. 137-41.[back]

  42. Frye, The Bush Garden: Essays on the Canadian Imagination (Toronto: Anansi, 1971), p. 134.[back]

  43. Frye, pp. 151-2; and Woodcock, “The Journey of Discovery: nineteenth-century narrative poets,” in Colony and Confederation: Early Canadian Poets and Their Background (Vancouver: Univ. of British Columbia Press, 1974), p. 40.[back]

  44. Mathews, p. 60.[back]

  45. West, p. 141.[back]