This volume established Isabella Valancy Crawford as one of Canada's principal poets. Coupled with an introductory collage of viewpoints and reactions to her work by James Reaney its provides a vivid glimpse into the literary past of this country.
Although her poetry reflects the patterns of her time, Isabella Valancy Crawford was able to accept the raw and vigorous Canadian landscape on its own terms. She was the first of our poets for whom it became the setting for struggle, passion, love, and death. She celebrated the young land with an imagery enriched by allusions to North American Indian lore reflected in such lines as these:
From his far wigwam sprang the strong North Wind
And rushed with war-cry down the steep ravine,
And wrestled with the giants of the woods;
And with his ice-club beat the swelling crests
Of the deep water courses into death.
'These verses bear the stamp of genius and show a true poetic instinct,' said a critic in The Canadian Magazine in 1895. The poetry of Isabella Valancy Crawford forms a vital part of the body of Canadian writing.
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About the Author
Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850-1887) was born in Dublin in 1850 and came with her family to Ontario as a small child. After some years in Peterborough she moved to Toronto and endeavoured to make a living by contributing poetry and prose to leading English, American, and Canadian journals. She died in Toronto in 1887.
James Reaney (1926-2008) was a member of the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario and was well known as a poet, playwright, and critic.
Douglas Lochhead (1922-2011) was a professor emeritus of Mount Allison University.