Robert Service is one of my favorite Canadian poets. Many of us have had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on your feelings regarding poetry) to study one of his more well known works "The Cremation of Sam McGee". Service's poems are so raw, so visceral. A true depiction of the blend between internal and external influences. Following is an excerpt I quite enjoyed, written by Robert Service, from "Sunshine".
She lies within an icy vault;
It glitters like a cave of salt.
All marble-pure and angel-sweet
With candles at her head and feet,
Under the ermine robe she lies.
I kiss her hands, I kiss her eyes:
"Come back, come back, O Love, I pray
Into the house, the house of clay!
Answer my kisses soft and warm
Nestle again within my arm.
Come! for I know that you are near;
Open your eyes and look, my dear.
Just for a moment break the mesh;
Back from the spirit leap to flesh.
Weary I wait; the night is back;
Love of my life, come back, come back!"
I was having an interesting discussion with a colleague the other day regarding some of the defining factors of Canadian literature. We had both noticed throughout our various studying and pleasure reading that Canadian authors often define their work with reference to their individual (or their characters') experiences of our climate. Canadian literature often discusses the seasons, the weather, and the elements, sometimes in very great detail. Not only do with reference these natural factors, more often they directly relate to the theme of the piece. "The Cremation of Sam McGee", for example, features a tough character, with a cold empty heart, hardened by his lack of companionship and constant surrender to his survival instinct. Service uses the harsh northern climate, where the this man has learned to survive and become accustomed to, to parallel the condition of his heart. This is just one example. Has anyone else noticed a similar pattern?
*Tomorrow, another favorite poem (or two), accompanied by one of my own.*