By Gerald Lynch
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Extra resources for Bliss Carman: A Reappraisal
This poem is one in which the speaker addresses a moth, a tiny summer creature caught by a December frost, appearing almost dead as it rests numbly on the window pane. It's called an ephemeron because its life is only a day, or at least a very short span, like the speaker's own. The speaker calls the moth "brother," thus recognizing the kinship of man and moth. " Although the man plays an almost godlike part in the miracle, the double use of "little" applied to the human suggests the modesty of the speaker.
There is no settlement. Carman hates partings, but he is always parting. The Janus-faced character of'' Low Tide on Grand Pre," its poignant alterity (communion/isolation, joy/grief), marks Carman's oeuvre. It modulates at times from a calm acceptance of mutability to an exuberant complicity to a boastful identification, an eerie, because both ominous and triumphant, ecstasy. " —"The Great Return" In the beginning God made man Out of the wandering dust, men say; And in the end his life shall be A wandering wind and blown away.
Strangely enough, W. H. Auden has something relevant to say relating to feelings about Carman: Time that is intolerant of the brave and innocent, 24 and indifferent in a week to a beautiful physique, Worships language and forgives everyone by whom it lives . . Bliss Carman is an integral part of the history of Canadian writing. Beyond that, he lives for me as incantation; and I can't possibly escape him even if I wanted to—and I don't want to. His music shadow is in my head—"The Shambling Sea," "Make Me Over Mother April," "The Nancy's Pride," and so on.