A Celebration of Women Writers

"L. M. Montgomery" [Lucy Maud Montgomery] (1874-1942) by John Garvin, (1872-1934)
Garvin, John William, ed. Canadian Poets. Toronto, Canada: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, Publishers, 1916. pp. 353-358. *[The page numbers match those given below, but page 353-354 is bound backwards in the original copy, page 354 preceding 353.]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 353]

L. M. Montgomery

Those familiar with Miss Montgomery's work as novelist are not surprised that she has also written a volume of poetry. One with her joyous outlook on life, vivid imagination, instinct for words and facility in expression, could not help being a poet. More than that, she has lived nearly all her life in Prince Edward Island, where the fairies are said to live. In truth, Miss Montgomery was a poet long before she began to write prose; indeed, it is doubtful if she has ever been anything else, for Anne Shirley is essentially a creature of sentiment, of imagination, and of those qualities of heart and brain which are the products of the poetic mind. Her verse is quite as perfect as her prose, though without its human touch; and her lyrics, especially those dealing with the smiling aspects of her native province, its fragrant fields of red earth and the 'blue sea coming up on every side,' are of rare quality, delicate, lilting and full of music. –E. J. HATHAWAY.

[Page 354]

IT was in the Fall of 1908 that the editor of this volume read Anne of Green Gables, by a new author, L. M. Montgomery. The first edition was just out. The book provided a fresh delight, for Anne had a new and indescribable charm, and it seemed to him that the book must sell in tens of thousands. It has sold in hundreds of thousands, and its immediate successor, Anne of Avonlea, 1909, has had almost as phenomenal a sale. Few, however, have known that this brilliant portrayer and interpreter of life in her native island, is a writer of verse of distinctive quality, particularly the poems that picture the sea and the sturdy, ardent fisher folk.

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, but lived from her infancy in Cavendish, of the same province. Her father was Hugh John Montgomery, of Park Corner, P.E.I. a son of the Hon. Donald Montgomery, 'Senator,' and her mother, Clara Woolner Macneill, of Cavendish, a great-granddaughter of the Hon. William Macneill, 'Speaker.' Hector Macneill, the minor Scottish poet, author of the popular lyrics, 'I Lo'ed Ne'er a Laddie but Ane,' 'Saw Ye My Wee Thing,' and 'Come Under My Plaidie,' was a first cousin of her great-great-grandfather.

Until sixteen years of age, she attended the 'district school' in Cavendish, and then went to Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown, for a year, taking the course for a First-Class Teacher's License. Later, she attended for one winter, Dalhousie College, Halifax, taking special courses in English and in languages.

To supply the eager demand, six other books have quickly followed the first two: Kilmeny of the Orchard, 1910; The Story Girl, 1911; Chronicles of Avonlea, 1912; The Golden Road, 1913; Anne of the Island, 1915; and The Watchman and Other Poems (McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart), 1916.

In 1911, Miss Montgomery was married to the Rev. Ewan Macdonald, Presbyterian Minister at Leaskdale, Ontario, and is now the mother of two boys.

Shortly after Anne of Green Gables was published, the author received a communication from the secretary of Mark Twain, telling her that the latter had just sent a letter to the actor, Francis Wilson, in which he said: Anne of Green Gables is the sweetest creation of child life yet written.

[Page 355]

When the Dark Comes Down

WHEN the dark comes down, oh, the wind is on the sea
With lisping laugh and whimper to the red reef's threnody,
The boats are sailing homeward now across the harbour bar
With many a jest and many a shout from fishing grounds afar.
So furl your sails and take your rest,
Ye fisher folk so brown,
For task and quest are ended when the dark comes down.

When the dark comes down, oh, the landward valleys fill
Like brimming cups of purple, and on every landmark hill
There shines a star of twilight that is watching evermore
The low, dim-lighted meadows by the long, dim-lighted shore,
For there, where vagrant daisies weave the grass a silver crown,
The lads and lassies wander when the dark comes down.

When the dark comes down, oh, the children fall asleep,
And mothers in the fisher huts their happy vigils keep;
There's music in the song they sing and music on the sea,
The loving, lingering echoes of the twilight's litany,
For toil has folded hands to dream, and care has ceased to frown,
And every one's a lyric when the dark comes down.

Sunrise Along Shore

ATHWART the harbour lingers yet
The ashen gleam of breaking day,
And where the guardian cliffs are set
The noiseless shadows steal away;
But all the winnowed eastern sky
Is flushed with many a tender hue,
And spears of light are smiting through
The ranks where huddled sea-mists fly.

Across the ocean, wan and gray,
Gay fleets of golden ripples come,
For at the birth hour of the day
The roistering, wayward winds are dumb.

[Page 356]

The rocks that stretch to meet the tide
Are smitten with a ruddy glow,
And faint reflections come and go
Where fishing boats at anchor ride.

All life leaps out to greet the light–
The shining sea-gulls dive and soar,
The swallows wheel in dizzy flight,
And sandpeeps flit along the shore.
From every purple landward hill
The banners of the morning fly,
But on the headlands, dim and high.
The fishing hamlets slumber still.

One boat alone beyond the bar
Is sailing outward blithe and free,
To carry sturdy hearts afar
Across those wastes of sparkling sea,
Staunchly to seek what may be won
From out the treasures of the deep,
To toil for those at home who sleep
And be the first to greet the sun.

Off to the Fishing Ground

THERE'S a piping wind from a sunrise shore
Blowing over a silver sea,
There's a joyous voice in the lapsing tide
That calls enticingly;
The mist of dawn has taken flight
To the dim horizon's bound,
And with wide sails set and eager hearts
We're off to the fishing ground.

Ho, comrades mine, how that brave wind sings
Like a great sea-harp afar!
We whistle its wild notes back to it
As we cross the harbour bar.
Behind us there are the homes we love
And hearts that are fond and true,
And before us beckons a strong young day
On leagues of glorious blue.

[Page 357]

Comrades, a song as the fleet goes out,
A song of the orient sea,
We are the heirs of its tingling strife,
Its courage and liberty!
Sing as the white sails cream and fill,
And the foam in our wake is long,
Sing till the headlands black and grim
Echo us back our song!

Oh, 'tis a glad and heartsome thing
To wake ere the night be done
And steer the course that our fathers steered
In the path of the rising sun.
The wind and welkin and wave are ours
Wherever our bourne is found,
And we envy no landsman his dream and sleep
When we're off to the fishing ground!

The Old Man's Grave

MAKE it where the winds may sweep
Through the pine boughs soft and deep,
And the murmur of the sea
Come across the orient lea,
And the falling raindrops sing
Gently to his slumbering.

Make it where the meadows wide
Greenly lie on every side,
Harvest fields he reaped and trod,
Westering slopes of clover sod,
Orchard lands where bloom and blow
Trees he planted long ago.

Make it where the starshine dim
May be always close to him,
And the sunrise glory spread
Lavishly around his bed,
And the dewy grasses creep
Tenderly above his sleep.

[Page 358]

Since these things to him were dear
Through full many a well-spent year,
It is surely meet their grace
Should be on his resting-place,
And the murmur of the sea
Be his dirge eternally.

The Old Home Calls

COME back to me, little dancing feet that roam the wide world o'er,
I long for the lilt of your flying steps in my silent rooms once more;
Come back to me, little voices gay with laughter and with song,
Come back, little hearts beating high with hopes, I have missed and mourned you long.

My roses bloom in my garden walks all sweet and wet with the dew,
My lights shine down on the long hill road the waning twilights through,
The swallows flutter about my eaves as in the years of old,
And close about me their steadfast arms the lisping pine trees fold.

But I weary for you at morn and eve, O children of my love,
Come back to me from your pilgrim ways, from the seas and plains ye rove,
Come over the meadows and up the lane to my door set open wide,
And sit ye down where the red light shines from my welcoming fire-side.

I keep for you all your childhood dreams, your gladness and delights,
The joy of days in the sun and rain, the sleep of care-free nights;
All the sweet faiths ye have lost and sought again shall be your own,
Darlings, come to my empty heart–I am old and still and alone!

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom