A Celebration of Women Writers

"Dr. J. D. Logan" [Dr. John Daniel Logan] (1869-1929) by John Garvin, (1872-1934)
Garvin, John William, ed. Canadian Poets. Toronto, Canada: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, Publishers, 1916. pp. 265-272.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 265]

bald man in suit

Dr. J. D. Logan

The writer says in his Preface that his work is no better and no worse than what might readily be accomplished by any man of education and literary instincts. Thus it will be seen that Dr. Logan does not claim to be a poet. But what he writes is so essentially national, so strong in spirit, and deals so closely with what is good material for poetry that 'Songs of the Makers of Canada' is the most authentic little book of Canadian poetry that we have this year. . . . . Leaving discussion of Canadian nationalism for the moment to one side, where else can one find poetry which is as fair an attempt to express Niagara, as Dr. Logan's poem, 'The Over-Song of Niagara'? The individual finds at Niagara what he brings there, but this searching out of a mood is far nearer the expression of the indescribable Niagara than the mere exclamations of wonder which precipitate writers generally call the poetry of Niagara.–MARJORIE MACMURCHY in the 'Canadian Courier.'

[Page 266]

AN outstanding figure in present-day Canadian literary circles is John Daniel Logan, M.A., Ph.D.,–outstanding as a writer of original and scholarly treatises on academic subjects, as a critic of literature and of music, and as a poet. Now, Sergeant Logan, of the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade, and 'Brigade Historian and Keeper of the Seals.'

Dr. Logan was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on May 2nd, 1869,–the eldest son of Charles and Elizabeth Gordon (Rankin) Logan. He was educated at Pictou Academy, at Dalhousie University, and at Harvard University. From Dalhousie he graduated with highest honours in Philosophy and with the degree of B.A., in 1893, and was granted his M.A. the following year. While engaged in postgraduate work at Harvard, he had the distinction to win the Derby, Price Greenleaf and Thayer scholarships, and to receive the degrees of A.M. and Ph.D. The latter degree was conferred in 1896.

During the next five years he was a practical educator, holding the Principalship of Hampton Academy, New Hampshire, in 1898, and for the remaining four years, the Professorship of English and Philosophy, in the State University of South Dakota.

Retiring from the teaching profession, he was employed for several years as advertising specialist for Siegel, Cooper & Co. of Chicago and New York.

In 1908-10, he was literary and music critic for the Sunday World, Toronto, and later was a member of the staff of the Toronto Daily News.

The following are Dr. Logan's principal publications: The Structural Principles of Style, 1900; Preludes, Sonnets and Other Verses, 1906; The Religious Function of Comedy, 1907; Quantitative Punctuation, 1907; Democracy, Education, and the New Dispensation, 1908; The Making of the New Ireland, 1909; Songs of the Makers of Canada, and Other Homeland Lyrics, 1911; and Insulters of Death, 1916.

Last winter Dr. Logan delivered a series of lectures on Canadian Literature, in Acadia University, Wolfville, N.S., the first of the kind ever delivered in a Canadian University.

The Great War and his enlistment as a soldier have inspired this brilliant author to write a number of new poems, notably 'Timor Mortis' which is striking in conception and treatment and charged with an unusual depth and intensity of feeling.

[Page 267]

The Over-Song of Niagara

WHY stand ye, nurslings of Earth, before my gates,
  Mouthing aloud my glory and my thrall?
Are ye alone the playthings of the fates,
  And only ye o'ershadowed with a pall?
Turn from this spectacle of strength unbound–
  This fearful force that spends itself in folly!
Turn ye and hark above the organ-sound
  My Over-song of Melancholy!
    "I rush and roar
    Along my shore,–
      I go sweeping, thundering on;
    Yet my days, O man,
    Are but as a span,
      And soon shall my strength be gone!
    My times are measured
    In whose hand I am treasured,
      (Think not of thy little day!)
    Though I rush and roar
    Along my shore,
      I am passing away–
        Passing away!

    "The sun and the moon
    They too shall soon
      Sink back into eternal Night:
    All earth and the sea
    Shall cease to be,
      And the stars shall melt in their flight!
    Their times are measured
    In whose hand they are treasured,
      (Think not of thy little day!)
    The celestial throng
    Chant my Over-song,–
      'Passing away,–
        Passing away!
Then stand not, nurslings of Earth, before my gates,
  Mouthing aloud my glory and my thrall:
Not ye alone are playthings of the fates,

[Page 268]

Nor only ye o'ershadowed with a pall!
  But hark to my song
  As I sweep along,
    Thundering my organ-tone–
  "O vain is all Life,
  O vain is all Strife,
    And fruitless the Years that have flown!
  As the Worst; so the Best–
  All haste to their rest
    In the void of the Primal Unknown.

Cartier: Dauntless Discoverer

(Sailed Westward, 1534,1535,1541)

HAIL, Master Mariner of Sainte Malo!
Whose name hath been a star for centuries,
Why ventured thou thrice o'er tempestuous seas,
In ships antique and frail? Didst thou then know
The greater issue of thy bold emprise
And trust an unseen providential hand
To guide thee westward to an opulent land
Wherein a mighty nation would arise?

O bold Sea-Rover, instrument of God,
Whose occult purposes were wrought through thee,
A grateful people hail thy name, and laud
Thy dauntless spirit of discovery!
Thy glory sure, rest, Rover, rest, while blow
The winds in requiem round Sainte Malo!

Champlain: First Canadian

(Founded Quebec, 1608)

WISE Colonist who in this storied place,
With wisdom prescient of thy pregnant deed,
Cast forth the sparsate grains of fruitful seed,
Whence sprang a virile and a patriot race:
Thy aims were not to found a merchantry
Enthralled by vulgar gain; but thy just mind,
Inspired with love of thy benighted kind,
Raised here the throne of Christian empery.

[Page 269]

Intrepid, constant, nobly pure and strong
First citizen of Canada's domain,
Behold this ancient city is thy fane
And thy compatriots raise thy name in song.
Look downward from thy lofty resting-place
And mark the regnancy of thy just ways.

Laval: Noble Educator

(Founded Quebec Seminary, 1663)

LAVAL, High Priest of Knowledge, who first scanned
The years to come, and saw the pow'rs that lay
Within the docile hearts thy truth should sway,–
Whose work is puissant still upon this land,–
Thou wast the Spirit's patient paragon
In those far, pristine, mercenary days
When thou alone wast master of the ways
That lead into the vale of Avalon.

Lo, now a people learned in all the arts
Greet thee to-day across the distant vale
Of Truth, where dwells obscure the Holy Grail.
And tho they commerce oft upon the marts
Of specious gain, they look beyond the mist
To thee, their first great Educationist.

Brock: Valiant Leader

(Fell at Queenston Heights, 1812)

VALIANT leader of the little band
That, fearless, forward rushed to victory,
Tho far outnumbered by the enemy,
And, daring death, saved our Canadian land,–
What honours can we pay the noble name
Of one who held as naught th' invaders' art
Of war,–whose glory hath become a part
For evermore of our Canadian fame?

Lo, on the looming crown of that ascent
Where thy life ceased, a loyal host hath reared
To thee–whose patriot heart was pure, nor feared,–

[Page 270]

A high commemorative monument!
Still is thy memory green who fell to save,
Still, Brock, art thou the bravest of our brave!

Winifred Waters

WINIFRED WATERS, when I look on you now,–
With the sweet peace of God on your beautiful brow
As you lie lily-white in your lone lethal bed,–
I will conjure your spirit, sit here at your head,
And talk to you, dear, whom I lost, and recall
Our vows when I swooned to the ineffable thrall
Of your eyes that once rivalled the jewels of Night,
Of your kisses that dropped more delicious and light
Than the rose-leaves that perfume the drowsy June air,
Of the glorious gold in your hyacinth hair,
And the treasures of love that we pledged for the days
When our souls should discover Earth's winsomest ways.

O Winifred Waters, mellifluous name
That enamored my soul as rare music, I came
To the wells of Love's wine, and I drank there elate,
Then I joyed daily forth, till an untoward fate
Snapped the cords that enchained us, heart unto heart.
So I passed to the world. You, cloistered apart
In the lonely-celled nunnery of unchanging grief,
Awaited Time's advent with his mortal relief,
Till you drooped like a sun-famished lily, and died.
But I am come, dear, at length, and here by your side
I commune with your spirit while I look on you now,
With the sweet peace of God on your beautiful brow.
Lo, I kiss your cold hands; I warm them with tears
And possess you again after long widowed years.

O Winifred Waters, I re-pledge you above
Your casket, and find there the Treasury of Love.

Wind o' the Sea

O WANDERING minstrel, wild Wind o' the Sea,
That knowest the innermost being of me
Who love thy rude sport with the measureless brine,
And whose spirit is wayward and vagrant as thine,–

[Page 271]

O wandering minstrel, sad Wind o' the Sea,
That learnest world-secrets by swift errantry,
Blow hither to me o'er the wide Eastern main
And tell me what meaneth the poignant refrain
Of surges that moan like sad souls in their sleep,
And those shuddering shadows that darken the deep.
  Blow, wild Wind o' the Sea!
  Blow, sad Wind o' the Sea!
And speed with thy lay to thy lorn devotee.

Then the Sea-wind sang forth: 'I blow from afar
The ocean's accompaniment to the war
Of the beast and the god that dwell in thy soul,
Forever at strife for the gain of the whole
Of thy manhood's estate, of thy love and desire,
So thou sink to the one; to the other aspire.
And the deep, dark, shuddering shadows,' he shrilled,
'Are the planes of thy life which Destiny willed–
The devilish depths of thy sensual hours
When the beast in thy soul thralls thy senses and pow'rs–
The shadowy heights of thy consecrate days
When the god in thy soul is lord of thy ways.'

Thus ruthlessly sang the wild Wind o' the Sea
That learnest soul-secrets by swift errantry.
  Ah, wild Wind o' the Sea!
  Ah, sad Wind o' the Sea!
That revealest the innermost being of me.

Timor Mortis

'For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother . . . . .
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here.'

King Henry V–Act IV, sc. 3 (King's speech prior to the battle of Agincourt).

I WEND my ways with one dire dread
Now daily in my heart:
The fear of death obsesses me–
The fear that I may pass
Too soon for my desiring eyes to see

[Page 272]

The English camps, and for my feet to tread
The English green-sward grass;
That I, who've heard my God's, my King's, my Country's claims
And, though belated, have at length begun
A larger life of holier aims
Than was my wont, may suddenly depart
This shattered world to utter oblivion,
Ere I, in Christian chivalry,
With brave, devoted comrades dauntlessly have stood face to the foe
On Flanders' fatal fields and struck a single blow
For man's dear brotherhood and world-wide liberty,
Or ere, upon the blood-steeped slopes
Of France, I've met–mine eyes afront, my soul quite undismayed–
The Hunnish cannons' fearful fusilade
Or done my share to still the Hunnish hopes,
And thus to leave secure, ev'n if by my poor martyrdom,
A happier heritage to generations yet to come.
Dear God, oh, privilege me the fullest bloom
Of vital-strength, that I may pay the price
For my too selfish, easeful days; spare me to live
That I, if it should be Thy will, may sacrifice
The meagre all I now can give,
And, falling, lie obscurely laid within a nameless tomb.
Perchance, round where mine unknown grave may be,
Unshaded by Canadian maples, unsung by winds from my Acadian sea,
I shall in spirit-state revisit foreign slope or plain
On which I fell, and there aloft descry
The Flag of England still flaunting victory to the sky,
'Neath where the hellish holocaust once swept amain,
And I shall know I died not in dishonour nor in vain,
But that I may, at home, in peace, untried, yield up my breath–
This is my direst dread, my fear, of thee, O Death!


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom