Essays and Reviews
by Terry Whalen
My Escape Into Poetry*
Charles Roberts occupied the chair of English in King's
College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, I was one of the foreign
examiners in his subject and a frequent visitor at his
home. Windsor is not far from Grand Pre, and I spent
many happy vacations in the lovely Evangeline country.
Of all the places I have known, none is more enchanting
in its peaceful and unspoiled serenity than Grand Pre
was in those years. In that beautiful land of great
tides and wide meadows and comfortable quiet homes among
miles of orchards, there was always something magical
and charming which touched one with content and gladness.
Or perhaps it is only because we were young and happy,
that the place must seem forever blessed.
was when I was beginning to write verses, and the lines
called "Low Tide on Grand Pre" were composed
in one of those summers. In the Autumn of 1886 I went
to Harvard where I was to have a couple of years of
post-graduate work in English and philosophy. I had
the idea then of becoming a teacher of English literature,
but the notion doesn't seem to have been strong enough
to survive. I was too interested in the brilliant Harvard
philosophers to be wholly engrossed in English letters,
as one would have to be, to be a scholar and a teacher.
And then too, writing began to be interesting. I sent
the Grand Pre poem to "The Atlantic" and it
was accepted by Mr. T.B. Aldrich. Also an opening presented
itself for editorial work in New York. I went to a desk
in the old INDEPENDENT office early in 1890. The first
edition of "Low Tide on the Grand Pre and other
Lyrics" appeared not very long afterward, and that
was the end of professional ambitions.
Escape Into Poetry," Winnipeg Free Press,
and simultaneously in Saturday Night, Nov. 19,