An Elegy" is Bliss Carman's "most ambitious
work" of the eighteen eighties (Gundy in Carman,
Letters 25) and arguably his most complex and
important poem of the period preceeding the publication
of Low Tide on Grand Pré. A Book of Lyrics
(1893). Written to commemorate the death of Matthew
Arnold on April 15, 1888, it is a pastoral elegy in
the tradition that Charles G.D. Roberts had earlier
placed on view in one of his finest literary essays
Elegies" ) and in the Introduction
to his edition of P.B. Shelley's Alastor and Adonais
(1902). According to the available evidence, Carman
envisaged "Corydon" as a poem in three parts
entitled "Death in April," "Midsummer
Land," and "Autumn Guard," each of which
would be furnished with an epigraph from another pastoral
elegy and "preceded and followed by a lyric interlude"
(see Letters 26). Probably because the third
part of the poem, the enigmatically titled "Autumn
Guard," was never finished (see Letters
26, 28, 32), the scheme never came to fruition. However,
the first part, "Death in April," was published
in the April 1889 number of The Atlantic Monthly
(Boston), the second, as "Corydon: An Elegy,"
in the March 1890 number of The Universal Review
(London), and three of its lyric interludes entitled
"Stir," "Ad Vesperum," and "E
Tenebris" survive, the first in the January 25,
1889 issue of The Critic (Halifax) and the
other two after "April in the Hills" in what
are probably the trial sheets for "a limited edition
of seventy-five copies" that Carman intended to
have published "at [his] own expense" in Fredericton
(Letters 26). The fact "Corydon: An Elegy"
was poorly reviewed in such influential British periodicals
as The Spectator (London) and The Academy
(London) (see Miller 62) may also help to explain Carman's
failure to complete his pastoral elegy and his decision
not to include even "Death in April" in By
the Aurelian Wall and Other Elegies (1898).
With the exception
of the epigraphs, which are taken from the texts that
are here grouped for convenience under the title "Corydon:
An Elegy" are those contained in the publications
and trial sheets referred to above and in the Works
discussion of "Corydon: An Elegy," see my
The Confederation Group of Canadian Poets, 1880-1897.
Cited in the Introduction
Carman, Bliss. "Corydon: An Elegy." The Universal
Review (London) 5 (Nov 1889): 425-37.
"Death in April." Atlantic Monthly
63 (April 1889): 458-62.
Letters. Ed. H. Pearson Gundy. Montreal and
Kingston: McGill-Queen's UP, 1981.
Rufus Hathaway Collection, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton,
The Critic (Halifax) 6.4 (Jan 25, 1889):
Muriel. Bliss Carman: Quest and Revolt. St.
John's: Jesperson, 1985.