Bliss Carman's Letters to Margaret Lawrence 1927-1929

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley

Assisted by Margaret Maciejewski

Letter 3

Twilight Park1

Haines Falls, N.Y.

28. July. 1927



Dear Margaret:


As is known unto all men (and some women) I am a most delinquent correspondent. Not necessarily evil-disposed nor entirely oblivious, as may appear.

Before I answer the business part of your welcome letter, let me tell you it is always a pleasure to hear from you, and if you think about me often, that may account for the frequent illuminations of joy when I think of your written missives and wonder when another will arrive!

But, dear person, I pray you be not deluded into imagining Summer is lazy in the Catskills. Of recent years it is my only chance for creative work (so called). My loafing season is when I am reading in Canada and meeting delightful people—Editors of great Presses,2 Assistant Editors, &c!

By all means use "The Ships of Yule"3 and "Vagabond Song".4 As a matter of courtesy, to say the least, you should ask Mr. McClelland5 also, as he publishes them in Canada. Tell him I would be glad of his concurrence.

No, no Muskoka for me this year.6 And I miss the canoeing—and other things. Also I shall miss even the briefest passage through Toronto, being yours to the end of the page




Have you seen The Delineator for July?

Rip Van Winkle slept near here for 20 years. But he was no invitation. The moral is: If you are a lady, never sleep unless you wish to be wakened.7

  1. Twilight Park was a cottage community near the resort town of Haines Falls in the Catskill Mountains in Southeastern New York State: Carman spent most of his summers there from 1897 onwards. (See also Letter 17 n.2.) [back]

  2. The Ryerson Press had its origins in the Methodist Book Room, a publishing company founded by the Methodist Church in Toronto in 1829. The name Ryerson Press was adopted in 1919 in honour of its first editor, Egerton Ryerson. Since 1920, its editor had been Lorne Pierce (see Letter 34 n.6). [back]

  3. First published in the Delineator in February, 1909 and subsequently in Echoes from Vagabondia (1912). [back]

  4. First published in the Bookman in November 1895 and subsequently in More Songs from Vagabondia (1896). [back]

  5. John McClelland (1877-1968), the Scottish-born co-founder, with Frederick Goodchild, in 1906, of McClelland and Goodchild Limited, the Toronto publishing company that became McClelland and Stewart in 1918. McClelland and Stewart had been Carman’s Canadian publishers since 1921. [back]

  6. Carman is referring to the Muskoka Assembly or Canadian Chautauqua Institution, a summer school held every year between 1920 and 1931 at the Epworth Inn on Tobin’s Island, Lake Rosseau, Ontario. The brainchild of the Rev. C.S. Applegarth and other Methodist ministers from the Toronto area who had attended the original Chautauqua, a summer cultural and religious program on Lake Chautauqua, New York, the Canadian Chatauqua aimed to "give leadership in developing a Canadian culture and in assisting...people to become less rather than more American in their viewpoints... Many outstanding musicians, literary personalities and religious leaders assisted, including...Sir Gilbert Parker...Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, Wilson MacDonald, Edwin J. Pratt, J.W. Bengough...Jean Blewitt, Dr. Albert Durrant Watson, Marshall Saunders, Mrs.  Florence  Livesay...Katharine  Hale,...W.H.  Hewlett...Ernest Shildrick...Rev. S.D. Chown, Rev. Salem Bland...Dr. D.D. McKenzie, and Dr. C.J.L. Bates. The stage for A Little Theatre in the Woods was built by the technical staff of Hart House [Toronto] and during each season dramatics were encouraged, and by having amateurs staging Canadian pageants which typified great events in Canadian history a knowledge of early life in this country was made available"(Wigwassan Lodge—After 20 Years [1952]; and see John Coldwell Adams, Sir Charles God Damn: the Life of Sir Charles G.D. Roberts [Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1986], p. 135). During "Poetry Week" at the beginning of August, Canadian poets were engaged to lecture and read their work. Carman attended in 1924 (for the first time) and 1925, but not in 1926 or 1927. See Letters, p. 322 and Letter 5. [back]

  7. Carman’s "Sleeping Beauty" was first published in the Delineator 11.1 (1928): 18. It was later collected in Wild Garden (1929). The protagonist of "Rip Van Winkle," a story in The Sketch Book (1819-20) by Washington Irving, falls asleep for twenty years in the Catskill Mountains. On awaking he finds that the world has greatly changed. [back]