Bliss Carman's Letters to Margaret Lawrence 1927-1929

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley

Assisted by Margaret Maciejewski

Letter 46

New Canaan, Connecticut

7. January. 1928



Dear Margaret, dearest Shiela, darling Mairi:1


Behold your Francois William Pierrot St. Kavin Felipe &c. &c.2 overwhelmed with the sediment of holidays, in the form of correspondence to be attended to, and a certain reaction of activities. However, the days have been wonderful. No snow yet here, for which I thank God, and such glory of sunshine as belongs on the desert. ‘Tis as if the weather did not know whether it meant late October or early spring.

Several new sonnets have been added to the collection,3 and I hope for a volume of them eventually. I like the form, and the best of them are pas mal I think.

Anyhow I am holding on, with a "surrender nothin’ " mood, and awaiting the turn of the tide. January-February is always a sort of zero month. But with the 8th or 9th of February, will come the first day of new sun and the restoring hand of Allah will be reached out. Let our prayers not cease, beloved! And you who are initiate and favored must not desist from the good work of epistolary solace. I have just received a handsome letter of appreciation and an enormous cheque from the noble house of Simpson,4which cheers mightily.

Do write soon and much! I miss you to the verge of desolation.


Your very


  1. See Letters 34, 38, and 45. [back]

  2. See Letters 8,43, 44, and 45. The additions to Carman’s burgeoning list of nicknames for himself—Pierrot and St. Kavin—refer respectively to a character in French pantomime and an Irish Saint. Pierrot (the word means Little Peter) is a man in growth but a child in manners, and the part is usually given to a tall thin man who wears white powder on his face and hair and a long-sleeved white gown with a row of buttons down the front. Carman’s Poems (1904, 1905) contain a section entitled "The Book of Pierrot." St. Kavin (or Kevin) (d. 618 or 622) is reputed to have chosen the religious life in his youth and thereafter lived for a time as a hermit before founding the monastery of Glendalough in County Wicklow, Ireland, where he died in old age surrounded by a large community. In "By that Lake, whose Gloomy Shore" in Irish Melodies (1807-1835), Thomas Moore has the young St. Kevin rid himself of a beautiful and persistent temptress by hurling her to her death off a cliff into Lake Glendalough. Carman published three poems about St. Kavin in pamphlet form: Saint Kavin: a Ballad (1894), Christmas Eve at St. Kavin’s (1901), and The Word at St. Kavin’s (1903). He also figures in several poems in the Vagabondia series, including "Concerning Kavin" by Carman and "Kavin Again" by Hovey in More Songs from Vagabondia (1896). [back]

  3. Carman’s Sanctuary: Sunshine House Sonnets, with a Prefatory Note by Padraic Colum and illustrations (including one of Sunshine House) by Whitman Bailey, was published posthumously by McClelland and Stewart late in 1929. In an envelope post marked December 21, 1927, Carman sent Lawrence Two Sunshine House Sonnets (New Canaan: John E. Hersam, 1927), a pamphlet "by M.P.K. and B.C." containing two sonnets: "A Fantasy" and "Five Mile River." [back]

  4. Simpson’s Limited, the chain of department stores that grew in the present century out of the dry-goods store opened by Robert Simpson in Toronto in 1872. [back]