New Canaan, Connecticut
7. January. 1928
Margaret, dearest Shiela, darling Mairi:1
your Francois William Pierrot St. Kavin Felipe &c.
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.
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 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,4—which
write soon and much! I miss you to the verge of desolation.
Letters 34, 38, and 45. [back]
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]
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]
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]