Bliss Carman's Letters to Margaret Lawrence 1927-1929

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley

Assisted by Margaret Maciejewski

Letter 48

New Canaan, Connecticut

21. January. 1928



Dear darling Margaret, Shiela, Mairi, Magdalene, Madeleine,1óyou:


So thankful for your so-called Merry letter. Tis a joyous missive, come as a grand recuperative. I have been quite low for some time, having quite lost the use of my (metaphorical) arms, and so incapable of embrassing [sic] you in due and proper form as belongs to love of all kinds. To be quite híarmless is only the cockney for the same thing. A week ago I finally went to my doctor here (a mere allopath!) for a slight swelling of a gland in the jaw, fearing some obscure poisonous tooth trouble. Nothing so dignified. Only a slight cold akin to mumps! Praise Allah! Well. I am all well again, and loving as ever. Arenít you glad? And no danger of infecting you at this distance. Arenít you thankful? Think what you escape. I love you! Arenít you glad? Love and life are one with me. When I canít love, I am not alive. Love is not a malady of youth, it is the only health. I love Madeleine Lawrence. But if you want the French you will have to spell it as above. If you want the "g" in it, you must spell Magdelene as in the College of that name at Cambridge, or Magdelen as in the Oxford College. Only in Oxford vernacular the College is pronounced Maudlin. However any way you spell it will suit me, and I shall love you truly.

I have dug up several new poems in the past three or four days, out of years-old stuff, and revamped them into shape. I am trying for a new book of lyrics for next fall (donít breathe a word of it!)[.] It is to be "A Wild Garden"2 perhaps, full of Wild Flowers, Black Tulips, "Immortelles," Golden Madeleines, Black Madeleines, Wood Lilies, Pied Carnations, Scarlet Poppies, Blue Campanulas, August Moonflowers (Dianas with white knees) &c. &c. including red-haired Daphnes, and Sea-blown Beroes. I want it illustrated or maybe with music!! Slow-moonlight-music, galloping-shafted-dawn music, languorous-noon music. Yes? No? Could you lend me Giordini3 for the purpose?

Or could you give me a sitting for one of the lyrics?

As the old grandmother4 says in Jalna, "Somebody come and kiss me! I want to be kissed!"

Again I am full of geographic lamentations. New York, Toronto, Virginia, Arizona, Hollywood, and Vancouver, all so hideously apart!

It is near lunch time and I grieve (Willie also!)5 that I cannot slip into the Wellington Arms,6 and lounge before the fire.

It is too cold here. I want to go to Tucson! Or Banff even, to the Carnival!7 Mediaeval Paris was colder than this, but what did Francois8 and his Ladies care! Not a damn!


Your loving



  1. In her letter of January 19, Lawrence suggests "Magdaleine" as a new name for herself and remarks on its appealing French and numerological associations. [back]

  2. See Letter 47 n.2. [back]

  3. Caesar George Finn (see Letter 4 n.6). [back]

  4. Adeline Whiteoak, the grandmother in Mazo de la Rocheís novel (see Letter 34 n.10), "would frequently, on awakening from a doze, cry out pathetically:óKiss me, somebody, quick!" (Jalna [Toronto: Macmillan Canada, 1927] 217, and see also 347).[back]

  5. See Letter 8 n.12 and Letter 28 n.3.[back]

  6. In Toronto. [back]

  7. Since the Lawrence bequest contains photographs of Carman inscribed "Winter Carnival at Banff, 1926," he is probably referring to that annual event; however, he may have been anticipating the Highland Gathering and Scottish Music Festival that was held in Banff from August 31 to September 3, 1928 under the auspices of the C.P.R. (see Letter 7 n.3). The first such Gathering was held at Banff during the summer of 1927. [back]

  8. FranÁois Villon (see Letter 34 n.5 and Letters 40, 44, and 45). Carman may have been thinking specifically of Villonís "Ballad of Dead Ladies," the haunting refrain of which was famously translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti as "But where are the snows of yesteryear." [back]