Explanatory Notes

Susanna Moodie

The Back-Woodsman

1    Son of the isles    Citizen of the British Isles.
9    cot    Little house or cottage.
23  glebe    Plot of land to be cultivated.

The Poet

25 “mortal coil”    Human turmoil; an allusion to Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

To sleep, perchance to dream: aye there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil
Must give us pause.                             (3.1. 66-69)

The Otonabee

Otonabee    River that flows through the southern Ontario town of Peterborough.
38    bark    Small sailing ship.


7    Columbia    The United States, after Christopher Columbus.
28  degraded Helot    A serf of ancient Sparta. Members of the earlier       population enslaved by Dorian conquerors who, tradition has it, occasionally       plied them with liquor to prove to their sons that drunkenness was disgusting.

The Maple Tree

69  Meet    Suitable, fitting.

The future flower...

6    cerements    Winding sheets treated with wax or other gummy substance       and used to wrap dead bodies. [Page 405]

Grace Marks

Grace Marks (1827-died after 1872) One of early Canada’s most notorious       criminals believed to have murdered her employer and his housekeeper in       1843 when she was only sixteen. Moodie’s encounters with her are recorded       in Life in the Clearings and she is the central character of Margaret Atwood’s       novel Alias Grace.

Rosanna Leprohon

An Autumn Evening at Murray Bay

Murray Bay    J.C. Stockwell identifies this poem’s setting as Point au Pic,
      on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River below Quebec City.

Far West Emigrant

32  linnet    A small finch common in the Old World, known as a song-bird.
39  God speed me    “God prosper me.” A wish for a successful journey.

A Modern Courtship

35  Sèvres china    Costly porcelain made in the French town of Sèvres near        Paris.
36  phaeton and pair    A light four-wheeled carriage open at the sides and        pulled by a pair of horses.

The Tryst of the Sachem’s Daughter

Sachem    The chief of a confederation of Algonquian First Nations of the North        Atlantic coast or, more generally, any Native chief.
64  pinions    Wings.
69  Manitou    An Algonquian deity or spirit.

The Recollect Church

The following footnote to the title “The Recollect Church” appeared in The        Poetical Works of Mrs. Leprohon: [Page 406]

“In process of demolition when this poem was written. The Recollect Friars purchased the ground on which the church in question was built in 1692, and on it they constructed a temporary chapel. The actual edifice, however, was not erected till about the year 1706. The order is now extinct. After the conquest their property was confiscated by the Government, and subsequently exchanged for St. Helen’s Island, then belonging to Baron Grant. For a time the Recollect Church served as a place of worship for both Protestants and Catholics, and for many years was exclusively devoted to the use of the Irish Catholics.”

Recollect    Branch of the Franciscan order which originated in Spain at the end        of the fifteenth century and was dedicated to the recollection of God.
9    fanes    Temples.
19  Dalhousie’s fortress    A footnote to this line in The Poetical Works of Mrs.        Leprohon reads “Levelled a few years after the Conquest. It occupied that        part of East Montreal now known as Dalhousie Square.” The ninth Earl of        Dalhousie, George Ramsay (1770-1838) served as governor in chief of the        Canadian colonies from 1819 to 1828.
51  Erin’s shore    Ireland.
68  ken    Vision, understanding.

Sister M.B.’s Arrival in Montreal, 1654

Sister M.B.    Marguerite Bourgeois (1620-1700), nun who came to Canada in        1652 and founded the Congregation de Notre Dame of Montreal. She        educated girls both rich and poor, Native and white, and was instrumental in        building Montreal’s first stone church.

Charles VII and Joan of Arc at Rheims

1    Rheims    French city where the Dauphin was crowned Charles VII
        (1403- 1461) on July 17, 1429 after Joan of Arc’s decisive military        intervention on his behalf. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was a deeply religious        peasant girl who became convinced the saints had chosen her to repulse        the English.
11  Renaud Chartres    (1375-1444) Archbishop of Rheims.
20  Oriflamme    Literally golden flame, a brightly coloured banner inspiring        devotion or courage.
39  Promethean spark    The Titan Prometheus stole fire from the gods and was        severely punished by Zeus. One year after her momentous victory over the        English at Orleans, Joan of Arc was captured by them and burned at the        stake as a heretic. [Page 407]

Agnes Maule Machar

To a Friend in Europe

Coelum non animum, mutant, qui trans mare currunt.    He who rushes across        the sea changes his location, not his spirit.
12  Pyrenees    Mountains along the French-Spanish border.

Laura Secord

18  Fitzgibbon    During the War of 1812, Laura Secord (1775-1868) walked        thirty kilometres from Queenston to Beaver Dams to warn the British Officer        James Fitzgibbon (1780-1863) that the Americans were planning to attack        his outpost.
21  Boerstler    Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Boerstler (1778-?) was the leader of        five hundred American soldiers who eventually surrendered.

Quebec to Ontario

Riel    Métis leader Louis Riel (1844-1885) was a central figure in the
        North-west Rebellion and was put on trial for treason in Regina on July 20,        1885. Many rallied to his support, particularly French Canadians, but he was        nonetheless executed on November 16, 1885.
3    DeMont    As royal commissioner to New France, Sieur de Monts (fl. 1662)        journeyed to Quebec in 1662 to inspect the colony. He was reportedly “very        pleased” with what he saw.
3    Cartier    Jacques Cartier (1491-1557), French navigator who led three        journeys of exploration up the St. Lawrence River (which he discovered) in        1534, 1535, and 1541.
4    Champlain    Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635), known as the “father of        New France,” travelled up the St. Lawrence in 1603 and in 1608, founded        Quebec which became the gateway to a vast fur-trading network with the        Natives of the interior.

An Indian Summer Carol

12    isles Elysian    The “happy or delightful” islands, the dwelling of the blessed        after death in Greek mythology.
21  Tyrian purple    In reference to the purple dye made from molluscs at Tyre,        an ancient city on the Mediterranean. [Page 408]
40  Eleatics    Term used for the philosophy of Xenophanes, Parmenides and        Zeno who were from the ancient city of Elea in southern Italy.

Our Canadian Fatherland

2    Norembega    In the sixteenth century, Norumbega appears on maps as an        area corresponding to present day Nova Scotia and Maine. In contrast to        the more forbidding coastline of Newfoundland, it was envisioned as a        wealthy and welcoming paradise.
49  McGee    Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825-1868), Irish-born politician and        author who moved to Montreal in 1857 and published Canadian Ballads,        and Occasional Verses (1858). As a father of Confederation, he called for        the development of a distinctive Canadian literature. He was assasinated at        the age of 42.
49  Howe    Joseph Howe (1804-1873), Halifax newspaper editor and author        whose poems and essays were published posthumously in 1874. Howe        served as premier of Nova Scotia (1860-63) and, after initially resisting        Confederation, became a federal minister who was instrumental in bringing        Manitoba into the Union.
51  Fréchette    Louis Fréchette (1839-1908), Quebec lawyer and author who        published over twelve volumes of poetry, stories, essays and plays.        Considered the most important man of letters in nineteenth century Québec,        he was awarded the Prix Montyon by the French Academy in 1880.

An August Morning

17  birchen shallop    Traditionally, a small open boat propelled by oars or sails        and used in shallow water, but here a canoe made of birchbark.

The Madonna of the Entry

12  no room at the inn”    “And she [Mary] brought forth her first born son        [Jesus], and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger;        because there was no room for them in the inn [in Bethlehem]” (Luke 2:7).
21  many mansions”    Jesus to his disciples: “In my Father’s house are many        mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for        you” (John 14:2). [Page 409]

The Indian Pipe

8    fields Tartarean    Hades, or the region beneath Hades in classical        mythology.
29  Iphigenia    In Greek mythology, Agamemnon’s daughter sacrificed to gain        favourable winds to accompany the Greek fleet to Troy.

Isabella Valancy Crawford

Canada to England

7    Samson yet unshorn    A hero in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament who        was famous for his strength which he used against the Philistines.        Samson’s great strength disappeared when Delilah had his hair cut while he        was sleeping (Judges 16:1-22).
26  Man hath dominion    “What is man that thou art mindful of him?… Thou        madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou has put all        things under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6).
57  Who loveth not his kin…    “For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath        seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (I John 4:20).


36  Te Deum    From the opening words of the Latin hymn, “Thee, God, we        praise…” which is part of the Matins (morning prayers).

A Wooing

4    natty    Neatly smart.
4    ulster    A long loose overcoat with waistbelt named for the most northerly        province in Ireland.
14  Hesper    The evening star.
22  Woerth    Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895), celebrated English-born        designer who became a founder of Paris haute couture. Creator of the        bustle and sumptuous evening gowns for the rich and famous, especially        Empress Eugénie of France.
28  lancers    A set of five quadrilles, a kind of square dance.
29  rollers    Songs in which the notes are soft and run together.
35  spanking trotters    Dashing and spirited horses. [Page 410]
46  Schuman    Robert Schumann (1810-1856), German composer particularly        known for his piano music and songs.
47  Thalberg    Sigismond Thalberg (1812-1871), leading rival of Franz Liszt as        virtuoso pianist whose concert tours took him to England and the United        States.
64  opera bouffe    French comic opera combining witty spoken dialogue with        music.
66  Madame Angot’s daughter    A popular classic of opera bouffe was La fille        de Madame Angot (1872) written by French composer Charles Lecocq        (1832-1918) and performed all over the world.

At the Opera—A Fragment

5    Lorgnettes    A pair of opera glasses with a handle.
76  Thermopalyae    A narrow pass on the coast of Greece which, in 480 BC,        was held for three days by a small Greek force under the Spartan king        Leonidas against a large Persian army; symbolic of heroic resistance        against great odds.
108 basilisk    A legendary reptile with a fatal glance.
110 Hesperian Fruit    In Greek mythology, the golden apples thought to        symbolize immortality stolen by Hercules and given to Hera as a wedding        gift; the nymphs who guarded the golden apples at the western extremity of        the earth were the daughters of Hesperus.
123 Latakia    A fine kind of Turkish tobacco produced near and shipped from        Latakia, a seaport of Syria.

Said the Canoe

44  gaffing    A method of catching fish with a spear.


35  porphyry    Purple or dark red stone embedded with feldspar cyrstals.

The Ghosts of the Trees

167 fetter and band    The original publication of this poem in “Old Spookses’        Pass,” “Malcolm’s Katie,” and Other Poems closed with an additional        stanza: [Page 411]

              Never, ye
              Ask of the tree,
The “Wherefore” or “Why” the tall trees stand,
Built in their places on the land!
              Their souls unknit;
With any wisdom or any wit,
              The subtle “Why,”
Ask ye not of earth or sky—
              But one command it.

All Men are Born Free and Equal

All men are born free and equal    This phrase that appears in the Constitution        of Massachussets (1778) is a variation on a passage in the American        Declaration of Independence (1776) drafted by Thomas Jefferson
34  sphinxes    The most famous sphinx is the Great Sphinx at Giza in Egypt.        With a man’s head and a lion’s body, it is a portrait statue of the king; in        Greek mythology the sphinx was a being who posed a riddle that no man but        Oedipus could answer.
40  Rhadamanthus    In Greek mythology, a son of Zeus and Europa and one of        the judges of the lower world; an inflexible judge or severe master who        punishes the wicked for their misdeeds.

Egypt, I Die!

Egypt, I Die!    Words from the last speech of Mark Antony to Cleopatra, Queen        of Egypt, in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra 5.15.42ff.
5    Falernian Wine celebrated by Horace, coming from Campania, Italy.
13  Colossus    One of the Seven Wonders of the World, a huge statue (120 feet        high) of Apollo built at the entry to the harbour of Rhodes in 280 BC.
16  Fulvia Mark Antony’s wife Fulvia and his brother made war against Antony        but were defeated at Perusia in 40 BC where Fulvia died, leaving him free        to remarry.
36  Cydnus    Son of the nymph Anchiale who, according to legend, was
        half-man and half-river in form.

Hugh and Ion

35  Barabbas    A murderer and insurrectionist held in custody at the time [Page        413] of the trial of Jesus (Mark 15:17). All four gospels record that when        Pilate offered to release Jesus, the crowd demanded the release of        Barabbas instead, and Jesus was crucified.
51  Benedict Barabbas    Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was an American        Revolutionary general whose name became an epithet for traitor when he        shifted his allegiance to the British for a sum of 20,000 pounds.
186 Helot    Spartan serf, neither a slave nor a free citizen.
208 Samson soul    A hero in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament who was        famed for his great strength which he used in his battles against the        Philistines.
388 kertle    Kirtle, a long gown or dress worn by women.
399 sibyl-like    Like a female prophet or fortune teller.
405 zany    A subordinate clown in old comedies who ludicrously mimics the        tricks of his principal.
416 tiger’s tawny paw    Ion alludes to Isaiah’s description in the Hebrew Bible or        Old Testament of the peacable kingdom to come: “The wolf also shall dwell        with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and        the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them”        (Isaiah 11:6).
428 Gatlings    Machine guns invented by the American Richard Gatling
        (1818-1903) in 1862 during the American Civil War and capable of        shooting three thousand rounds per minute.
481 Maskelonge    A large North American pike that may weigh sixty to eighty        pounds and is prized by fishermen.
533 plinth    Stones forming a foundation or base.
665 con’d    Conducted or directed as in the steering of a ship, or committed to        memory.
698 Walpurgian    Saint Walburga (710-779) was an abbess and missionary to        Germany. After her death, her memory became confused with Waldborg, a        heathen fertility goddess. On Walpurgis night, May 1, witches were believed        to rendevous in the mountains near her relics.
746 placket    Usually the opening in a dress or blouse, but here a pocket,        especially in a woman’s skirt.
784  Pythia    The title of the priestess of the Delphic Oracle.

Ethelwyn Wetherald

Hester Prynne Speaks

Hester Prynne is the central character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet [Page 413] Letter (1850) who is forced to wear the scarlet “A” for adultery. The daughter she bears out of wedlock is named Pearl.

Susan Frances Harrison

Niagara in Winter

force”    The original publication of this poem in the Week included this footnote
         “North-Country for ‘fall’.”

“J’ai Trop Bu la Vie”

George Sand    Pen name of Amandine Lucie Aurore Dupin (1804-1876),        French writer as famous for her independent spirit and affairs with men such        as Alfred de Musset and Frederic Chopin, as for her novels.


13  Tintern    Tintern Abbey is an ecclesiastical ruin on the west bank of the        River Wye in Wales, made famous by William Wordsworth’s poem of the        same name.
15  Furness    Agricultural district in the scenic region of England known as the        Lake District.


5    Pan    In Greek mythology, the god of woods and fields, who has a human        torso and head with the legs and horns of a goat.
6    Nereid    Sea nymph, one of the fifty daughters of Nereus, the sea god.
8    Demeter’s daughter    The daughter of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture        in Greek mythology, was Persphone who was captured by Hades to        become Queen of the underworld for part of each year.
16  Olympic quarrel    Mount Olympus in Thessaly was held to be the home of        the Greek gods who often fought amongst themselves.
26  Theocritus    Greek poet who composed the earliest known pastoral        poems in the third century BC. [Page 414]

The Thousand Islands

10  Odysseus    Or Ulysses; in Greek mythology, the king of Ithaca, and leader        of the Greeks in the Trojan War, who reached home after ten years of        wandering.


10  Yorick    The dead jester of the murdered king in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.        Hamlet addresses his skull remembering him as “a fellow of infinite jest, of        most excellent fancy” (5.1. 184-85).
37  Duty was his star    An allusion to William Wordsworth’s poem “Ode to Duty:”

                     Stern Daughter of the Voice of God!
                     O Duty! if that name thou love,
                     Who art a light to guide, a rod
                     To check the erring and reprove. (1-4)

To a Garden Thistle (8 Feet High)

6    Tyrian purple    In reference to the purple dye made from molluscs at Tyre, an ancient city on the Mediterranean.

A Canadian Anthology

1    Meleager    Greek poet (fl. first century BC) whose Garland (90-80 BC)        opens The Greek Anthology, a collection of epigrammatic Greek poems.
3    Theocritus    Greek poet (early third century BC), considered the inventor of        the pastoral.
3    Simmias    Simmias was a poet and grammarian who lived in Rhodes about        300 BC. His works include an epic on Apollo.
3    Plato    Greek philosopher (c. 427-347 BC), a follower of Socrates who        presented his ideas as dramatic dialogues.
5    Sappho    Greek lyric poet who flourished around 600 BC. She is        considered one of the greatest poets of antiquity though only fragments of        her lyrics survive.
8    Maori-land    New Zealand.
9    Ganges    The most sacred of India's rivers. [Page 415]
97  Ithaca    An island in western Greece, traditionally considered the home of        Odysseus.

Pauline Johnson

“Through Time and Bitter Distance”

Johnson titles her poem after a line from Charles G.D. Roberts’ poem “Rain.”

The Idlers

45  lotus-land    An allusion to an episode in Homer’s Odyssey (9. 82-87) in        which the veterans of the Trojan War become forgetful of the homeward way        after eating “the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus.” In Alfred Tennyson’s poem        “The Lotos-Eaters,” also based on this passage, the mariners vow to live        forever in lotos-land “and to lie reclined/On the hills like Gods together,        careless of mankind” (154-55).

The Ballad of Yaada

1    Lulu Island    Island formed by branches of the Fraser River that is part of the        present-day city of Vancouver known as Richmond.
4    Capilano cañon    Scenic gorge along the Capilano River in North        Vancouver, British Columbia.
25  Haida    First Nation inhabiting the Queen Charlotte Islands of the British        Columbia coast.

Annie Charlotte Dalton

Listening In

79  springe    Snare or trap.
86  Grand Pre    Site of the church and cemetery of the seventeenth and        eighteenth century Acadian village that became the setting for Longfellow’s        narrative poem “Evangeline” about the Acadian Expulsion.
97  bights    Bays formed by bends in a coastline. [Page 416]
120 La Halle    Adam de la Halle (1235-1288) was a French poet and        composer known for Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion and Le Jeu de la        Feuillée (“Play of the Greensward”).
133 Lorelei    A siren in German legend who lures sailors on the Rhine to their        destruction with her singing.
139 Israfel    In Islamic tradition, the archangel who will blow the trumpet from a        holy rock in Jerusalem to announce the Day of Resurrection.
142 Orion    A hunter in Greek mythology who violated his betrothed Merope        and was blinded by her father. His vision was restored by the rays of the        sun, and, at his death, he became a constellation.
147 Michael    An archangel usually portrayed as the warrior leader of the        heavenly hosts against the forces of evil.
148 Gabriel    An angel of God who brought messages from heaven to earth        including the announcement of Christ’s birth.

The Sounding Portage

10  mort    A great quantity or number.

The Skraelings

8    Gallia    Gaul, ancient region of Western Europe corresponding roughly to        modern-day France and Belgium.
24  Magdalenians    An Upper Paleolithic culture named for La Madeleine, a        rock shelter in southwest France and known for their flint, bone, and ivory        implements, as well as their carvings and paintings.
36  Odin    The chief god in Germanic mythology, who was god of wisdom, war,        and the dead. Like the Greek god, Apollo, he was also associated with        poetry and culture. He had only one eye because he gave the other in        exchange for wisdom.

Flowers for Lady Franklin

Lady Franklin    Lady Jane Franklin (1792-1875), wife of Sir John Franklin        (1786-1847), British explorer who died along with his entire crew of 129        men while searching for the Northwest Passage in Canada’s Arctic. Lady        Franklin raised money for a final search and rescue mission in 1857 which        discovered skeletons of the crew and a written account of the expedition.        She was buried in Kensal Green, West London. [Page 417]

The Praying Mantis

3    Mantis    An insect that feeds upon other insects and clasps its prey in
        fore-limbs held up as if in prayer.

To Hathor the Mistress of Turquoise

3    Hathor    The Egyptian sky goddess, counterpart of Osiris, representing love        and joy.
11  sistrum    An ancient Egyptian percussion instrument consisting of a thin        metal frame with numerous metal rods or loops that jingle when shaken.
13  Jacob    After a vision of angels descending from heaven and God’s        blessing upon him and his descendants, Jacob awoke and said, “Surely the        Lord is in this place, and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).
14  Sinai    The sacred mountain upon which God gave his Ten Commandments        to Moses.
18  Pharaoh    Ruler of ancient Egypt.
19  beetling    Prominent and overhanging.

Sophia Almon Hensley

The photo from the Notman Collection, in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, is identified as “Miss S.M. Almon” and is presumed to be of Sophia Hensley.


18  laudanum    A solution prepared from opium that was used as a narcotic        painkiller.

Slack Tide

26  barm    Foamy yeast formed on fermenting liquors.


1    Paschal moon    Relating to Passover or Easter.
2    Lenten earth    Somber, spare, from Lent, the period of penitence and        [Page 418] fasting leading up to Easter.
14  Narcissus    Kind of daffodil named for the beautiful youth in Greek legend        who pined away for love of his own image and was transformed into a        flower.
28  Celandine    Yellow flower of the poppy family.


10  mackerel weir    An enclosure consisting of nets strung on poles for fishing in        tidal waters.
35  pet    Favourite, darling.


37  chaffering    Haggling or bargaining.

A Dream

55  ramage    The collective branches of a tree or trees; also the song of birds.


This poem was first published with the title “Somewhere in France.”
3    If it be possible…    Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the        night before he was crucified (Matthew 26:39).
9    ribbon or your cross    Decorations for courage. The Victoria Cross,        established in 1856, was the British Empire’s highest military award for        conspicuous valour.

Love’s Rights

18  chrism    Consecrated oil used in some churches especially in baptism, and        confirmation.


Karma    In Hinduism and Buddhism the force generated by people’s actions        that determines their destiny in their next existence. [Page 419]


3    Avon    The Avon River flows into the Minas Basin near the town of Windsor,        Nova Scotia.
4    Blomidon    The towering cliffs of Cape Blomidon overlook Nova Scotia’s        Minas Basin on the Bay of Fundy.
19  St. Mary’s Bay    The body of water between the mainland of Nova Scotia        and a peninsula stretching into the Bay of Fundy called the Digby Neck.
27  gloam    Twilight.

Katherine Hale

The New Joan

47  bourne    Stream; also limit or boundary.
84  anent    About; concerning.
86  Peter Pan    A boy in Sir James Barrie’s play Peter Pan (1902) who never        grows up.


5    Paul Kane    The most famous of all Canadian artist-explorers, Paul Kane        (1810-1871) set out from Toronto in 1845 to paint a record of the Native        way of life in the West.
16  Factor    An agent in charge of a trading post.
28  Sarcees    Members of the Athapascan First Nation, which formerly lived        along the Athabasca River in northern Alberta.
31  Sheridan    Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), British playwright        known for his satirical comedies of manners including The Rivals (1775)        and School for Scandal (1777).

An Old Lady

17  Rideau Hall    Official residence of Canada’s Governor General located at 1        Sussex Drive in Ottawa.
24  Chateau Laurier    Large and elegant hotel in downtown Ottawa, famous for        its castle-like exterior.
32  Red River    The Red River colony was founded in 1812 by the Earl of        [Page 420] Selkirk on the Red and Assiniboine rivers in present-day        Manitoba.

Going North

11  Pickering, Whitby, Oshawa    Towns on the outskirts of the city of Toronto.
131 Lake Mazinawa    Mazinaw Lake is located north of Kaladar, Ontario in        Lennox county, and is now part of Bon Echo Provincial Park.
148 Georgian Bay    The largest of Lake Huron’s bays.

The Island

63  Lake Traverse    Lake located in the northeastern part of Algonquin Park in        Eastern Ontario.

Negro Church Bazaar

13  quadroons    Persons of quarter African descent.
38  Swanee River    Popular song written in 1919 by George Gershwin and        Irving Caesar inspired by Stephen Foster’s 1851 song “Old Folks at Home.”

Dancer and the Dust

1    Siva    One of the principal Hindu dieties, worshipped as the destroyer and        restorer of worlds.

Louise Morey Bowman

She Plans her Funeral

6    panoply    Ceremonial attire or armour.


25  Our days as grass”    Hymn based on Psalm 103:15, “As for man, his days        are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.”
61  delaine    High quality wool fabric used for dresses. [Page 421]
77  great divine”    Clergyman or theologian.
138 old order    “The old order changeth, yielding place to new.” Alfred        Tennyson, Idylls of the King, “The Passing of Arthur” (408).

The Mountain that Watched

1    In the beginning…    Phrases from the opening passage in the Hebrew        Bible or Old Testament which recounts the creation of the world.
6    Mountain    Mount Royal, the mountain at the center of Montreal for which the        city was named.
38  inward eye    A phrase from the following passage in William Wordsworth’s        poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud:”

                     For oft, when on my couch I lie
                     In vacant or in pensive mood,
                     They flash upon that inward eye
                     Which is the bliss of solitude;
                     And then my heart with pleasure fills,
                     And dances with the daffodils. (19-24)

54  It’s all like a magic casement…    An allusion to John Keats’s poem “Ode to        a Nightingale:”

                     The same [song] that oft-times hath
                     Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
                     Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. (68-70)

60  cast their sins    On the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, it        is customary for many to symbolically cast their sins into the river in a        ceremony called tashlikh (“thou wilt cast”).
82  And have not charity    “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of        angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling        cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1).
82  Through a glass darkly    “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then        face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am        known” (I Corinthians 13:12).
83  classic daffodils    Daffodils appear in William Wordsworth’s poem “I        Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” quoted above, but are also associated with        the asphodel flower that led Persephone to her peril.
131 take up your tray    This comment on the self-service restaurant is        considered “blasphemous” because it is a play on Jesus’ command to the        [Page 422] crippled man, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk” (John 5:8).
138 Day uttereth speech    “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the        firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night        unto night sheweth knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2).

Garden in Agra

4    Agra    City in North India, site of the Taj Mahal.
4    Canterbury-bells    Bell-like flowers cultivated for their showy pink, white, and        mauve blossoms.
13  passing show    Harriet Monroe (1860-1936), editor of Poetry (Chicago) in        which Bowman’s poems appeared, published a collection of five verse        plays entitled The Passing Show in 1903. A Broadway musical by the same        name played from 1913 into the 1920s at the Winter Garden Theatre.
14  ayah    Indian equivalent of a nanny, a term introduced into the Anglo-Indian        vernacular from the Portuguese.

Dragon Orchard

44  copper solution    Probably the Bordeaux mixture invented by French        botanist Pierre Millardet (1838-1902)—a solution of copper sulfate, lime        and water effective against fungus diseases attacking vineyards and        orchards. Blue vitriol is another solution of copper salts used in insecticides.


John Knox    Foremost leader of the Scottish Reformation, John Knox
        (1514-1572) set the austere moral tone of the Church of Scotland. In exile in        Geneva he wrote First blast of the trumpet against the monstruous        regiment of women directed against the three women then reigning in        England, France, and Scotland all of whom were oppressing Protestantism.        Mary Queen of Scots arrived in Scotland in 1561 convinced that Knox was        to be her archenemy and they had four celebrated encounters, the last of        which was filled with deep hatred and fury.
       Mary Queen    Mary Stuart (1542-1587), controversial Queen of Scotland        who grew up in France, but returned to Scotland in 1561. Her cousin, Queen        Elizabeth I of England held her prisoner for 18 years and finally had her        executed. She was a Roman Catholic.
15  galliard    A lively dance of five steps popular in the sixteenth and        seventeenth [Page 423] centuries.
20  petits gateaux    Little cakes.
23  Lochleven    In 1567, Mary was incarcerated by the Scottish nobility on the        tiny island of Loch Leven, a four mile long lake in east Scotland, north of        Edinburgh.
27  Holyrood    Holyroodhouse, palace in Edinburgh, Scotland erected on the        site of Holyrood Abbey in the early sixteenth century.


1    Fra Lippo Lippi    (1406-1469) Italian monk and painter famous for The        Madonna with Saints and his role as teacher of Botticelli. He is the subject        of a poem by Robert Browning.
12  Lilith    According to Hebrew legend, the first wife of Adam who, refusing to        be considered inferior, was expelled from Eden to haunt the wilderness as a        demon.


23  Velasquez    Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), Spanish court painter at        Madrid famous for his portraits of Philip IV and the Infanta Maria Theresa.

Marjorie Pickthall

Persephone Returning to Hades

Persephone    The daughter of Demeter (or Ceres), the goddess of grain,        Persephone (or Proserpine) was abducted by Hades (or Pluto) to be queen        of the underworld, but allowed to spend part of every year with her mother.        Her departure to Hades signalled the onset of winter.
23  asphodel    In Greek mythology, the flowers of Hades, sacred to        Persephone, and equated with the daffodil.
24  Lethe    River of Hades whose water, according to Greek mythology, causes        forgetfulness of the past in those who drink it.
32  Enna    The abduction of Persephone is generally said to have taken place        in the grasslands of Enna in Sicily. [Page 424]

Père Lalement

Père Lalement    Probably Jerome Lalement (1593-1673), superior of the        Jesuit mission in Huronia and contributor to the Jesuit Relations, but        possibly also his brother Charles Lalement (1587-1674), first superior of the        Quebec Jesuits, or his nephew Gabriel Lalement (1610-1649) who, along        with Jean de Brébeuf, was tortured and murdered by the Iroquois at the fall        of Saint Ignace.
5    acolytes    Those who assist a minister with liturgical duties.
22  Stadacona    Stadacona was the Native village that occupied the site of the        present city of Quebec.
29  St. Ignace and St. Louis    Two of the settlements established by the Jesuits        in the region of Ontario near Georgian Bay. They were destroyed by the        Iroquois in 1649.
32  Sidonian cedars    Trees grown in Sidon, and used for royal buildings and        temples.
33  Hiram    King of Tyre, on the Phoenician coast, just north of Israel, who        assisted King Solomon with the building of the Temple in Jerusalem.
36  St. Francis-like    Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), Italian monk who inspired        followers with his devotion, simple living, and love of nature.
39  scrip    Small wallet or bag.


19  camphor    Fragrant gum of the camphor tree.
31  charlock    Wild mustard.
31  guerdon    Reward, recompense.

Chanson de la Tour

58  Gabriel, Michael    Two of God’s archangels. Michael is considered to be        the warrior angel leading the heavenly hosts against the forces of evil, while        Gabriel is God’s messenger. Michael is associated with the Last        Judgement and Gabriel with the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary        (Luke 1:26-38).

On Amaryllis

1    Amaryllis    A bulb that produces showy lily-like flowers, named probably for        the shepherdess in Virgil’s Ecologues.
4    Fowler    A hunter of birds. To lime is to entangle with birdlime, a sticky        [Page 425] substance usually made from holly bark and smeared on twigs        to snare small birds.
13  suspires    Breathes, sighs.
14  Quires    Variation on choirs, but also a collection of sheets of paper.
20  my Race    Pickthall’s conceit brings together the blossoming of the        amaryllis, Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, and the Apostle        Paul’s description of the spiritual journey as a race in Hebrews 12:1 and        elsewhere.

The Chosen

12  Herself she cannot save    A paraphrase of the words used to taunt Christ        on the cross. “He saved others; himself he cannot save” (Matthew 27:42)

Mary Tired

25  seraphs    Six-winged angels of the highest rank believed to guard God’s        throne with sacred passion.
29  Ransom of the world    “For there is one God, and one mediator between        God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all…”
        (I Timothy 2:6).

The Indian Dancer

32  Malicete    or Maliseet; An Algonquian First Nation inhabiting New        Brunswick, Maine, and Quebec.

When Winter Comes

1    Muchalat…    Place names in British Columbia. Muchalat Inlet is located on        the Western coast of Vancouver Island near Nootka Sound. Malaspina is        the Strait that divides the mainland from Texada Island. Sooke is on the        southern tip of Vancouver Island, and Yale is on the Fraser River in the        interior.

Snow in April

19  rack    A wind-driven mass of high often broken clouds, but also a cause of        anguish or destruction. [Page 426]

Two Souls

Père Jogues    Isaac Jogues (1607-1646), Jesuit missionary who, despite        being captured and tortured by the Iroquois in 1642, volunteered for a peace        mission. He was murdered on his second trip to Iroquois country.
7    My voice    “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”        (John 10:27).
17  Coupil    René Goupil (1608-1642), Jesuit missionary travelling into Iroquois        country with Jogues. Their canoe convoy was ambushed and the priests        captured. Goupil was killed soon after for making the sign of a cross over a        child. He is considered the first Jesuit martyr of Huronia.
17  Couture    Guillaume Couture (1616-1701) originally escaped after the        ambush, but returned to help the priests and was then captured. He survived        brutal torture to become active as an ambassador of peace, hoping to bring        an end to the French-Indian wars.
20  Arles    City in southeastern France.
25  Huron    The First Nation among whom the Jesuit missionaries worked with        the most success.
36  Five Nations    The Iroquois Confederacy consisting of Mohawks, Oneidas,        Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas.

Canada’s Century

24  cloud and flame    In Exodus, the Israelites were led to the Promised Land        with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21).

Modern Endymion

Endymion    A handsome youth who captured the heart of the moon goddess        Selene. Some versions of the myth suggest he begged for perpetual sleep        so he could dream of her always, and others suggest she enchanted him so        she might come and kiss him whenever she wished. John Keats based his        long allegorical poem Endymion (1818) on this myth.
44  candleberry bush    A shrub having small hard berries with a thick coating of        white wax used for candles, also called a wax myrtle. [Page 427]