Archibald Lampman (1861-1899), who accurately described himself as a minor poet of a superior order,1 has come to be generally acknowledged as Canadas finest nineteenth-century poet. At his death in 1899, Lampman left behind him three volumes of poetry, Among the Millet (1888), Lyrics of Earth (1895) and Alcyone (1899), and a considerable number of lyrics, essays and long poems that he had neglected or failed to publish during his lifetime. Probably the best and most important of these long poems is The Story of an Affinity, a small novel in blank verse2 that has hitherto been known to most readers only in the version edited by Duncan Campbell Scott for inclusion in the posthumously published and frequently reprinted Poems of Archibald Lampman (1900).3 That the text of The Story of an Affinity contained in Poems (1900) is a considerably condensed and substantially altered version of the poem that exists in Lampmans hand in the Library of Parliament,4 Ottawa, provides the justification for the present edition, which aims to reproduce for scholars and general readers alike a text of The Story of an Affinity that corresponds as closely as possible to the poem Lampman wrote.
Accompanying the manuscript of Lampmans small novel in blank verse in the Library of Parliament is a card in the poets own hand that reads:
The Story of An Affinity
Evidently copied out in fair form in April, 1894, The Story of an Affinity was probably begun, as L.R. Early has argued,5 in late October or early November, 1892. I am trying to work myself up to commence something long; and I should not be surprised if I succeed,6 Lampman told his friend E.W. Thomson in a letter of October 12, 1892. And some four weeks later, in a letter of November 9, he told the same correspondent: I have got to writing on one of those tales in verse that I no doubt spoke to you about formerly . . . 7 Lampmans letters to Thomson of 1893 and early 1894 indicate something, not merely of the progress of The Story of an Affinity, but also of the hopes and misgivings that surrounded the poem in his mind. I have . . . not been idle this winter, he informed Thomson on February 10, 1893, I have written a large quantity of a story in verse besides my paper on Keats. . . .8 After a spring plagued by ill health and punctuated by a visit to Thomson in Boston, Lampman wrote on May 9: I have resumed work a little on my versified tale, and I suppose I shall finish it by the autumn.9 Apparently The Story of an Affinity progressed more quickly than here envisaged, for on May 23 Lampman is able to tell Thomson that he has been working some at [his] versified tale . . . and has finished the second part, about three fourths of the whole.10 But owing to a variety of diversions, including work on the Alcyone (1899) volume and an excursion to the Niagara region,11 The Story of an Affinity was not finished even in the autumn of 1893. indeed, Lampman does not mention the poem again until February, 1894, when two letters, the first at the beginning of the month and the second at its close, indicate further progress towards the poems completion and a growing, but not unmitigated, confidence in its merit. On February 2 he tells Thomson:
And on February 28 he writes:
Lampmans final reference to The Story of an Affinity in his letters to Thomson is also the first to refer to the poem by its title. It occurs in a letter of April 25, 1894, where Lampman writes:
While the dated card that accompanies the manuscript of The Story of an Affinity suggests that the small novel in blank verse was in a finished state in April, 1894, there is no evidence in the extant Lampman-Thomson correspondence to indicate that the poet did finally send the completed poem to his friend for comment. An explanation for the absence of further reference to The Story of an Affinity may lie in a lacuna in the Lampman-Thomson correspondence. A more likely explanation, however, is that the birth and death of Lampmans only son in May and August, 1894 thrust the poem from his thoughts, at least until the fall of the year when a cheering visit by Thomson to Ottawa15 afforded the two friends an opportunity to discuss in person such pieces as The Story of an Affinity. It may even be that this discussion (if it in fact took place) was the inspiration for the revisions in the manuscript of The Story of an Affinity that are recorded in the Authorial Revisions and Editorial Emendations in the present edition of the poem.
Written for the most part between October, 1892 and April, 1894 The Story of an Affinity doubtless draws on Lampmans experiences and pre-occupations during this period. When the poet visited St. Catherines in the Niagara District the land of [his] forefathers in the fall of 1893 he enjoyed wandering about again among [his] uncles grapes . . . [and] picked the last of the early peaches off the trees 16experiences that may well have contrIbuted to the descriptions of the golden land of fruit and flowers within the overlapping of two seas (I, 1-2) in the first and third parts of The Story of an Affinity. Similarly, Lampmans train trip to Boston in April, 1893 may well have contributed to the descriptions of the journey by rushing train (II, 1) that takes the poems protagonist, Richard Stahlberg, to the great city (I, 33) in the second part of the poem. Nor are the links between the poet and his protagonist confined to aspects of the poem that could reflect events in Lampmans life at the time of its writing. Although there are no place names to make specific the geographical setting of The Story of an Affinity, most Canadian readers of the poem have as little difficulty in identifying Richard Stahlbergs childhood landscape with the areas of Southwestern Ontario where Lampman was born (Morpeth) and had his roots (St. Catherines) as in identifying the city in which Stahlberg lives during his education with the Toronto where Lampman attended Trinity College from 1879 to 1882.17 Nor will readers familiar with the characteristics and development of Lampman as a poet his deeply Wordsworthian approach to nature, for example, or, nearer to home, his enthusiastic reading of Charles G. D. Roberts Orion, and Other Poems (1880)18 while in Toronto (and the probable influence of Roberts The Pipes of Pan on his own treatment of frogs in such poems as the Favorites of Pan19) fail to observe the many general and specific parallels between the poet and a protagonist who not only finds a dim mysterious joy (II, 488) in communing with external nature but also draws into close communion with a (Canadian) poet on an April evening . . . / Made solemn with the full antiphonal cry / Of soft Pandean voices . . . (II, 518-522). To the similarities of rural origin, university education and love of nature that connect Lampman and Richard Stahlberg must be added such shared characteristics as a distrust of organized religion, an awareness of social injustice and a commitment to humanitarian activity.20 These and other parallels between the author and the protagonist of The Story of an Affinity do more than confirm that there is much of Lampman in Richard Stahlberg: they suggest that the poem can correctly be conceived as in some respects a vicarious autobiography a fictional, but hardly distanced, treatment of Lampmans own experiences and preoccupations.
In this light, the marked disparity between the lives of the poet and the protagonist after the completion of their education becomes a particularly clear indication of the presence in The Story of an Affinity of an element of wish-fulfilment. Whereas Lampman earned only a second-class degree at Trinity College and, after a brief and dispiriting stint as a school teacher in Orangeville, worked until his death as a clerk in the Post Office Department in Ottawa, Richard Stahlberg graduates from school with many honours and, after a few busy months as a teacher . . . in lowlier sort, becomes A lecturer in a famous college hall (II, 655-658). Whereas some five years after leav ing university Lampman began what became an unhappy marriage to Maud Playter, the daughter of a Toronto doctor, Richard Stahlberg returns after Ten years (II, 667) as a lecturer to claim the hand of Margaret Hawthorne, the idealistic daughter of a neighbouring farmer and the femme inspiratrice of his humanistic studies. And when it is remembered that Lampman was for all his adult life the victim of a constitution weakened by a childhood bout of rheumatic fever, then it becomes possible to infer an element of wish-fulfilment in his very creation in Richard Stahlberg of a protagonist who, in addition to passing beyond the scholars rank (II, 654), possesses from early manhood a physical strength and stature (I, 68) that can accurately be called Herculean in their dimensions. More important, finally, than the possible sources of Richard Stahlbergs professional achievements, amatory felicity, and Herculean physique in Lampman s wish fulfilment fantasies is the conceptual and structural function in The Story of an Affinity of the Herculean dimensions of its protagonist. Indeed, as the discussion now turns from the compositional and biographical background of the poem to a consideration of its large patterns and principal themes, the Herculean dimensions of both its hero and its plot will be seen to provide the key to an understanding, not only of its overall movement, but also of its place in the Canadian literary continuity.
By virtue of its large and powerful hero, and of its emphasis on Bildung (if it were in fact a novel, Lampmans poem would be classed as a Bildungaroman), The Story of an Affinity belongs among the Herculean narratives of Canadian literature,21 a group of works that includes Frederick Philip Groves Settlers of the Marsh (1925) and Fruits of the Earth (1933) and a possible influence on Lampmans contribution to the genre22 Isabella Valancy Crawfords Malcolms Katie: A Love Story (1884). All of these works emanate from Canadas pioneer or post-pioneer culture, and all trace the mental and spiritual growth of a physically powerful hero the full-muscled and large-statured23 Max Gordon of Malcolms Katie, the hugely strong but medium-sized24 Niels Lindstedt of Settlers of the Marsh, the broad-shouldered and deep-chested25 Abe Spalding of Fruits of the Earth who comes to possess the mental as well as the physical strength necessary to conquer or control the chaos of both external and internal nature. Unlike the Herculean narratives of Crawford and Grove, The Story of an Affinity, set as it is in a baselandscape of orchards, fields, vineyards and white farm-houses (I, 4-17), contains no treatment of the pioneering process of settling the wilderness. As will be seen, however, Lampmans poem does accord with other Herculean narratives in associating the achievement by its Herculean hero of inner order and governance with the arrival of these same, centrally Canadian qualities in the external world.
In the first part of The Story of an Affinity as much emphasis is placed on Richard Stahlbergs great stature and strength as on his limited intellect and education: Vast-shouldered with a broad and mighty head . . . He tower[s] above his fellows like a king . . . . (I, 69-71), but his mind, though once the seat of a strange intelligence, has taken on A sullen and impenetrable sloth (I, 59-62). Worse, within his Herculean body there lurks an inly smouldering fire (I, 79) whose energy is uncontrolled, capricious, and amoral:
Although this fitful giant is capable, like Groves Abe Spalding, of Labouring as no other three could labour/ in all the friendly farms (I, 99-100), he is equally capable when the mood (I, 111) takes him of impulsively abandoning farm work and, instead, vagrantly engaging in such unproductive and self-indulgent activities as solitary wandering (I, 118), raucous socializing, and tremendous feats of strength (I, 125). On one occasion the Wordsworthian Influence of Natural Objects . . .26 touches Richards spirit with a passionate thrill and awakens in him A single gleam of wild intelligence (I, 190-196). But this moment of awakening finds expression only in the sheer strength of a violent deed, a travesty of a labour of Hercules: he tears a young birch-tree . . . root, stem, and branches, from the earth (I, 203-206) and hurls it into the centre of a field. Here, very evidently, is Herculean strength that must be consistently directed by a constructive and ethical purpose If it is not to issue sooner or later in acts of greater destruction and turpitude.
The direction that is necessary to Richard comes through a motivating encounter with Margaret Hawthorne, a figure who can be taken in one sense as representing his good genius.27 This last phrase is taken from the opening paragraphs of Lampmans 1896 essay on Happiness, paragraphs which, not fortuitously, comprise the most notable treatment by a Canadian poet of the classical theme of The Choice of Hercules. Almost certainly cogniscent of the original Greek version of The Choice of Hercules in Xenophons Memorabilia Socratis (and also possibly with Shaftesburys rendition of the theme in the Characteristics),28 Lampman adds to Hercules traditional choice between an austere woman representative of heroic virtue and an alluring woman representative of hedonistic pleasure a third alternative: a portal . . . broad and obvious and unattended where No goddess stands . . . for it is an entrance abhorred and shunned by all the immortals . . . the way of the commonplace, the path of routine. On either side of the portal leading to this path of routine29 in the Happiness essay stand a portal attended by Circe, whose path is that of mere delight, emotional inclination, and aimless excitement, and a portal attended by Pallas Athene, whose attendants are to each man what Margaret Hawthorne is to Richard Stahlberg: his good genius who, if heeded, will inspire him to journey by upward and difficult paths on the road of happiness such happiness as can commonly be attained by man.30
In addition to possessing allegorical significance in The Story of an Affinity, Margaret is a very human character in the poem who has already made hard choices of her own and will have others to make as the plot unfolds. Compelled by paternal pressure to confine her idealistic ambitions to the domestic sphere, Margaret has resolved to be A help, a sweet refreshment, and a grace / To all about her . . . (I, 308-309). This resolve is but the lowlier form of an old dream (I, 310):
As Richard approaches Margaret where she lies in innocent sleep (I, 316) on an old warm-shadowed rustic seat (I, 312), knowledge of his erratic and violent tendencies from earlier in the poem combines in the readers mind with reminiscences of Satans approach to the solitary Eve in Paradise Lost to produce apprehensions of an impending rape. Such apprehensions (which Lampman might have exploited if he had wanted to capitalize on the melodramatic aspects of his materials) prove to be short-lived, for the effect on Richard of the almost Neoplatonic fusion of bright thought (wisdom), rounded grace (beauty), and spiritual loveliness (goodness) represented by Margaret is nothing short of visionary: the sight of her makes him comprehend in a moments space (I, 333) the shortcomings of his life as it now is and prompts him to contemplate for himself A life bred in a loftier air, and steeped/ in pleasures of a daintier sense, distilled/ From studious search and fine experience (I, 378-381). As the guide and symbol (II, 189) of his desire to become a learned and gentle humanist, Richard borrows from Margaret a little book (I, 385), a motive emblem that is the equivalent of Hercules celebrated club31 in Lampmans post-pioneering theme of the Herculean heros achievement of inner governance through the cultivation of his various mental and social faculties.
No one who has moved beyond a cursory reading of Lampmans much-anthologised lyrics of illumination, most notably Heat and Among the Timothy, in the Among the Millet volume of 1888 will be surprised to discover that the next important stage of Richards journey towards enlightenment and governance occurs when perfect noon with not a single cloud suffuses the still meadows and . . . fields (I, 589-591) with heat and light.32 By turns wading among timothy (I, 596), passing by silent copses (I, 603), and absorbing the increasing and accentuate note of the oven-bird (I, 610-612), Richard once more imbibes the salutary and Wordsworthian influence of natural objects:
Under the impact of this new telos, Richard feels himself more of a man than a brute (I, 653-654) and resolves to make a new beginning of [his] life (I, 656, 697) by expanding his power to think and learn (I, 695) in the great city, where the minds/ Of men are busiest, and most alive (I, 698-699). Although Old Stahlberg initially opposes his sons plan, fearing like Wordsworths Michael before him the evils and temptations of the treacherous city (I, 717-718), he eventually gives Richard his consent (I, 731), and, with this, the first part of The Story of an Affinity moves towards its happy and hopeful conclusion.
In editing down the first part of The Story of an Affinity from seven hundred and fifty lines to six hundred and seventy five, Scott made in effect two lengthy cuts: he omitted passages elaborating on Richards state of mind during his visionary encounter with Margaret (I, 339-355 and 365-371) and he omitted the passage describing the meal at the Hawthorne house during which Richard is roundly teased for having the appearance of being in love (I, 505-545). While these omissions have the effect of reducing the mystical and, with the assistance of other minor cuts (I, 627-628, 632-633, and 667), the domestic (and Tennysonian) components of The Story of an Affinity, neither could be said to alter radically the overall shape or general thrust of the poem. The same cannot be said for Scotts editorial interventions in the second part of The Story of an Affinity. There the omission of two very long and important passages, one describing Richards initiation into merciful work (II, 417) among the Citys poor through the noble friendship (II, 449) of Charlotte Ambray (II, 373-450) and the other describing his acquisition of the social graces through contact with three Fine ladies of an exquisite way of life (II, 564-648), has the unfortunate effect of obscuring for readers of Poems (1900) the overall shape of Lampmans agenda for the comprehensive education of his Herculean hero.
With the lengthy passages omitted by Scott restored to the second part of The Story of an Affinity there becomes evident a distinctly Arnoldian element in Lampmans agenda for Richards studia humanitatis. Culture . . . properly described . . [has] its origin in the love of perfection, declares Arnold in Culture and Anarchy (1869); it is a study of perfection. It moves by the force, not merely or primarily of the scientific passion for pure knowledge, but also of the moral and social passion for doing good.33 Like religion, culture places human perfection . . . in the growth and predominance of our humanity proper, as distinguished from our animality, and it teaches us to conceive human perfection as a harmonious expansion of all the powers which make the beauty and worth of human nature. . . . 34 Elsewhere, for example in A Speech at Eton reprinted in Irish Essays and Others (1882), Arnold is more specific about the four diverse powers or lines that are developed in mans general instinct for expansion: they are the lines of conduct, of intellect and knowledge, of beauty, of social life and manners.35 Very likely, Lampmans agenda for the acculturation of Richard in The Story of an Affinity contains elements derived from his own educational experiences as a pupil (and outstanding classics scholar) at Trinity College School, Port Hope, as a student at Trinity College, Toronto and, later, as a teacher himself at the high school in Orangeville. And no doubt in passages such as the one in which Richard, a tireless questioner, makes his way / into the workshops and all haunts of skill / Where men were busy at their various crafts (II, 232-234), Lampmans educational agenda bears the imprint of nineteeth-century thinkers other than Arnold on what constitutes a happy, well-rounded human being of Ruskin, for example, on the dig nity of manual labour, and of Morris, an influence on Lampman from at least the publication of News from Nowhere (1890), 36 on the value of skilled craftmanship. But as likely or indubitable as these other sources of Richards curriculum may be, they are secondary in importance to the influence of Arnold on the harmonious expansion of Lampmans hero along lines that are readily identifiable with the doctrine of the four powers: merciful work (II, 417; conduct), enlarging studies (II, 306; intellect and knowledge), the beauties of literature and external nature (beauty) and, finally, in the company of the three Fine ladies of an exquisite way of life, smoothe grace and glamour of . . . speech (II, 608; social life and manners). Simply put, Richards Arnoldian study of perfection takes him from the darkness and anarchic condition of a nature not finely tempered37 towards the sweetness and light that are characteristic in Culture and Anarchy of a fully cultured and well-balanced mind.
Even the specific details of Richards enlarging studies, both in side and outside the classroom, bear the imprint of the Arnold who in Culture and Anarchy and elsewhere urges the study of all the voices of human experience . . . , of art, science, poetry, philosophy [and] history, as well as of religion. . . .38 As Richards lightening brain (II, 175) grows larger through learning, he ascends the mount of knowledge (II, 158), proceeding from the study of mathematics, geometry and language to the study of human history, classical literature (Virgil, Homer, Sophocles), classical philosphy (Plato), and in the world beyond the classroom to the failures of formal religion and the fraudulence and inequality of capitalist society. While Richards extramural studies speak more loudly of Lampmans own socialism and anti-sacerdotalism than of Arnolds particular (though not entirely dissimilar) attitudes to nineteenth-century religion and society, the presence of the English thinker is once again centrally felt when, towards the end of the second part of the poem, the Canadian poet provides a catalogue of Richards studies in English literature:
Like the omission from this catalogue of Byron, the admiration at its conclusion for Coleridge and Shelley (whom Scott curiously enough deleted from his edition of the poem) accords less with Arnolds views of these poets39 than with Lampmans opinion of them as expressed in his essays on The Revolt of Islam (1880), The Poetry of Byron (n. d.), Poetic interpretation (n. d.) and Style (n. d.). The references to Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats and Gray, however, point cumulatively to an Arnoldian influence behind Lampmans conception of the central corpus of English poetry. Both Shakespeare and Milton were continually important to Arnold (Miltons line for him, as evidently for Lampman, was a model for the grand style), and of course Wordsworth, Keats, and Gray are the subjects of three of Arnolds finest and most influential later essays.40 Indeed, the 1879 essay on Wordsworth, which makes him the most considerable41English poet after Shakespeare and Milton, deserves particular mention here as being largely responsible for creating the literary climate in which the highly Wordsworthian Story of an Affinity was written. That Richards curriculum in English poetry (not to mention classical literature) in the second part of the poem is in effect the result of two processes of selection, the first by Arnold and the second by Lampman, helps to account for the somewhat narrow range of poets that he is given to study.
Towards the end of the second part of The Story of an Affinity, between his intense study of various sciences (II, 451-475) and his selective reading of English poetry (II, 541-563), Richard once more gives in to his old desire of wandering and, leaving his books, travels in characteristic Lampman fashion beyond the citys wearying roar to cool his hot brain amid the blossoming fields and salve his spirit in the peaceful woods (II, 476-482). This is an important interlude because, when it is compared, as Richard in fact compares it, with his wandering experiences in the first part of the poem, its combination of emotion and thought, feeling and intellect, throws into relief the extent to which his Arnoidian programme of studies has succeeded in creating in him a finely tempered nature . . . a harmonious perfection, a perfection in which the characters of beauty and intelligence are both present, which unites the two noblest of things sweetness and light. 42 Sitting by some gurgling forest brook / In still communion with all forms of life and with The sense of kinship filling his wide heart / With dim mysterious joy (II, 485-488), Richard comes to understand that
The association of light with intelligence in the final line of this passage is as unmistakable as the implication in the passage as a whole that Richard has achieved the balance and regulation of mind43, the combination of sense (light) and sensitivity (sweetness), that has been the goal of his Arnoidian education.
As if to exemplify Arnolds assertion in Culture and Anarchy that Perfection, as culture conceives it, is not possible while the individual remains isolated,44 Richard is joined in the paragraph immediately following the passage describing his solitary reverie by a fellow friend/ To Beauty and the wisdom drawn from earth (II, 507-508): the poet. After drawing into close communion (II, 523) in the natural environment, the two friends (II, 522) return together to the city where, in due course, the poet introduces Richard to his three fair friends, the Fine ladies of an exquisite way of life (II, 581-582). As notable in these events as the emphasis on friendship (a theme evident earlier in Part II of The Story of an Affinity and elsewhere in Lampmans canon45) is the presence here of a pattern that is typical of poetry belonging, like Lampmans (and, indeed, Arnolds) to the humanitarian tradition of social romanticism: the pattern of excursion and return which serves to affirm the priority of the communal over the solitary, the community over the individual. As Arnold states the matter in Culture and Anarchy: The individual is required [by culture] . . . to carry others along with him in his march towards perfection, to be continually doing all he can to enlarge and increase the volume of the human stream sweeping thitherward.46 That Lampman conceived the social function of the poet in almost precisely these terms47 probably explains the role of the poet in The Story of an Affinity in assisting Richard in the final stages of his upward journey towards sweetness and light. It also helps to explain why Richard becomes himself a teacher and a lecturer (II, 656-658) and why, in the third part of the poem, he returns, like the wise Odysseus after wandering far/ Through many outer lands (II, 279-280), to his Penelope and to his Ithaca.48 In Lampmans world, as in Arnolds, culture and happiness are imperfect unless they are shared.
While Richard has been growing through triumphant toil/ And steadfast will, and prospering fortunes . . . / To his souls spreading stature . . . (III, 1-3) in the second part of The Story of an Affinity, Margaret Hawthorne has been enveloped in A mist of melancholy industry (III, 14) by the monotonous round/ of duties and . . . petty cares (III, 8-9) that comprise her day-to-day life. All but disprized of her dream of onward and heroic toil, she has nevertheless retained enough grace (III, 97), beauty (III, 98) and amplitude of thought (III, 48) to attract a suitor with the somewhat unfortunate name of John Vantassel. With Richards return Margaret is in essence faced with her own Choice of Hercules along the lines of the one in Lampmans Happiness essay. On the one hand, and, as it were, with the aegis of Pallas Athene (the goddess of wisdom) over his head, stands a Richard whom she recognizes, not merely as a strong lover (III, 289), but also as her spirits answering type (III, 306). (Apparently having read Goethes Die Wahlverwandtschaften The Elective Affinities49 during his Arnoldian encounter with the best that is known and thought, Richard conceives his interaction with Margaret as emanating from a bond of affinity that is sacred and inherent [III, 670].) On the other hand (and, it might be said, with a mere tassel as his emblem), stands a figure who, though exemplary as a man and attractive as a friend, offers Margaret only what lies behind the third portal in the essay on Happiness: the way of the commonplace, the path of routine. Or, as Margaret herself thinks of it, her life with John Vantassel would be still/ The same long round of plain activities (III, 195-196). Since she still possesses a residue of the inspiration, individual purpose, and consciousness of soul50 which, in the Happiness essay, are entirely absent from those who choose the third portal, Margaret of course but after much anguish and deliberation makes the spiritually and romantically correct choice of Richard over Vantassel.
With conjugal happiness now clearly in the offing, Richard performs the last of his Herculean labours: the governing of a wrathful and reasonless Vantassel (III, 595-690) that begins with the use of a gentle voice and ends with the rational employment of his mountainous strength. Will you be governed now?, he asks the enraged man after first lifting him into the air (as Hercules lifted Gaia) and then pinning him like a feather to the earth (III, 651,653). You have conquered both by force of hands, says Vantassel, and by force of soul. I yield (III, 681-682). Like two other Herculean narratives, Crawfords Malcolms Katie and Groves Settlers of the Marsh, The Story of an Affinity draws to a comic close with the achievement by a happy and mature couple of a blissful state that comes complete with allusions to the conclusion of Paradise Lost:
That the paths are cool and the future bright may be taken as the final indication in The Story of an Affinity of the temperance and enlightenment that have been attained by a Herculean hero whose passions were at the poems outset as hot as his mind was dark. It should also be noticed of this concluding passage that its depiction of the couple making their orderly and upward progress through a composed and peaceful landscape provides a marked contrast to the description of a violent, instinctive and even decadent land of fruit and flowers at the beginning of the poem. Where earlier The robins had storm[ed] the vineyards, the peach had Puff[ed] up its yellow juices till it crack[ed], and the wasp had Puncture[d] the swollen grapes and drain[ed] and drain[ed] (I, 9-13), there now exists a governed and governing human presence. It would thus appear that in The Story of an Affinity, no less though more subtly than in a Herculean narrative of pioneer settlement such as Malcolms Katie, there is a connection between the ordering of internal and external nature, microcosm and macrocosm.
In a well-known passage in a letter of April 25, 1894 to E. W. Thomson Lampman wrote à propos another, still unpublished, narrative poem entitled Lisa:
The poem that Lampman was still writing in April, 1894, The Story of an Affinity, shows that by that time he had got largely clear of the influence of Keats. But as the foregoing discussion of The Story of an Affinity has repeatedly indicated, this does not mean that by the eighteen-nineties Lampman had exorcised from his mental outfit his other principal influences, Tennyson,52 Wordsworth and Arnold most obviously in The Story of an Affinity the Wordsworth of Michael, The Prelude, and The Excursion, I (Margaret or The Ruined Cottage), the Tennyson of The Lovers Tale, The Princess and the domestic or English idyls (Dora, Enoch Arden, The Millers Daughter, The Gardeners Daughter), and the Arnold less, in this instance, of the poetry than of the essays and, of course, of Culture and Anarchy. Two Victorian poets of Pre-Raphaelite origins who were also part of Lampmans mental outfit when he wrote The Story of an Affinity are the Dante Gabriel Rossetti of My Sisters Sleep (see the depiction of the Stahlberg household near the end of Part I) and The Blessed Damozel (see the depletion of Margaret in Part III), and the William Morris of The Earthly Paradise and The Pilgrims of Hope, two primarily narrative poems which, like the blank-verse narratives of Wordsworth, Tennyson, Keats, Shelley and Milton, lie behind the Canadian poets very considerable skill in handling the deceptively simple matter of telling a story in verse. For students of Lampmans development and achievement, the very variety of voices and ideas that can be discerned beside the poets own in The Story of an Affinity will surely provide an additional source of interest in a poem that has already proved engaging for critics of Canadian literature for a variety of reasons, including its visions of society and women,53 its philosophical and aesthetic implications,54 and its treatment of mythological patterns and of human love.55 For all these, and doubtless many other reasons, The Story of an Affinity deserves attention and study. Now that the poem is readily accessible in its entirety, the hope is that it will find a larger space than before in critical discussions of Canadas finest nineteenth-century poet.
The Present Text
The present text of The Story of an Affinity follows the manuscript in the Library of Parliament in most regards, but an effort has been made to correct evident errors in spelling and wording, and to supply missing punctuation of a substantive nature that is, to supply periods when they are lacking. All these departures from the manuscript have been recorded in the list of Authorial Revisions and Editorial Emendations that follows the poem.
Few serious difficulties were encountered in the transcription of the manuscript. Fortunately, Lampmans handwriting is readily legible, and with careful examination and attention to context most of the words that he has stroked through or written over can be accurately read or reliably conjectured. There have been difficulties, however, in two areas: (1) in distinguishing in some instances between minuscule and majuscule letters, and (2) in deciding on several occasions whether Lampman, who frequently employed ligatures between words, intended to write one word or two; for example, it is difficult to tell in I, 85 and 102 whether the poet intended Some times or Sometimes. In the attempted resolution of these latter difficulties, three matters have been taken into account: sense, convention and rhythm, with prosodic considerations frequently proving decisive when the issues of sense and convention seemed to be ambiguous or to point nearly equally in different directions.
A high priority was also given to rhythm in approaching another feature of the manuscript of The Story of an Affinity: the absence of commas at the ends of lines where many readers would expect them to be present. The temptation to add these commas has been resisted on the conviction that to Lampmans eye and ear the rhythmic function of the comma as a brief pause could in some instances have been fulfilled by the time required for the reader to travel from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. Similarily, the decision was made to follow Lampman when he chooses either to hyphenate or not to hyphenate compound adjectives, the feeling being that there may well be prosodic reasons behind these choices, as behind the omission in many instances of terminal commas.
A feature of the manuscript of The Story of an Affinity (as, indeed, of other Lampman holographs) is the presence of a variety of spelling conventions and idiosyncrasies. In several instances, the Canadian poet uses spellings that not only seem odd to twentieth- century eyes but are also somewhat unusual and sometimes antiquated in nineteenth-century terms: slight (II, 348) rather than sleight and boyant (III, 129) rather that buoyant, for example, and, on a number of occasions, smoothe, wreathe and siezed. Even though these forms, some of which hearken back to before the eighteenth-century, are not always consistently employed by Lampman, they have been allowed to remain in the text on account of their possible poetic purposes and historical significance. Nor is Lampman entirely consistent in his use of what are now considered British (ardour [I, 286]) and American (ardor [II, 254]) usages. Since the pull exerted on Canadian users of English by British and American habits and conventions in speech and spelling is historically, theoretically and politically of considerable interest, there has been no attempt in the present text to make Lampman consistent in one direction or the other. it may not be insignificant that in Lampmans holograph poems, as in Eph Wheelers pocket in The Imperialist, there are twenty-five cents, an a English sixpence, an a Yankee nickel.
Where Lampman has corrected or revised his manuscript, the text is here printed in its revised state. All such corrections and revisions are recorded in the Authorial Revisions and Editorial Emendations. Also recorded in the Authorial Revisions and Editorial Emendations are instances of changes that have been made in the present text on the authority of the unknown writer who has made pencilled corrections in the Library of Parliament manuscript. The many editorial interventions of Duncan Campbell Scott in the text of The Story of an Affinity that is contained in the Poems of Archibald Lampman (1900) have not been recorded in full; however, Scotts major editorial ommisions in the first and second parts of the poem have been discussed above in the introduction and his major editorial changes to the text in Poems (1900) are recorded in an Appendix (pp. 83-85).
Notes to the Introduction
An Annotated Edition of the Correspondence between Archibald
Lampman and Edward William Thomson (1890-1898), ed., and with an Introduction, by
Helen Lynn (Ottawa: Tecumseh, 1980), p. 149, hereafter cited as Correspondence. In
quotations From Lampmans letters Lynns errors of transcription have been
silently corrected and the ampersand has been silently changed to and.[back]