Anxious Allegiances

Anxious Allegiances: Legitimizing Identity in the Early Canadian Long Poem

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Anxious Allegiances
    Book Description:

    Relying upon deconstruction, discourse analysis, and close examination of contemporary historical events, Mazoff identifies and explores the periodic "ruptures" in the texts - inconsistencies, contradictions, anomalies, and deflections - that underscore the tension between the "unsaid" (the real historical, economic, and social conditions) and the surface level of the narrative (the aesthetic and genre constraints). His analysis reveals the extent to which problems of allegiance, anxiety, and identity were inextricably involved in the colonial and national projects, an involvement which the poetry, despite its intentions, could neither mask nor resolve.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6710-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Early Canadian long poems, in particular those that are topographical, have often had the telling, or, perhaps more accurately, the retelling of history as one of their ancillary functions.² Many of these poems have tried to account for and to answer, to varying degrees, the very issues that J. Sheridan Hogan, quoted above, addressed over one hundred years ago — issues that were still deemed significant enough to warrant a reprint of his essay in 1970, and issues that have continued to perplex Canadians ever since the first Europeans arrived. From Thomas Gary’sAbram’s Plainsin 1789, to Hogan’s essay in...

  5. 2 Holding the Fort
    (pp. 13-48)

    InAbram’s Plains: A Poem(1789), Thomas Gary, claiming to rely upon the poetic models of James Thomson, Alexander Pope and Oliver Goldsmith,² sets out to describe the blessings of life in the colonies. Rather than focusing on the rural virtues extolled by his predecessors, however, Cary portrays the fruits of life in this about-to-be domesticated wilderness largely in economic and commercial terms, a portrayal strikingly at odds with the rural vision of the models he extols.

    For example inThe Traveller,orA Prospect of Society,the Anglo-Irish Goldsmith is at pains to show that material wealth is insufficient...

  6. 3 Acadia’s Shores
    (pp. 49-74)

    The earliest long poems written in the Maritimes were narrative verse satires, and the most important of the satirists was Jacob Bailey, an Anglican minister who was born in British North America but fled to Nova Scotia with his family after the American Revolution. That discussion of Bailey’s work is largely absent from critical overviews of the early Canadian long poem is puzzling; despite the fact that an anthology of early Maritime verse satire was published in 1978,² the critical emphasis during the last two decades has still been upon the long poems of Goldsmith and Howe. Perhaps this critical...

  7. 4 On Empires’ Edge
    (pp. 75-122)

    InTalbot Road(1818), the earliest long poem published in Upper Canada, Adam Hood Burwell, Canada’s first native-born poet of any merit,² relies on a combination of various rhetorical strategies to defend the cause of the Loyalist settlers. These strategies revolve largely around the themes of spiritual elitism and British chauvinism (“fair freedom’s chosen race” [11.143]), underscoring the general insecurity of the times, the emphasis upon “freedom” and “protection” pointing toward the real sense of threat perceived by those in this outpost of progress:

    ’Twas well — each one a full conviction felt

    That fairer prospects waited where he dwelt;


  8. 5 Conclusion
    (pp. 123-128)

    In its attempt to solve the riddle of Auburn’s exiles and answer the question “Where is here,” the poetry of nineteenth-century Canada as Frye points out, at times little more than “versified rhetoric,” occupying a more important place, perhaps, in the history of ideas the study of aesthetics.² But as we have seen through this analysis of the rhetoric so inextricably at work in the early Canadian long poem, it is the very presence of the seemingly disjunctive rhetorical strategies in the verse — strategies faulted by those whose focus is exclusively on the aesthetic — that proves useful in helping to...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 129-154)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 155-167)
  11. Index
    (pp. 168-174)