29 April 2010

James McIntyre's Fair Thames

The end of National Poetry Month approaches, and with it the stragglers in the parade of things McIntyre. I suppose he'll always be remembered as "The Cheese Poet"... a bit unfair, but as noted at the start of the month, the poet brought this on himself. Certainly, the couplet feaured on the title page of his 1889 Poems of James McIntyre didn't help:
"Fair Canada is our Theme,
Land of rich cheese, milk and cream."
The dairy does distract, but McIntyre is honest in writing that his theme is Canada. "Canada Before Confederation", "Canada's Future" and "Birth of Canada as a Nation" kick things off, leading to poems about maple sugar, the railway, the North-West Rebellion and a tribute to politicians, living and dead.

The centrepiece of this self-published collection is not McIntyre's seventeen "Dairy and Cheese Odes", but "Sketches on the Banks of the Canadian Thames". Twelve poems in all, they deal with the river that McIntyre calls the "Happiest spot". It's the same body of water that in April 1891, two years after publication, overflowed its banks and quite literally carried away his livelihood.

He never published another book.

The vale of the Thames, St Marys, Ontario


  1. This isn't directly related to today's entry, but has The Dusty Bookshelf seen this site?


    I assume there are Canadian authors among these titles.

  2. My thanks for the link. All good fun until my eyes started to bleed. I wasn't able to pick out one author, but then my knowledge of Canadian science fiction doesn't extend much beyond TekWar.

    Should anyone spot a Canadian title in the bunch, please do let me know.