Bliss Carman Criticism - Essay

Arthur Symons (review dates 1894, 1895, 1897)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Arthur Symons' Reviews of Bliss Carman,” in Canadian Poetry, Vol. 37, Winter, 1995, pp. 100-13.

[In the following essays, originally printed in the journal Athenaeum in 1894, 1895, and 1897, Symons reviews Carman's Low Tide on Grand Pré, Songs from Vagabondia, Behind the Arras, and More Songs from Vagabondia. For an introduction to these reviews, please refer to Tracy Ware's essay (1995), below.]


Mr. Bliss Carman is a young Canadian poet whose work has been more or less known, both in America and here, for some...

(The entire section is 3294 words.)

Desmond Pacey (essay date 1950)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Bliss Carman: A Reappraisal,” in Northern Review, Vol. 3, No. 3, February-March, 1950, pp. 2-10.

[In the following essay, Pacey asserts that, while Carman's body of poetry is mostly unoriginal and of negligible quality, several of his early poems exhibit a fine mastery of mood and atmosphere. Pacey concludes that, while Carman was no great poet, he deserves recognition for such exceptional early poems as “Low Tide on Grand Pré.”]

An interesting study could be made of the curve of Bliss Carman's reputation. At the height of his fame, in the first two decades of this century, he enjoyed a status higher than that ever accorded another Canadian poet. All...

(The entire section is 3559 words.)

Desmond Pacey (essay date 1958)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Bliss Carman,” in Ten Canadian Poets: A Group of Biographical and Critical Essays, Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1958, pp. 85-113.

[In the following excerpt, Pacey provides an overview of Carman's major volumes of poetry, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. He concludes that, while Carman's body of work is mostly flawed and unremarkable, some of his poetry demonstrates a mastery of mood and atmosphere, and is notable for its celebration of the Canadian Maritime region.]

The poetry of Bliss Carman offers some unusual difficulties to the critic. Its mere volume is one difficulty: a detailed poem-by-poem analysis would take an enormous amount of space. As I...

(The entire section is 7879 words.)

Donald Stephens (essay date 1966)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Performance,” in Bliss Carman, New York: Twayne, 1966, pp. 40-89.

[In the following essay, Stephens discusses poems from Carman's Low Tide on Grand Pré, the Vagabondia series, By the Aurelian Wall, the Pipes of Pan series, and the Sappho lyrics, evaluating Carman's strengths and weaknesses as a poet. Stephens concludes that, while Carman's poetry lacks “depth,” he is undoubtedly a master at evoking a sense of place through vivid descriptions of landscape.]

Bliss Carman himself was able to recognize the value and quality of his own work. In a letter to his sister, written in 1892, after a few broadsheets of his poems...

(The entire section is 17694 words.)

C. Nelson-McDermott (essay date 1990)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Passionate Beauty: Carman's Sappho Poems,” in Canadian Poetry, Vol. 27, Fall, 1990, pp. 40-45.

[In the following essay, Nelson-McDermott reevaluates Carman's collection, Sappho Poems. He explains that previous critics have tended to discuss the Sappho poems in terms of Carman's “feminine” sensibilities; by contrast, Nelson-McDermott closely examines “Lyric LIV,” from Sappho Poems, in terms of its aesthetic qualities as a poem.]

D.M.R. Bentley opens his “Preface: Minor Poets of a Superior Order” with a passage from Wallace Stevens:

At the library yesterday, I skipped through...

(The entire section is 2769 words.)

Thomas Vincent (essay date Summer 1991)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Bliss Carman's ‘Low Tides,’” in Canadian Literature, Vol. 129, Summer, 1991, pp. 130-33.

[In the following essay, Vincent compares Carman's well-known poem “Low Tide on Grand Pré” (1893) with an earlier version of the same poem, titled “Low Tide on Avon” (1886).]

The publication of “Low Tide on Grand-Pré” in the Atlantic Monthly of March 1887 has been generally recognized by literary critics as the first significant milestone in Bliss Carman's development as a poet. It reflects an increased confidence in craftsmanship, a deeper maturity in poetic voice, and a greater clarity of poetic vision and direction. Carman...

(The entire section is 1868 words.)

Tracy Ware (essay date 1995)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to “Arthur Symons' Reviews of Bliss Carman” in Canadian Poetry, Vol. 37, Winter, 1995, pp. 100-102.

[Tracy Ware provides an “Introduction,” written in 1995, to a series of reprints of reviews (please see Arthur Symons' reviews [1894, 1895, and 1897], above) of Carman's volumes Low Tide on Grand Pré, Songs from Vagabondia, Behind the Arras, and More Songs from Vagabondia. Ware explains that Symons “played a key role” in establishing Carman's early reputation as a poet.]


In the summer of 1890, Arthur Symons wrote Bliss Carman his appreciation of the latter's poems: “There is...

(The entire section is 1277 words.)