This Week in History
Archibald Lampman: Lyricist of the Earth
For the week of Monday November 11, 2002
On November 17, 1861, Archibald Lampman was born in Morpeth, Canada West (now Ontario). A writer who loved nature, Lampman is recognized today as one of the best Canadian poets of the 19th century.
Lampman found his clerical job tedious, but he spent his evenings writing, carefully working to perfect his skills as a poet. He soon became friends with another young public servant, Duncan Campbell Scott, and encouraged him to write poetry. The two men often spent their free time together, sharing poems, and walking and canoeing in the Ottawa area.
In 1887, Lampman married Maud Playter, with whom he had three children. The following year, he independently published his first volume of poetry, Among the Millet and Other Poems, which was favourably reviewed. He regularly published poems in periodicals, including The Week in Canada and Scribner’s Magazine in the United States. In 1895, he issued another book of poetry entitled Lyrics of the Earth. However, his poetry was never very profitable financially.
Lampman experimented with different poetic forms and subjects, but he has been particularly recognized for his nature lyrics. His exceptional ability to capture the sights, sounds and textures of the natural world has guaranteed him an enduring place in Canadian literature. In “Among the Timothy,” nature’s sounds come alive on the page:
The crickets creak, and through the noonday glow,
On February 10, 1899, with his third volume of poetry, Alcyone, at press, Archibald Lampman died of pneumonia at the age of 37. His friend Duncan Campbell Scott supervised the publication of The Poems of Archibald Lampman after his death.
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