Canadian Poetry

The earliest works of poetry, mainly written by visitors, described the new territories in optimistic terms, mainly targeted at a European audience. One of the first works was Robert Hayman's Quodlibets, composed in Newfoundland and published in 1628.

With the growth of English language communities near the end of the 18th century, poetry aimed at local readers began to appear in local newspapers. These writings were mainly intended to reflect the prevailing cultural values of the time and were modeled after English poetry of the same period.

Oliver Goldsmith's long poem The Rising Village appeared in 1825. It was a response to The Deserted Village by his namesake and great-uncle Oliver Goldsmith.

In the first half of the 19th century, poetic works began to reflect local subjects. Acadia by Joseph Howe and The Saint Lawrence and the Saguenay by Charles Sangster are examples of this trend. Early nationalistic verses were composed by writers including Thomas D'Arcy McGee. Many "regional" poets also espoused the British political and aesthetic jingoism of the period. For example, High Tory loyalist & occasional poet Thomas H. Higginson of Vankleek Hill, Ontario, produced paeans to Sir Francis Bond Head (Wm. Lyon Mackenzie's opponent) and the British war effort in the Crimea (such as Sonnet to Florence Nightingale and others), while producing some interesting nature verse exemplifying the all-pervasive influence of Wordsworth's view of nature and the sublime.

In 1857, Charles Heavysege attracted international (British and American) attention for his verse drama Saul.

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