A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921

Cover art for A WORLD OF SONGS: SELECTED POEMS, 1894–1921, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921 is a collection of fifty poems by L.M. Montgomery that is edited by Benjamin Lefebvre. It is organized to pay tribute to the structure of the collection of her poems that Montgomery organized in her lifetime, The Watchman and Other Poems, whose two major sections are entitled “Songs of the Sea” and “Songs of the Hills and Woods,” but the volume includes a wider selection of “songs,” including of place, of memory, of lamentation, of war, of land and sea, of death, and of love. Most of the poems in this volume have never been collected in book form before and were written before the forty-one poems included in Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, the majority of which were first published in periodicals between 1919 and 1942. The book was published by University of Toronto Press as a trade paperback and an unjacketed hardcover in January 2019, with an ebook following in February 2019.

A World of Songs is dedicated to the memory of John Macneill (1930–2017), a relative of L.M. Montgomery who, in partnership with his wife, Jennie Macneill, maintained for many years the Macneill Homestead in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, where Montgomery had been raised by her maternal grandparents. It is the second volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, preceded by A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, with several more volumes in progress.

From Inside the Book

Celebrated as a novelist and made famous by her novel Anne of Green Gables and its sequels, L.M. Montgomery (1874–1942) is far less known for also writing and publishing hundreds of poems over a period of half a century. Although this output included a chapbook and a full-length collection in which she presented herself primarily as a nature poet, most of her poems appeared in periodicals, including women’s magazines, farm papers, faith-based periodicals, daily and weekly newspapers, and magazines for children. As a shrewd businesswoman, she learned to find the balance between literary quality and commercial saleability and continued to publish poetry even though it paid less than short fiction.

A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, the second volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, gathers a selection of fifty poems originally published across a twenty-five-year period. Benjamin Lefebvre organizes this work within the context of Montgomery’s life and career, claiming her not only as a nature poet but also as the author of a wider range of “songs”: of place, of memory, of lamentation, of war, of land and sea, of death, and of love. Many of these poems echo motifs that readers of Montgomery’s novels will recognize, and many more explore surprising perspectives through the use of male speakers. These poems offer today’s readers a new facet of the career of Canada’s most enduringly popular author.

Contents

Acknowledgments (ix)

A Note on the Author (xi–xii)

Abbreviations (xiii–xiv)

Preface (xv–xix)

Overture

The Gable Window (5–6)

Prelude

The Poet’s Thought (9)

Songs of Place

In Lovers’ Lane (13–14)

The Fir Lane (15–16)

In an Old Garden (17–18)

The Old Home Calls (19)

The Exile (20)

The Summons (21)

Songs of Memory

Three Days (25)

Companioned (26)

Do You Remember? (27)

Memory Pictures (28)

Interlude

The Singer (31)

Songs of Lamentation

Irrevocable (35)

I Would Be Well (36–37)

Night Watches (38–39)

If I Had Known (40)

The Book (41)

Longing (42)

The Mother (43–44)

Songs of War

The Last Prayer (47–48)

The Three Songs (49–50)

We Who Wait (51)

Our Women (52)

Interlude

One of the Shepherds (55–57)

Songs of Land and Sea

When the Fishing Boats Go Out (61)

When the Fishing Boats Come In (62–63)

Rain in the Woods (64)

My Pictures (65)

The Wind in the Poplars (66–67)

The Sea-Shell (68)

Before Storm (69)

A Shore Picture (70)

The Sea to the Shore (71)

Songs of Death

Too Late (75–76)

I Have Buried My Dead (77–78)

Omega (79–80)

An Old Man’s Grave (81)

The Treasures (82)

Songs of Love

If Love Should Come (85)

Assurance (86)

The Gray Silk Gown (87–88)

On the Bridge (89)

Gratitude (90)

With Tears They Buried You To-day (91–92)

Forever (93)

To One Hated (94)

The Lover’s Catechism (95)

Postlude

The Poet (99)

Coda

What I Would Ask of Life (103)

Afterword (105–20)

Notes (121–28)

Bibliography (129–34)

Index by Title (135–36)

Index by Date (137–38)

Index by First Line (139–40)

Praise

“The two greatest strengths of A World of Songs are its author and its editor, the first a major Canadian writer whose books have sold millions of copies – a fact that has not disqualified her from being the subject of serious academic scholarship – the other a world-renowned Montgomery scholar with, to judge by his publications, an encyclopedic knowledge of her work.”
André Narbonne, Department of English, University of Windsor

“L.M. Montgomery’s verse has considerably more merit than that of many popular versifiers and yet has been unduly neglected, even by Montgomery scholars. A World of Songs expands the current limited horizon of Montgomery’s verse and possesses biographical/historical interest, including insights into publishing verse in the late Romantic period.”
Kevin McCabe, co-editor of The Poetry of Lucy Maud Montgomery

“L.M. Montgomery is a major writer of personal and general significance to many readers, and her work is of wide interest. The poems selected for this volume complement her better-known novels and short stories. Reading them will reward readers with insights and unanticipated pleasures.”
Jane Ledwell, PEI poet and co-editor of L.M. Montgomery and War

Metadata

Editor: Benjamin Lefebvre
Paratexts: “A Note on the Author,” preface, afterword, and notes by Benjamin Lefebvre
Publisher: University of Toronto Press (Toronto)
Date: 2019
Format: Trade paperback/unjacketed hardcover
Trim: 5.5” x 8.5”
Pagination: xx + 140 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-4875-2369-5 (paper), 978-1-4875-0509-7 (cloth)
Series: The L.M. Montgomery Library