Thomas Humphry Ward, ed. The English Poets. 18801918. Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Critical Introduction by Pelham Edgar
William Henry Drummond (18541907)
[Born 1854, at Currawn, Co. Leitrim, Ireland; died in Canada, 1907. He came as a boy to Canada, where he subsequently practised medicine and engaged in mining. Three volumes of verse appeared in his lifetime: The Habitant, Johnny Courteau, and The Voyageur; and posthumously The Great Fight, with a memoir by his wife.]
THE DEMAND is frequently made upon our poets to write verse that is distinctively Canadian, and Drummond in his clever dialect poetry has satisfied that demand more nearly than any of our writers save a still living singer of our Klondike civilization. It is a poetry that when well executed obtains and deserves its popularity, but when one has praised the skill in rhyming and the poets power to fix a definite type of character, the work of criticism is complete. Genre poetry by its nature is sectional rather than national. The merit of Drummonds performance is that with much humour and sympathetic insight he has portrayed a section of our Canadian people that is both imposing as to numbers and has had time to develop well-marked characteristics. Our English-speaking Canadian (one makes exception of the Irish, Scotch, or English emigrant) eludes the analysis of poetry, and will prove for many years to come a baffling problem for the novelist. But the French-Canadian habitant has his aptitudes and his limitations, his prejudices and his passions, laid bare to the eye of the skilled observer. Yet so convincing is the picture that Drummond gives us that we run the risk of under-estimating the genius that contrived it.