Wild Geese & Other Poems

Wild Geese & Other Poems

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Wild Geese & Other Poems

Frontispiece decorative art by A.Y. Jackson; lettering by Thoreau MacDonald.
Barker Fairley

Edited and Introduced by Gary Michael Dault

6 X 9 inches, 66 pages

Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 7

'IN 1922, Barker Fairley's scholarly writing and his paintings were ahead of him, and he didn't intend to write poetry. It happened, however, that for whatever reason—Fairley attributes it to a temporary build-up of tension in his personal life, an episode he has always cheerfully dismissed as "of little interest to anybody else" and resolutely refuses to talk about—the poems began to come to him fully formed though utterly unbidden, at the rate of about one a week. The poems were invariably formally finished, their often unusual though immaculately turned rhymes as neat as dancing, their sometimes intricate paradoxes, reinforced by structural reversals and symmetries and linguistic mirror images, as satisfying as cabinetry. Fairley remembers that he wrote them straight out, as if he were taking dictation, as if he were a conduit through which these subtly-crafted lyrical artifacts were flowing to earth from some mysterious spiritus mundi of which he had never dreamt.'

—Gary Michael Dault

"... some of them are like filberts they are so delicately packed with what they say."
—Walter de la Mare, on reading the collection in typescript in 1924

No mortal mother made me
To feel the warm blood flow,
The years have not betrayed me
To hunger and to know.

A wiser mother made me;
From searings and from shock
The cooling years have stayed me.
I am the rock.

The Rock


Barker Fairley



Barker Fairley lived to a great old age. He was born in 1887. In conversation with Gary Michael Dault, when Fairley was 97, he said, "... I was a poet for one year and not a poet for the other ninety-five." That year was 1922. Fairley was thirty five. So he was a poet, but also a world renowned scholar of German literature and a painter—a painter indeed whose clean unsentimental evocations of the southern Ontario countryside won him, late in life, a wide and respectful audience.

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