Joseph Howe and Thomas D’Arcy McGee: Nation-Builders and Poets
Rediscovered by Matthew Holmes, reviews editor of [_Arc Poetry Magazine_], poet and former bureaucrat.
Before the so-called long-hailed Confederation Poets there were passionate, visionary politicians such as Joseph Howe and Thomas D’Arcy McGee (a former Irish rebel later assassinated on an Ottawa street after giving a stirring speech in the House of Commons). Howe and McGee were accomplished poets and statesmen who deserve credit for planting the seeds of our national literature. Howe and McGee penned their verse in between strident efforts at nation-building, thus shaping the country through both politics and writing. Was their poetry any good? Was it expectedly patriotic, or did it hold surprises? Does it remain historically significant? This essay explores these and other questions, while introducing the work of two of Canada’s earliest bards.