Thursday, 15 August 2013

John Glassco Letters: Excerpt IV

Foster, Quebec 
February 11, 1967 
Your words about poets being prophets have made me think. They have sent me back to [Hector de Saint-Denys] Garneau’s Journal, and I find his ‘Notes on Nationalism’ express my own position perfectly. Nationalism is a straight-jacket, as much for those who impose it as those who are subjected to it. Also, I distrust revolutions: they end in Napoleons, every time. And, how lucky we all are that Wolfe defeated Montcalm! Napoleon would have sold all Lower Canada to the States, along with Louisiana. Instead of celebrating Montcalm as Hertel does, le grand aincu, avec ce coquelicot, là, sur la poitrine, (he was only a tough old professional soldier, after all) we should think of that young, amateur, the chinless, consumptive poile de carrotte Wolfe, reciting bad poetry as he floated down the river to Quebec. Without him, we might be burning our draft cards today. Of course he had a bit of luck, too.

Is it not time we abandoned the mother-image of Quebec, however swelling, beautiful and bountiful her breasts may be? Not herself, but her poetic image. The latter will be hard to replace, I know. As hard to replace as the image of my own beloved city of Montreal, that dear old whore whose face they are trying to lift for Expo…

From The Heart Accepts It All: The Selected Letters of John Glassco, edited by Brian Busby.
Previous letters: Robert McAlmonIrving Layton, Al Purdy.

No comments: