Alfred G. Bailey


  1. Biography
  2. Why Should We Read and Study Bailey?
  3. Literature & Analysis
    • “Here in the East”
    • Analysis of “Here in the East”
    • “The Muskrat and the Whale”
    • Analysis of “The Muskrat and the Whale”
    • “Miramichi Lightning”
    • Analysis of “Miramichi Lightning”
    • “Mr. McGinty’s Claw”
    • “The Wicked Nurse”
    • “House of Commons, 1934”
    • Analysis of “House of Commons, 1934”
    • “Reflections on a Hill Behind a Town”
  4. Questions and Considerations for Reflection
  5. Strategies for Teachers
  6. Further Reading
  7. Copyright


More than anyone else, Alfred Goldsworthy Bailey is responsible for having brought literary modernism to New Brunswick. Born in Quebec City on 18 March 1905, Bailey spent his childhood between Quebec City, Tadoussac, and Fredericton. A renowned historian as well as a poet, Bailey’s ethno-historical and cultural studies, notably The Conflict of European and Eastern Algonkian Cultures, 1504-1700: A Study in Canadian Civilization (1937, 1969) and Culture and Nationality: Essays (1972), are considered hallmarks of Canadian cultural history. Bailey’s early poetry in Songs of the Saguenay (1927) and Tao (1930) was traditional in form and style, exhibiting the influence of the Confederation Poets, especially Bliss Carman. In Border River (1952), however, he introduced a radical and contemporary style that combined penetrating explorations of history and the natural world with the imagistic precision of modernism. Founding the Bliss Carman Society in 1940 and The Fiddlehead (1945) five years later, Bailey pioneered literary modernism in New Brunswick in his own poetry and through his encouragement and mentorship of younger poets like Elizabeth Brewster, Fred Cogswell, and Robert Gibbs. As a poet, historian, university administrator, and cultural activist, Bailey’s impact on literature and culture both within New Brunswick and across Canada was immense.

For a much more detailed biography of Bailey, see his New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia entry.

Why Should We Read and Study Bailey?

  • As an early Canadian modernist, Bailey’s poems are excellent examples of literary modernism. Some readers find his poetry difficult at first but that difficulty invites and then rewards patience. Like all modernists, he combines feelings with thought, exploring ideas with language that is as innovative as it is precise. “House of Commons, 1934” below is one such example of his masterful use of language. There are few poets in Canada who better illustrate the workings of modernism in their poetry.
  • Bailey’s historical work, much of which deals with the history of New Brunswick and the Maritime provinces, deeply informs his poetry. To read his poetry is to enter the history of our region, and to experience that history in all its glory, folly, and misery.
  • As an ethno-historian, Bailey was a Canadian pioneer in the study of “first contact” between Europeans and the First Peoples of Canada. His critical work and poetry (see, for example, “Miramichi Lightning”) thus predates by fifty years much of what is being done today in studying aboriginal cultures. Readers will note Bailey’s use of aboriginal imagery and symbolism in “Miramichi Lightning,” and appreciate how, in using that imagery, we are able to understand the power of a sudden summer storm in new and terrifying ways.

Literature & Analysis

“Here in the East”

Here in the east the barns are empty of grass
and commerce has moved to the focal canals
            and freight yards
of the smoking west.
From the muddy rims of the tidal estuaries
the wrecks of tugs stick out, a tourist’s emblem,
graphs of decay and a kind of awakening.
Framed through the posts of a once-fenced field
Our glaucous vision rests on rusted trash
thrown long ago.
The tons of timber buoyed on the teeming
are nothing now but a yellowed notation
            in an archivist’s scrapbook.
Last week a class of grade-eight pupils
            were told by their teacher
of Champlain, La Tour, Chandler and Mitchell,
            and the tribe of Glasiers.
When they grow up they will forget all that and
go to live in Toronto.

Analysis of  “Here in the East”

Short and incisive, Bailey’s “Here in the East” was first published in the winter 1959 issue of The Fiddlehead and later included in Thanks For a Drowned Island (1973). Like several other poems published in that collection, “Here in the East” provides a socio-political commentary on a familiar Maritime theme. In the poem, Bailey captures, through a series of simple images, the Maritime region’s history of deindustrialization, economic decline, and outmigration. In contrast with many of his more difficult modernist poems, “Here in the East” features the epigrammatic style characteristic of much of Bailey’s modernist verse while remaining accessible to first time readers of his poetry. Straightforward and unambiguous, the poem also provides a nuanced depiction of the Maritime condition in which the austere realm of regional economics is made relevant to the individual.

The poem begins with a contrast between the poor, needy east and the affluent west. Empty barns, deserted ships, rusting metal, and fallow fields are the most prominent images that feature in Bailey’s portrait. Together, these images create a sense of abandonment and deterioration: the “commerce” that once kept the barns and fields flush has moved from the east to the “focal canals / and freight yards / of the smoking west.” However, the same images convey to the reader a sense of past prosperity, a time when “tons of timber buoyed on the teeming / river.”

This sense of history is deepened in lines fifteen to eighteen as the perspective of the poem shifts from the decaying Maritime landscape to a class of grade-eight students being taught about the history of the Maritimes. The subjects of their history lesson suggest the rich and diverse heritage of the region: Samuel de Champlain (15741635), the French explorer, cartographer, and founder of New France; Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour (15931666), an early French settler at Port-Royal and Governor of Acadia; Edward Barron Chandler (18001880), a New Brunswick lawyer, politician, and Father of Confederation; Peter Mitchell (18241899), a New Brunswick politician, Father of Confederation, and lumber and ship-building entrepreneur; and the Glasier family, pioneers of the timber trade in nineteenth-century New Brunswick.

Significantly, two of these individuals, Chandler and Mitchell, were Fathers of Confederation, and a third, John Glasier, was a strong proponent of Confederation and the subsequent National Policy. What is unmentioned, but implied, is that Confederation and the resulting reorganization of the province’s economy contributed to the regional economic decline described in the first fourteen lines of the poem. Thus, in “Here in the East,” these historical figures are both admirable – entrepreneurs who once helped the economy thrive – and culpable – politicians who brought New Brunswick into a Confederation that would lead to the province’s decline. For Bailey, however, these men are not blameworthy; rather, they are the victims of their own political decisions, having been caught up in the grandeur and idealism of Macdonald’s vision of a confederated Canada.

Without that historical context, the reader is given no sense of how these individuals figure into the history of the Maritimes. This has an interesting effect, especially given the fact that very few students today would know who la Tour, Chandler, Mitchell, or the Glasiers were, each now occupying a past that is viewed through “glaucous vision,” the poor sight of the sufferer of glaucoma. For the students in “Here in the East,” this history, however glorious and important, is one that will soon be forgotten. Today’s readers are faced with an interesting problem: these figures are not only soon to be forgotten, they’ve already been forgotten in a province that has failed to convey to its youth the history of the region. The poem, then, enacts its own prediction.

The end of the poem drives home the contemporaneity of “Here in the East” as the eventual departure of the students threatens to erase even the memory of the economic prosperity and cultural vitality that the region once enjoyed. Leaving the Maritimes for central Canada, these young people are like so many today who continue to move west in search of employment and education. “Here in the East” thus serves as a call for readers to remember their past as they look toward the future.

“The Muskrat and the Whale”

The muskrat in his brook is
            not a contemptible fellow.
No one ever really supposed that he was,
even though his habit is narrow
and confined because
of certain data of existence
best known to himself and
other frequenters of the shallow
bed of gurgling water that he works and
                                                plays in.
His reason
liberates his nights and days in
the medium this reason both foreshadows
                                    and reflects.
He is satisfied and we are satisfied to
                                    see him so.
We would not want his goings-out and
deliberate and slow,
occasionally as rapid as a ball bouncing over
to be in startling opposition to his native
nor to anticipate its destiny in sea and surf.
Let whales wake and sleep in their
                                    own water,
the muskrat in his.
His bliss, like an emulsion, injects
his veins and arteries, a whale’s
capillaries accommodate a liquor
immense and sedate.
Dignity and industry lend size to the muskrat.
His size is his own and mete.
The whale may think his dignity is greater.
The muskrat would be able, if the
                                    thought struck him,
to prove his own title to this quality,
                                    sooner or later.

Analysis of  “The Muskrat and the Whale”

Appearing in Thanks for a Drowned Island (1973), “The Muskrat and the Whale” is perhaps Bailey’s finest poem – and certainly one of his most delightful. It is an example of his “cerebral” or “Metaphysical” modernism, his poetry of thought, yet it is readily accessible to all readers.

The poem contrasts the (lowly) muskrat and the (regal) whale, both different in many ways, but each similar in being lord of its domain. Where the muskrat is sleek, bounding, and playful, the whale is immense, slow, and sedate. Where the muskrat calls a brook its home, and is therefore “mete” or bounded in narrow confines, the whale calls the ocean home, and therefore moves in infinite dimensions. With brains “wider than the sky,” as American poet Emily Dickinson defined us, humans tend to attach greater dignity to size, and so extend more worth to the (regal) whale than to the (lowly) muskrat. So it is with the eagle and the bat.

Yet Bailey’s poem cautions against such easy assumptions, reminding us that each creature accepts and reflects the reality within which it exists. The muskrat’s world is thus every bit a kingdom, and unquestionably so, as is the whale’s world (and the human’s): “reason / liberates ... nights and days in / the medium this reason both foreshadows / and reflects.” We all exist, in other words, in our own realities, none of those “contemptible.” Every creature’s world is therefore “best known to himself,” and not to be judged in proportion.

The idea of the poem challenges the social Darwinism that most of us learn from an early age – the notion that the fittest among us succeed because of personal attributes that are naturally and socially selected in competitive interactions with others. Bailey overturns that dominant social Darwinist thinking with evidence of the equal dignity of small and large alike, an equality that brings a needed balance into our world. The result is respect for all creatures, regardless of size, and joy that everything exists in its own dimensions: “He is satisfied and we are satisfied to / see him so.”

Beyond its challenge to social Darwinism, the poem can also be read as an allegory of the fate of small things in larger configurations. Perhaps Bailey was thinking of the condition of his own small and increasingly insignificant New Brunswick in the immense Canadian federation of larger provinces and territories. Whatever the case, the poem is a wonderful example of the sort of playful and intellectually dynamic mind that Bailey possessed.

“Miramichi Lightning”

The sachem voices cloven out of the hills
spat teeth in the sea like nails
before the spruce were combed to soughing peace.

They said a goliath alphabet at once
and stopped to listen to their drumming ears
repeat the chorus round a funeral mountain.

Hurdling a hump of whales they juddered east,
and there were horse-faced leaders whipped the breath
from bodies panting on the intervales.

The lights were planets going out for good
as the rancour of a cloud broke off and fell
into the back of town and foundered there.

Analysis of  “Miramichi Lightning”

“Miramichi Lightning” is more difficult to comprehend than “The Muskrat and the Whale” because of Bailey’s linguistic experimentation and imaginative reach in the poem. The poem presents an example of Bailey’s command of language and his use of aboriginal imagery to make a common experience fresh and unfamiliar. Stripped of its unusual imagery, the poem simply describes a summer storm coming down the river, an event familiar to all New Brunswickers. Yet, as all New Brunswickers know, such summer storms are as unexpected and furious as they are brief. How, then, does a poet capture that ferocity? And how does the poet particularize it to place?

In “Miramichi Lightning,” Bailey conjures a human equivalency for the storm’s ferocity: namely, the anger of aboriginal chiefs (“the sachem voices”) who come down out of the hills to express their rage at what has become of their once proud culture. So powerful is this rage that it spits “teeth in the sea like nails,” which is exactly how a violent summer rain pierces waters in rivers and sea. In tandem, rolling thunder (guttural as enraged chiefs) say “a goliath alphabet” of elemental and frightening sound that echoes down the river. Immense and uncontainable, this storm/anger hurdles “a hump of whales” while juddering (violently shaking) east, all the while reducing the men on the riverbanks (“intervales”) to terrified “horse-faced leaders.” And, as quickly as such storms come, so do they subside, the clouds passing by, breaking off, and foundering (or sinking) into the sea.

The magnificent achievement of the poem is in how it employs the imagined rage of a lost aboriginal empire to stand in for the ferocity of a New Brunswick summer storm. Twinning aboriginal anger and meteorological ferocity particularizes the poem to a New Brunswick river valley, and shows the incredible linguistic and imaginative dexterity of Bailey. The poem is a small masterpiece, one that invites a final question: is the poem really about a freak summer storm or about a presiding anger that we all should do much more to heed?

“Mr. McGinty’s Claw”

Mr. McGinty’s claw
was the only one I ever saw.
The hand on which it was affixed
was holding an apple tart,
I was holding a five-cent piece
with which to buy a bun
at the age of six
beneath the elms of Charlotte Street.
It was scary
to one so young.
But as no choice presented itself
I handed Mr. McGinty the money
and remember to this day
the point of his claw catching it up
and a bit of skin from the palm of my hand
                                    along with it.

“The Wicked Nurse”

The wicked nurse with the
wart on her nose who
lurks in the squeaky
stairwell as she
moves the plates a
round prepares for
a meal of rancid
porridge for the
brats upstairs in the
abandoned hay
loft for when
they came down with
their snarls and cob
webbed faces she
will spank them
first with the ha
ndle of the rusty ha
mmer she carries inside
her lacey apron for
this very purpose it
is the very biggest
event in her day she
looks forward to
it she will gloat all
night in the sound of
their coughs and squeals
grinning horribly at
the darkened ceiling in
her great good way
lying in wait for the
next day’s pr
ickings and jabbings

“House of Commons, 1934”

Two very fat men
Go fut bubbers.
This is the age of balloons.
The semblance of a cheese
Raccoons nibble.
Stone walls are rubber buttons
To be pulled
To be pulled.

Analysis of  “House of Commons, 1934”

This is likely the most unusual poem that many readers will have encountered. And it is, again, an example of Bailey’s wonderfully inventive use of language. The poem revisits a particularly dysfunctional period in Canadian politics, and, more specifically, a series of parliamentary acts to which New Brunswick-born Prime Minister R.B. Bennett was privy. Bennett was a member of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister of Canada from 193035, some of the worst years of the Great Depression. He came to office on promises to enact wide-ranging relief but his haphazard government was unable to deliver, and he became a laughing stock and a major cause of dissent both in the House of Commons and in his own party. Much of what he touched turned to dross, and he could never escape the suspicion, not unfounded, that he served the interests of the rich at a time of desperate and deepening poverty.

In 1934, Bennett’s Minister of Trade and Commerce, H.H. Stevens, a Conservative MP from British Columbia, became Chair of a Royal Commission on price spreads. The Commission was called when it was found that the differences between wholesale prices and retail prices were grossly rewarding big business at the expense of consumers. To the surprise of many, Stevens came out on the side of consumers and spoke against Bennett and his rich benefactors, eventually resigning from Bennett’s cabinet. When faced with the evidence, however, Bennett did little to correct the problem, offering only vague notions of a Canadian-styled New Deal reform that voters rejected. In the end, Canadians decided that Bennett was a plant for big business, ousting him soundly in the 1935 federal election.

The question this historical moment raises is how does the poet respond? How does the poet represent ineptitude on such scale, and what does he say to counter it? Bailey’s answer is pure genius. In “House of Commons, 1934,” he chooses to speak against a broken parliament in a broken language, thereby speaking gibberish to gibberish. Do political leaders who promise relief but stall, deflect, and ignore deserve anything more? No, says Bailey’s poem. They deserve the same nonsense they dish out, the gibberish of his lines echoing that nonsense.

Writ large, then, the poem is a rhetorical statement about one of the many positions one can take against injustice. One can speak against injustice by counterargument, or, as in this case, by sending back a duplicate of the message: answering nonsense with nonsense. Who has not dreamed, for instance, of saying to the aggressively rich and self-satisfied, “Hey, consider this: ‘two very fat men / go fut bubbers.’” And while that makes absolutely no grammatical or denotative sense, it makes perfect sense in destabilizing an order upon which the rich and arrogant depend.

From there the poem unravels by the free reign of the imagination. “Balloons” suggest trial balloons and political expediency, taking direction not from need or a moral compass but from what is politic and self-perpetuating. Likewise with “cheese,” which raccoons do indeed nibble, but so do rats and other long-surviving rodents. “Stone walls” suggest stonewalling, and, to the well-read student of Canadian poetry, F.R. Scott’s poem about William Lyon Mackenzie King, R.B. Bennett’s successor:

Truly he will be remembered
Whenever men honour ingenuity,
Ambiguity, inactivity, and political longevity.

Let us raise up a temple to
To the cult of mediocrity,
Do nothing by halves
Which can be done by quarters. (“W.L.M.K.” 61)

Both Bailey’s and Scott’s poems lament the reduction of the grand parliamentary instrument of our democracy to the pulling of strings and the dispensing of favours. How should the 99% respond? Tell the 1% to “go fut bubbers.”

“Reflections on a Hill Behind a Town”

I have to go up that hill again this morning
as I have gone up it these thirty years
in wrack of storm and drift,
in the heat of summer
with the smell of sweet
hay floating off a patch
we never were able to find.
Yet I was always glad when I got there.
The hill was steep, in season
the sun was hot and often the
haze that crept over the town
                        bore a promise of rain,
a boon for the parched areas of ground
                        that needed it, only a little
way out of town the
tomatoes and cabbages;
the squash and pumpkin not yet
bearing in any degree.
At the college on the summit we bore
                       what learning we had
with not too heavy a heart and hand.
We knew many things
that had been known aforetimes,
What they had done who came here
                        at war’s end
to make gentle converse in the
                        timbered wastes,
how they toiled that it might be so,
not always with good intent,
not always in peace the one with another.
They were men.
But kindness was known,
good deeds remembered.
And who would hand it down, the
                        memory of those times?
It was our task we thought
to praise endurance and foresight,
things done in mercy and grandeur,
not forgetting error and misdirection and
hoping to avoid the like in after times,
that knowledge was in itself good
                        and would bear issue
in season, as did the earth around us
and keep us whole.

Questions and Considerations for Reflection

► Read “Here in the East” next to Charles G.D. Roberts’ poem “The Tantramar Revisited” and Alden Nowlan’s poem “They Go Off to Seek Their Fortunes.” Read together, the poems invite a consideration of the long history of the problem of outmigration in our province and region. What does each reveal about “the Maritime condition”? Similarly, what do the poems say about the price that outmigration exacts on young people from the East? Is outmigration a reflection of our deficits, as it is often portrayed in the national media, or a structural consequence of the way Canada has been developed since Confederation?

► Bailey’s work as an ethno-historian informed his work as a poet. Readers may thus want to explore the field of ethno-history. What is it, how does it differ from other methods of historical inquiry, and where does it appear in his poetry? Ethno-history’s alignment with modernist practice (a practice that uses associative thinking) may also be a fruitful area of inquiry and reflection.

► “Miramichi Lightning” is a poem that seems to have bubbled up from place, meaning that it could only have been written in New Brunswick. Scholars and students of New Brunswick would benefit greatly from reading Bailey’s important and influential essay “Creative Moments in the Culture of the Maritime Provinces” for insight into how he considered the development of local versus imported culture. In that essay, Bailey examines the social and economic conditions that must be in place for a society to move from a provincial to a cosmopolitan outlook and status.

Strategies for Teachers

Strategy 1: Free Verse (All poems)

With few exceptions, Bailey’s poems are written in free verse. As a result, the poems lack rhyme and regular metre. This is a common feature of modernist poetry and one that distinguishes it from the earlier work of the Confederation poets. After having students read two or three poems aloud, teachers might ask if the length of the lines, the arrangement of the words on the page, and the rhythm of the verse contribute to the experience and understanding of the poem. Reading “The Muskrat and the Whale” and “The Wicked Nurse” together might offer a fruitful opportunity to explore the way in which the form of a poem can contribute to its meaning even when no predetermined structure is used. Whereas “The Muskrat and the Whale” contains punctuation and longer, prose-like lines, “The Wicked Nurse” contains short lines with no punctuation. Consider lines seventeen to twenty-one of “The Muskrat and the Whale”:

We would not want his goings-out and
deliberate and slow,
occasionally as rapid as a ball bouncing over

How does the arrangement of the words support the meaning of the lines? How does Bailey’s use of punctuation, assonance, and syllable count slow-down or speed-up the poem, emulating the movement of the muskrat?

Alternatively, teachers may want to contrast Bailey’s free verse with the conventional and traditional verse of one of the Confederation poets. What do students find more effective, traditional verse or free verse?

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Reading and Viewing: Show the relationships among language, topic, purpose, context and audience

Strategy 2: Foils (“The Muskrat and the Whale”)

In this poem, juxtaposing the muskrat and whale exposes characteristics that might otherwise be overlooked. The muskrat’s playfulness and the whale’s calm are more apparent when presented in contrast, but so too are the shared characteristics of the creatures, such as their dignity. Prepare a number of animal names on small sheets of paper, and ask each student to select one out of a hat. Ask students to pair up for a short time to discuss what the contrast of their two animals reveals about each, including both similarities and differences, and qualities both admirable and loathsome. Shuffle the pairs several more times, repeating the same exercise. Follow up with a whole class reflection on the activity. Which pairings produced the most interesting insights, and why? Did student understanding and appreciation of their creatures deepen as comparisons were made? Teachers might choose to extend this strategy to a written assignment, where students compose a poem or prose piece contrasting two animals, objects, institutions, ideas, etc.

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Speaking and Listening: Examine others’ ideas and synthesize what is helpful to clarify and expand on their own understanding

Strategy 3: Childhood Terrors (“The Wicked Nurse” and “Mr. McGinty’s Claw”)

“The Wicked Nurse” and “Mr. McGinty’s Claw” seem different in kind from other poems written by Bailey. They seem to speak to the terrors of childhood and the vast unknown that children encounter when they enter the larger world. Several teaching strategies are outlined below.

  1. Ask students to discuss what Bailey’s aim was in creating these poems of terror, and analyze the techniques Bailey uses to convey the experience of terror. For example, can students explain how word choice, line breaks, or missing punctuation helps the reader to experience some of the speaker’s fear? Having students read these poems aloud should aid in the discussion; does reading “The Wicked Nurse,” for example, leave them overwhelmed and breathless? What does that breathlessness simulate or recreate?
  2. Challenge students to rewrite one of the poems using the language and expressive capability of a young child (as opposed to that of a brilliant poet). Are they able to adequately convey the depth of their terror? How would an adult react to the childlike poem – with sympathy or empathy, or with laughter? Does the fact that children don’t have the words to communicate their fears make those fears seem more grand, isolating, inescapable?
  3. Ask students to compare “Mr. McGinty’s Claw” to Elizabeth Brewster’s “The Silent Scream.” Although the speaker of Bailey’s poem had a seemingly less dramatic childhood experience, his memory is as vivid as that of Brewster’s speaker. Ask students if they have a similarly detailed and powerful childhood memory. When they revisit the experience now, in what ways has their perspective on it changed? Likewise, using evidence from the poems, how has the perspective of Bailey’s and Brewster’s speakers changed between the incident and their recollection?

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Reading and Viewing: Make informed personal responses to increasingly challenging print and media texts and reflect on their responses
  • Writing and Representing: Make critical choices of form, style, and content to address increasingly complex demands of different purposes and audiences

Strategy 4: Assemble the Poem (“House of Commons, 1934”)

Distribute this poem to groups of students, with each line on a separate sliver of paper. Ask them to arrange the lines in a meaningful way. Each group can then read its poem aloud, explaining what it is about. Did any group come up with the same arrangement? Did any arrangement match the actual poem? To support a follow-up discussion of why this activity was difficult, consider having students contrast the experience of arranging a more conventional short poem, such as Bliss Carman’s “There’s Not a Little Boat, Sweetheart” or “Envoy” (see Confederation Poets).

Note: If teachers have access to a Smartboard, students could cooperate to arrange the lines in different configurations on the screen instead of working with slivers of paper.

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Writing and Representing: Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which the construction of texts can create, enhance, and control meaning

Further Reading

Bailey, A.G. The Conflict of European and Eastern Algonkian Cultures, 1504-1700: A Study in Canadian Civilization. 1937. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1969.

---. “Creative Moments in the Culture of the Maritime Provinces.” Culture and Nationality: Essays by A.G. Bailey. The Carleton Library No. 58. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972. 44-57.

---. Culture and Nationality: Essays by A.G. Bailey. The Carleton Library No. 58. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972.

---. Miramichi Lightning: The Collected Poems of A.G. Bailey. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1981.

---. Thanks for a Drowned Island. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1973.

Lane, M. Travis. “A Sense of the Medium: the Poetry of A. G. Bailey.” Canadian Poetry 19 (1986): 1-10.

---. “Interview with A.G. Bailey.” Studies in Canadian Literature / Études En Littérature Canadienne 11.2 (1986): 226-245.

Pacey, Desmond. “A.G. Bailey.” Canadian Literature 68-69 (1976): 49-60.

Scott, F.R. “W.L.M.K.” Selected Poems. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1966. 60-61.

Tremblay, Tony. “A.G. Bailey: Bridging the Centuries.” The Fiddlehead Moment: Pioneering an Alternative Canadian Modernism in New Brunswick. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2019. 41-96.

---. “Mid-Century Emergent Modernism, 1935-1955.” New Brunswick at the Crossroads: Literary Ferment and Social Change in the East. Ed. Tony Tremblay. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2017. 101-127.

Trigger, Bruce G. “Alfred G. Bailey: Ethnohistorian.” Acadiensis 18.2 (1989): 3-21.

For much more detailed primary and secondary source bibliographies of Bailey, see his New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia entry.


We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of G.S. d’A. Bailey, A.G. Bailey’s literary executor, for allowing us to use the poems above for this curriculum. Further use or distribution of these poems, however, is a violation of Canadian copyright law and is strictly prohibited. Under no circumstance may literary material used in the curriculum be reproduced, distributed, or stored without the permission of the copyright holder.

“Here in the East,” “The Muskrat and the Whale,” “Miramichi Lightning,” “Mr. McGinty’s Claw,” and “House of Commons, 1934” appear in Bailey’s Thanks for a Drowned Island. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1973. “The Wicked Nurse” and “Reflections on a Hill Behind a Town” appear in Bailey’s Miramichi Lightning: Collected Poems. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1981.

All contents except for poetry and fiction copyright © Tony Tremblay, James W. Johnson, and Alexandra Cogswell.