Pulled from the Pages: The Essential Charles Bruce

The Essential Charles Bruce

If you’ve ever complained that poetry is just too hard or that it makes no sense, well, you’ve been reading the wrong poetry books! But seriously, though, while I love a good meaty poem bursting with poetic devices and figurative language and explosive imagery, there is something to be said for a quieter type of poetry. There is absolutely such thing as more narrative, colloquial poetry whose beauty is in capturing the subtle beauty of everyday experiences.

Charles Bruce’s poetry can be categorized in such a way. In The Essential Charles Bruce, readers are treated to what I like to think of as “fireside poetry”—poems that go down smooth and comfortable on a cold day. The poems in this collection whisk you off to Nova Scotia, where farmers and fisherman go about their daily lives with musically lilting voices. It feels like you get a real slice of life—a peek into a certain time and a certain place, the truth unvarnished. I felt transported to Maritimes—to the cliff’s edge, to the lookout hill, to the grey buildings along the shore. I think you will, too.

Keep reading for an exclusive excerpt pulled from the pages.


Excerpt from the Book



His speckled pastures dipped to meet the beach
Where the old fish huts stood. At his front door
A man could stand and see the whole wide reach
Of blue Atlantic. But he stayed ashore.

He stayed ashore and plowed, and drilled his rows,
And planned his hours and finished what he planned.
And made his profits: colts and calves and ewes
And buildings and piled stone and harrowed land.

He was a careful man, a trifle cold
To meet and talk to. There were some who thought
His hand was a bit grasping, when he sold;
A little slow to open when he bought.

But no one said it that way. When you heard
His habits mentioned, there would be a pause.
And then the soft explanatory word.
They said he was dry-footed. And he was.


Back Road Farm

This house is built within a sheltering
Sweep of the hills. You will not find the sea
From attic windows; and the seasons bring
No lift and change of tide, here in the lee
Of the land’s high windbreak, where the buffeting
Onshore wind is tripped on the mountain’s knee.
No mist of blowing salt is flung to sting
The trusting flesh. You will not find the sea.

This property is private. Drifting rain
Beats on its shingles and its native stone;
The wind of August on its leaning grain
Is dark with shadow, and the leaves are blown
To a soft thunder. But the hills remain;
Their strength is certain and their purpose known.
Only at night, in the stillness, low and plain
You can hear the far deep rumor of sea on stone.


PortraitHope this little snippet has encouraged you to add this collection to your to-read list. And be sure to keep feeding your need for great poetry with the rest of the volumes in the Essential Poets series.

All the best,Steph

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.