Rich man, poor man By E. H. Burr; Ryerson Poetry Chapbook Series published by Ronald P. Frye and Co, Book Publishers, Toronto Canada. Poems by Twentieth Century Canadian poets, Cover art by Katharine Vingoe-Cram.
Finely touched to all fine issues, Everett Harold L Burr, born in 1894 in the village of Bloomfield, Prince Edward County, to which his Loyalist ancestors had come a century before, was a rare combination of Galahad and Puck. To honour, cleanness and humour delicately whimsical, he added an understanding of Nature, observing accurately and minutely, seeing, hearing and learning, very fully, the things that Nature has to teach because of the poet heart and brain which he possessed. He was tender toward all living creatures, intolerant only of sham and cruelty. Everett Burr, who died as the result of war service, in Christmas week, 1931, went overseas in October, 1916, and was gazetted second lieutenant in the East Lancashires in 1917. Severely wounded in Flanders, he was invalided to England, rejoining his battalion early in 1918. He was captured shortly after and was a prisoner till the Armistice. It is characteristic of him that no bitterness ever crept into the few and reticent references he made to his experiences at that time. This sheaf of poems, gathered as a tribute to his memory by some young men who were his friends, gives a glimpse of literary promise extinguished all too soon.
G. C. Mary White
From “Rich Man, Poor Man”:
A bar of sunlight through the murky pane
Of office windows, dim with winter’s grime,
Lights up the agitated dust again
And stirs a cosmic rhythm into rhyme.
Those tiny motes that float in writhing sheen
Are emanations of a mortal clay
Now hung suspended for a space between
Recurring life and ultimate decay.
They settle on my desk and on the files
That hold the records of men’s gain or loss
From shop and factory, shipping, forest aisles,
And gild with living gold material dross.
I have no part in all the strain and sweat
To wrest a living from reluctant earth,
How, from a maze of figures, can one get
The thrill and shock that gave their commerce birth?
While others venture I must count the gains,
My desk a galley on a stagnant sea,
And, though I am not bound, I feel the chains
And hear the long lash hissing over me.
Song At Sunrise
Every new morning that flames in the skies
Burns out the light of the last from my eyes;
Visions I’ve treasured as perfectly seen
Dazzled to phantoms that never had been.
In every petal that falls from the rose
Something of splendour is brought to a close;
In every leaf that slips down from the tree
Turning to earth there is something of me.
I would remember and I would forget
Wisdom I’ve won and the end is not yet;
Savour the zest of it: only the “why”
Inscrutable, and the rest, is to die.
Featuring original cover artwork by Katharine Vingoe-Cram.