Arthur Weir was born in Montreal in 1864, and died young in 1902. Like other Canadian poets whose sonnets I’ve recently shared, Weir worked as a journalist although he had studied chemistry at University. I haven’t found out very much about him, as yet, however, he became well-known for his rebuttal of Kipling who described Canada as ‘Our lady of the snows’. This was thought to be insulting, belittling, at a time when Canada was trying to promote itself as a land of riches in terms of its produce, including fruit, vegetables and timber. In response, Weir claimed England might be lost in Canada’s forests and woods, and Europe was ‘too small for ambition’s mark’. His first volume of verse was published in 1887, his third nine years later. tragically, Arthur Weir killed himself, probably having suffered from depression for some time which was exacerbated by his father being jailed for fraud.
However, this beautifully observed sonnet, is a legacy of his talent…
The Blind Street Fiddler
He sits amid the ceaseless ebb and flow
Of human life, in multitudes alone,
And listens to their ceaseless monotone.
His sightless eyes see never to and fro
The hurrying waves in divers eddies go;
See not the shadows on that ocean thrown
By cliff-like, mocking walls of voiceless stone
Which shore the restless tides that sweep below.
Among them, yet not one of them, sits he
And sends his clear-toned music over all,
Charming the waves to music as they roll.
Even thus great thoughts sweep over life’s vast sea,
Along the shores of time, and the waves fall
And rise in rhythm under their control.