Canadian Forum Literary Competitions/1921-01

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The Technical Work of a Little Theatre Canadian Forum Literary Competitions
1921-01
written by [[|]]
The Portrait of a Lady
page 110



Results of Competitions announced in December

A. A prize of five dollars for An Epitaph on the Board of Commerce in not more than 30 lines.

There is one thing for which we have to thank the Board of Commerce — it has supplied us with two printable poems for the page. It has also put us under the necessity of awarding two prizes. The first prize of five dollars goes to Thomas Toady for his sonnet, "Scorn Not The Board," and especially for its conclusion. The winner of the second prize, C. S. B., was not so fortunate in his last ltne, which might have been improved. The phrase "sorrow dun" in line 23 is a weakness in otherwise good verses. We hope we will hear from him again. The second prize is The Canadian Forum for one year. We print the poems in full below.

The Prize Poem<br?> Scorn Not The Board

<poem>

Why doth the Forum rage, and mock the Board's
Dumb dying agonies, why vainly goad
With insults, speeding on the Avernian road
The guardian of the profiteering hoards?
The Board is gone — well-merited rewards
Await it in a better world — the abode
Of Mammon's friends. There Plutus hath bestowed
A crown of gold, subscribed by business lords.
Scorn not the Board, for when high-swelling blame.
The Globe's attacks, and, of their woes the worst,
A falling market spoiled their little game,
And retribution's bitter deluge burst
Upon those sugar kings, the thing became
A plank, to which they clung while housewives cursed.
Thomas Toady.
Epitaph on the Board of Commerce
Here, till that time the just again arise,
Our nation's sometime Board of Commerce lies;
Brief was its span and in seclusion spent,
This meek and simple child of Government.
With fond o'erguarding eye the father smiled,
In paths of public service trained his child;
Pure was its aim, innocuous its design,
Its only care lest prices should decline.
So, long perchance had it, forgotten, fared,
And many grievous ills our nation spared,
Had Fate and foul mischance not overthrown
This luckless child, not yet to wisdom grown:
For, zealous to perform its father's will,
When sugar was the spring of all our ill,
Lest hostile stores should overflow the land,
And ruin mete to the refiners' band,
Then did our native Board of Commerce rise,
And saved the nation in the nation's eyes.
But that ungrateful people — lasting shame! —
Reviled and cursed its benefactor's name.
In mortal grief its father's part to hide,
The child took on its father's act — and died.
Nor did the father, though in sorrow dun,
Seek to preserve, but e'en condemned, the son.
So passed from life this body, given to woe;
But yet, why vainly mourn? Its lot, we know.
Unending rest will be — all theirs who perish so.
C. S. B.


[page 112]

B. A Prize of five dollars for A Letter of Advice to the next Canadian Novelist, in not more than 800 words.

Perhaps it is difficult to light a beacon for the eyes of genius. At any rate we have found few who were willing to climb a hill-top of vision and from their vantage ground signal the way for the next Canadian novelist. We have not discovered apathy on the part of the public in general. The abundance of reviews appearing in the periodicals and newspapers of the present time is testimony to the interest which is being felt in Canadian novels. Nor have we found a dearth of Canadian novels. Their quality may not always have been of the highest but among the numbers which have been issued there have been many which have won a deserved place for themselves. There have been novels of the romance of history, headed by the intense pages of the famous Golden Dog. There have been novels which took their inspiration from the struggle against the endless white winter of the northland, or from the life where differences with one's fellow-men were settled most speedily at the point of the revolver. There have been, and are increasingly to-day, novels dealing with the sophisticated life of our cities. It is allowable to assume that anyone familiar with all this should have something by way of advice to offer to the next Canadian novelist. But those who were qualified to advise did not take upon themselves to do so. It may be that a fellow-feeling for the novelist restrained them. We suspect in those who know most of the struggles of writing a diffidence based on their realization of what goes to the making of a book. There is no remedy. A writer has to put sincere emotion into his book, however conventional the setting, and this is not easy. He may polish his characters as they get polished in our cities, but he dare not stop there. He dare not show them always brilliant, but must show them tired and lonely, resting and dreaming. For he will know that the greatest things of life come out of dreams, and that no novel can be great which has not been touched by the wings of a dream. Life is seldom pure tragedy or pure comedy, but it is a compound of thought and feeling, of brilliance and of dreams, and the covers of a great novel must be wide enough to hold them all.

All which merely goes to prove that, as we said before, there is no recipe. Yet there are things which it is possible for a writer to learn. He may ride his Pegasus by his own route through the air, but there are ways and ways of riding. There are trappings and suits, not of woe but of riders, which add to the joy of the inarticulate but appreciative. These do not seem to have kindled the imagination of our readers. Whatever the reason we received few answers to our competition and those not of prize rank.