Nova Scotia Archives

The Prat Sisters: Free Spirits of the 1890s

Letter from Bliss Carman to Annie L. Prat, concerning the role of poetry in expressing universal grief and sorrow, and the deaths of Samuel Prat and Goodridge Bliss Roberts

Carman writes of Samuel Prat, "I have never heard, but I suppose your dear father sleeps in the church ground on the hill overlooking the open country. Nancy, what a sweet day he and I had on our independent little journey through the hills last summer. He was very gentle and kind!" About the death of Goodridge Roberts, he writes, "These verses 'In the heart of the hills' I send you with some misgiving. They arose in a few words in a letter from Min, my Malyn, to me. I was thinking of Goody. I have not said anything about him personally; just for the very reason that I wanted to have something we could all feel you know... If you will you may take a copy up to the dear old man [Goodridge's brother, Charles G.D. Roberts]..." Carman continues, "I am much perturbed about Malyn; and I am very helpless. When I think of you I wish I had a heart like God's own that I might be some smallest measure of comfort to you all...'
"Poor old Olaf" refers to Carman's poem, "Olaf Hjorward," written in memory of Bliss and Charles G.D.'s cousin, Andrew Stratton. It was first published in The Independent, 32 March 31 1892. "In the Heart of the Hills," Carman's tribute to Goodridge Bliss Roberts, was printed as a broadsheet on 15 April 1892 and published two months later in The Independent. The title was taken from a letter by Minnie (in Fredericton with Goodridge's parents, awaiting erection of his headstone) to Bliss Carman on 28 March 1892, "I cannot stay long away from my darling; if I cannot go to him yet – I must at least be near his resting place in the warm heart of the hills." (Quoted in Gwendolyn Davies, "The Elephant and the Primrose: The Prat Sisters in New York," in The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, vol. 6/7, new series, fall/spring 1997/98.)

Date: 14 April 1892

Credit: University of King's College Archives

Reference: William Inglis Morse Collection University of King's College Archives 

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