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  • A.M. Klein 1909-1972

Montreal 375

Montreal is a city that has always had a plethora of poets. It is also a city that has been poeticized more than any other city in Canada. (Probably). As a poet, my private/public gift to Montreal is to post poems by poets dead and alive who have written about Montreal.

The first one is A.M. Klein's Montreal. This poem is Klein's attempt to capture the indigenous origins, the bilingual essence, the multicultural reality and the poet's connection to the spirit of the city.

The poem is © University of Toronto Press and reprinted with the press’s permission.


O city metropole, isle riverain!

Your ancient pavages and sainted routs

Traverse my spirit's conjured avenues!

Spledour erablic of your promenades

foliates there, and there your maisonry

Of pendant balcon and escalier'd march.

Unique midst English habitat,

Is vivid Normandy!

You populate the pupils of my eyes:

Thus does the Indian, plumed, furtivate

Still through your painted autumns, Ville Marie!

Thoough palisades have passed, through calumet

With tabac of your peace enfumes the air.

Still do I spy the phantom, aqualine,

Genuflect, moccasin'd behind

His statue in the square!

Thus costumed images before me pass,

Haunting your archives architectural:

Coureur de bois , in posts where pelts were portaged;

Seigneur within his candeled manoir; Scot

Ambulant through his bank, pillard vast.

Within your chapels, voyaged mariners

Still pray, and personages departed,

All present from your past!

Grand port of navigations, multiple

The lexicons uncargo'd at your quays,

Sonnant though strange to me; but chiefest I

Auditor of your music, cherish the

Joineds double-melodied vocabulaire

Where English vocable and roll Eccosic.

Mollified by the parle of French

Bilinguefact your air!

Such your suaver voice, hushed Hochelaga!

But for me also sound your potencies,

Fortissimos of sirens fluvial,

Bruit of manufactory, and thunder

from foundry issuant, all puissant tone

Implemishing your hebdomad; and then

Sanct silence, and your argent belfries

Clamant in orison!

You are part of me, O all your quartiers--

And dire pauvrete and of richess--

To finished time my homage loyal claim;

You are local of infancy, milieu

Vital of institute that formed my fate;

And you above the city, scintillant,

Mount Royal, are my spirit's mother,

Almative, poitrinate!

Never do I sojurn in alien place

But I do languish for your scenes and sounds,

City of reverie nostalgic isle,

Pendant most brilliant on Laurentian cord!

The coigns of your boulevards--my signiory--

Your suburbs are my exile's verdure fresh,

Your parks, fountain'd parks--

Pasture of memory!

City, O city, you are vision'd as

A parchemin roll of secular exploit

Inked with the script of eterne souvenir!

You are sound, chanson and instrument!

Mental, you rest forever edified

With tower and dome; and in these beating valves,

Here in these beating valves, you will

For all my mortal time reside!

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