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Montreal 375

Montreal is a book length poem about the history, geography and a personal poetic memoir of the city. For those of you who might find this excerpt “politically incorrect”, I ask you to read the whole poem. Also please note the ironic tone that suffuses it. He uses stereotypes and clichés to upend those clichés and stereotypes and at the end writes “…/Crushing my memories of your streets, passing/Into another country of the anarchic mind,/Killing history under my wheels,…”.

from Montreal

John Glassco 1909-1981


See the cornfields waving yellow

In the ante-Christian Breeze,

And the painted Indian fellow

On his ante Christian knees,

Worshipping the many Spirits

In the forest, lake, and sky,

For the life his life inherits

Tells him: Never wonder why.

Happy savage! In thy totem

Lie security and ease;

In the scalp and in the scrotum

Medicine for all disease.

But another day is coming. . .

Sound the knell for Hochelaga!

For its history is behind it—

All the simple savage pleasures

Of these folk of Donnacona,

All the thrill of tomahawking,

All the exquisite enjoyment

Of torturing of prisoners

And consumption of their livers—

All these lovely pranks and pleasures

Soon shall disappear forever!

(Sound the knell for Hochelaga!)

Soon to go, the pleasures also

of communal fornication

(Agape of savage peoples

Otherwise quite uninstructed

In the beauties of religion)

Bringing all the tribe together

For some happy celebration

In the warm and smoky long-house—

Wives and husbands, widows maidens,

Young men, old men little children

All ecstatically fucking

Groaning, grunting, laughing, yelling,

Slippery and sweaty bodies

Bubbling in the holy stew-pot

Of their ante-Christian darkness.

(Sound the knell for Hochelaga!)

For the Christian day is dawning…

Look to eastward, see the banner

Of Jacques Cartier’s Grande Hermine

With La Petite Hermine also

In her wake and La Tonnerre:

Looking like ships in bottles,

But supplied with sturdy cannon

Full of gunpowder and grapeshot,

Promising you many blessings

Of a European culture!

Here is coming Captain Cartier

Sailing up the blue St. Lawrence

On a Sunday afternoon.

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