The Work of Poet and Philosoher Archibald Lampman


Poet and philosopher Archibald Lampman (1861-1899) led not a life of his
own, but an existance forced upon him by peers and an unfeeling and cold society.
Dying far before his time, Lampman led a life of misery. He was supported only
by a few close friends and his immortal poetry. This essay is founded around one
particular of his works but I feel it necessary to discuss the conditions in
which he lived in order to fully understand what he was trying to express and/or
symbolize.

Lampman really hated his day to day life, he lived only for his friends and
his works. Trapped in a city for which he had no love, he often reflected his
loathing of it in his numerous works situated in cities. A lover of nature,
Lampmans poems often immediately assumed a tone of life, mirth, and a feeling of
pleasure and warmth; the others formed a picture of death, hell, and hate all
held together by the one problem that is always present, Man.

With few close friends like Duncan Campell Scott, and other that were
poetically inclinded, Lampman formed a group through-out collage that met
frequently to write and discuss. Close friends like that influenced him to
write such popular pieces as "Heat" and "A sunset at Les Eboulements" and yet in
his darkest moments we get the main topic of this essay "The City of The End of
Things". Like most great poets, Lampmans moods and feelings had a direct effect
on the nature and topic of his poetry. Lampman chief poetry was done after a
great joy in his life, or a great sadness. Sadly, Archibald was not a rich man
and lived not a happy life, and most of his poetry reflects that. "The City of
The End of Things" was written in a time of great sadness and hate for the world.
Published one year after his death many people fail to realize the direct
connection to themselves in the poem.

Lampmans poetry was divided into two moods, saddness and joy, each primarly
involed with nature or cities. Let us discuss the tools used in "The City of
The End of Things". Dubed "The Apocalypic City" by Many experts, these mutations
of the apocalypic city shows how much Lampmans visions shifted with his moods.
He was passionatly committed to social change, but in extreme he identified
redemption with paralyzed oblivion (N.G Guthrie)

The infernal features of the City are so many inversions of the values that
Lampmans saw in natural landscape. Its roaring furnaces, its "ceaseless round"
of mechanical action, and its "inhuman music" are the demonic counterparts of
the sun imagery, the seasonal cycles and the hymm of nature in "Heat" are gone,
this poem focuses on the specters who preside over the dammed cities decline.

But now of that prodigious race,
Three only in an iron tower,
Set like carved idols face to face,
Remain the master of its power\'
And at the city gate a fourth,
Gigantic and with dreadful eyes,
Sits looking toward the lightless north,
Beyond the reach of memories,
Fast rooted to the lurid floor
A bulk that never moves a jot,
In his pale body dwells no more
Or mind or soul,--an idiot!

I take this strange group to mean two things: a divorce of intellect and
coporeality, to the corruption or both; and a division of society\'s destructive
implications for individuals and societies alike.

It hath no name that rings;
But I have heard it called in dreams
The City of The End of Things

When the poet sayshe hears of the city "in dreams", he is suggesting that
the imagination that shapes our lives has gone awry. The city is a projection fo
current impulises (to that time). "Its roofs and iron towers have grown/None
knowth how high within the night, shrowed in darkness, this shows death fulmost
grasp on the city and its former hosts. The tower, mentioned three times in the
poem, is its most preminent symbol. As an image of pride mocked by a ghasty
claim it has overtones of Babil, but it could have other meanings. In Romantic
poems, towers symbolize the human consciousnes, which becomes a fortress and a
prison of its own beliefs.

The second chief symbol is that of a wheel. Used in Lampmans other poems
to be a symbol of divine purity, it has now been corrupted to