Simpson, Kate B. “Rough Ben: An Incident of the North-West Rebellion.” Songs of the Great Dominion. Ed. William Douw Lighthall.1st ed. London: Scott; Toronto: Gage, 1889. 136-41.

Simpson Hayes, Kate. “Riel.” 1895. Canadian Poetry: From the Beginnings through the First World War. Comps. Carole Gerson and Gwendolyn Davies. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1994. 312-13.

A longer poem today, and an extra:”Rough Ben” was published in WD Lighthall’s Songs of the Great Dominion in 1889 (reissued in 1892); “Riel” is from Simpson Hayes’s Prairie Pot-Pourri (1895) and has been republished as recently as Gerson and Davies’s Canadian Poetry in 1994. These are poems that could spark discussion in a literary history class, “Rough Ben” taking as it does a completely social and emotional perspective connected with a pivotal moment in Canadian history: The Northwest Rebellion of 1885. Unlike more commonly reproduced poems which focus on Riel (Agnes Maule Machar’s “Quebec to Ontario” [1885], for instance) or the Native perspective (E. Pauline Johnson’s “Cry from an Indian Wife” [1885]), “Rough Bill” is less political. Kate Simpson later wrote another poem, “Riel” (1895) that counters Machar and Johnson’s more compassionate response to the rebellion; coupled with the Anglo-centric perspective of “Rough Ben,” it becomes obvious on which side her sympathies lay. Note also, though, that Machar and Johnson wrote contemporaneously with the incident (1885); Simpson Hayes’s poems were published at least 4 years later (1889 and 1895).

Rough Ben






Riel

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