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Volume 07, Number 1 (1982)

An Endless Flow: D.C. Scott's Indian Poems

  • Gerald Lynch
May 22, 2008


There has been some contention over whether Duncan Campbell Scott's "Indian Poems" are sympathetic, indifferent, or hostile to native peoples. At the heart of the controversy is the fact of Scott's position as Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, in which is perspective was clearly and unabashedly assimilationist. However, Lynch contends that the poems are highly sympathetic to the native peoples' plight, particularly the later ones. The sonnet "The Onondaga Madonna" is a poem in which form perfectly matches content; the sonnet form itself is restrictive and "imprisoning," and yet the inexact rhymes suggest a triumph over this imprisonment. "The Forsaken" is strongly suggestive of European "contagion," and there is explicit admiration for the native woman who is the heart of the poem. The influence of native culture on the white settlers is also an important aspect of the poetry.