Bliss Carman (April 15 1861 – June 8, 1929) was a preeminent Canadian poet. He was born William Bliss Carman in Fredericton, in the Eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick. He published under the name “Bliss Carman,” although the “Bliss” is his mother’s surname.
As with many Canadian poets, nature figures prominently as a theme in his work. In his time, he was arguably Canada’s best known poet, and was dubbed by some the “unofficial poet laureate of Canada.”
His parents were United Empire Loyalists (those who wished to remain loyal to the British during the American Revolution), and moved to Canada after the war ended. (Question: How could his parents move to Canada after the American Revolution and he be born more than 70 years later?) His literary roots run deep with an ancestry that includes a mother who was a descendant of Daniel Bliss of Concord, Massachusetts, the great-grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Also on his mother’s side, he was a first cousin to another famous Canadian poet, Sir Charles G. D. Roberts. His parents must have been extremely elderly at his birth given the above facts and his birthdate. Carman was educated at the University of New Brunswick, Edinburgh University, and Harvard University.
He later moved to New York City and was influential as an editor and writer for the Independent, the Cosmopolitan, the Atlantic Monthly, the Chap Book and other literary journals. He is also well known for his anthology and editing work on The World’s Best Poetry (10 volumes, 1904) and The Oxford book of American Verse (1927).
After 1909, he lived in New Canaan, Connecticut but became a corresponding member of the Royal Society of Canada. In 1928, the Society awarded him the “Lorne Pierce Gold Medal.”
Bliss Carman died at the age of 68 in New Canaan, Connecticut. His body was returned home and interred in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
He is honoured with a school named after him in Toronto, Ontario.