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THE BOOKS: Poetry and Song


Imrie & Graham’s Musical and Pictorial Galaxy, 1886?

Imrie & Graham were music printers and publishers based in Toronto. Their Musical and Pictorial Galaxy showcased the music and lyrics of popular local composers of the era. The book also contains many advertisements for businesses and products ranging from tailors and insurance agents to teething necklaces and undertakers. Full-page illustrations accompany some of the ads.


Epitaphs for Monuments, Headstones…, c. 1870

This book gives examples of 106 epitaphs and verses that could be used on tombstones. Most of the epitaphs are serious in tone, as one would expect on tombstones. However, a few have a hint of humour. The epitaphs that could be used on the tombstone of a child are the most powerful and emotional of the collection.


Raise the Flag: and other Patriotic Canadian songs and poems, 1891

This publication is a collection of Victorian patriotic songs and verses, as well as a substantial play based on the capture of Detroit during the War of 1812. It was produced as a prize for students winning a Toronto school board essay contest in 1890. The collection includes rich Canadian content including historical figures such as General Brock, Colonel Baby and Laura Secord.


Poetic verse, whether written in a book or as lyrics in a song, can have powerful effects on a reader or listener. Poetry and song have been used to invoke feelings of patriotism, stir up emotions and influence public opinion. In the case of Raise the Flag, songs were used to unite. In Imrie and Graham’s Musical and Pictorial Galaxy, music is used to inspire. And in Epitaphs for Monuments, poetry was used to comfort. Poetry and song enrich our lives and give us a common point of reference in spite of the differences we may have.

  1. What are some of the common themes in the music and poems in these documents? For each document, who is the intended audience? How do you know this?
  2. Frequent reference to God is made in these three documents. Why do you think religion played such an important role in the poems and songs in these documents? Compared to today, how has this changed since these were published? Why do you think this has changed?
  3. AS PART OF THE CLASS MAGAZINE: Create one epitaph about an historical person and one song or poem about an historical person or event you have studied in history. Use your textbook to gather facts and information that will help you create your verses. Record your collected information in the Verses Information Organizer and then create an outline for your work with the Storyboard Organizer.


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