William E. Marshall

(1 April 1859 - 1923 / Nova Scotia)

Biography of William E. Marshall

William E. Marshall poet

William E. Marshall was a Canadian poet and lawyer.


Marshall was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, the son of Adelaide Amelia Allison and James Noble Shannon Marshall. He went to the County Academy and then to Mount Allison College Academy. He entered his father's law office in 1876, and was admitted to the bar in 1881. In 1891 he became Reigistrar of Deeds in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. In 1883 Marshall married Margaret Jane Bingay Campbell. The couple had one son and one daughter. Marshall published his one book of poetry, A Book of Verse, locally in 1909. His poem "Brookfield," a threnody for his friend Robert R. Mcleod (who had died in 1909) was published in the University Magazine of April 1914, bringing him national attention.


Archibald McMechan, Montreal Standard: "To be remembered – to have your name engraven not on some pompous marble, but in the fleshly tables of a loving heart – to have a gentle light ever burning before the inner shrine of a human memory, is the measure of fame the wise man covets.... Here is a poem of twenty-five Spenserians celebrating with simple earnestness an unknown man, unknown even to his contemporaries. No such poem has appeared in Canada since Roberts' 'Ave!' In dignity and depth of feeling, 'Ave,' DeMille's 'Behind the Veil' and 'Brookfield' stand together–a noble trio.... That in these noisy self-advertising days there should be men like Marshall quietly doing their duty in their narrow spheres, but reaching out to the stars through Literature and Art, makes for the nation's moral health.... Perhaps the technique of the poem is not flawless; but its heart is right. Through it shines a faith in man and God, a love of the simple, eternal, unchanging things, and above all, the devotion of a sacred memory. These rare qualities make 'Brookfield' an event in Canadian literature."

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Now hath a wonder lit the saddened eyes
Long misted by a grievous winter clime;
And now the dull heart leaps with love's surprise,
And sings its joy. For 'tis the happy time;
And all the brooding earth is full of chime;
And all the hosts of sleepers under ground
Have burst out suddenly in glorious prime;
And all the airy spirits now have found
Their wonted shrines with life and love entwinèd 'round.

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