Canadians are lucky to have the creative contributions of Gord Downie, frontman for the Tragically Hip, who passed away this week at the age of 53. He embodied a beautiful paradox in our conversation about Canadian culture. He wrote poetry about hockey and our complicated history, quoting both news and literature, and singing those poems to diverse audiences in hockey arenas.Where America’s poet, Walt Whitman, spoke of “containing multitudes,” Downie connected multitudes. Like Downie, the country he loved resists summation. What is Canada? What is Canadian culture? Who is a Canadian?Canadians do not agree on what it means to be Canadian. Our conversations on the subject end with more questions than we had when they began. Two approaches are often used when trying to capture the essence of Canada. The negative, “I don’t know what it means to be Canadian, but I am not American,” is countered with positive summaries like, “We are a cultural mosaic.” Downie’s work avoids such shortcuts. And somehow, that works. We like the questions.
Source: Patrick Finn, on The Conversation ‘No dress rehearsal, this is our life:’ Gord Downie and the Canadian conversation
The poetry of Gord Downie has been on nonstop play this week. Fiddler’s Green, for sure.
His tiny knotted heart
Well, I guess it never worked too good
The timber tore apart
And the water gorged the wood
You can hear her whispered prayer
For men at masts that always lean
The same wind that moves her hair
Moves her boy through Fiddler’s Green