Footprints Through Time

                        with Archivist Peter Bowman




The first issue of The Tower appears to have been produced on a typewriter, then mimeographed and stapled together. The cover design created by Naomi Jackson consists of two slender branches growing from the left and right side at the base of the original McMaster University Tower. The words, “The Tower   An Anthology of Poems   Nov. 1952,” are written by hand between the two branches hovering above the simple sketch of the tower. It too appears similarly reproduced. The book itself contains thirty-four pages with thirty poems by ten contributors. They are: Stewart Basterfield, Bernard Groom, I. Sutherland Groom, Adeline Haddow, G. C. Haddow, Marjorie Grant Henry, A. E. Johns, Gordon Johnson, Jean B. McCallion, and Rosemary Wood. There was also this foreword written by Dr. G. P. Gilmour, the then President and Vice Chancellor of McMaster University:

“I am happy to commend this group of poems both for there own merits and because they represent something that is important. Poets are too often solitary voices, and to gather into a group a number of people interested in the reading and writing of poetry is to do something to draw writers out of their solitude and also to encourage greater numbers to study a mode of expression that depends on a knowledge of craftsmanship as well as that elusive thing called inspiration. There is a wholesome mixture of gravity and gaiety here, and a touch of unconventional and conventional form. May the group flourish and its work bring to McMaster a more lively and persistent interest in the art of winged words.”

Someone using the pseudonym Todos wrote the first poem of the first issue:


Squatting foursquare,
Grey, with a precious jewel in its head,
In academic air,
And campus grass,
It rests, while shortlived generations pass.

It has no clock,
But timely footsteps mark its hours and days;
And like that block
Of Oxford stone —
Magdalen, — is Alma Mater to its own.

                    (Magdalen is pronounced “Maudlen”)

Here are a few short selections, the first untitled:

Low cloud-flocks scudded o’er the sky:
      Softly the west wind blew:
Blithe and happy and brisk was I
      And screened from all man’s view:
I watched the tall trees rustle down
Their leaves of faded gold and brown,
And joyed to hear my footsteps tread
On the crisp leaves, lying dead.

I thought: How lovely is this wood:
      And over yonder hill,
Perhaps in its own solitude
      Is one more lovely still:
And to the left and to the right
Are hollows fit for my delight:
And heaps of gold leaves lying dead
Whereon my feet shall never tread.

                                  — Bernard Groom


Here’s for a sonnet! Heaven only knows
How it will end, but, having made a start,
By resolution, industry, and art
I may achieve a masterpiece. The shows
Of Time are vain and fleeting. Not with those
Am I content to have ignoble part.
To immortality aspires my heart
With Milton and with Wordsworth. Let me close
The octave, and proceed to the sestette.
This should not be so difficult because
One is allowed to introduce new rhyme.
Oh, admirable practice! Followed yet
In strict accordance with established laws
That have come down from immemorial times.

                                  — G. C. Haddow


It is cool under the soft clouds
After the sun. The clever wind
Has found a song in the grass
And is singing it to me.
Chuckling overhead and darting,
Swallows search the pale air.
Perhaps they will come and perch
On my hand in the grass.

                                  — Rosemary Wood

The Tower sold for 50 cents a copy and its contents of primarily religious poems and nature poems written by members of the McMaster University community was an immediate success on its then still Baptist-influenced campus.

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