Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, born in Arezzo, Italy, in 1949, grew up in Montreal, Toronto, and Baltimore, and then moved to Toronto in 1967, where he studied as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto until the early 1970s. In his first career, as poet and literary editor, he paused after his eleventh collection of poems, Virgin Science (1986). Two years earlier he had taken vows as a brother in the Order of St. Augustine at the Marylake monastery north of Toronto. His second vocation, as a Roman Catholic priest, followed his Master of Divinity degree in 1990. In 1993 he was ordained as Father George and has served in various parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto. During this time he rekindled his public life as a poet. A lover of women when young, and of God especially today, Di Cicco reminds one of John Donne, but unlike that gloomy Anglican bishop of London, he is a most gentle, cheerful, and big-hearted priest, and his poems are heart-breakingly compassionate of ordinary people and their lives. These poems are also, as Dennis Lee says, heroic. His books of poetry include

  • Di Cicco, Pier Giorgio. We Are the Light Turning. Toronto: Missing Link Press, 1975.
  • --. We Are the Light Turning. (revised ed.) Birmingham, Ab.: Tunder City Press, 1976.
  • --. The Sad Facts. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1977.
  • --. The Circular Dark. Ottawa: Borealis Press, 1977.
  • --. Dancing in a House of Cards. Toronto: Three Trees Press, 1978.
  • --. A Burning Patience. Ottawa: Borealis Press, 1978.
  • --. Dolce-Amaro. Alabama: Papavero Press, 1979, (limited edition).
  • --. The Tough Romance. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1979. Reprinted in Montreal: Guernica Editions, 1990.
  • --. A Straw Hat for Everything. Birmingham, Ab.: Angelstone Press, 1981.
  • --. Flying Deeper Into the Century. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982
  • --. Dark to Light: Reasons for Humanness. Vancouver: Intermedia, 1983.
  • --. Women We Never See Again. Ottawa: Borealis Press, 1984
  • --. Post-Sixties Nocturne. Fredericton: Goose Lane, 1985.
  • --. Virgin Science. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1986
  • --. Les Amours difficiles. Trans. Frank Caucci. Montreal: Guernica Editions, 1990. (The Tough Romance in French )
  • --. Living in Paradise: New and Selected Poems. Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2001.
  • --. The Honeymoon Wilderness. Toronto: The Mansfield Press, 2002.

Alexander Macgregor Rose was born August 17, 1846, in Tomantoul, Banffshire. He graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1867 and became, in 1870, Master of the Free Church School in Gairloch, Rossshire. After returning to Aberdeen to study Divinity from 1871, he was ordained on Sept. 9, 1875, and became minister at the Free Church of Evie and Rendall, Orkney. Bankrupt, and in disgrace, Rose left Scotland, his wife, and his family on June 10, 1879, for New York. In America he became a journalist, notably at the San Diego Daily Bee and then on the San Franciso Examiner, the San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, and the Daily Call. By 1891 he had left California and was wandering northwards, at first to Toronto by 1895, and at last to Montreal by 1896, where he worked for the Gazette and the Montreal Herald. He died on May 10, 1898, at Notre Dame Hospital, evidently of a paralytic stroke, and was buried in the lot of the St. Andrews Society in Mount Royal Cemetery.

Although Rose had written poems for some years, he only achieved fame for occasional comic verse written in the last two years of his life and published in Montreal newspapers. "Hoch der Kaiser" became so popular in decades before World War I that his very authorship of the poem was forgotten. In Canada, his two squibs on Liberal and Conservative politics under Sir Wilfrid Laurier won Rose an honour granted, as far as is known, to no other poet. Rose wrote P. J. Anderson on Nov. 27, 1897:

I may tell you that after the publication of the latest ballad in the Witness, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who is a very good fellow all round, wrote me a very pleasant letter, full of the most complementary expressions, and asked me to run up to Ottawa to see him. I did so, had an interview with him in his private room in the Government House, and dined with him and Lady Laurier. Afterwards he told me that when the Witness containing my verses reached Ottawa, Solicitor-General Fitzpatrick brought a copy to the meeting of the Privy Council that morning, and asked for a suspension of the rules while he read the verses aloud. `The first time,' said Sir Wilfrid, `so far as I know, that poetry was ever mixed up with affairs of State in the proceedings of Her Majesty's Canadian Privy Council.' (Poems, 29)

Rose's imitation of the French-Canadian colloquial English, what we might call "franglais," was no doubt inspired by the success of William Henry Drummond "habitant" poems.

  • Rose, Alexander MacGregor. Hoch der Kaiser: Myself und Gott. Illustrated by Jessie A. Walker. London: Abbey Press, 1900. PS 8485 O37H6 Robarts Library
  • --. Poems of A. MacGregor Rose (Gordon). Ed. Robert Dey. London: John Heywood, no date. British Library. PR 9199 .2 R66 A17 1900a Victoria College Rare Books
  • --. Sir Wilfrid's progress through England and France in the Jubilee year. Illustrated by J.C. Innes. Montreal: Sterling, 1897. F 5081 L38R6 Robarts Library