by George J. Dance

Robert Finch

Robert Finch. Courtesy Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Robert Finch
Born Robert Duer Claydon Finch
May 14, 1900
Freeport, Long Island, NY
Died June 11, 1995 (age 95)
Toronto, Ontario
Occupation professor of French
Nationality Canada Canadian
Alma mater University of Toronto, Sorbonne
Notable work(s) Acis in Oxford, and other poems
Notable award(s) Governor General's Award, Lorne Pierce Medal, FRSC

Robert Duer Claydon Finch (May 14. 1900 - June 11, 1995) was a Canadian poet and academic. He twice won Canada's top literary honor, the Governor General's Award, for his poetry.[1]


Finch was born in Freeport, Long Island, New York. He was educated at the University of Toronto and the Sorbonne. He was a professor of French at the University of Toronto for 40 years (1928-1968), and an expert on French poetry.[2]

Finch began writing poetry in the early 1920's; "like most of the Canadian Modernists, he wrote much of his best known poetry in the 1930s, when the Depression precluded the real possibility of publication."[3]

In 1936, Finch published 11 poems in the "milestone selection of modernist Canadian verse," New Provinces, edited by F.R. Scott and A.J.M. Smith.[4] Smith included Finch's poetry in his critically praised 1943 anthology, The Book of Canadian Poetry, bringing it to a national audience.[3]

Finch's debut collection of Poems was published in 1946.[1]


The Canadian Encyclopedia calls Finch "one of Canada's modernists" in poetry. It adds: "His work, deeply imbued with the classical tradition, is characterized by an intense care for form and graced by a rare subtlety and elegance."[2] The Encyclopædia Britannica describes his lyrics as "characterized by irony, metaphysical wit, complex imagery, and a strong sense of form."[1]

"Mr. Finch is an intellectual poet," Smith wrote of him in 1939. "Of the six contributors to New Provinces, he is the most elegant and the least sensuous. His verse is not without feeling, but the feeling is so carefully husbanded and so fastidiously winnowed that one is impressed with its delicacy and precision rather than with its abundance and strength. At its most intense, it expresses an aesthetic emotion: an emotion which rises out of the effort to compel an order from a given experience."[3]


Finch won the Governor General's Award for English language poetry or drama in 1946 for Poems, and in 1961 for Acis in Oxford, and other poems.[2]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1963. The Society awarded him its Lorne Pierce Medal in 1968.[5]



  • New Provinces: Poems of several authors (5-poet anthology). Toronto,Macmillan, 1936.
  • Poems. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1946.[3]
  • The Strength of the Hills. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1948.
  • A Century has Roots: a masque performed at Hart House Theatre to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the foundation of University College, Toronto, in 1853. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953.
  • Acis in Oxford, and other poems. Oxford UK: privately printed at New Bodleian, 1959; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961.
  • Dover Beach Revisited, and other poems. Toronto: Macmillan, 1961.
  • Silverthorn Bush, and other poems. Toronto: Macmillan, 1966.
  • "Five Sonnets," Tamarack Review 74 (Spring 1978).
  • Variations and Theme. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 1980.
  • Has and Is. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 1981. ISBN 0889840482
  • Twelve for Christmas. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 1982.
  • The Grand Duke of Moscow's Favourite Solo. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 1983.
  • Double Tuning. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 1984.
  • Sailboat and Lake.. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 1984.
  • Miracle at the Jetty. Port Rowan, ON: Leeboard Press, 1991.


  • The Sixth Sense: Individualism in French poetry, 1686-1760. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966.


  • French Individualist Poetry, 1686-1760. (edited by Finch & Eugene Joliat). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971. ISBN 0802052606

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Internet Archive.[6]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Robert Finch, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Web, Apr. 7, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 E.D. Blodgett, "Finch, Robert Duer Claydon," Canadian Encyclopedia, Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988, 773.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Brian Trehearne, "Finch's Early Poetry and the Dandy Manner," Canadian Poetry: Studies/Documents/Reviews, No. 18 (Spring/Summer, 1986). Web, Mar. 18, 2011.
  4. Michael Gnarowski, "New Provinces: Poems of Several Authors," Canadian Encyclopedia (Hurtig: Edmonton, 1988), 1479.
  5. " Robert Finch," Online Guide to Writing in Canada. Web, Mar. 17, 2011.
  6. Search results: Robert Finch, Open Library, Internet Archive, Web, May 9, 2011.

External linksEdit

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