Bailey's first collection of verse, Songs of the Saguenay (1927), was privately issued at Québec, and showed him, both in this collection and in Tao (1930), as a young craftsman of a traditional persuasion. In Fredericton he moved in literary circles and helped to establish the little magazine, The Fiddlehead. In 1952 he published Border River, a collection which was more modern in tone and freer in form. His collected poetry, Miramichi Lightning (1981), showed the closing of the circle of Bailey's growth and development as a poet.
From conservative beginnings that echoed strongly the romantic tones of late 19th-century verse, Bailey evolved into a contemporary poet whose statement was full of the surrounding reality, whose voice is, at times, deceptively subdued but whose imagination ranged widely and wisely. In 1972 he published a collection of his essays, Culture and Nationality, which further confirmed his role of cultural historian. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Author MICHAEL GNAROWSKI