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Peter van Toorn.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1984.
143pp, paper, $12.95.
ISBN 0-7710-8714-4.

Grades 12 and up.

Reviewed by Pat Bolger.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

Dutch-born van Toorn, a professor at John Abbott College in Montreal, has followed two collections published in the early seventies with a virtuoso display in Mountain Tea. He seems to be able to do almost anything: translations from Japanese or German, sonnets either witty or profound, and lyrics that sparkle with images like "grasses sting the sun/in thick fast greens," or "Sheriff/Death, smiling all his darkness/out of empty sleeve ends. .." Some of the poems are especially rich in allusions: in a dozen lines he glances at as many poets, ranging from Propertius to Fellini, St. Jerome to Bosch, and Duke Ellington to Villon. He is also given to diction such as "azygous sesquipedalians," "trachomatous," and "irreptitiously." Students who really enjoy poetry will find that the effort they put into the reading is well rewarded, especially in the "Mountain" poems (the first twenty poems, reprinted from one of the earlier collections, seem more difficult to read). Teachers of English will find this a useful resource; there are a handful of striking haiku and a translation from Villon that will erase forever the wimp image of poetry common among teen-age boys. Highly recommended for mature readers.

Pat Bolger, Renfrew C. I., Renfrew, ON.
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