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Judith Pond
Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1991. 87pp, paper, $15.95
ISBN 0-88750-850-2. CIP


Reviewed by Bob Lincoln

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

This book of poems can be a fascinating and dramatic introduction to the language and attitudes of fifteenth-century Europe. In Dance of Death, Judith Pond has reworked a story that began in the cemetery of the Church of the Innocents in Paris in 1424. It is a moral tale complete with angels, sinners, maidens, noble men, doctors and kings, told in a series of dramatic poems.

Originally, the Dance was an entertain­ment, perhaps first enacted as a mimed sermon and later as performance art, where the various orders of society were seized and taken away by Death, with each player giving a short dramatic monologue on his or her predicament.

Each participant in the dance is accosted by Death, their lives are then brought before them for review, and they are given the opportunity for comment or rebuttal. This is not a boring, dry sermon; the poems sparkle with humour, wit and dramatic irony. In the poem entitled "Apples," the speaker raises the possibility that Eden had its faults - perhaps Eve left to get away from God. The language throughout Pond's book is a consistent blend of archaic and modern idiom.

Dance of Death is characterized as a moral tale that ends with the refrain, "sleep well, this is only a story; nothing will get to you in the night." By this time the reader knows the truth: while we are comforted by the end of the dance and the forgiveness of a God, life may ultimately only be a preparation for Death and therefore should be lived for its own rewards.

Bob Lincoln, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.

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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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