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Robert Finch.

Erin (ON), Porcupine's Quill, c1983.
91pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-88984-080-6.

Reviewed by Tony Cosier.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

This is an academic, witty, urbane collection of recent work by a poet, musician, and artist of longstanding reputation. Finch is formal, suave, effortlessly elegant. He brings the traditional demands of metre, rhyme, and form into a modern frame of thought. He has his wits about him. He incorporates voices so fluidly that his pastiches of writers as diverse as Browning, Shakespeare, and Boileau all end up sounding like Finch.

The flute solo of the title piece dominates the first half of the book. Finch plays with the point of view. He teases his readers as to the identity of his grand duke so smoothly they will be hard pressed to identify the tone: is Finch being obtuse and condescending, or is he simply humble and charming, candidly sharing the germ of his impulse? In the final poem of the section, the poet connects himself, the Duke, and the reader, presenting each as a soloist blending his individual tendencies into a tradition.

The second half of the volume is a series of lyrics on a number of social, aesthetic, and philosophical themes grouped and labelled to emphasize the poet's mastery of forms: epigrams, rounds, acrostics. Finch assumes a variety of moods in the sonnet form. "Georgian Bay" is a sonnet with a social message: Finch dislikes the notion of private ownership of the shoreline and tells us so directly. "Mobile," on the other hand, is sheer tour de force, a one-sentence shiver of crystal rock.

These poems will be admired by people with an interest in the arts and an appreciation for cleverness.

Tony Cosier, Confederation H. S., Nepean, ON.
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