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Ralph Gustafson.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1987.
80pp., paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-7710-3707-4. CIP.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by B. Henley-Hodgson.

Volume 16 Number 5
1988 September

Once perused, the poetry of Ralph Gustafson is not easily dismissed. His poems have a way of urging one to look deeper inside oneself, at our everyday way of life, and at the way the world turns. In this volume of poetry, he seems most concerned with the future of mankind and nature.

The book is divided thematically into four parts, the first being "Poems for the Times." Reflected here are musings, questions, concerns and warnings about our slow destruction of the environment.

The second section, "Twelve Landscapes," depicts just that. From "Winter Prophecies," the third part, one gets a sense of the inevitability and finality of death. The last section, entitled "Appoggratura," takes the reader to various countries where art and literary history live, and the poet questions, once again, one man's place in the total scheme of things. We see a lighter side, too, almost a shrug-of-the-shoulders humour directed at the realities of day-to-day living.

The imagery found throughout this poetry is beautiful in its apparent simplicity. Words and phrases have a way of standing out, relating back, pushing ahead. The diction used is compelling, very powerful and very compact. The inverted syntax works well, often affording one word two meanings as images are placed back to back.

This collection is a must for students discovering or studying poetry, especially Canadian poetry. It will be read with enthusiasum by lovers of verse; its appeal will not go unnoticed.

B. Henley-Hodgson, Brantford C.l.V.S., Brantford, ON.
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