Excuse penmanship: the arm is still aching.

[Summer 1952]

[To Lorne Pierce:]

This is worth publishing though I have qualms about the market for a type of verse which savours so much of the material in the Partisan Review and New Directions. R.H. aims at originality of expression which is to the good. He achieves novelty, at least in language, and he will be noted as one of the avant garde. There are many good lines and passages. I only wish they were more sustained and that the poems as a whole could convince the mind as the individual fragments undoubtedly do. I shall put down my impressions, my criticisms as well as my appreciations.

The Tour starts out well with striking images to the woman and the Bank's stony face; to the argosies; to the banker shaving. The line: 'And all he had to borrow were his thoughts' is excellent. So is his picture of the city 'feathered with morning.'

The second paragraph is weak – 'Some you can see with there[?] generation ... empty past.' Unnecessarily vague. The same applies to the ambiguity in 'Slicing our airy food.'(5). Page 8. The Mountains is good, but why mechanician? (9)

11. The Nightingale and the Rose is another example of metaphysical ambiguity which has become a stale vogue.

13. The Criminal is a refreshing bit of poetic imagery, crisp and apt. The last line is superlative. So with At the Asylum.

15. Striking final stanza in The Forsaken Man.

19. Lost has no significance for me. It is not enough to claim that it has significance for the author.

29. Attractive description in To Music.

31. 'Not projects outward, etc.' is ugly and strained.

33. The River is a fine poem where R.H. has found a golden mean between extreme facility and an irritating obscurity.       This is one of his best. We can follow the course of the stream in spite of its eddies.

38. Sunscape is too imitative of Hopkins. The craze for ellipses has outrun its function.

Nevertheless taking the poems by and large, I think they are worth the imprint.


worth publishing
Pierce had asked Pratt to provide a reader's report on the manuscript of Ronald Hambleton's Object and Event, which Ryerson Press was considering, and published in 1953. Hambleton (b. 1917) published his first poems in the anthology Unit of Five (also including poems by Louis Dudek, P. K. Page, Raymond Souster and James Wreford), which he had edited for Ryerson Press in 1946. After Object and Event he published a brief biography of Mazo de la Roche: Mazo de la Roche of Jalna (Toronto: Hawthorn Press, 1966). He has worked as a print, radio and television journalist.