Feb. 7, 1952
Needless to say, I was delighted to hear from you and to discover that
you were still at your verse composition. You may remember my comment on
Batch years ago after I saw it in Poetry (Chicago). It was
about as neat an expression as one could come across in a magazine. Then
I read other poems which gave me the feeling that you had a
vein characteristically your own
not shared so consistently by any
other writer. I
encouraged you to continue
because the vein could
produce an undetermined number of nuggets.
I have gone through the whole of the manuscript and find that your
gift for pleasant surprise is still with you.
I shall examine the poems one by one, leaving out just a few that
I think do not quite measure up a very few indeed. Another 'few'
are open to criticism on minor points.
is ambiguous in content, particularly the second line. It
doesn't make the impact like the rest of the poems. In any case,
I wouldn't put it first in the collection.
'Meaning': I am assuming here that the poem is a
description of a matter-of-fact individual who would estimate
intangibles by their weight, density or specific gravity. As
such the poem is neat and subtle.
Make Believe excellent imagery with a quaint
interpretation of a child's imagination. This is the sort of thing
you do best.
The Slave 'Other clods' disturbs me a little. So does the punctuation after 'climb.'
The comma would indicate that 'agile' qualified 'I' whereas the sense demands 'slaves.'
It might be made clearer with a stronger punctuation : ; or .
To avoid the repetition of 'law,' I'd suggest
'Beneath the law's indifference or/and its wrath.'
Real Estate: gripping especially the 3rd & 4th lines.
The Fool: most rhythmical; double rhymes well handled.
Again a neat conclusion. Do more experimenting with those catchy
Remembered Rain: not quite up to the standard of the
others. It might be revised, though retaining the 'concert master'
June with its clinching three last lines. Am a little
bothered by the word 'bring' (6th line). Did you mean 'being'?
Informers: Too slight
First Snow: good phrasing 'half a heart beat.'
Last line out of metre.
Hectic: superb in every line.
Little Time: I do not like 'kissing some more'
Change of Season: has good observation and description
though the second line is strained.
Star Dust is a good example of your poetic touch. The
artistic blending of incongruous elements such as the 'H.R.E.'
and 'Johnny Cake'; 'Hope deferred' and 'Montreal,' etc. This is
delightful whimsy. The only line which might need slight alteration
is the 5th, the repetition of 'formed.' The rest is very fascinating
clear, simple and suggestive.
The Crow has a fine concluding climax to a novel idea.
Winter is Burning is an example of imagism current
twenty years ago when writers aimed at securing clear-edged pictures
in miniature. So with Sea Fight though with less clarity.
Puffball resembles Star Dust with Make Believe
'one of plasticene' is perfect
Folklore an evolutionary parable:
multum in parvo
Diana Reproved: somewhat vague
Andromeda: would suggest that the last two lines, though
reserving the general picture, might be made to conform to the metre
of the last two lines of the first stanza. The sharpness and
compactness of the lyric do not allow for metrical variation.
63rd Anniversary: likewise halting in rhythm. Read it aloud.
Hoar Frost: Fair: fifth line somewhat flat.
Expanding Universe: vivid and powerful.
The Date: original imagery. Syntax in last two lines
questionable 'done for.' I like 'cuff-link stars.'
November: clear but thin
Do Not Ask: very musical
The Batch: your best mood. So overlapping Reality.
Velocity: exceedingly good, fresh and smooth-running.
observes the scheme of that light form. It is not labored and it has a
Rosetta Stone: like Star of David, has the
artistic mixture of incongruous elements.
Now there you are Ron! You have a sensitive ear for words in their
sound and their propriety in given contexts. The ideas are striking
and the images apt. The occasional slightness of some of the ideas
is rarely marred by overburden or undue moralizing. The whole
collection hits me like a new note in Canadian verse. Here and
there I come across short poems by other writers who display a
similar technique but it is not sustained as in your case. That
is another way of stating that you have an individuality.
I was pleased to see that
and the Forum,
particularly the S.N. played you up from time to time.
I would suggest this: send the other poems around to different magazines.
If one rejects a poem, send it to another magazine. Get your name
before the public as much as possible. It will help when the time
comes to publish a collection. The publishers are reticent about
placing an imprint on a relatively new name, but when an audience
is formed there is a potential market.
Keep at it, old chap. I like the odd turns of phrase, the picturesque
imagery and the clicking, unexpected but satisfying conclusions.
p.s. I should gladly do this for you for nothing, but as I am more
than semi-retired, I cannot refuse the munificent 'carrot.' It is really
encuraged you to continue
Everson's verse appeared in magazines in the 1920s and he had begun
writing again in the 1950s after years working in advertising.
The Latin words used by Pontius Pilate when he presents Jesus
to the mob in John 19.5: 'Behold the man.'
multum in parvo
(Lat.) 'much in little.'
A triolet is a three stanza poem of eight lines, usually in
iambic pentameter. In the rhyme scheme, the first, fourth and
seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines.