F(rancis) R(eginald) Scott Michael Hornyansky - Essay

Michael Hornyansky

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Dance is One is Frank Scott's eighth book of verse but the first one to turn up on my plate, so forgive my salute if it doesn't match the authority of the tributes on the flap…. Rhythmic control is evident right away, and he can rhyme or half-rhyme when he chooses …; when he doesn't, the verse is free without becoming capricious or wispy. But what strikes home is not his poetic craft so much as the play of reflections, each poem framing an attitude to some item in the passing show: memory, or airports, matadors (whose heroism he despises), changing styles in the dance and their consequences (the title poem, deserving that prominence). He is witty about evolution's byways or about inspiration in a restaurant …, sombre on the big campus and overbreeding, mournful about the finback savaged at Burgeo …, and neatly satirical with a twist of sorrow in his 'Metric Blues'…. Later sections are less to my taste, including letters from the Mackenzie River and a batch of translations from French. For me Scott's chief appeal … rests in the fact that his poems are distinctively personal without being self-centred; he reflects the world instead of searching it for his image. (pp. 352-53)

Michael Hornyansky, "Poetry: 'The Dance Is One'," in University of Toronto Quarterly (© University of Toronto Press 1974; reprinted by permission of University of Toronto Press), Vol. XLIII, No. 4, Summer, 1974, pp. 352-53.