Patrick Lane Rosemary Aubert - Essay

Rosemary Aubert

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The poems [in The Measure] fall roughly into three categories.

A few poems like "Temenos" are basically philosophical in nature. While they certainly cannot be dismissed as merely abstract, they are ponderous and occasionally fall victim to a too-frequent use of rhetorical questions. A second class of poem encompasses works such as "The Long Coyote Line." These are enriched nature poems, descriptive, but also offering comment on what is described. These poems are both strong and delicate, reminiscent of fine Oriental poetry.

But the third type of poem shows the real strength of this collection: the narratives. Every one of them is vigorous, gripping and nearly unforgettable. "Just Living," a truly striking poem, manages to combine the grotesque and the deeply human without ever straining credulity or forcing emotion. Its language is purely natural, its effect pure art. And it is a diamond among other precious stones. "Annie She," "Something Other Than Our Own," and the marvellous closing poem, "Certs," prove that Lane is a master of narrative. These poems grab the reader and hang on to him, the way a well-told tale does.

Rosemary Aubert, "Poetry: 'The Measure'," in Quill and Quire (reprinted by permission of Quill and Quire), Vol. 47, No. 2, February, 1981, p. 48.