Robert Finch William Walsh - Essay

William Walsh

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If I try to delineate the character of Robert Finch's sensibility, I find myself wanting to say, perhaps in too large and general a way, that it is a sensibility which aspires to make explicit—but explicit in a way proper to poetry—the Europeanism latent in the Canadian spirit…. The first thing that is striking about Finch is the unity of his sensibility…. Robert Finch has a beautifully coherent and single sensibility, subject and detail, thought and feeling, tone and language, issuing without manipulation from a single organic response. A manner suggestive of coolness and sobriety is constantly capable of surprising us with a kind of subterranean explosiveness, and language, which seems stiff or angular, is in his hands buoyantly mobile and responsive…. (p. 82)

[In "The Statue"] there is not a hint of vacancy nor an unfunctioning line or word throughout. Moreover, the two parts of the poem work against each other in a marvelously productive way: in the first part a small boy, a man, a policeman, rustling in a row pursued by the cool menace of the trees, the flowers, the sky, in a chase which seems incapable of being broken or stopped; in the second part, the phase of stillness, the arrest of "only the statue unmoved in its moving stillness." The contrast is one in which each term of the comparison intensifies the reality of the other. Movement and stillness are different, married, and potent…. There is in this poem a muted use of repetition—a boy, a man, a policeman—in the first four...

(The entire section is 627 words.)