Ronald G(ilmour) Everson Charles Molesworth - Essay

Charles Molesworth

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[It] is impossible to conceive of a reason to forge larger, more complex units out of R. G. Everson's brief, sufficient lyrics. [In his Selected Poems 1920/1970, this] Canadian gives us over one hundred poems in less than ninety pages. They are lonely poems, featuring a speaker who must face a new part of a familiar country, or who discovers a moment of historical consciousness buried below the mundane hours of commerce. If one assumes that a half-century of work is here arranged chronologically, Everson seems to have moved toward more open, but unsurprising, forms. He has not abandoned his essential lyric syntax: beginning with closely observed and deftly placed facts and remembrances, letting metaphoric structure occur casually, the poem takes a modest but firm jump onto the anagogic plane…. Like certain American poets such as David Ignatow, Everson engages a quotidian reality through the expressive gestures of idiomatic speech. His syntax, therefore, is not as careful, nor is his "analysis" of reality as polished as [Leslie] Norris's, or [Tony] Connor's, even. Yet through his poems we have a habitable space in which we can visit, catching ourselves in the traffic of the moment or snatching views of another time and another place. His poems are filled with Canadian landscapes, especially so in recent years, given a chronological arrangement, and though they sometimes wear their learning clumsily, as in Report for Northrop Frye or Raby Head, they more often move easily and gracefully. (pp. 111-12)

Charles Molesworth, "Some Locals," in Poetry (© 1972 by The Modern Poetry Association; reprinted by permission of the Editor of Poetry), Vol. CXX, No. 2, May, 1972, pp. 107-13.∗