Ronald G(ilmour) Everson M. J. Sidnell - Essay

M. J. Sidnell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Wrestle With An Angel] is Mr. Everson's fourth offering. Three Dozen Poems (1957), A Lattice for Momos (1958), and Blind Man's Holiday (1963) received their due tributes for the precision, unity, wit and economy of the poems collected in them. The reader knowing and expecting this good craftsmanship and seeing it emerge so clearly from the present bouts with reality might take a sampling and see the collection as more of the same—a series of poems picking out in flashes of brilliance the involuted parts of a world. But a sampling could mislead. Wrestle with an Angel has a coherence as a whole which makes it a notable development from the earlier collections. There is throughout a sense of philosophical assurance; the images do not twinkle in isolation but as a galaxy whose shape is discernible. (p. 235)

Everson's beings have that loosely articulated unity within themselves that Golding's Pincher Martin has in the collection of lives that make his individuality: soul-life, nerve-lives of eye or finger-tip, will and mental-life….

Everson constantly hints, sometimes more than hints, at horror, when, for instance, "The French are blowing up our mail-box duns" and in the same poem, "Sigmund Freud comes crawling through our bed." In "With Burney and Dudek on Mount Royal" the horror seems to triumph but in "Daybreak at the maternity ward" the agony is glorious, stretching the...

(The entire section is 489 words.)