A(rthur) J(ames) M(arshall) Smith I. S. MacLAREN - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Certainly the one hundred pieces [in Poems New and Collected] show Smith to be a chameleon—he can viciously dismiss the vacuity of 'popular poetry', he can articulate his committment to sing the "lonely music" or to encounter "voluptuous" death, and yet he can delight his reader with such flippant remarks as:

McLuhan put his telescope to his ear;
What a lovely smell, he said, we have here.

The question raised by the bewildering variety of Poems New and Collected is whether to assess the poems individually in their own terms or to attempt to discover whatever unity lies at the core of the collection....

(The entire section is 1145 words.)