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Souster, Raymond.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1987. 124pp. paper, ISBN 0-88750-680-1 (cloth) $25.95. 0-88750-682-8 (paper) $12.95.

Reviewed by Pat Bolger

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July

The poems in this collection, written in 1946-47 and 1986-87, celebrate Souster's love for his wife Rosalia, to whom he dedicates this book. The first group, entitled "From a Young Man in Love," were written at the time of their marriage forty years ago and are now published for the first time. The seventy or so short lyrics celebrate her beauty, their mutual passion, and, as Souster puts it in 'The Small Joys":

Such things as these, which the world
would laugh at,
Grown far too clever, far too distant
from joy,
Are to you and me the binding certainties
of our love,
The gold and silver of our nights and days.

The second section again has about seventy short lyrics and the "Sequence for Susi." all written in celebration of the fortieth year of their marriage. This latter group is darker, with poems like The Rescue. And After." which expresses Souster's deep regret for past faults (with a reticence not found elsewhere in the collection). This darkness is balanced, though, by a mellow humour, as in "Haircut" and "Prediction":

You look under fifty,
I feel at least seventy.
If we must have each other
so often, so completely.
I predict-by the end of the year
we'll be even more years apart!

This collection, with its arresting cover art by Mendelson Joe, will be very popular in public libraries, especially with Souster fans. It will also be useful in secondary school libraries. Younger students would enjoy the poems celebrating Rosalia's Alberta childhood, and seniors doing poetry projects would find it enlightening to compare poems on similar topics composed forty years apart. And somewhere, there is a cooking class to test "Making Pasta Together"!

Pat Bolger, Renfrew Collegiate, Institute, Renfrew, Ont.
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