Raymond Souster’s Poetry

One of the joys in reading a long collection like 15 Canadian Poets x 3 is that you can discover poets like Raymond Souster who you’ve never heard of before but whose collected poems number eight volumes. While I doubt that I’ll ever read all eight volumes – I don’t like him quite that much – I was fond of almost every poem included in this collection and will end up buying a collection of his poems.

Perhaps that’s because I agree with what he said in the poem “Good Fortune:” “life isn’t a matter of luck/ of good fortune, it’s whether/ the heart can keep singing/ when there’s really no reason/ why it should.”

Geddes also points out Souster was influenced by American poets Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, and I have a real preference lately for poets inspired by Williams.

He seems to write poems on an extremely wide range of subject, ranging from the rather Romantic”


All this slow afternoon
the May winds blowing
honey of the lilacs,
sounds of waves washing
through the highest branches
of my poplar tree.

Enough in such hours
to be simple alive;
I will take death tomorrow
without bitterness.

Today all I ask
is to be left alone
in the wind
in the sunshine,
with the honey on lilacs
down the garden;

to fall asleep tired
of small birds’ gossip,
of so much greenness
pushed behind my eyes.

a poem that very much appeals to my love of nature. Though there’s obviously a philosophical stance in simple lines like “Enough in such hours/ to be simply alive,” it’s the imagery that carries the poem. There is something meditative, haiku-like in these images of Spring.

Contrast that with the immediacy of


In the time it take
to say Mogadishu,

a five-year old
playing in the mud
has both arms blown away.

The militiamen call him

a poem that has the same immediate impact of Yeats’ famous “Hurrah for Revolution” and may be even more effective in convincing the reader of the futility of such revolutions.

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