University of Ottawa Press, $14.95
Seymour Mayne, MA’66, PhD’72
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Seymour Mayne is the author, editor or translator of more than fifty books and monographs. In this collection of sonnets, he experiments with this 14-word, 14-line form in English (with French translations on the opposing pages). Seasons, light and the passing of time are some of the general themes coursing through the poems, with the idea of rebirth appearing repeatedly. In “September Rain” he imagines what the maple trees would dream of if they could dream:
If the maple trees could, they would dream of the healing entrance of May.
The strong sense of place and familiarity that Canadian readers, in particular, will feel as a result of the seasonal imagery serves as a reference point from which all other contextual elements draw meaning. As a result, this collection will attract readers to return again and again, in search of even deeper meaning.
One of the most intense and moving sonnets in this collection, “Yiddish,” reminds us of why Seymour Mayne is a master of the form, as he restores his Jewish ancestors, exterminated in the Holocaust, into speech.
Echo of whisper as distant ghosts in their millions dream the living into speech.
Mayne’s work has been translated into many languages, including French, German, Hebrew, Polish, Russian and Spanish. Many of the poems found in this collection have been previously published in magazines and journals (some in modified forms).