Scott's Reviews > Civil Elegies: And Other Poems

Civil Elegies by Dennis Lee
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's review
Mar 06, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: poetry, canadian
Read from March 02 to 04, 2012

Wow: Civil Elegies is so good! I can't wait to read this again. This poem's speaker is sitting in Nathan Philip's Square at Toronto's city hall. And he's thinking about his city and Canada: what inhabits them, how we inhabit them. Thematically, I feel there are some connections with Un and Yesno: in parts he talks about the city being inhabited by the dead. The ideas of yesteryear, keeping alive in "buildings, bylaws, and poricos". Stuck in old ways of thinking and being, which keeps the city and country from being what they truly could. There's also lots about American presence in our culture: how our minds and cities are colonized by an American idea of living. Also lots of words about public space, and created spaces where we can all exist. I don't pretend to understand everything about this poem! I know that I need to re-read this one a few times at least. The "other poems" were definitely good too, but are overshadowed by Civil Elegies itself; two that stood out for me were "400: coming home" and "sibelus park".
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