4 out of 4 stars
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Footsteps…Echoes in the Heart by William Gordon Mallett is a delightful book of poetry that covers themes and ideas inspired by the author’s interesting life. Mallett’s biography includes growing up on the island of Guernsey, moving to Hamilton, Canada at the age of ten, working as a firefighter and a groundskeeper in a cemetery, and serving in the Navy. All of these unique life experiences shine through the many poems in this collection.
The book begins with poems that focus on memory, the passage of time, and place. These paint vivid portraits of the landscapes of Guernsey and Hamilton and reveal snippets of the speaker’s childhood. Later, the poetic themes shift to firefighting, family, and war. Many of the war poems focus on Canada’s role in World Wars I and II. Then, poems progressively shift to focus on politics, nature, living in the moment, loneliness, old age, love, and writing poetry. There are more than 125 poems in the collection.
I really enjoyed reading these poems and felt that each one told a complete story no matter the length. The poems I liked most of all were those that focused on places. I loved how the poet was able to make these places come alive through the vivid and precise details that he included. For example, in the poem “Through the Eyes of a Child,” the speaker recalls various childhood memories and describes the local harbor as having “the smell of tar, creosote, and diesel” (pg 3) and on foggy days, hearing “the mournful sound of the fog horn” (pg 4). As a reader, I liked that I could smell and hear exactly what was happening, and I thought the sensory details were masterfully done in many of the poems about places and nature.
Another thing I really liked was the sense of cohesion among the poems. They were grouped by theme, and I appreciated this order to the collection. Some of the poems repeated ideas or lines from earlier poems, which I thought aided in the continuity of the collection as a whole. There was nothing that I didn’t like, and I believe the collection to be well edited as I only saw one place where there was a missing quotation mark. I didn’t see any other grammatical errors or typos.
I rate this collection of poetry 4 out of 4 stars because I didn’t see anything that was lacking or which warranted the loss of a star. I felt the poems were easy to follow and understand, and I enjoyed the poet’s use of interesting metaphors. For example, in the poem “The Wonder of Life,” the speaker says that life is like “Pandora’s jar when it was sealed / In youth there is promise and varied chance / As the years progress, the future is revealed / We break the jar’s seal through happenstance” (pg 150). I think that is a beautiful simile. In addition to metaphor, the poet uses a lot of end rhyme throughout his poems, something that I don’t see so often in poetry anymore. I believe that almost anyone who enjoys poetry would like this collection and can’t think of any specific audience who wouldn’t enjoy it.
Footsteps...Echoes in the Heart
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