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by M.T.L.

R. A. D. FORD`S Coming from Afar: Selected Poems 1940-89 (McClelland & Stewart, 265 pages, $14.95 paper) is ruminative, wistful, and plain; at its best, as in the Audenesque "Luis Medias Pontual in Red Square," Ford achieves both profundity and technical distinction. A selection of his translations of poets writing in French, Spanish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and German, also included here, is equally impressive. The theme of much of Ford`s poetry is the difficulty of defending by argument an instinctive faith in a compassionate God. In this, he reminds us of Fred Cogswell. Ford`s many assertions of the goodnesses of life remind us of Ralph Gustafson, and Ford shares with Gustafson a strong sense of historical presence, but he lacks Gustafson`s colloquial sprightliness and his vividly detailed imagery. Although not one of our most imaginative poets, Ford is always compassionate, reflective, and illuminating.

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