The Walled Garden: A Fantasia


119 pages
ISBN 0-921215-31-2
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Bert Almon

Bert Almon is a professor of English at the University of Alberta and
author of Calling Texas.


This is Michael Bullock’s 16th collection of poems. Bullock is a
surrealist whose work moves at the borders of dream and reality. His
surrealism is rather low-pressure, both in imagination and verbal skill.
Here he presents a set of poems and prose poems in seven sections. On
the whole, the prose poems have more rhythmic subtlety than do the poems
written in lines. These fantasies set in an English garden describe such
adventures as becoming the prisoner of a sadistic Fish God, changing
places with a green Christ nailed to a chestnut tree, and pursuing a
white rabbit. The narrator also observes cats, look at flowers, meets
various symbolic women—muse figures, perhaps—and, in the final poem,
lies down with a priestess who is said to be the “eternal Sakti,”
the female energy principle in Hinduism. All of this takes us rather far
from a garden in the London suburb of Harrow-on-Hill. Bullock’s
language simply doesn’t convey any of the power of these imagined
experiences; he favors words like “opalescent” and “pale” and
“magnificent,” words without much distinction or resonance. He needs
to compel us to follow these metamorphic voyages, but he leaves the
reader back in mundane reality.


Bullock, Michael., “The Walled Garden: A Fantasia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,