Clouds Flying before the Eye


75 pages
ISBN 0-86492-062-8




Reviewed by Martin Singleton

Martin Singleton was a poet living in Toronto.


Thurston’s latest book is divided into three sections: “Clouds Flying before the Eye,” “Light Enters Your Art,” and “Bush Notes.” An early poem sets the tone: “this urge so strong, we wish to reclaim / what we have never possessed / what other men believe is not worth having.” There is throughout — and especially in Part One — the search to define self by placing it in relation to other people and objects. Accordingly, some beautiful and moving poems about the protagonist’s father’s death engage the reader. The images are fairly ordinary, and this trait, combined with the colloquialism often employed, makes for heavy going in some poems. Thurston is at his best in a suite like “The Weather,” which uses considerable imagistic and compressive skills. He is aware of his Maritime heritage: “…the country / where the tongue is held / far back in the mouth,” and nowhere is the reticence, and the brave attempt to conquer it, presented more powerfully than in Part Two. The reticence may be other-generated (“Light Enters Your Art”) or self-generated (“Exhibition”), but its resolution is the basis for some fine poetry. Part Three attempts to integrate self and emotive freedom, again gaining considerable strength by careful detail (“and in the whole great sounding box / of the barn, there is only / the music of his soft face / in the trough”). Such poems as “The Technician” and “Sealed Orders” examine the poet’s culpability regarding death; “Time Zone” and “Jack O’Lantern” posit seasonal against chronological time. This is a book with many good things in it, which could profit from careful editing and certainly from a bolder type-face.


Thurston, Harry, “Clouds Flying before the Eye,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,