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Merrybegot    by Mary Dalton order for
by Mary Dalton
Order:  USA  Can
Véhicule Press, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The collection of Mary Dalton's poems in Merrybegot reflects a rich Newfoundland heritage in speech and culture. Though I did not understand all the local idiom, the meanings of many words (such as blatherskite) could be guessed from their context and others held echoes of their Celtic origins that resonated with my own Irish background.

The verses speak of a hard life and tough folk, of perilous sea fishing, of women washing and baking, births and deaths, moonshine and merriment - and of small, close communities knowing each other's strengths and flaws. I especially liked Spry, which reminded me of my grandfather - 'Eighty-four and spry as a goat. / He set eight drills of potatoes the spring ... Knows a hundred songs, / Get him going, out they'll / Tumble - you'll hear him rattling, / Working one up, him leaning / Into the song, all six foot of him, / His head full of tunes, / Feet tapping, / Eyes capering after the women.' And the final poem Yet conveys physical attraction strongly - 'Cradle and grave, / They said; / Yet - / You could smell / The smouldering, sparry, / Whenever they met.'

In a concluding 'Note on the Poems', the author tells us that her 'small monologues, then, originate in the printed, the spoken and the imagined ... They speak of the land and the saltwater. They are hybrids, moon children, merrybegots.'

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