BookView Review: Death at Quebec, and Other Poems by Don Gutteridge

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Fiddlehead Poetry Books; 1st Edition

Pub date January 1, 1971

ISBN 978-0919196698

Price $94.69 Paperback

Gutteridge brings many famous historical figures to life in this deeply poignant and magnificently crafted short collection of poems. From Henry Hudson, the early 17th century English sea explorer and navigator, and the French Jesuit missionary Brebeuf to the Metis leader and founder of the province of Manitoba Louis Riel, Samuel de Champlain, the French colonist, navigator, explorer, and chronicler, and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the 17th-century French explorer and fur trader in North America, this collection contains stories of the great men in history whose untimely ends did not do their fantastic lives justice but they left a mark nonetheless. Gutteridge takes pain to paint gripping accounts of fearless rebellions, untimely death, isolation, daring expeditions across seas and lands, with men braving hunger, disease, natural disasters and unpredictable weather elements among others. It is but a glimpse into all the hardships—emotional, physical, mental and otherwise—that those legendary figures faced in history. The struggles of leading by example, with all the pride, pain, and shame it can bring, are explored in heartbreaking, breathtaking words: In “LaSalle: Fragments from Journal, Part Two,” Gutteridge writes: “They are whispering again:/ I am arrogant, they say,/ they plot against me,/ hope to humiliate me/ with the King./ They cannot know/ my humiliation.” While the grim subject of death stays at the center of the book, many of the themes touched on explicitly (including courage, pride, integrity, adventure, resistance, determination, grit, grief, regret, and pride) are very much relevant and not even new, making this remarkable work both timely and timeless. This symphony of poetry is a necessary lesson in Canadian history that will educate and inspire at once.

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