The book is about life in general and all the things that make us what we are. I hope it gives a new view of the world and arouses some emotion in the people reading it. If it does then my job is done.
-William Gordon Mallett
“WHERE LEADS THE ROAD is a collection filled with one man’s thoughts about the world and his experience.
While the topics are varied and wide-ranging in WHERE LEADS THE ROAD, what is clear is that William Gordon Mallett has poured his entire life into this collection. It is made up of memories both big and small, snippets of everyday scenes such as the pad of a cats paw are written alongside poetic political commentaries and reflections on global society. For the most part, the poems in the collection ring of nostalgia. But of course, nostalgia has its limits.
In the poem (Vive la Difference), the author grieves the blurring differences between men and women, and in another, he laments the demise of the English language as it evolves into something riddled in slang that he does not understand. It is in poems such as these that we must decide what this collection actually is. Is it a man’s nostalgia for a past in which he was comfortable with the world when many others were not? Or should we view it simply as one man’s memories printed to the page?
If we can allow ourselves to be comfortable situating it as the latter, then this is a rhythmic collection of lessons from life being actively lived and reflected upon. The poems that emphasize this, such as Time in a Nutshell, are the strongest in the collection, with concluding lines such as “Now as the sands run out and time has become precious/ I find a certain urgency has filled my life capricious/ I am trying to get done all the things I want to do/ Before it all goes black with the final turning of the screw.”
The poems do not make a play at complexity. There is little exploration of form, which works well for this particular collection. The basic A/B/A/B rhyme schemes that make up the bulk of the poems are intentionally soothing. In their simplicity, there is beauty in comfort. They convey, thematically and stylistically, the release at the end of the day. The solace of a life long love. The moments of contentment that, far from being dull, are the times that most satiate us with happiness.
Perhaps these lines convey it all when he says “Then the moment passes and reality sets in/ That’s when warm memories start to begin/ Making me feel glad about the path I did take/ To where I am now, a success, not a mistake.”
IR Verdict: WHERE LEADS THE ROAD, a highly personal and intentionally soothing collection of poems by William Gordon Mallett, is both at its worst and best when rooted in pure nostalgia.”