Doubt's Boots: Even Doubt's Shadow

Article excerpt

Charles Noble, Doubt's Boots: Even Doubt's Shadow (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2003), 174pp. Paper. $19.95. ISBN 1-5523-8100-5.

So, in boots/shadow, 'we are walking across a zone whose ground is not solid', whose 'foundations . . . have evaporated' (p. 7), and through the medley of boundaries that such a 'zone' inspires, I was flanked by two questions: What kind of ground are we walking on in 'Doubt's' boots? And is it enough/too much for the language of a poem to mirror its subject so claustrophobically?

This is the babble of Babel; not quite Mannerist in technique, sort of Neo- Wastelandist in style, and with a vision so peripheral that we can no longer see properly. Indeed, the eye and mind quickly tire from the constant demand to focus near and far, from 'gulls wheeling over the pasture' to 'quantum tortoise phylogenizing the future' (pp. 102-3). In order to appreciate the subject and language, our antennae, of course, have to be attuned to the discordance of Western society, but when reading this poem it is impossible ever to steady oneself and distinguish between the literal and the symbolic. There are times when Noble demonstrates subtle and striking pauses with imagery that one can follow, but these moments are immediately mangled into 'meaning' and usurped by a language so inimical that the reader becomes torn between boredom and incredulity. …