vain lacks the tension of poet-clergymannR.S. Thomas’s poetry. Outside ofnhis ballads, which are not much innevidence in the current collection, henlacks a single distinctive quality — ofntone, of idiom, or of sound — thatnmight set his poems apart from thosenof any number of skilled poets. Thenquality of the work is high, to be sure,nbut there is no “Mr. Bleaney” orn”Church-Going” here crying out to benread again and again.nCausley was born in 1917, and hisnmany poems about his youth and extendednfamily rank among his finest.nThe England of his childhood wasnfilled with the human wreckage of thenGreat War. “Dick Lander,” a veterannwho, according to one of the poet’snplaymates, is “shell-shopped,” dailynstands on a corner “playing a game ofntrains with match-boxes.” The poemnconcludes with a childish prank:nAt firework time we throw a fewnat Dick.nShout, ‘Here comes Kaiser Bill!’nDick stares us throughnAs if we’re glass. We yell,n’What did you donIn the Great War?’ And skidninto the dark.n’Choo, choo,’ says Dick. ‘Ghoo,nchoo, choo, choo, choo,nchoo.’nOne relative recalled is “Uncle Stan,”nwho died in a military training camp innBritish Golumbia. “He might have beenna farmer; swallowed mud / At Vimy,nGambrai,” muses the poet, “But anGanadian winter got him first.” MostnBOOKS ON CASSETTESni*’ Unabridged Recordingsn^ Purchase &. 30 Day Rentalsn5*” Columnist George Will has stated, “I gonthrough a book a week using time otherwisenwasted in taxis, shaving ornwalking!’ (NY Times)n=*’Try listening to fulllengthnrecordings of booksnby the world’s greatestnminds. We specialize innBiography, History, Politics,nEconomics, Philosphy,nReligion, Social Issues, andnTimeless Literature.n^ For Free Catalog, Calln40/CHRONICLESn-J^’^ MARNSI’nLi CBOUfiK EljbT,n1 (800) 729-2665npainful are memories of the poet’snfather, an invalid who died when his sonnwas seven: “Once again my dead /nFather stood there: army boots bright asnglass, / Offering me a hand as colourlessn/ As phosgene.” In poems like thesenone hears second-generation echoes ofnSassoon and Graves.nSince his retirement from teaching,nCausley has traveled extensively. Severalnpoems draw on Australian locales, “Andetritus / Of boomerangs and bells andnwhips and saddles.” The focus of hisndescriptions, however, is more oftennthan not on people instead of landscape.n”Grandmother” describes anCzech-German survivor of wartimendislocations who “guillotines salaminwith a hand / Veined like Silesia.”n”Bamboo Dance” describes a freneticnFilipino combination of music, movement,nphysical danger, and love:nThe dance is love, love isnthe dancenThough bamboo shocks theirndancing day.nCeases. Smiling, the dancers go,nHand locked in gentle hand,ntheir way.nAt “Gelibolu,” the Turkish name fornGallipoli, he goes beneath surface, sensingnthe presence of histor}’: “But this isnsavaged air. Is poisoned ground. / Unstilled,nthe dead, the living voices sound,n/ And now the night breaks open like anwound.”nAside from Hardy and Landor, it isnhard to think of other poets in their 70’snwho have written this well. In the book’snfinal poem, “Eden Rock,” Causley imaginesna reunion with his parents,n”mother, twenty-three, in a spriggedndress,” and “father, twenty-five, in thensame suit / Of Genuine Irish Tweed.”nThe call for the poet to be gathered tonthe bosom of his elders is phrased innrestrained measures:nThe sky whitens as if lit bynthree suns.nMy mother shades her eyes andnlooks my waynOver the drifted stream. Mynfather spinsnA stone along the water.nLeisurely,nThey beckon to me from thenother bank.nI hear them call, ‘See where thennnstream-path is!nCrossing is not as hard as younmight think.’nI had not thought that it wouldnbe like this.nThere is a valedictory tone that runsnthrough these haunting lines. InnCharles Causley’s case one can onlynhope that it is premature.nR.S. Gwynn is the editor of thenDictionary of Literary Biographynvolume, Contemporary AmericannPoets. He lives in Beaumont, Texas.nInvocations ofnMalebranchenby David KUnghoffernLives of the Saints: A Novelnby David R. SlavittnNew York: Atheneum;n213 pp., $19.95n* *’ I ‘ he great issues don’t need to benX vulgarized,” observes the narratornof David Slavitt’s 15th work ofnfiction. “They are vulgar, for they arenexactly those things that everybody worriesnabout.” Of those great issues, perhapsnthe most inscrutable is the onenmost poignantly summarized in the titlenof Rabbi Harold Kushner’s 1982 bestseller.nWhen Bad Things Happen tonGood People. Even before the longsufferingnlife of Job and longer stillnbefore Rabbi Kushner came along, thenquestion was this: given the premise ofnan all-good and all-powerful Creator,nhow to explain the presence of rampantnevil in the world? Crucial andnultimately irresolvable, the questionnhas attracted responses ranging fromnthe self-deluding to the completelynmystifying — with Rabbi Kushner’s littlenbook, dealing in a tidy brand ofnself-help theology, tending more in thenformer direction. By now it’s all beennsaid before, and many times over. Thenwonder of Mr. Slavitt’s novel is that itnmanages to address the problem withoutnever quite going stale on us, ornbeing — on a paragraph-by-paragraphnbasis, anyway—less than refreshinglynlively.nThe narrator in Lives of the Saints isn