Study Guide

Judith Wright

Judith Wright Essay - Critical Essays

Wright, Judith (Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Introduction

Wright, Judith 1915–

An Australian poet of international stature, Wright is also a biographer, critic, and short story writer. Her traditional lyric poetry reflects her Australian heritage and is most noted for its excellent descriptive imagery. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 13-16, rev. ed.)

Val Vallis

Judith Wright's collection of talks given "because she was invited" has as its first concern poetry in general. [Because I Was Invited] also presents a further group of poets treated in the manner of her previous book Preoccupations in Australian Poetry. The great merit of that book lay in her rejection of the usual critical approach, with its emphasis on style and technique at the expense of theme and philosophy….

In the broadest sense the issue of conservation underlies the entire work. Blake's strictures on the evils of "single vision" are central to her argument….

For all the seriousness and the prophetic content of her message these talks are never sermons....

(The entire section is 360 words.)

Peter Porter

Judith Wright is a poet of resonant plainness. Much too plain in the past, for my taste—but her two recent books [Alive and Fourth Quarter] suggest that she is verging on new shores of amazement. This is partly horror at the efficiency with which her fellow-countrymen are raping their country and partly the intensity of growing old. Hymning a good wooden house and its familiar and loved objects, she asks, 'Who'd live in steel and plastic/corseting their lives/with things not decently mortal?' The decency of mortality is a theme she exploits with great richness….

English readers could gain insight into the ambiguous nature of Australia by reading Miss Wright's poems. All Australian...

(The entire section is 196 words.)

Margaret Gibson

Selected from work over a span of 30 years, Wright's poems [in The Double Tree: Selected Poems, 1942–1976] bear witness to her commitment to "poetry's ancient vow to celebrate lovelong/life's wholeness." She is Australian, and her bond to her native land and its once pastoral wildness is evident, expressed in lyric poems of skilled prosody. In her later work, the vow to celebrate radiance is harder to keep. As she sees the destruction to wildlife, water, and land, she is more convinced of human destructiveness, aware of the murderous heart as well as the passionate heart. She looks at opposites, seeking unity and form as "the compass heart swings seeking home/between the lands of life and death." Throughout...

(The entire section is 160 words.)