Birney, (Alfred) Earle 1904–
Canadian poet. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)
Earle Birney, more than any other poet I know, is typical in thought and outlook of the average liberal-minded Canadian. His responses to life in Canada and his tourist impressions abroad are predictable and our own. But if he is the "average man" in this respect, he is rare among our writers in his ability to use forms derived from the whole tradition of poetry to express brilliantly and freshly whatever insight he does have. Moreover, he has an intelligent dedication to his craft that only a professional can posses. He can always be trusted to put old wine (which looks like new wine because it is made today) into old bottles (which look like new bottles because no one has seen them in a long time and because he has subtly adapted them to the styles of our time) in such a way that every draft we take in is to us a new and heady experience.
Fred Cogswell, "Nearer the Bone," in Canadian Literature, Summer, 1971, pp. 96-8.