Miriam Waddington Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Miriam Waddington 1917–

Canadian poet, dramatist, and editor.

Waddington's reputation as a poet is well established in Canada. Although she has read widely and expresses special fondness for formal poets such as W. H. Auden and Hart Crane, Waddington has demonstrated considerable eclecticism in her own writing and adheres to no fixed poetic style. For Waddington, poetry is a natural outpouring into the world of the artist's existence, or as she states, "a bridging of the inner and the outer." This view of poetry makes theories of poetic form a secondary consideration to her. Consequently, over the span of nearly forty years of publication, Waddington's work has shown considerable flexibility in form and content.

Waddington's first collection, Green World (1945), contains many of the themes and subjects which dominate her poetry over the next twenty years. As the title of this work suggests, she is extremely conscious of nature, especially its rejuvenative processes. Waddington's lyrics in this volume express faith in the solace provided by nature as opposed to the frustrations caused by modern industrial society. Waddington's experience as a social worker provides much of the subject matter for her poetry. Many of the poems in her second book, The Second Silence (1955), demonstrate her familiarity with social problems and individual suffering. Waddington's poetry also manifests her strong political awareness, which can be traced to her childhood years when she was exposed to many social and political controversies through her intellectual Russian-Jewish parents and their associates.

In her later poetry, Waddington has moved away from social and political subjects. Instead, her recent books The Price of Gold (1976) and The Visitants (1981) include poems which focus on basic human concerns: loss, aging, death, and, ultimately, the primal joy of being alive.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 21-24, rev. ed.)