Miriam Waddington D. G. Jones - Essay

D. G. Jones

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Waddington's language in Say Yes is close to the conventional lyric, appears fresh,] surprises with sudden illumination, touches us with her gaiety and convinces us of her gravity. Her language enlivens the dark. Acutely aware of the loss of love, of language, of a familiar world, she confronts it directly and articulates it honestly. With a possible hint from Dr. Williams she has devised a rather baroque, run-on form made up of lines of two to four feet into which the most prosaic sentences may be fitted, in a potentially endless series…. In the country, in the city, in art or in nature, everywhere the dark appears. In "Shakedown" we read:

Time like a raftered roof has shaken us down like grain or brickdust into the lowest bin of the dark world.

One poem is entitled "Swallowing darkness is swallowing dead elm trees." And swallow it Mrs. Waddington does. The dark is not simply an alien dark; it is our own…. The dark is the home of the inarticulate "other." Moving into the dark with affection, she retains her language and enlarges it, rediscovering her world in the bleakest times and the most unpromising places. Iron bridges fold their wings like swans; construction cranes like colourful amphibious animals bring her a breakfast basket of helmeted workers and bricks by the ton…. Despite the strangeness of cities, the "black leather police," empty libraries, empty rooms, Eros survives. It survives to inform the imagination and the control of the language, and with it survives the capacity for song. (pp. 73-4)

D. G. Jones, "Voices in the Dark" (reprinted by permission of the author), in Canadian Literature, No. 45, Summer, 1970, pp. 68-74.∗