Miriam Waddington Desmond Pacey - Essay

Desmond Pacey

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Miriam Waddington is a] quiet and unspectacular poet…, but she has a persuasive sincerity that is very winning.

[Her first book, Green World (1945),] established quite clearly the general outlines of her work. The book's dominant theme was the beauty and goodness of the natural world, expressed by recurring images of greenness and growth, and the ugliness and evil of contemporary industrial society, evoked by images of angles, coils, tunnels, walls and "tangles of hot streets". Within human society, the one positive liberating force was seen as love, whether love in the sense of charity or "loving-kindness" or love in the sense of sexual attraction and union. Unlike most of her Canadian contemporaries at that time, Mrs. Waddington did not speak in terms of socialist doctrine, nor indeed of any dogma, and although there were occasional references to the hope for a better social order there was no attempt to be specific about the causes of social chaos or the means of social amelioration. These early poems were simple, colourful, melodic and easy; they had spontaneity and verve, a youthful affirmation and exuberance modified only slightly by twinges of pity, anger or disgust.

In The Second Silence (1955) the themes remained much the same. Nature and love were still the main positive attractions, and the sufferings of modern industrial man the main sources of discontent. A decade of experience had, however, broadened the scope of her poetry. Love, especially sexual love, was given more complex treatment, revealed as a source of frustration and pain as well as of satisfaction and pleasure. The discussion of social evils was more specific, being related frequently to the plight of individuals whom Mrs. Waddington had encountered in the course of her duties as a social worker; and the experience of maternity provided her...

(The entire section is 769 words.)