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J:!,tters In Canada: I953 Edited by J. R. MACG,LLIVRAY WE here present the nineteenth annual survey of "Letters in Canada," the first since 1947 which has not been divided between the April and July issues of the QUARTERLY. Last year we first omitted the bibliographical lists which had previously accompanied the critical surveys. The reason was that the pUblication of Canadiana by the Canadian Bibliographic Centre at Ottawa made the continuation of that part of our work unnecessary. Canadiana is supplied free to all libraries in Canada and may be subscribed for at two dollars a year through the Queen's Printer, Ottawa. One other omission, a highly regrettable one: there is no section on drama this year. The amount of published dramatic writing has usually been very small, apparently having little relation to the vigorous life of the little-theatre groups and the market which the C.B.C. provides for radio drama. Until the situation changes we may plan to notice dramatic publication only every second year. The editor would again express his thanks to all who have contributed to this survey: to the publishers of Canadian books for their continuing co-operation; to Miss M. J. Houston, Assistant Editor of the University Press, for her work in assembling and distributing the volumes; and to our reviewers who again have taken on this extra work at the most harassing time of the academic year. I. POETRY NORTHROP FRYE The technical development of a modem lyrical poet is normally from obscurity to simplicity. As long as he is writing primarily for himself, his thought will be rooted in private associations, images which are linked to ideas through his own hidden and unique memory. This is not his fault: he can write only what takes shape in his mind. It is his job to keep on writing and not get stuck at that point, above all not to rationalize any failure to advance by asserting that one must write this way in an unpoetic age. It is the critic's job to tell him and the public that whatever his stuff means, it sounds genuine enough. Then he is likely to pass through a social, allegorical, or metaphysical phase, an awkward and painful phase for all concerned . Finally, a mysterious but unmistakable ring of authority begins to come into his writing, and simultaneously the texture 253 Vol. XXIII, no. 3, April, 1954 254 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY simplifies, meaning and imagery become transparent, and the poetry becomes a pleasure instead of a duty to read. It takes a heroic supply of talent, practice, patience, and courage to get to that point. The process cannot of course be hurried by an act of will, but it can be affected by the environment. It was much easier to mature in England thirty years ago than to mature in America now, for example, no doubt because of all the adolescent fixations in American life. A glance at any American anthology reveals a series of poets who have progressed from gargle to Guggenheim in six easy volumes, and have still not seriously exploited their own resources. The number of such underdeveloped lyrical poets has created the illusion that the various stages of development are actually outposts. Every once in a while, however, we run across a poet who reminds uS that when the lyrical impulse reaches maturity of expression, it is likely to be, as most lyrical poetry has always been, lilting in rhythm, pastoral in imagery, and uncomplicated in thought. Patrick Anderson's The Colour as Naked (McClelland & Stewart, 93 pp., $2.75) is the work of a poet who is approaching maturity of expression , and who has shown himself to be, I think, essentially a poct in the pastoral tradition, the tradition of Wordsworth and of so many unpretentious but highly durable English poets of the previous generation. The influence of Auden has helped to give lightness and drive to his rhythm; the influence of Dylan Thomas ("my generation 's genius," Mr. Anderson calls him, and certainly the greatest contemporary pastoral poet) has helped to give power and richness of feeling to his imagery. Bits of the cocoon of his...




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