Macpherson, Jay

Macpherson, Jay

▪ Canadian poet
in full  Jean Jay Macpherson  
born June 13, 1931, London, Eng.

      Canadian lyric poet, member of “the mythopoeic school of poetry,” who expressed serious religious and philosophical themes in symbolic verse that was often lyrical or comic.

      Macpherson immigrated with part of her family to Canada in 1940; in 1954 she joined the faculty of Victoria University at the University of Toronto. Her early works, Nineteen Poems (1952) and O Earth Return (1954), were followed by The Boatman and Other Poems (1957, reissued with additional poems, 1968), a collection of short poems under six subtitles that established her reputation as a poet. Her lyrics, often ironic and epigrammatic and linked by recurrent mythical and legendary symbols, reflect the influences of the modern critical theories of Northrop Frye and Robert Graves, Elizabethan songs, the poetry of William Blake, Anglo-Saxon riddles, and traditional ballads. Often written in traditional verse forms, her poems repeatedly stress the importance of the imagination. Four Ages of Man (1962) is an illustrated account of classical myths, designed for older children. Welcoming Disaster (1974) is a collection of her poems from 1970 to 1974. Her study of the pastoral romance, The Spirit of Solitude: Conventions and Continuities in Late Romance, was published in 1982.

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