Earle Birney: David (2297 words)


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Earle Birney’s poem “David”, first published in Canadian Forum in 1941, is one of the most widely anthologized and taught poems in Canadian literature. “A generation of Canadian schoolchildren and university students”, wrote Birney’s friend and fellow poet Al Purdy in 1974, “has grown up knowing the story of a mountain climber who fell 50 feet to a narrow ledge, was badly injured, then pushed off the ledge to his death by his friend in an act of mercy”, adding that “at one time or another in the last 25 years, ‘David’ has been required reading for high schools and universities in every Canadian province” (Purdy). Birney’s biographer Elspeth Cameron has tracked down the original David, a fellow student of …

Citation: Clausson, Nils. "David". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 July 2011 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=32185, accessed 19 September 2020.]

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