Flashy, attention-getting imagery, Campbell says, is not mythic. It's those images that give us the "shock of recognition."
1. Mythic images echo something in nature and in our nature.
2. Mythic poetry often takes place in an unspecifiable time and place. You could call it "mythic time." Coleridge was great at doing this:
- In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
- Down to a sunless sea.
Carpeted groves of corpulent oranges
Where the sun no longer sets;
The valley is bright the heroes gone.
Children with flowers step into the woods
Each by each, engulfed by the vernal mouth.
Blinding eyes, total darkness, eclipse of their return.
What makes it mythic? Timeless, placeless, and yet a specific place. Unreal imagery that evokes fertility and the loss of fertility. A sense of ritualistic behavior. It twists usual natural cycles, but that doesn't matter. The sense of natural cycles is still there. The sense of a journey is mythic.
4. Mythic poetry is not old-fashioned.
No, actually most politically progressive thought uses mythic ideas. Nearly all political speech uses it. You can't fight the power of the mythic; it's hardwired in us. It gives writing impact. You have to have an instinct for it, though - so that it doesn't sound contrived.