Always Poetically 3 Letters
Always Poetically 3 Letters – , and to do so would always be a kind of tenth-rate Joyce. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea that there are limits.” Thus, Muldoon comments on poems in his next volume,
. He does, however, retain a remarkable rate of Proto-Joycean creativity and metalinguistic scrutiny. ‘The word is a suspicious device’ (
Always Poetically 3 Letters
, 143) follows a self-referential line in the narratanotography ‘Yarrow’, the poetic reanimation of his mother Brigid, who died of cancer in 1974, in a language and a narrative that deny and continually create themselves until the end. This confession of linguistic skepticism, ‘the suspicious device’, vie for attention with other notable pieces of vocabulary such as ’emphysemantífona’, ‘metafisicata’ (34) and ‘oscaraboscarabinry’ (35) in ‘Cows’. logical articulation appear, for example, the staccato reiteration of ‘
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‘ (20) in ‘Incantata’; the inscrutable meaning of single letters, for example S – in ‘Yarrow;’ and the swings of syntax, twists of grammar, and twists of poetic form everywhere that testify to the continuing importance of language in Muldoon’s work. poetic. These text samples from the seventh and T.S. from Muldoon. The Eliot Prize-winning 1994 volume indicates, among other perspectives, the benefit of a poststructuralist distrust of language, Barthesian ideas of text and
And the Joycean play on words to a poetry open to creative theories of language, as well as to the functions, flaws and contexts of language itself. Through deconstructive linguistics and seditious semiotics, Muldoon is often determined to slaughter sacred cows and determined to attempt to present the unpresentable on the poetic canvas. The mystical, shifting, polysemantic figure S—in ‘Yarrow’ ambivalently signals a heightened awareness of Parisian poststructuralism on the part of Muldoon: ‘she was more in Barthes / than Wolfram von Eschenbach: // largely because of
, ’ ‘she bent over me like a bowsprit / (bow?
, 143). Such linguistic inquiries are inherently justified by most writers who are serious about their own art. Inside
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Themes. An insistent refusal to accept the given of language and an obsession with limits and beyond parallel the events of death, life and birth that appear so unforgettably in many of these poems.
Received much critical attention. Inspired by Said and post-colonial theory, Jonathan Bolton shows in ‘Irish Stew at the Café du Monde’ how the collection’s displacement processes articulate ‘the emigrant’s experience’ and its ‘liberating potential of extranationality, tormented by the lost intimacy of family and friends and troubled by accusations of national identity.’2 Undoubtedly,
Deserves such a reading, but its placement of postcolonial concerns from Northern Ireland to the South American continent is also supported by the internal critique of such a paradigmatic interpretation. Furthermore, death, life and birth seem to receive more attention in the poems than questions of nationality and postcolonial (which are also clearly present) and often Muldoon’s neologisms and adlinguistic tendencies tend to disperse and dissipate divisions between national and the people. .
, Muldoon’s most elegiac collection to date, is also his most frankly autobiographical. the richness of cultural and autobiographical reference does not help to ground poetry. It’s almost as if there are too many clues and no real way of knowing how to read them.”4 Paul Muldoon, in a conversation with Suzan Sherman and Yusef Komunyaka, further complicates the interactions between writing and the self. “I think all writing is autobiographical on some level,” he states, only to counter that statement in the next sentence:
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The complete abnegation of the personality, for language has its own logic and force. I really believe that myself. I would argue with what I’ve just said about autobiography, personality shining for nothing. I think so, and yet, ideally, one tries to surrender when one writes, in order to have no sense of oneself. It is a paradox that there should not be a sense of identity and complete openness and humility in the face of language.5
In another interview with Ingersoll and Rubin he comments on the metamorphoses of the self: ‘But then even this ‘I’ is a kind of invention, because all our ‘Is’ are ‘Adventures of the Letter I’, in the great phrase of Louis Simpson. We are all inventions of ourselves on some level.6 Muldoon is clearly aware of the creative impact of language and lyrics on the ever-evolving processes of subjectivity and individuality.
: “Psychoanalysis now offers a term for words that emerge from this place of sacrifice and burial: “cryptonomy”, the cryptic discourse of melancholy that embodies and therefore preserves the dead (and their secrets), even as these ghosts proliferate in games of homonymous words. .’7 Batten’s article shows an acute awareness of the linguistic and political aspects of the volume and defends its referentiality to a speaking subject – however complex this subject may be. The essay is also hostile to “the postmodern denial of origins in a parental space that now appears empty”.
May suggest that the postponement and divergence of linguistic processes make any origin difficult, not just those broken by Freudian theories.
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Reveals more clearly than any previous Muldoon collection his awareness of the limitations of this ‘artificiality” [Muldoon’s remarkable linguistic cynicism].9 This is a curious final line, for it suggests alternatives to artificiality in art. What might such alternatives be? Are particular pieces or specific types of art more or less artificial than others? What parts and types? Because? If such distinctions can be easily drawn, alternatives to artificiality – nature? authenticity? emotions? human life? – drop out of the arts. Ford’s discriminations operate surreptitiously with mimetic criteria that revert to a range of language concepts as a secondary means of channeling.
Ideas, primordial feelings, and the outside world, as if it makes no difference which of the numerous so-called pejorative synonyms you choose when talking about your loved ones and your bereaved relatives. Language is not merely a product of nature, autobiography and authenticity that works through reproduction or reference to “reality”, but also a creative invention with artificial aspects. Explorations and transgressions of language and poetic form guarantee liberations, not limitations, and alternatively present the many mysteries of death, birth and life – about which we know so little.
Perhaps we know more about life than we do about birth and death. Muldoon addresses the three dimensions as oppositions, simultaneous events and integral perspectives on existence in striking language in
. What kind of language and aesthetic disjunctions can account for disintegration and death? What stylistic solutions can be devised to conceive the unknowable perspectives of a newborn child? What combinations of creative artifices can explain the two ends of human existence in their inescapable everyday dimensions? As always, solemn matters of human existence do not preclude Muldoon’s assiduous aesthetic listening: artifice and authenticity reflect one another. Nor does poetry constitute imperturbable piety and decorum: irony and contempt mingle with compassion and intimacy. Muldoon dedicates this collection to his late mother, Brigid Regan (1920–1974). A complex commemoration of hers, ‘Yarrow’, and an exuberant elegy, ‘Incantata’, for her ex-partner Mary Farl Powers (1948-1992), make up the bulk of the book. However, a set of three poems that celebrate gestation and birth, ‘The Sonogram’, ‘Footling’ and ‘The Birth’, occupies a central place alongside the poems of commemoration and mourning. Cryptology captures the mysteries of death and the dead.
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, perhaps the specimen of cryptography and narrathanotology, reads like a centrifuge of endless riddles, cryptology and vitalogy in
The arrival of a new life, for example, in Virgil’s fourth eclogue, in the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint John, in Mallarmé’s “Gift of the Poem” or in Yeats’ “The Second Coming” also heralds the advent of language and in new ways and new eras. ‘The Birth’ crosses many lines of language, life and literature in its celebration of Dorothy Aofie Korelitz Muldoon, daughter of Muldoon, in this alphabetical litany. In ‘October 1950’, a date which probably corresponds to the month of Muldoon’s conception, the persona tries to come to terms with the origin and purpose of her own life in a way that imbricates her with the contingencies of family life, time, policy and text. But these entry points only reproduce bewilderment: ‘Whatever it is, it leaves me in the dark’
, 9). ‘The Birth’ emerges from this occlusion to suggest creative survival strategies. Together, the twin texts show a shift in human perspective from egocentric identity crisis to parental responsibility, and the transition between the two poems can be read as a celebration of life despite the unknowability with which it is shrouded. Consequently, the two poems relate to the dilemmas of human existence and procreation at a time of conflicting concerns about adoption and artificial insemination, with ‘O Nascimento’ also generating the becoming of language and form.