Madoc (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
While most readers’ attention will be drawn to the book- length title poem of Paul Muldoon’s sixth and most ambitious volume, it should be noted at the outset that this title poem is prefaced by seven pieces which are much more representative of the poet’s method prior to “Madoc” and which serve as a telling and testing prologue to the strange epic which comprises the bulk of the book. At first glance, these seven items seem somewhat out of place, and the difficulty in referring to them straightforwardly as poems underlines that sense of dislocation. They have little relation to one another. Formally, they are eclectic (“The Key” being in prose, “Asra” consisting of two lines). Tonally, they may seem somewhat wayward—the moving “Cauliflowers,” an oblique elegy for Muldoon’s father, and one of the poet’s most evocative and moving works (its depth of feeling all the more noteworthy in a poet as notoriously tight-lipped as Muldoon), opens with an epigraph from The National Enquirer. Moreover, they have no apparent bearing on their extended companion piece, except that they provide a basis for Muldoon to perpetuate extravagantly the formal whimsy of all his books since Mules (1977) by closing with a long poem.
With Muldoon, however, the reality of the case is not what lies, reconciled and compensatory, beyond dislocation and difference. On the contrary, the fact that the opening septet of poems have nothing to do...
(The entire section is 2262 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!