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This article is taken from PN Review 176, Volume 33 Number 6, July - August 2007.

Our Beauty and Our Trim: Paul Muldoon John Lyon

Paul Muldoon is the most personable of poets - companionable, complaisant, at times perhaps complacent, clubbable. He is always running the risk - indeed seems continually to court the possibility - of becoming the poet of his generation, the poetic celebrity. At its best, however, his work is more important than that. Muldoon is an uneven writer whose poetics of adolescence now seems to be undergoing some mid-life crisis. Hence it is breathtaking, rather than scintillating (the latter seemingly Muldoon's own preferred term of approbation), to find in Horse Latitudes Muldoon acknowledging himself to be - in the words of D.H. Lawrence - 'coldly at a loss':

Hedge School

Not only those rainy mornings our great-great grandmother was posted at a gate
with a rush mat
over her shoulders, a mat that flashed
Papish like a heliograph, but those rainy mornings when my daughter and the rest

of her all-American Latin class may yet be forced to conjugate
Guantánamo, amas, amat
and learn with Luciana how 'headstrong liberty is lash'd
with woe' - all past and future mornings were impressed

on me just now, dear Sis,
as I sheltered in a doorway on Church Street in St. Andrews
(where, in 673, another Maelduin was bishop),

and tried to come up ...


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