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Poetry & Responsibility$
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Neil Corcoran

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380352

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380352.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 January 2022

The Pools of Shiloh

The Pools of Shiloh

On Paul Muldoon’s ‘Our Lady of Ardboe’

(p.125) Chapter 8 The Pools of Shiloh
Poetry & Responsibility

Neil Corcoran


This chapter explores the lengthy relationship between the writer of this book and this poem, one of Muldoon's early works. It proposes that the poem addresses the matter of the Irish Catholicism of Muldoon's generation – which has been treated elsewhere in often scathing and damning ways – with a certain ironic lightness of touch that has persisting personal and cultural value. The chapter offers a close reading of the way this irony is managed formally and technically, suggesting that equivocation is given literary body and depth within the poem. The chapter also reads the poem as a literary engagement with Seamus Heaney as well as a cultural engagement with Catholicism and suggests that in such critical-creative acts the aesthetic becomes itself a means of cultural recognition and critique. The chapter proposes also that the poem initiates this poet's preoccupation with ideas and techniques of simultaneity and also that coded into it is an element which will become much more prominent in Muldoon's later work: the figuring of a very difficult relationship with a mother.

Keywords:   Muldoon, Catholicism, Heaney

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