“Provocative propinquity”: Paul Muldoon and Edward Lear

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Abstract

As writers and wanderers, Edward Lear and Paul Muldoon make an oddly believable couple. Both develop an aesthetic that combines comedy and grotesquery, the botanical and the bestial, and both delight in pushing the whims of their imagination beyond the standards of poetic decorum. Their poems are full of departures and returns, though Lear’s voyages are as likely to arrive against impossible odds as Muldoon’s are to disappear in transit. Most importantly, both are writers committed to evocations of childhood, and to the rich formal pleasures and patterns particularly associated with children and the childlike. This article traces the legacy of Lear's nonsense writing in Muldoon's verse, and provides a glimpse of the range of poetry Lear’s work has helped make possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-185
Number of pages17
JournalVictorian Poetry
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

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