New Professor of Poetry explores `The End of the Poem'

Pic of Prof Muldoon A poem written in Oxford 79 years ago to the day was the focus of the inaugural lecture by the University's new Professor of Poetry, Professor Paul Muldoon (pictured left). Professor Muldoon chose the poem `All Souls' Night' by W.B. Yeats for the lecture, delivered on All Souls Night—2 November—to an audience at the Examination Schools.

He gave what he called `a nuts and bolts' analysis of the poem written by the Irish poet and playwright in 1920 during a two-year period in which he had a home in Oxford.

Professor Muldoon said: `As a writer myself I am most interested in how a poem is made. One of the things I think we need to do is to get back to a focus on the poem and what it is trying to do rather than the more abstract analysis that comes across in so many lectures.'

This is a theme Professor Muldoon intends to develop through the series of fifteen lectures he is due to give during his five-year term. Each will focus on a particular poem, explored in the light of the overall theme, `The End of the Poem'.

The inaugural lecture explored the extent to which a poem can be read (or ends) within the limits of its words and shape, or whether it is necessary to go across its physical barriers to understand it. Future lectures will examine other issues including: the tension between the surface and deeper meaning of a poem, the role of a poet's biography and bibliography, the interface between verse and prose, and the extent to which a poem is `of its time'.

For those who, on reading the theme, wondered if he foresaw the end of the poem as a form of writing, Professor Muldoon has this assurance. `It is not a question we should be troubled with. Poetry will always have its effect, connecting emotionally as it does with people in birth, marriage, and death. There will always be those who find a poem helps them make sense of their lives.'

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