Analysis Of Muldoon's On Difficulty

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Muldoon is concerned with the social and political situation of Northern Ireland since he believes that poetry has an aestheticising role that helps cure painful emotions (Holdridge 5). His volume Quoof that includes “The More a Man Has” clearly represents poetry’s purgatory role and emphasises that poetry is as much “a symptom as a cure” (Wills, Reading 87). Sometimes poetry becomes implicated in the violence it depicts or attempts to comprehend. Though Muldoon may sometimes be strongly suspicious of the efficacy of poetry, he tends to believe in the Romantic idea that poetry offers some solace (Wills, Reading 22). In their writing, Irish writers were torn between “the urge to express private concerns” and “the compulsion to address identity…show more content…
Steiner distinguishes between four types of difficulty. First, “contingent difficulty” that results from obscure references which can hinder the reading process, but can finally be looked up and resolved and thus it is not a serious type of difficulty. This contingent difficulty is obviously manifested in Muldoon’s “The More a Man Has” as he uses obscure references which make readers uncertain about the author’s attitude towards these references, whether it is willful, casual, indifferent, or deliberate. The second type is “modal difficulties” which is concerned with historical references between cultures and sensibilities (Steiner 31-33). Muldoon’s interest in revealing the daily violent life in the surrounding society and the harsh reality people are experiencing, that are definitely uninteresting or unexciting, does not negate the fact that they can be full of bewildering experiences that correspond to this second category of difficulty (Patke…show more content…
Many of Muldoon’s poems can go under this category if readers accept the notion that “playfulness both conceals and permits a serious intent” (Patke 290). Commenting on the difficulty of “The More a Man Has,” M. Allen suggests that it structures “a myth” that motivates the speakers and the characters, however, it “neither explains nor redeems their predicament” (71). According to Wills, the difficulty of the text gives reason for readers to accuse the poet of willful obscurity and extremely “cynical” and “ungenerous tone” (Reading
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