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On "After Lorca"

Robert van Hallberg

It is easy for Creeley to assume that personal experience is intelligibly ordered; convention quietly weaves the lines of personal relationship into a dense, fine fabric. But the relationships between classes and institutions, these Creeley approaches obliquely--at times, through another poet's vision. Here is "After Lorca," which first appeared in 1952:

[. . . .]

The intelligibility of social relationships is posited as directly by the manner of the first two lines as by any proposition the poem advances: before Pieces Creeley's poems characteristically open with an assertion; the definitive copula is still his staple predicate. His manner, like Olson's and like Dorn's, is discursive; this is appropriate for poets who proceed on the assumption that life is explainable by general laws. The first two strophes nicely elaborate the sort of class analysis common in political verse and oratory, but Creeley's poem really lies in the concluding lines. That the church and businessmen systematically enforce the prerogatives of class structure on the community's worship could surprise no one. That these prerogatives arouse bemusement rather than resentment among the poor is more startling. The poor understand the class system perfectly, and they delight in its misplaced discriminations. To see clearly a system's symmetries disarms that system's oppressive significance; systems analysis and good humor supplant politics.

From "Robert Creeley and the Pleasures of System." Boundary 2 (1978)

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