Charles Molesworth: On "The Dead Seal near McClure's Beach"

The prose poems speak more self-sufficiently, with less protection from the sometimes hectoring theory of the deep image; they clear their own ground as they go, or rather float like fog "over soaked and lonely hills." Bly continues to use many of the strategies of the earlier poems, such as those deep images, sprung loose from Jungian depths; the barebones narratives, exemplumlike in their simplicity; and the heightened descriptions. But Bly has realized that the image alone can't do the work of the poem, that the ego and pseudorationality will make themselves felt in any surrealist attempt (especially a programmatic one) to escape them. If we trust too much in the theory, "mind" will be there anyway, not necessarily supplying significant form, but more likely having designs on us; and the only way to keep the possibilities of discovery open is to acknowledge the presence of the intellect but relegate it carefully from the seat of control. Much of the putatively surrealist poetry spawned by Bly's theories comes out clichéd and conceited, in both senses of the term, as the farfetched and the self-advancing merge histrionically. But Bly, especially in his prose poems, manages to skirt the foolishness of his students. Here, as coda to these points, is the conclusion of "The Dead Seal near McClure's Beach" 

From The Fierce Embrace: A Study of Contemporrary American Poetry. Copyright © 1979 by the Curators of the University of Missouri.

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Criticism Overview
Title Charles Molesworth: On "The Dead Seal near McClure's Beach" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Charles Molesworth Criticism Target Robert Bly
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 31 May 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication The Fierce Embrace: A Study of Contemporary American Poetry
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