Charles Molesworth: On "I Went Into the Maverick Bar"

"I Went into the Maverick Bar," vividly captures the despairing lack of social possibility that is a minor but important theme counterpointing Snyder's utopian vision.

The allusion to Lenin's revolutionary tract in the last line of the poem, along with the use of what is one of Snyder's key phrases, "the real work," poses this anecdote on an edge of ambiguity that in many ways resembles that prized in the art-lyric. Yet the ambiguity here--the unspecified commitment, the feelings of rejection and fear mingled with nostalgia and fondness--actually dissolves with the phrase "I came back to myself." Here Snyder realizes how far his values are from those of many of his ordinary fellow citizens, but he also realizes he must and will maintain those values. Unlike the art-lyric, which traditionally strives for an image of closure that focuses and yet heightens ambiguity, this poem closes with an opening vista of resolution to pursue an ethically formed, intellectually shaped goal.

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Title Charles Molesworth: On "I Went Into the Maverick Bar" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Charles Molesworth Criticism Target Gary Snyder
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 22 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Gary Snyder’s Vision
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