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The End of the Poem contains the fifteen lectures delivered by Paul Muldoon as Oxford Professor of Poetry, from 1999 to 2004. Rather than individual and discrete performances, these lectures form a dazzling set of variations around the sustained theme of ‘the end of the poem’. Each lecture explores a different sense of an ending: whether a poem can ever be a free-standing structure, read and written in isolation from other poems; whether a poem’s line-endings are forms of closure (and where this might leave the poem in prose); whether the poem is completed only with the reader’s act of understanding; whether revision brings a poem nearer to its ideal ending (when does a poet know when a poem has come to an end?); what is the right true end of poetry, and is the end of the poem the beginning of criticism, including an Arnoldian ‘criticism of life’?
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