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Derek Mahon, “After the Titanic” – 2

You can find a text of “After the Titanic” here.

The subdued, muttering rhythms, the rich phonetic patterning and the extreme beauty of some of the images heighten the poem’s poignancy and horror in different ways. All three contribute to a play of constantly shifting tensions and contrasts that run through it, vivifying everything in it and keeping our responses to everything alert, divided and alive. They also have more particular effects, some of which I’ll try to describe.

The subduing of the rhythm seems to me a notable achievement of imaginative tact and technical skill. So much in the … Continue Reading

Derek Mahon, “After the Titanic” – 1

You can find a text of “After the Titanic” here.

Friends and I were discussing this poem and a number of others by Mahon a few weeks ago and it produced interestingly mixed reactions. Several liked it the best of all the poems in the batch under consideration. One or two found it more limited in resonance than poems like “A Disused Shed in County Wexford” and “The Snow Party”. I find it both extraordinarily rich and extraordinarily delicate, crammed with complex, interweaving  emotions twined around a series of simple vignettes or imaginative mises-en-scène in a way that combines … Continue Reading