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SHRAPNEL and A POET'S YEAR by George MacBeth



Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 1974
Publisher: Atheneum

Only the tinniest of ears could enjoy MacBeth's sloppily metered verse and gratuitous grabs at rhyme (""I go into Chicago, and I go into Yale/ And they take my face with a proper grace, and a plate of rice and kale."") Archaisms (fettered, foundering, scourge, succour, thou art used as a verb) abut British colloquialisms and gutter slang (""You bloody, stupid, little, fucking,/ Meretricious swine!""). The poet's originality is often rooted in the use of inappropriate imagery -- the questionable metonomy of ""hollow eyes milk the war for rhyme,"" for instance. Or how about ""I sip the dust of hate?"" So blighted is he with ""the curse of caring"" that he works up more emotion for a dying calf than his deceased parents. All right: a lot of these poems are what is called ""occasional verse"" -- invocations to ""The Lord Gorilla"" or ""My Cat, Who Was Sick In The Dark,"" anthropomorphisms of murderous, scatalogical vegetables, lighthearted notes on casual sexuality, and so on. And only a real poetry-hater would not be rankled by a passing reference to William Butler Yeats as ""that old shit.