The Art of Domestic Husbandry: Paterson

  • Ron Callan

Abstract

In arguing for a constant in the extraordinary range of Williams’s work, a paradox emerges in that this invariant is located in the give and take of the activity of relating. To locate a closure which favours either extreme, or to present an overarching ideal which smothers extremes is, in his aesthetic, to achieve only sterility in which ‘the paralytic is confirmed / in his paralysis’ (CP2 263). Seeking neither to rape nor seduce, fertile intercourse is assured only by its adherence to the conditions of metaphor where identity and intercourse are not mutually exclusive. Here it is that Williams earns his ability to be liberated. Here it is that he can move from the intensity of the lyric to the expansiveness of the epic. In doing so, as he does in Paterson, he proceeds as he had developed his poetics. Firstly he must establish a sense of identity which can be relied upon to be accurate. This is possible only by the recognition of an internal dualism. By exposing himself to that dance, Williams patiently earns his acts of intercourse and ensures their fecundity. The conclusiveness which Benjamin Sankey desires of Paterson is thus not available in this aesthetic and what he terms an ‘impressive experiment’ is actually a passionate commitment to the conditions of metaphor.1

Keywords

Sandstone Radium Smoke Hunt Ghost 

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
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Copyright information

© Ron Callan 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ron Callan
    • 1
  1. 1.Dickinson CollegeCarlisleUSA

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