The latest poetry pamphlet from Cardinal Cox takes a look at the weird fiction tradition in/from Ireland. There's a lot of it, to say the least, but the Cardinal manages to cover pretty much all bases. The lens through which he views it is, as the title suggests, Lovecraft's 'The Moon-Bog'. A purist might argue that the story bears as much relation to genuine Irish Gothic as Disney's magic kingdom does the Holy Roman Empire. But that's the point - fantasy and reality cannot be disentangled when you look at something so big, rich, and complicated.
The first poem, 'Kilderry Bog', is a cautionary tale of archaeologists mucking about in the peat. 'In deep pit they gathered for hint of gold'. As always concise annotations give an interesting perspective on folklore and the possible interpretations of myths, and ancient monuments. We move on through 'Sea Wolf', a semi-legendary pirate who allegedly harried the Romans, and then return to shore with a look at raths - fairy castles - and other mystical sites. The poet points out that strange gaps in reality still seem to exist, and offers a persuasive idea as to why.
We jump ahead to the beginnings of the Gothic revolution with 'Melmoth', an an interpretation of Maturin's story of the wanderer embracing the highs and lows of the 'Age of Reason'. Melmoth is 'here to witness misery/ That all men enact upon each other'. This leads to Le Fanu's Dr Hesselius, a kind of anti-wanderer, sitting at the heart of a web of correspondence, 'all cross-referenced with Swedenborg texts'.
The sheer wealth of material available to anyone writing about the Irish weird tradition is remarkable. Here we find prolific authoress Lady Wilde (niece by marriage of Maturin), Bram Stoker, and of course Oscar himself. The final poem, 'Estate on the Borderland', ties up earlier imagery with its vision of Hodgsonian horrors emerging from underneath our world.
Typically though-provoking and entertaining, this pamphlet is available to anyone who sends the Cardinal a C5 sae. .
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