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Maureen N. McLane

Maureen N. McLane studied at Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and the University of Chicago, where she received a PhD in English in 1997.

She is the author of the poetry collections Some Say (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017); Mz N: the serial: A Poem-in-Episodes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016); This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award; World Enough (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); and Same Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008).

McLane is also known for her work in literary criticism and scholarship, focusing on British romanticism and the history of English poetry. She coedited The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and is the author of Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2008), as well as the hybrid book of memoir and criticism My Poets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. 

McLane has previously taught at Harvard University, MIT, and the East Harlem Poetry Project, and she served on the board of the National Book Critics Circle from 2007 to 2010. She has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Book Critics Circle’s Balakian Award for Excellence in Book Reviewing and a Rhodes Scholarship. She currently serves as a professor of English at New York University and lives in New York City.


Bibliography

Poetry
Some Say (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)
Mz N: the serial: A Poem-in-Episodes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016)
This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)
World Enough (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)
Same Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)

Prose
My Poets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)
Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Maureen N. McLane
Photo credit: Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

By This Poet

7

Populating Heaven


         If we belonged 
to the dead, if we had our own
Egyptian culture of care—
the amulets of home entombed
for solace everywhere—
would we then have found
a better way to cast beyond
the merely given earth?
         If you want to follow me
you'd better leave your plaid
suitcase and makeup kit
behind.  I hope you won't
mind the narrow corridor;
the air in the chamber's
thinned out.  In this dark
I think my life's an old hinge
creaking in silence.
         Open the door
and you'll see the creatures
I imagined while you were waiting:
the green-eyed dog upright
on his throne, the winged lion,
the woman whose third eye
brightens the room.
She's the grinding lapis to paint
the veins of her breast.
Her nipples are coated with gold.
         It's true they rarely speak
but you're welcome
to ask their names.
Most days they lie
and dream among the harps.

They suffice
for themselves, neither
giving nor receiving.

See how they wither
in the momentary glance, 
turn to dust on the
steps we climbed
to get here.  

Passage I

little moth
I do not think you'll escape
this night

I do not think
you'll escape this night
little moth

               *

bees in clover
summer half over
friends without lovers

               *

I bite a carrot
horsefly bites me

               *

I thought it was you
moving through the trees

but it was the trees

I thought it was your finger
grazing my knee

it was the breeze

I thought prayers were rising
to a god alive in my mind

they rose on the wind

I thought I had all the time
and world enough to discover what I should

when it was over

I thought I would always be young
though I knew the years passed

and knowing turned my hair gray

I thought it was a welcome
what I took for a sign—

the sun...the unsymboling sun...

               *

watch the clouds
on any given day
even they don't keep their shape
for more than a minute

sociable shifters
bringing weather from elsewhere
until it's our weather
and we say now it's raining here

               *

Vermont shore lit
by a fugitive sun
who doesn't believe
in a day's redemption

               *

sunset renovation
at the expected hour
but the actual palette
still a surprise

               *

gulls alit on the lake
little white splendors
looking to shit on the dock

               *

little cat
kneading my chest
milkless breasts
take your pleasure
where you can

               *

not that I was alive
but that we were

Horoscope

Again the white blanket 			
icicles pierce.
The fierce teeth
of steel-framed snowshoes
bite the trail open.
Where the hardwoods stand
and rarely bend
the wind blows hard
an explosion of snow
like flour dusting
the baker in a shop
long since shuttered.
In this our post-shame century
we will reclaim
the old nouns
unembarrassed. 
If it rains 
we'll say oh
there's rain.
If she falls
out of love
with you you'll carry
your love on a gold plate
to the forest and bury it
in the Indian graveyard.
Pioneers do not
only despoil.
The sweet knees
of oxen have pressed
a path for me.
A lone chickadee
undaunted thing
sings in the snow.			 
Flakes appear
as if out of air
but surely they come
from somewhere
bearing what news
from the troposphere.
The sky's shifted
and Capricorns abandon
themselves to a Sagittarian
line. I like
this weird axis.
In 23,000 years
it will become again
the same sky
the Babylonians scanned.