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Warwick, reviewing The Rising Fire, interprets the circle as "a figure that encloses," and finds it in "such diverse guises as a ferris wheel, a conical hat, the sun, the moon, the earth, and orbiting path, an egg, a mans eye and even the movement of neutrons and protons around an atom" (Warwick 22).
Warwick sees the enclosure motif also in the introduction to Breakfast for Barbarians, Mac Ewens second major collection of poetry, where the poet made her theoretical position explicit: Im basically concerned with the sense of appetite, even though it be satisfied with such diverse first courses as kings, dancers, sperm whales, astronauts, escape artists or fruits from algebraic gardens.
One cannot help but contrast this with Mac Ewens later years, when she could be found drinking alone, keeping her friends "in separate pockets" (Sullivan 381), finding loneliness harder and harder to bear, and with her choice of Ezra Pounds lines as an epigraph for Afterworlds: In Warwicks view, Mac Ewens belief that there is "more room inside than outside," together with the imaginary leaps into the past and into the future which are so common in her work, indicate a compulsion to synthesize, to make whole.
"Only by taking the necessary step first," writes Warwick, "that of encircling and absorbing all, can the poet hope to transform reality into some significant whole" (Warwick 28).
beyond you, the image rising from the shoulders is greater than you, as the phoenix from the fire is risen, as the rising fore on the opening wings is greater than the stirring and potential pyre.
Indeed a significant number of the poems are devoted to or addressed to specific moments or people from Mac Ewens past.
In meeting these goals the paper will explore the motif of the circle as it occurs in Mac Ewens poetry and offer a brief analysis of the nature of visionary experience, with attention to Aldous Huxleys account of mysticism and the possible roles of alcoholism and hypoglycemia in Mac Ewens experience.
The concluding section of the paper will offer a reading of the poems in Afterworlds along with their companions in The Rising Fire.
Before considering the circle as a figure embodying the infinite, let us first explore its enclosure dimension.
Ellen Warwicks essay "To Seek a Single Symmetry" (1977) offers a case in point.
As her biographer Rosemary Sullivan discovered, there were many reasons why her life lasted just as long as it did, and no longer.