The Exile's Papers, Part One, considers the implications of duplicity in autobiography as they appear in the first two hundred or so sonnets of a four-volume sonnet cycle completed over the past twenty years by the Lost Poet of the 1960s, confronted at the end of the middle game by anonymity on the one hand, and by opportunity the mass of a black hole on the other, in which Rilke, in his guise as Witness to the Angel, speculates on raw, necessary existence.
Disney's Jiminy Cricket remains, of course, unconvinced.
'This essay does not make an argument that Clifford is our best sonneteer (although that argument could indeed be made), nor does it try to place him in a formalist tradition in Canada. What it is concerned with is the father's role and responsibility as it manifests itself in Clifford's poetry. It also deals with the beauty wrung into poetry by this role, this song of experience.
'This experience is particularly valuable in terms of its relative rarity: women are far more likely to write about motherhood than fathers are about fatherhood.... Indeed, history is only catching up with fatherhood, with a spate of academic books written about the subject just in the past few years, some of which are referenced in this essay. Thus Clifford's poems provide an invaluable guide, even a countervailing one ... for as Boose makes clear in Western canon, ''Tyrannical paternity seems to mar the father-daughter text''.'