sented Catholic victims in litigationrnagainst the Church. They described therncases, milieus, and motivations most familiarrnto them. Not surprisingly, the mediarnand their audiences came away withrnthe impression tliat sexual abuse by thernclergy was primarily an unfortunate resultrnof the unwise practice of priestlyrncelibacy and that it was reaching epidemicrnproportions.rnIn attempting to arrive at trustworthy,rnnonhyperbolic numbers, the authorrnwalks the reader through the distinctionrnbetween pedophiles and ephebophiles,rnwho are attracted to pubescent boys, typicallyrnin their mid-teens, when questionsrnof consent become a bit more problematicrnand the possibility of the therapeuticrntreatment and rehabilitation of priestsrnmore likely. He then moves on to arnpainstaking analysis of available figures,rnconcluding that “less than 2 percent ofrnall serving American priests are or havernbeen involved with minors . . . with therngreat majority of this group being homosexualrnephebophiles.” All of which indicatesrnthat the “crisis,” though horrific forrnthose involved, is very narrowly contained.rnLike earlier panics over missingrnchildren and ritual abuse in daycare centers,rnthe media’s picture of an overwhelmingrntemptation of the Catholicrnpriesthood issuing in large-scale pedophiliarnis grotesquely exaggerated.rnYet the fallout in litigation costs, in disillusionmentrnand distrust, in loweredrnmorale for a self-questioning clergy, isrnimmense.rnIn the concluding chapter of Pedophilesrnand Priests, Philip Jenkins writes:rn”Inevitability is not a concept with whichrnhistorians feel comfortable, but a clergyabusernproblem was to say the leastrnextremely likely to occur during the mid-rn1980s.” lie bases this view on a combinationrnof stresses within the Church andrnbetween the Church and society, as thernprocess of assimilation undergone byrnother religions and partially accomplishedrnby American Catholics was atrnlast frustrated by a nondemocratic andrninternational ccclesial structure that resistedrngoing all the way with modernity.rnHis own conclusions on the effect ofrnclerical sex abuse on vocations, on a vibrantrnparish life, and on the relation betweenrnCatholic families and their priestsrnare pessimistic—unnecessarily so, wernmay devoutly hope.rnEllen Wilson Fielding is a freelance writerrnliving in Davidsonville, Maryland.rnThe Poetry Loverrnby Robert BeumrnBeyond the Muse of Memoryrnby Laurence LiebermanrnColumbia: University of Missouri Press;rn304 pp., $24.95rnLaurence Lieberman’s two dozenrnessays on contemporary Americanrnpoets—some (Robert Lowell, RobertrnPenn Warren) well known, others (MarkrnStrand, Frederick Morgan) not—arernwritten in the self-expressive and dithyrambicrnmode of D.H. Lawrence andrnJames Dickey. Lieberman wants literaryrncriticism to be “personal and instinctivelyrncharged,” to carry an “electric pulsernthat is nakedly alive.” I le has misgivings,rnnot unwarranted, that the essays mayrnseem “rather fragmentary and unfinished,rnrough-hewn.”rnSome of the best criticism ever writtenrnis a little on the fragmentary and roughhewnrnside. A more serious problem isrnthat dithyrambic criticism tends to bernobtrusive, limiting, and uncritical. Therernare readers who do not object, but therernis the possibility that they should. Evenrnif it is all simply a matter of taste, it mayrnbe worthwhile to try to explain to thosernwho welcome a clamorous and jumpyrnmanner why some of us cannot join in.rnIt is not that we hate spontaneity, enthusiasm,rnor asymmetry. Wc have beenrnguilty of those ourselves. But a quiet,rneven a dry manner in the critic allows usrnto slip in and, all on our own, notice whatrnneeds to be noticed. For us, the “electricrnpulse” is a joy only when it is all our own,rncoming right out of our response—nornmore than focused by the critic—to thernpoem itself. We do not want the pulsernsecondhand. One man’s pulse is anotherrnman’s short circuit. It has a tendencyrnto become nothing more electric orrnromantic than hype.rnSelf-expressive criticism also succeedsrnall too often in short-circuiting understandingrnitself. Like most other dithyrambists,rnLieberman forgets that beforernthere can be dancers there has to bernlearning of steps. The idioms of modernistrn(and “postmodernist,” which isrnstill modernist) poetry are notoriouslyrndifficult (some poets solve the problemrnby insisting that one valid purpose ofrnlanguage is to avoid communication).rnExcept for poetry strongly indebted tornImagism or to the prose tradition of “realism,”rnmodern poetry heaps on obscuritiesrnunblushingly, even tries to makernthem a virtue. Intelligent readers—orrnwould-be readers—need first of all simplyrnto understand: what the poem meansrnat specific points; what a given line orrnimage may contribute to the poem as arnwhole; why this particular poem may bernmore successful, or less so, than certainrnother comparable poems; what a particularrnpoet’s strengths and limitationsrnseem to be. Effusive and primarily celebratoryrncriticism just does not do enoughrnto illuminate the fundamentals.rnLieberman’s criticism is limiting inrnother ways too. It fails to convey thernquality of the poem as an aestheticrnwhole, end-product of a glorious plenitudernof imaginative and technicalrnresources. A durable poem is multum inrnparvo and unity in diversity. The achievementrndeserves a dithyramb, but onlyrnafter that little miracle has been demonstrated.rnIf poetry is an art—if it has tornsome extent distanced itself from autobiographyrnand personal “commitment,”rnand if art means several elements workingrntogether—then a poem’s expressedrnattitude is only one element and shouldrnnot be allowed to tyrannize over the others,rnor over the critic’s account of the poem.rnBut in the dithyrambic approachrnthe critic’s enthusiasm is mostly a responsernto that implied—sometimesrnshouted—attitude, which is always correctlyrnhumanitarian or nihilistic, and tornthe mere fact that the idiom is modernistrnand therefore automatically somethingrnto be happy about.rnIn the abstract, love of spontaneity (orrnwhat seems such) sounds like somethingrnno one with head still on shoulders couldrnpossibly object to. But as a critical demand,rnspontaneity becomes limiting.rnLieberman wants poems to give the impressionrnthat the poet is “thinking on hisrnfeet” or “soliloquizing in the heat of passion.”rnHe has no taste for tradition, convention,rnconservatism, restraint, tightlyrnlogical and formal construction, refinementrnand repose, the mask, aesthetic distance,rnepigrammatic sagesse. As it hardens,rnthis typical American bias regardsrnpoetry as “bursts of passion,” and poetryas-rnart (Racine, Baudelaire, Yeats) asrnsome sort of outmoded Old Worldrnthing, the sooner dropped the better.rnThe bursts-of-passion doctrine is whatrngives us the late 20th century’s vast nontreasurernheaps of thin (but all too heavy),rnJUNE 1997/37rnrnrn