Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon’s latest collection of poems is Frolic and Detour.

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon, 2 April 2020

Our ornamental gates and railings that were melted downfor rifle barrels have gained some sort of posthumous renownby unambiguously drawing a line in the sand.The gates and railings are finally taking a firm standand even more emphatically bringing things to a close.The exit wound is their approximation of a roseor a geranium under gauze on the windowsill.Gangrene. The green and gold of the...

It wasn’t meant to be like this. If we were destined to push the envelope surely it was by flying a recovered Avro Arrow above the speed of sound? The most we were meant to condemn was the brief resurgence of Day-Glo in a thistle flower, given how we routinely forsook such dazzle for the drear. That was before spring itself was a no-show. The fact of global warming, we must now concede,...

Poem: ‘Famous First Words’

Paul Muldoon, 3 February 2000

Archimedes’ first words were ‘Stand away from my diagram.’ Sir Richard Burton’s first word was ‘Chloroform.’

Chang’s first words were ‘I don’t want to go to bed.’ Alexandre Dumas’s first words were ‘I shall never know how it all comes out.’

Thomas Edison’s first words were ‘It is very beautiful over...

Diary: Hiberno-English Shenanigans

Paul Muldoon, 1 July 1999

10 March. At 6:45 a.m. I set off by car service to Newark airport to catch the 10 a.m. Virgin/Continental flight to Gatwick. At this time of the morning the New Jersey Turnpike is too busy altogether. This use of altogether, I’m reminded by Terence Patrick Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, means ‘wholly, completely’ and may be compared to the Irish phrase ar fad, particularly in its positioning at the end of a sentence. There’s a world of difference between the phrase ‘you’re altogether too thin-skinned’ and ‘you’re too thin-skinned altogether.’ The latter, Dolan notes, is spoken by Seumas in Act 1, line 87 of Sean O’Casey’s The Shadow of a Gunman. ‘The main intention of this dictionary,’ I’m only after reading in the introduction (only after is another Gaelic construction), ‘is to make accessible the common word stock of Hiberno-English in both its present and past forms, oral and literary … Much of the vocabulary of Hiberno-English consists of words in common currency in Standard English, but an appreciable proportion of the word stock of Irish people is not standard and may be misunderstood, or not understood at all, by speakers of standard or near-standard English.’ I’m thinking of how I’m a cute hoor altogether – a phrase that might certainly be misunderstood – for having changed from tonight’s 9:25 Virgin flight with its 9:05 a.m. arrival into Heathrow to this much less damaging daytime jaunt. When I look up cute hoor, I’m directed to hoor and read as follows:

Three Poems in Memory of Charles Monteith 9 February 1921 – 9 May 1995

Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon and Tom Paulin, 21 September 1995


Tom Paulin

Or Charlus as McGahern would call youwhen we stacked up stories with Heaney– all fun a great geg pure pleasureI’d think of this village near Donegal town– Mountcharlus they say in those partsnot Mountcharleswhich was how one editor at Faberused to sign every letter he sent(was it Dunn who wonderedhad you somehow acquired a peerage?)then I’d try hard to...

Someone Else: Paul Muldoon

Adam Phillips, 4 January 2007

Paul Muldoon excluded himself from Contemporary Irish Poetry, his 1986 Faber anthology, but he included a poem by Seamus Heaney that was dedicated to him. We don’t of course know why the...

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Everyone who reads Paul Muldoon will be dazzled by his linguistic exuberance. He follows the lead of Pope and Byron, engaging in many of the displays of wit that they engage in, particularly an...

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In the Gasworks

David Wheatley, 18 May 2000

Marcel Aymé’s novel Le Passemuraille, about a man who can walk through walls, would have interested Thomas Caulfield Irwin (1823-92). Irwin is cited in Paul Muldoon’s To...

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Little Do We Know

Mark Ford, 12 January 1995

‘What are we going to write about now?’ one of Ulster’s more engagé poets half-jokingly inquired soon after the IRA’s ceasefire was announced. One would imagine that...

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Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Although W.H. Auden, who ranks with Hugo von Hofmannsthal among the master librettists of the age, thought that the meaning of libretto’s words were its least important component (at any...

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Muldoon – A Mystery

Michael Hofmann, 20 December 1990

Looked at in one way, Madoc – A Mystery is an extraordinary and unpredictable departure, a book of poems the size of many novels, with a title poem nigh on two hundred and fifty pages long,...

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Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 10 December 1987

So characteristic of Paul Muldoon’s poetry as to be almost a hallmark is the moment, unnerving and exciting in about equal measures, when his speaker is suddenly revealed to himself as...

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Douglas Dunn’s Selected Poems includes the greater part of his published poems, from Terry Street (published in 1969, and reissued with this selection) through four more volumes to the...

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Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

Each of these books – two anthologies and a critical study – is notable for its exclusions, among other things; each takes a strong line over questions of definition and evaluation;...

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The New Narrative

John Kerrigan, 16 February 1984

‘When We talk of narrative poetry today,’ James Fenton asks in the September issue of Poetry Review, ‘are we referring to the kind of story in which, you want to know what...

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Long Goodbye

Derek Mahon, 20 November 1980

Why Brownlee left is Paul Muldoon’s third book of poems, and his most interesting so far. Whereas, in the earlier books, he didn’t do a great deal more than exercise the quirky,...

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