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Paul Muldoon, 8 February 1990

... I was rooting through tea-chest after tea-chest as they drifted in along Key West when I chanced on ‘Pythagoras in America’; the book had fallen open at a bookmark of tea; a tassel of black watered silk from a Missal: a tea-bird’s black tail-feather. All I have in the house is some left-over squid cooked in its own ink and this unfortunate cup of tea ...

The Princess and the Pea

Paul Muldoon, 7 February 1980

... This is no dream By Dulac out of the Brothers Grimm, A child’s aloof disquiet, Her impish mouth, The quilt upon embroidered quilt Of satin and shot silk, Her lying there, at several removes, Like cream on milk. This is the dream of her older sister, Who is stretched on the open grave Of all the men she has known. Far down, something niggles. The stir Of someone still alive ...

from Last Poems

Paul Muldoon, 19 February 1981

... iv Not that I care who’s sleeping with whom now she’s had her womb removed, now it lies in its own glar like the last beetroot in the pickle-jar. v I would have it, were I bold, without relish, my own lightly-broiled heart on the side. xiii I would be happy in the knowledge that as I laboured up the no-through-road towards your cottage you ran to meet me ...

Two Poems

Paul Muldoon, 1 December 1983

... The Brownlows Were loyal and steadfast, like granite against the sea: ‘The only thing that ran in our family was the greyhound.’ The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife I might as well be another guest at the wedding-feast of Strongbow and Aoife Mac Murrough as watch you, Mary, try to get to grips with a spider-crab’s crossbow and cuirass. A creative pause before the second course of Ireland’s whole ox on a spit; the invisible waitress brings us each a Calvados and water-ice ...

Welcome to the Irish Alps

Paul Muldoon, 13 April 2023

... In memory of Charles SimicThat the Gallic tribes were the ‘people of the hills’(sharing an Indo-European root with collis),is an idea wherein their heirs in the Eastern Catskillsstill find a smidgin of solace.That the Gauls were the ‘people of the milky skin’from a galaxy far, far awaythat supplied Greece with boatloads of tinis another concept that holds sway ...

My Grandfather’s Wake

Paul Muldoon, 7 February 1985

... If the houses in Wyeth’s Christina’s World and Mallick’s Days of Heaven are triremes, yes, triremes riding the ‘sea of grain’, then each has a little barge in tow – a freshly-dug grave. I was trying to remember, Nancy, how many New England graveyards you own, all silver birch and neat, white picket-fences. If only that you might make room for a nine-banded armadillo found wandering in Meath sometime in the 1860s; a man-ox, a fish with three gold teeth described by Giraldus Cambrensis ...


Paul Muldoon, 24 October 1991

... Be that as it may, I’m wakened by the moans not of the wind nor the wood-demons but Oscar Mac Oscar, as we call the hound who’s wangled himself into our bed; ‘Why?’ ‘Why not?’ He lies between us like an ancient quoof with a snout of perished gutta- percha, and whines at something on the roof.                § I’m suddenly mesmerised by what I saw only today: a pair of high-heels abandoned on the road to Amherst ...

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 ...

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 there.’ John Ford’s first words were ‘May I please have a cigar?’ Ulysses S ...

It wasn’t meant to be like this

Paul Muldoon, 13 September 2018

... 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, has left us barely a coast to hug ...

Ovid: Metamorphoses

Paul Muldoon, 25 February 1993

... Book VI Lines 313-381 All the more reason, then, that men and women should go in fear of Leto, their vengeful, vindictive numen, and worship the mother of Apollo and Artemis all the more zealously. This last tale of the demise of Niobe brought others to mind, inspiring no less zeal among the storytellers. ‘On the fertile soil of Lycia,’ one began, ‘the peasants, too, would scorn Leto and pay the price ...

A Book of Evasions

Paul Muldoon, 20 March 1980

Visitors Book 
Poolbeg Press, 191 pp., £5.50, November 1979, 0 905169 22 0Show More
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... In his budget of 1969, Charles Haughey, then Minister of Finance, granted exemption from income tax to artists resident in the Republic of Ireland. In the past, Irish authors had been much given to exile: now, perhaps, they could afford to stay at home and exercise their proper talents for silence and cunning. That ‘standing army of ten thousand poets’ was then supplemented by a troop of foreign gallowglasses, all benefiting to a greater or lesser degree from this piece of ‘enlightened legislation’, some internationally best-selling soldiers-of-fortune to a very considerable degree indeed ...

Sweaney Peregraine

Paul Muldoon, 1 November 1984

Station Island 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 123 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 571 13301 0
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Sweeney Astray: A Version 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 85 pp., £6.95, October 1984, 0 571 13360 6
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by Craig Raine.
Faber, 109 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 571 13215 4
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... The title-sequence of Seamus Heaney’s sixth collection finds him on Station Island, Lough Derg, more commonly known as St Patrick’s Purgatory. It’s the setting for a pilgrimage undertaken by thousands of Irish men and women each year. For three days they fast and pray, deprive themselves of sleep, and walk barefoot round the station ‘beds’ – circles of rough stones said to be the remains of monastic huts ...


Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 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 ...

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

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

... the merry chortle the gurglethat was somehow old-fashioned and hilariouslike the way as Muldoon notedyou motored to places instead of drivingor more likely being drivendear CharlesI’d like to think your middle name was Stewartbecause you set no limitto the march – more like a dander – of the writers– Lord of the Flies The BarracksAriel Death ...

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