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Best Famous Paul Muldoon Poems

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by Paul Muldoon | |

Why Brownlee Left

 Why Brownlee left, and where he went,
Is a mystery even now.
For if a man should have been content It was him; two acres of barley, One of potatoes, four bullocks, A milker, a slated farmhouse.
He was last seen going out to plough On a March morning, bright and early.
By noon Brownlee was famous; They had found all abandoned, with The last rig unbroken, his pair of black Horses, like man and wife, Shifting their weight from foot to Foot, and gazing into the future.

by Paul Muldoon | |

Pineapples And Pomegranates

 To think that, as a boy of thirteen, I would grapple 
with my first pineapple, 
its exposed breast 
setting itself as another test 
of my will-power, knowing in my bones 
that it stood for something other than itself alone 
while having absolutely no sense 
of its being a world-wide symbol of munificence.
Munificence—right? Not munitions, if you understand where I'm coming from.
As if the open hand might, for once, put paid to the hand-grenade in one corner of the planet.
I'm talking about pineapples—right?—not pomegranates.

by Paul Muldoon | |

The Avenue

 Now that we've come to the end
I've been trying to piece it together,
Not that distance makes anything clearer.
It began in the half-light While we walked through the dawn chorus After a party that lasted all night, With the blackbird, the wood-pigeon, The song-thrush taking a bludgeon To a snail, our taking each other's hand As if the whole world lay before us.

by Paul Muldoon | |

Holy Thursday

 They're kindly here, to let us linger so late,
Long after the shutters are up.
A waiter glides from the kitchen with a plate Of stew, or some thick soup, And settles himself at the next table but one.
We know, you and I, that it's over, That something or other has come between Us, whatever we are, or were.
The waiter swabs his plate with bread And drains what's left of his wine, Then rearranges, one by one, The knife, the fork, the spoon, the napkin, The table itself, the chair he's simply borrowed, And smiles, and bows to his own absence.

by Paul Muldoon | |


 My eldest sister arrived home that morning
In her white muslin evening dress.
'Who the hell do you think you are Running out to dances in next to nothing? As though we hadn't enough bother With the world at war, if not at an end.
' My father was pounding the breakfast-table.
'Those Yankees were touch and go as it was— If you'd heard Patton in Armagh— But this Kennedy's nearly an Irishman So he's not much better than ourselves.
And him with only to say the word.
If you've got anything on your mind Maybe you should make your peace with God.
' I could hear May from beyond the curtain.
'Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
I told a lie once, I was disobedient once.
And, Father, a boy touched me once.
' 'Tell me, child.
Was this touch immodest? Did he touch your breasts, for example?' 'He brushed against me, Father.
Very gently.

by Paul Muldoon | |

The Birth

 Seven o'clock.
The seventh day of the seventh month of the year.
No sooner have I got myself up in lime-green scrubs, a sterile cap and mask, and taken my place at the head of the table than the windlass-woman ply their shears and gralloch-grub for a footling foot, then, warming to their task, haul into the inestimable realm of apple-blossoms and chanterelles and damsons and eel-spears and foxes and the general hubbub of inkies and jennets and Kickapoos with their lemniscs or peekaboo-quiffs of Russian sable and tallow-unctuous vernix, into the realm of the widgeon— the 'whew' or 'yellow-poll', not the 'zuizin'— Dorothy Aoife Korelitz Muldoon: I watch through floods of tears as they give her a quick rub-a-dub and whisk her off to the nursery, then check their staple-guns for staples

by Paul Muldoon | |


 He opens the scullery door, and a sudden rush
of wind, as raw as raw,
brushes past him as he himself will brush
past the stacks of straw

that stood in earlier for Crow
or Comanche tepees hung with scalps
but tonight past muster, row upon row,
for the foothills of the Alps.
He opens the door of the peeling-shed just as one of the apple-peelers (one of almost a score of red-cheeked men who pare and core the red-cheeked apples for a few spare shillings) mutters something about "bloodshed" and the "peelers.
" The red-cheeked men put down their knives at one and the same moment.
All but his father, who somehow connives to close one eye as if taking aim or holding back a tear, and shoots him a glance he might take, as it whizzes past his ear, for a Crow, or a Comanche, lance hurled through the Tilley-lit gloom of the peeling-shed, when he hears what must be an apple split above his head.

by Paul Muldoon | |

The Frog

 Comes to mind as another small 
amongst the rubble.
His eye matches exactly the bubble in my spirit-level.
I set aside hammer and chisel and take him on the trowel.
The entire population of Ireland springs from a pair left to stand overnight in a pond in the gardens of Trinity College, two bottle of wine left there to chill after the Act of Union.
There is, surely, in this story a moral.
A moral for our times.
What if I put him to my head and squeezed it out of him, like the juice of freshly squeezed limes, or a lemon sorbet?

by Paul Muldoon | |

The Sightseers

 My father and mother, my brother and sister
and I, with uncle Pat, our dour best-loved uncle,
had set out that Sunday afternoon in July
in his broken-down Ford

not to visit some graveyard—one died of shingles,
one of fever, another's knees turned to jelly—
but the brand-new roundabout at Ballygawley,
the first in mid-Ulster.
Uncle Pat was telling us how the B-Specials had stopped him one night somewhere near Ballygawley and smashed his bicycle and made him sing the Sash and curse the Pope of Rome.
They held a pistol so hard against his forehead there was still the mark of an O when he got home.

by Paul Muldoon | |


 It begins with one or two soldiers
And one or two following
With hampers over their shoulders.
They might be off wildfowling As they would another Christmas Day, So gingerly they pick their steps.
No one seems sure of what to do.
All stop when one stops.
A fire gets lit.
Some spread Their greatcoats on the frozen ground.
Polish vodka, fruit and bread Are broken out and passed round.
The air of an old German song, The rules of Patience, are the secrets They'll share before long.
They draw on their last cigarettes As Friday-night lovers, when it's over, Might get up from their mattresses To congratulate each other And exchange names and addresses.

by Paul Muldoon | |


 I was making my way home late one night
this summer, when I staggered
into a snow drift.
Her eyes spoke of a sloe-year, her mouth a year of haws.
Was she Aurora, or the goddess Flora, Artemidora, or Venus bright, or Anorexia, who left a lemon stain on my flannel sheet? It's all much of a muchness.
In Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital a kidney machine supports the latest hunger-striker to have called off his fast, a saline drip into his bag of brine.
A lick and a promise.
Cuckoo spittle.
I hand my sample to Doctor Maw.
She gives me back a confident All Clear.

by Paul Muldoon | |


 I, too, have trailed my father's spirit
From the mud-walled cabin behind the mountain
Where he was born and bred,
TB and scarletina, 

The farm where he was first hired out,
To Wigan, to Crewe junction,
A building-site from which he disappeared
And took passage, almost, for Argentina.
The mountain is coming down with hazel, The building-site a slum, While he has gone no further than Brazil.
That's him on the verandah, drinking rum With a man who might be a Nazi, His children asleep under their mosquito-nets.

by Paul Muldoon | |


 Two Workmen were carrying a sheet of asbestos
down the main street of Dingle;
it must have been nailed, at a slight angle,
to the same-sized gap between Brandon

and whichever's the next mountain.
Nine o'clock.
We watched the village dogs take turns to spritz the hotel's refuse-sacks.
I remembered Tralee's unbiodegradable flags from the time of the hunger-strikes.
We drove all day past mounds of sugar-beet, hay-stacks, silage-pits, building-sites, a thatched cottage even— all of them draped in black polythene and weighted against the north-east wind by concrete blocks, old tyres; bags of sand at a makeshift army post across the border.
By the time we got to Belfast the whole of Ireland would be under wraps like, as I said, 'one of your man's landscapes'.
'Your man's? You don't mean Christo's?'