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Best Famous Paul Muldoon Poems

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Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem

Promises Promises

 I am stretched out under the lean-to
Of an old tobacco-shed
On a farm in North Carolina.
A cardinal sings from the dogwood For the love of marijuana.
His song goes over my head.
There is such splendour in the grass I might be the picture of happiness.
Yet I am utterly bereft Of the low hills, the open-ended sky, The wave upon wave of pasture Rolling in, and just as surely Falling short of my bare feet.
Whatever is passing is passing me by.
I am with Raleigh, near the Atlantic, Where we have built a stockade Around our little colony.
Give him his scallop-shell of quiet, His staff of faith to walk upon, His scrip of joy, immortal diet— We are some eighty souls On whom Raleigh will hoist his sails.
He will return, years afterwards, To wonder where and why We might have altogether disappeared, Only to glimpse us here and there As one fair strand in her braid, The blue in an Indian girl's dead eye.
I am stretched out under the lean-to Of an old tobacco-shed On a farm in North Carolina, When someone or other, warm, naked, Stirs within my own skeleton And stands on tip-toe to look out Over the horizon, Through the zones, across the Ocean.
The cardinal sings from a redbud For the love of one slender and shy, The flight after flight of stairs To her room in Bayswater, The damson freckle on her throat That I kissed when we kissed Goodbye.

Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem


 Even as we speak, there's a smoker's cough
from behind the whitethorn hedge: we stop dead in our tracks;
a distant tingle of water into a trough.
In the past half-hour—since a cattle truck all but sent us shuffling off this mortal coil— we've consoled ourselves with the dregs of a bottle of Redbreast.
Had Hawthorne been a Gael, I insist, the scarlet A on Hester Prynne would have stood for "Alcohol.
" This must be the same truck whose taillights burn so dimly, as if caked with dirt, three or four hundred yards along the boreen (a diminutive form of the Gaelic bóthar, "a road," from bó, "a cow," and thar meaning, in this case, something like "athwart," "boreen" has entered English "through the air" despite the protestations of the O.
): why, though, should one taillight flash and flare then flicker-fade to an afterimage of tourmaline set in a dark part-jet, part-jasper or -jade? That smoker's cough again: it triggers off from drumlin to drumlin an emphysemantiphon of cows.
They hoist themselves onto their trampoline and steady themselves and straight away divine water in some far-flung spot to which they then gravely incline.
This is no Devon cow-coterie, by the way, whey-faced, with Spode hooves and horns: nor are they the metaphysicattle of Japan that have merely to anticipate scoring a bull's-eye and, lo, it happens; these are earth-flesh, earth-blood, salt of the earth, whose talismans are their own jawbones buried under threshold and hearth.
For though they trace themselves to the kith and kine that presided over the birth of Christ (so carry their calves a full nine months and boast liquorice cachous on their tongues), they belong more to the line that's tramped these cwms and corries since Cuchulainn tramped Aoife.
Again the flash.
Again the fade.
However I might allegorize some oscaraboscarabinary bevy of cattle there's no getting round this cattle truck, one light on the blink, laden with what? Microwaves? Hi-fis? Oscaraboscarabinary: a twin, entwined, a tree, a Tuareg; a double dung-beetle; a plain and simple hi-firing party; an off-the-back-of-a-lorry drogue? Enough of Colette and Céline, Céline and Paul Celan: enough of whether Nabokov taught at Wellesley or Wesleyan.
Now let us talk of slaughter and the slain, the helicopter gunship, the mighty Kalashnikov: let's rest for a while in a place where a cow has lain.
Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem


 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.
Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem

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?

Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem


 When the master was calling the roll
At the primary school in Collegelands,
You were meant to call back Anseo
And raise your hand 
As your name occurred.
Anseo, meaning here, here and now, All present and correct, Was the first word of Irish I spoke.
The last name on the ledger Belonged to Joseph Mary Plunkett Ward And was followed, as often as not, By silence, knowing looks, A nod and a wink, the master's droll 'And where's our little Ward-of-court?' I remember the first time he came back The master had sent him out Along the hedges To weigh up for himself and cut A stick with which he would be beaten.
After a while, nothing was spoken; He would arrive as a matter of course With an ash-plant, a salley-rod.
Or, finally, the hazel-wand He had whittled down to a whip-lash, Its twist of red and yellow lacquers Sanded and polished, And altogether so delicately wrought That he had engraved his initials on it.
I last met Joseph Mary Plunkett Ward In a pub just over the Irish border.
He was living in the open, in a secret camp On the other side of the mountain.
He was fighting for Ireland, Making things happen.
And he told me, Joe Ward, Of how he had risen through the ranks To Quartermaster, Commandant: How every morning at parade His volunteers would call back Anseo And raise their hands As their names occurred.
Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem


 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.
Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem


 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.
Written by Paul Muldoon | Create an image from this poem


 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?'

Book: Shattered Sighs