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Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1951. He studied at Queen's University, Belfast, and has worked for BBC Belfast as a radio and television producer.
His most recent book of poetry is Selected Poems 1968–2014 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). He is also the author of One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), Maggot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); Horse Latitudes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007); and Moy Sand and Gravel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), which won the Pulitzer Prize, among others.
He has also written libretti for the operas Bandanna (1999) and Shining Brow (1993); the play Six Honest Serving Men (1995); and edited The Faber Book of Beasts (1997), The Essential Byron (1989), and The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (1986).
Muldoon was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1990, the T. S. Eliot Award for The Annals of Chile in 1994, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature in 1996, and the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for his New Selected Poems (Faber & Faber Poetry, 1996) in 1996. In 2003 he won the Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry. In 2017 he was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Muldoon has taught at a number of British and American universities including Cambridge University, Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts. He served as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University from 1999 to 2004 and is currently Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University. He lives in New York City and Sharon Springs, New York.
Selected Poems 1968–2014 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016)
One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)
Maggot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)
Horse Latitudes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)
Moy Sand and Gravel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004)
Poems: 1968–1998 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)
Hay (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999)
The Annals of Chile (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995)
Madoc: A Mystery (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990)
Meeting the British (Wake Forest University Press, 1987)
Quoof (Wake Forest University Press, 1983)
Why Brownlee Left (Wake Forest University Press, 1981)
Mules (Wake Forest University Press, 1977)
New Weather (Faber and Faber, 1973)
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I. I gave you back my claim on the mining town and the rich vein we once worked, the tumble down from a sluice box that irked you so much, the narrow gauge that opened up to one and all when it ran out at the landing stage beyond the falls. I gave you back oak ties, bully flitches, the hand-hewn crossbeams from which hung hardtack in a burlap bag that, I'd surmise, had burst its seams the last night we lay by the old spur track. II. You gave me back your frown and the most recent responsibility you'd shirked along with something of your renown for having jumped from a cage just before it jerked to a standstill, your wild rampage shot through with silver falderals, the speed of that falling cage and the staidness of our canyon walls. You gave me back lake skies, pulley glitches, gully pitches, the reflected gleams of two tin plates and mugs in the shack, the echoes of love sighs and love screams our canyon walls had already given back.
1 Confirmed in their belief there’s still a need for worship prior to Lauds, the street-dog choristers insist on how any three of them form a quorum. However great the din they’re eventually forced to cede their urine-soaked sod to a single rooster, his beak the prow of an imperial quinquereme at the break of dawn. 2 Not that a rooster ever rues the day of days he first lowered the tone by kicking up a fuss. He specializes in splutter and spout. Sometimes the bearer becomes the bad news, as when Augustus would parlay the cult of Diana at Ephesus into the out-and-out worship of himself as Emperor. 3 A rooster will pay cash on the barrel to join the Praetorian Guard but the flanking eagles betoken our throwing off one yoke even as we take on fresh burdens. Left to his own devices, a rooster will don the kind of gaudy apparel more often associated with the bard— the three-quarter-length tuigen or “feather-cloak.” That he has a sense of his own importance is hardly something he’ll deny. 4 That wattle-ear was sliced off a slave by the self-same Simon Peter who’d cover it with a tissue of lies… The blue gel, the iodine, the ice-pack ice. The pigs who’ve had a close shave in the abattoir are in such a daze they can’t tell Gethsemane from the Garden of Eden. 5 The rooster’s claws are tempered by calcium derived from the forearm of a devotee of Saint Francis Xavier going for broke as he sawed the heart from a yucca or agave. The rooster himself would never deign to take a shortcut to Elysium via fermented sap. Beating his breast on a farm is learned behavior but the tendency to stroke his own ego is pretty much baked into his DNA. 6 From the top of the rubbish tip on which he’s parked he rubbishes any duenna trying to pull rank. His hens are rumpled. Raggedy-ass. Most statements issued from his pilaster of slow-cured adobe are followed by an exclamation mark! A sheet of corrugated tin is his main plank. “When oh when,” he blubbers, “will this cup pass?” All bully-pulpitry. All bluster. 7 For it’s very rarely a cup of joy, the cup that runneth over. More a seed-bleed from the agave’s once-in-a-lifetime pod. More a fairground tune from a wind-up toy winding us up for what seems forever. Till the street-dogs have once again treed a god somewhere on the outskirts of town.