Though Paul Muldoon's voice is thoroughly his own, a taste for turbulent rhythms and fantastical journeys firmly links him with some of our finest poets, most notably Coleridge. In "The Mud Room," the start of this stunning collection, the speaker juxtaposes wildly dissimilar images--Pharaohs and Kikkoman soy sauce, Virgil's Georgics and "cardboard boxes from K-Mart," ziggurats and six-packs. Why? Because in piecing together the whole of our collective human past--the past of Jackson Browne's "The Pretender" on the same page as the past of Epicurus--Muldoon casts a vote for inclusion, a vote against exclusivity and relegation. He travels far to show such close relations. Rather than focus on differences, we're forced to consider a resemblance between rock stars and Pharaohs, and in turn a grander likeness that joins us all.
But in drawing together common connective strands of history, culture, and emotion, Muldoon is anything but general. His language is highly original and searching. He doesn't merely sniff dispassionately at the "otherness" of words; like an excited hound that has discovered the scent of another animal, he rolls vigorously in it--and makes it his own:
So a harum-scarum
bushman, hey, would slash one forearm
with a flint, ho, or a sliver of steel
till it flashed, hey ho, like a hel-
These poems resonate with an easy coexistence of the ordinary and the exotic. Whether he's penning rhymed haiku (rhymed haiku?) about placid farm life ("None more dishevelled / than those who seemed most demure. / Our rag-weed revels") or quatrains about Cracow ("Into the Vistula swollen with rain / you and I might have plunged and found a way / to beat out the black grain / as our forefathers did on threshing day"), Muldoon's words gleam like jewels unearthed from everyday mud. --Martha Silano --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More than two decades ago, Seamus Heaney wrote of his former student Paul Muldoon that his "hermetic tendency" can lead him "into puzzles rather than poems." Since then, Muldoon has evolved into a kind of anti-Heaney, creating poetic puzzles of daunting erudition and fascinating complexity, while sharpening his teacher's capacious humor into a dazzling wit. If Northern Irish poets are expected to write Wordsworthian lyric verse about their rural childhoods, Muldoon instead composes allusively postmodern, cosmopolitan poetry. Having won Britain's prestigious T.S. Eliot prize for his last collection, The Annals of Chile, Muldoon (who teaches at Princeton) here continues to amaze and bewilder readers in equal measure with his bravura. "Errata" consists entirely?in the spirit of Nabokov's Pale Fire?of a proofreader's corrections to a faulty set of galleys: "For 'Steinbeck' read 'Steenbeck.'/ For 'ludic' read 'lucid.'" Not all of Hay is so stylistically showy. "Anonymous: Myself and Pangur" is a faithful translation of an utterly charming 9th-century Irish poem drawing parallels between the craft of the scholar-poet and his white cat: "Pangur going in for the kill/ with all his customary skill/ while I, sharp-witted, swift, and sure,/ shed light on what had been obscure." And striking a more demotic note is Muldoon's verse cycle on a series of favorite rock albums, from the Rolling Stones to Nirvana, no less exuberant. As much at home in mainstream pop culture as in the obscure corners of the literary tradition, sharp-witted Muldoon both parodies and honors with panache.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
...Than Muldoon's other recent volumes. Not to say it's an easy read. Bits of the Irish language, proverbs, Celtic legend, Japanese and native American lore, Hiberno-English,... Read morePublished on April 10, 2005 by John L Murphy
An Irish Professor at Princeton, Paul Muldoon wrote a book called "Hay". Muldoon is said to be one of the most inventive poets of this day and age. Read morePublished on April 6, 2005 by Amanda