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Princeton University


Selected poems from "Moy Sand and Gravel" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002)
by Paul Muldoon

winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for poetry
The Howard Clark '21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton, professor in the Council of the Humanities and creative writing and chair of the Fund for Irish Studies


Pineapples and Pomegranates

In Memory of Yehuda Amichai

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 willpower, knowing in my bones
that it stood for something other than itself alone
while having absolutely no sense
of its being a worldwide 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.

A Collegelands Catechism

Which is known as the "Orchard County"?
Which as the "Garden State"?
Which captain of the Bounty
was set adrift by his mate?

Who cooked and ate an omelette
midway across Niagara Falls?
Where did Setanta get
those magical hurley balls

he ram-stammed down the throat
of the blacksmith's hound?
Why would a Greek philosopher of note
refuse to be bound

by convention but live in a tub
from which he might overhear,
as he went to rub
an apple on his sleeve, the mutineers

plotting to seize the Maid of the Mist
while it was still half able to forge
ahead and make half a fist
of crossing the Niagara gorge,

the tub in which he might light a stove
and fold the beaten
eggs into themselves? Who unearthed the egg-trove?
And who, having eaten

the omelette, would marvel at how the Mounties
had so quickly closed in on him, late
of the "Orchard County"
by way of the "Garden State"?

One Last Draw of the Pipe

Heard a piece of Roscommon folklore the other night. At some village or other, they lay pipes full of tobacco on the graves of the new buried in case they may like a draw of the pipe. A wild American indian kind of buisness [sic] it seems.
                                                                  --A letter from W. B. Yeats to Douglas Hyde, October 1889

Even though it happened as long ago as the late fifties, I could still draw
you a picture of the place. A little draw

through which we were helping a neighbor draw
green hay when we would suddenly draw

level with a freshly dug hole. He must have been torn between one last
of the pipe and hurriedly trying to draw

a veil of thatch and pine boughs over the hole before having to withdraw,
that ghost who may even now draw

a bead on me. On the day Sitting Bull was shot, his old trick pony (once
                                                                                                  such a draw
in Buffalo Bill's circus because he was given to dance

when he heard a volley of shots) would automatically draw

himself up and raise one hoof.
Even now I hear it coming down. I hear it coming down on my yew-bough


Poems on this page are protected by copyright, © 2002 by Paul Muldoon. All rights reserved.

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