Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Moy Sand and Gravel and Horse Latitudes by Paul Muldoon

I had the opportunity to hear Paul Muldoon read some of his poetry at a conference in Louisville, KY. I also bought these two volumes there, but I must have gotten the wrong ones, because nothing I read even remotely resembled the humorous verse he read that night.

Paul Muldoon teaches poetry at Princeton University and is also a professor of poetry at Oxford University. Whodathunkit?

First, Moy. These poems are largely based on his experiences in Ireland and with Irish people in New Jersey. There was quite a bit of Gaelic in there, as well as names and places names that were lost on me. I would have appreciated some notes and translations on exactly what he was talking about in 2/3s of these Pulitzer Prize-winning poems.

In fact, I had the same problem in Horse. I found myself shaking my head, scratching my stubble, and wondering what it was all about. Furthermore, some of the rhymes seemed so forced as to actually be jarring. For example:

“…a knight could still cause a ruction
by direct-charging his rouncy,
when an Englishman’s home was his bouncy
castle, when abduction and seduction
went hand in glove. …” (7)

My dictionary does not include “rouncy,” so I have no way of knowing what he means.

Maybe Muldoon is trying to be cute, but when supposed cuteness causes a skritch of the scalp and not a smile, it ceases to be cute.

-Chiron, 7/8/08

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