Happy Birthday Paul Muldoon

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One of a gang of Northern Irish poets who flowered in Queens University, Belfast, during the worst of the Troubles, Muldoon is often compared with Seamus Heaney.  He maintained he was a poor student and should have dropped out of college.  He has gone on to become one of the most honored writers of the 20th Century, Professor of multiple universities including St. Andrews,  Princeton and Oxford, winner of Pulitzer and TS Eliot prizes, poetry editor for the New Yorker magazine.  The list goes on.

Here is a poem about the birth of his daughter.  I love the way he contrasts the magical world of apple-blossoms and chanterelles with the clinical sterility of the hospital with its scubs, shears and stables.

 

The Birth; by Paul Muldoon

 

Seven o’clock. The seventh day of the seventh month of the year.
No sooner have I got myself up in lime-green scrubs,
a sterile cap and mask,
and taken my place at the head of the table

than the windlass-woman ply their shears
and gralloch-grub
for a footling foot, then, warming to their task,
haul into the inestimable

realm of apple-blossoms and chanterelles and damsons and eel-spears
and foxes and the general hubbub
of inkies and jennets and Kickapoos with their lemniscs
or peekaboo-quiffs of Russian sable

and tallow-unctuous vernix, into the realm of the widgeon—
the ‘whew’ or ‘yellow-poll’, not the ‘zuizin’—

Dorothy Aoife Korelitz Muldoon: I watch through floods of tears
as they give her a quick rub-a-dub
and whisk
her off to the nursery, then check their staple-guns for staples

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