Friday, March 09, 2007

Muldoon, Paul

I had saved this and just now re-read it. What a very good poem it is.

Lines for the Centenary of the Birth of Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

Published: April 16, 2006, New York Times

Only now do we see how each crossroads
was bound to throw up not only a cross
but a couple of gadabouts with goads,
a couple of gadabouts at a loss

as to why they were at the beck and call
of some old crock soaring above the culch
of a kitchen midden at evenfall,
of some old crock roaring across the gulch

as a hanged man roars out to a hanged man.
Now bucket nods to bucket of the span
of an ash yoke, or something of that ilk ...

Now one hanged man kicks at the end of his rope
in another little attack of hope.
Now a frog in one bucket thickens the milk.

Paul Muldoon is the author of "Horse Latitudes." For me, the absolute stand out book of last year, was Muldoon's book of essays. A must read.

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Mark Granier said...

Thanks for this.

Very haunting, blackly comic sonnet. Perfect setting. Extraordinary rhymes, as usual.

I love the images and echoes: (Beckett/bucket), the allusions to Godot, the crucifixion and the thieves.

Fabulous last stanza, though I'm not sure about the frog (I'm not sure about anything really). An allusion to Watt? "And then we would sit down in the midst of them, and give them to eat, out of our hands, of a nice fat frog, or a baby thrush." It might also be a reference to witchcraft, or curdled milk, or bitterness (as in Muldoon's Frog's "moral for our times" squeezed out of him "like a lemon sorbet")?

Or is the frog similar to the fly in the ointment?

What do you think?

Paul Sweeney said...

Must say, I am not sure where the frog comes from, but first verse has "Goads", then under that we have "old crock" (re: old toad?), and I once read McGahern describe an old tractor as like a "great toad", "thickens the milk" may be a reference to "frog spawn", or the bubbles on the freshly poured milk? As with a lot of Muldoon its probably a giant arabesque! It also reminds me of something else: the frog unsurprised by re-resurrections in the collection Rich by Craig Raine. So I guess your witchcraft might be one more thing to add to the curve!

Mark Granier said...

Don't have Raine's collection; I've mainly come across him in anthologies. With Muldoon I often think I'm either reading too much (and in the wrong direction) or too little into the work. For the moment, I think the frog may be analogous to Beckett's enriching (thickening) of the language, though that might well be complete codswallop (there's a word Muldoon would find a good rhyme for).

Paul Sweeney said...

I don't think mcgahern or raine are intended references here, but they would be/ could be in the background, and I think muldoon would welcome such stunt reading. His latest work of essays is probably the best book I read last year. I am always impressed by Muldoon's writing but I think his method and approach may be longer lasting than many of the poems themselves (in the broader scheme of things).

Brian said...

Stop talking about McGahern...he's all mine.
Brian Liddy

Paul Sweeney said...

Jesus. Brian Liddy! Get the fuck out of here. dude you better call me or I am coming out there to beat the shite out of you!

Paul Sweeney said...

ok it would appear that you do not have your blogger profile enabled. So, how do I contact Mr. Liddy>?

Brian said...

Hey dude,
It's been a while, eh? I think I just sent you my phone number, though there's no guarantee that I was successful. I'm just stunned I found you and was able to leave a message to begin with. Not exactly a computer whiz. My email is me your email/phone number.

Paul Sweeney said...

ok Brian, done! hope you got those.