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Hay by Paul Muldoon
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Fiendish but seductive, these poems are woven together, seeming to suggest meaning at the same time as utterly rejecting any such thing. ( )
  stephenmurphy | Feb 20, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374526192, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:04 -0400)

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