×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Moy Sand and Gravel: Poems
     

Moy Sand and Gravel: Poems

4.3 4
by Paul Muldoon
 

See All Formats & Editions

Paul Muldoon's ninth collection of poems, his first since Hay (1998), finds him working a rich vein that extends from the rivery, apple-heavy County Armagh of the 1950s, in which he was brought up, to suburban New Jersey, on the banks of a canal dug by Irish navvies, where he now lives. Grounded, glistening, as gritty as they are graceful, these poems seem

Overview

Paul Muldoon's ninth collection of poems, his first since Hay (1998), finds him working a rich vein that extends from the rivery, apple-heavy County Armagh of the 1950s, in which he was brought up, to suburban New Jersey, on the banks of a canal dug by Irish navvies, where he now lives. Grounded, glistening, as gritty as they are graceful, these poems seem capable of taking in almost anything, and anybody, be it a Tuareg glimpsed on the Irish border, Bessie Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth I, a hunted hare, William Tell, William Butler Yeats, Sitting Bull, Ted Hughes, an otter, a fox, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Joscelyne, un unearthed pit pony, a loaf of bread, an outhouse, a killdeer, Oscar Wilde, or a flock of redknots. At the heart of the book is an elegy for a miscarried child, and that elegiac tone predominates, particularly in the elegant remaking of Yeats's "A Prayer for My Daughter" with which the book concludes, where a welter of traffic signs and slogans, along with the spirits of admen, hardware storekeepers, flimflammers, fixers, and other forebears, are borne along by a hurricane-swollen canal, and private grief coincides with some of the gravest matter of our age.

Moy Sand and Gravel is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Editorial Reviews

Tim Kendall
Among the few significant poets of our half-century. The Guardian
Stephen Whited
Irish poet Muldoon has written some of the most impressive and inventive verse of our time. His method might be described as mythic collage. In one of his best works, 1991's Madoc: A Mystery, readers enjoy a multilayered narrative that recalls the work of Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Muldoon's latest eclectic collection concerns the intellectual life of the Irish expatriate family man. The blend of personal and historical experiences and the sonic mixture of unfamiliar Irish and American diction constitute a major feature of Muldoon's work, as evidenced in "At the Sign of the Black Horse, September 1999," or "The Grand Conversation," where "He" (a man from Ireland) tells "She" (a woman from Poland), "[W]e may yet construct our future / as we've reconstructed our past / and cry out, my love, each to each / from his or her own quicken-queach." This wonderful book presents powerful images in the author's characteristically dense and lively language.
Irish poet Muldoon has written some of the most impressive and inventive verse of our time. His method might be described as mythic collage. In one of his best works, 1991's Madoc: A Mystery , readers enjoy a multilayered narrative that recalls the work of Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Muldoon's latest eclectic collection concerns the intellectual life of the Irish expatriate family man. The blend of personal and historical experiences and the sonic mixture of unfamiliar Irish and American diction constitute a major feature of Muldoon's work, as evidenced in "At the Sign of the Black Horse, September 1999," or "The Grand Conversation," where "He" (a man from Ireland) tells "She" (a woman from Poland), "[W]e may yet construct our future / as we've reconstructed our past / and cry out, my love, each to each / from his or her own quicken-queach." This wonderful book presents powerful images in the author's characteristically dense and lively language. —Stephen Whited
Publishers Weekly
This first full volume since Muldoon's monumental Poems 1968-1998 reveals one of the English-speaking world's most acclaimed poets still at the top of his slippery, virtuosic game. Born in Northern Ireland, for more than a decade Muldoon has lived, taught and raised a family in Princeton, N.J. Hay (1998) showed Muldoon incorporating his wife's Jewish-American heritage, and his life as a father, into a poetics previously noted for its formal complexity, its shaggy-dog-story narratives, and its interest in Irish history. This substantial collection furthers Hay's subjects. It succeeds with fast-paced poems of suburban observation and whimsical memory in difficult forms: some inherited (terza rima, sestina, tercets, haiku, catechism, Yeats's "Prayer for My Daughter" stanza), others invented (a sonnet, each of whose first 12 lines ends in "draw"). Occasional poems return to the Irish Troubles Muldoon has long, off and on, described: "A Brief Discourse on Decommissioning" explains "you can't make bricks without the straw that breaks the camel's back." The book's most serious poems ground themselves instead in Muldoon's household. "The Stoic" meditates on a miscarriage "our child already lost from view before it had quite come into range," while the long closing poem places Muldoon's young son Asher in a context that combines Irish and Jewish history with Victorian wilderness stories, lines cribbed from Yeats, and Muldoon's own comic postures: "I, the so-called Goy from the Moy." A few of Muldoon's translations (Horace, Caedmon, Montale) seem slight, and several poems rely, perhaps too heavily, on allusions to Muldoon's own previous work; take those out, though, and what remains is a complicated network of verse declarations, stunts and depictions that may be fun for, and turn out to describe, a whole family. (Oct.) Forecast: If Muldoon is coasting a little here, his work still outshines most of his competition, and will draw regular readers back. These poems should work extremely well at readings, and should win readers grappling with similar issues of multiethnic parenthood. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Following on the heels of Poems 1968-1998, Muldoon's latest volume exhibits a tantalizing mix of dichotomies. The language of rural Ireland (where he was raised) cohabits with that of a professor at both Princeton and Oxford. First, consider "moy" in the title: the OED defines it as an adjective meaning "mild, gentle; demure; also, affected in manners, prim" or as a noun, meaning a "measure for salt; bushel." And all the words that follow are chosen with equal care for heightened ambiguity. Munificence is juxtaposed with munitions, while aunts is rhymed with taunts and fuss with orthodox, almost daring readers to roll and twist the words in their mouths. The poet convincingly joins such disparate elements as guns and butter in these narratives, using unfamiliar imagery and missing pieces, reminiscent of John Ashbery's poetry. Even when he's writing about the familiar, as in his masterly love poem "As," he alerts readers to new ways of seeing the world around them. The use of traditional forms might well make this book accessible to those not accustomed to reading poetry. An important purchase for all libraries. Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466879805
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
09/02/2014
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
120
File size:
178 KB

Read an Excerpt

Moy Sand and Gravel


By Paul Muldoon

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2002 Paul Muldoon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-7980-5



CHAPTER 1

    HARD DRIVE

    With my back to the wall
    and a foot in the door
    and my shoulder to the wheel
    I would drive through Seskinore.

    With an ear to the ground
    and my neck on the block
    I would tend to my wound
    in Belleek and Bellanaleck.

    With a toe in the water
    and a nose for trouble
    and an eye to the future
    I would drive through Derryfubble

    and Dunnamanagh and Ballynascreen,
    keeping that wound green.


    UNAPPROVED ROAD

    I


    When we came to the customs post at Aughnacloy, as at Cullaville or
    Pettigoe,
    I was holding my breath
    as if I might yet again be about to go

    underwater ... The fortieth
    anniversary of 1916 had somehow fizzled out, the New Year's Eve attack
    on Brookeborough ending in the deaths

    of O'Hanlon and South, while Dev was likely to bring back
    internment without trial ... As we drew
    level with the leveled shack

    I was met by another black-coated, long fellow, though he wore a sky-blue
    winding-cloth or scarf
    wrapped round his mouth and nose, leaving only a slit for him to peer
    through.


    II

    "In the late fifties I was looking for a place," he nestled his coffee cup on its
    zarf
    and turned to me, thirty years later, in Rotterdam ...
    "An ancestral place ... A place my ancestors knew as Scairbh

    na gCaorach." "Scairbh na gCaorach,"
I chewed on my foul madams,
    "is now better known as 'Emyvale'
    though the Irish name means 'the sheep-steeps' or 'the rampart of rams.'"

    "'Rampart of rams?' That makes sense. It was the image of an outcrop of
    shale
    with a particularly sheer
    drop that my ancestors, the 'people of the veil,'
    held before them as they drove their flocks from tier to tier
    through Algeria, Mali, and Libya all the way up to Armagh, Monaghan, and
    Louth
    with — you'll like this — a total disregard for any frontier."


    III

    "Patrick Regan?" A black-coated R.U.C. man was unwrapping a scarf from
    his mouth
    and flicking back and forth from my uncle's license to his face.
    "Have you any news of young Sean South?

    The last I heard he was suffering from a bad case
    of lead poisoning. Maybe he's changed his name to Gone West?"
    I knew rightly he could trace

    us by way of that bottle of Redbreast
    under my seat, that carton of Players, that bullion chest of butter.
    I knew rightly we'd fail each and every test

    they might be preparing behind the heavy iron shutters
    even now being raised aloft
    by men carrying belt saws and blowtorches and bolt cutters.


    IV

    As he turned to me again, thirty years later in Rotterdam, the Tuareg doffed
    his sky-blue scarf. "Back in those days I saw no risk
    in sleeping under hedges. As a matter of fact I preferred a thorn hedge to a
    hayloft

    because — you'll like this — it reminded me of the tamarisks
    along the salt route into Timbuktu."
    He crossed his forearms lightly under his armpits as if he might be about
    to frisk

    himself, then smiled as he handed me the sky-blue
    winding-cloth and a clunking water gourd.
    "It had been my understanding that Scairbh na gCaorach meant 'the
    crossing of ewes'
    for scairbh means not 'a ledge' but 'a ford' or, more specifically, 'a
    shallow ford.'"
    And he immediately set off at a jog trot down an unapproved road
    near Aughnacloy or Swanlinbar or Lifford.


    V

    "It had always been my sense," I hear him still, "that the goat fades into the
    goad
    and the spur fades into the flank
    and the fastness fades into no fixed abode

    and the Black Pig's Dyke fades into the piggy bank
    and your Hams fade into your Japheths
    and the point fades into the point-blank

    and the Cristal fades into the crystal meths
    where the ends somehow begin to fade into the means
    and the sheugh fades into the shibboleth

    and the timbre fades into the tambourine
    and the quiddity fades into the quid pro quo
    and — you'll like this, I know — the bourne fades into the boreen."


    MOY SAND AND GRAVEL

    To come out of the Olympic Cinema and be taken aback
    by how, in the time it took a dolly to travel
    along its little track
    to the point where two movie stars' heads
    had come together smackety-smack
    and their kiss filled the whole screen,

    those two great towers directly across the road
    at Moy Sand and Gravel
    had already washed, at least once, what had flowed
    or been dredged from the Blackwater's bed
    and were washing it again, load by load,
    as if washing might make it clean.


    THE MISFITS

    If and when I did look up, the sky over the Moy was the very same
    gray-blue
    as the slow lift
    of steam-smoke over the seam
    of manure on a midwinter morning. I noticed the splash of red lead
    on my left boot as again and again I would bend
    my knee and bury my head in the rich

    black earth the way an ostrich
    was rumored to bury its head. My hands were blue
    with cold. Again and again I would bend
    to my left and lift
    by one handle a creel of potatoes — King Edwards, gray as lead —
    mined from what would surely seem

    to any nine- or ten-year-old an inexhaustible seam.
    My father wore a bag-apron that read, in capital letters, RICH.
    My own capital idea, meanwhile, had sunk like a lead
    balloon. "Blow all you like," my father turned on me. "Talk till you're blue
    in the face. I won't let you take a lift
    from the Monk. Blow all you like. I won't bend."

    The Monk had spent twenty-odd years as a priest in South Bend,
    his face priest-smooth except for a deep seam
    in his left cheek. Fred Grew said something strange about how he liked to
    "lift
    his shirttail." Jack Grimley chipped in with how he was "ostrich-
    sized" because he once lent Joe Corr a book called Little Boy Blue.
    When Fred Grew remarked on his having "no lead

    in his pencil," I heard myself say, cool as cool, "I think you've all been
    misled."
    At which the RICHARDSON'S TWO-SWARD suddenly began to unbend
    in that distinctive pale blue
    lettering as the seam
    of his bag-apron unstitched itself and my father turned on me again:
    "That's rich,
    all right. If you think, after that, I'd let the Monk give you a lift

    into the Moy to see Montgomery bloody Clift
    you've another think coming. I'll give him two barrels full of twelve-gauge
    lead
    if he comes anywhere near you. Bloody popinjay. Peacock. Ostrich."
    All I could think of was how the Monk was now no more likely to show me
    how to bend
    that note on the guitar — "like opening a seam
    straight into your heart" — when he played Bessie Smith's "Cold in Hand
    Blues"

    than an ostrich to bend
    its lead-plumed wings and, with its two-toed foot, rip out the horizon seam
    and lift off, somehow, into the blue.


    THE BRAGGART

    He sucked, he'll have you know,
    the telltale sixth toe
    of a woman who looked like a young Marilyn Monroe,

    her hubby getting a little stroppy
    when he found them there in the back of that old jalopy.
    Other papers please copy.


    THE WHINNY

    When he veered into the mirror to fix his collar stud
    he heard the whinny
    of a stallion at stud,
    saw the egg-yellow gloss in the coat of a young ass or hinny

    or a pit pony's glossy forelock
    not unlike his own. A stable lad had already tried to pick
    the lock
    on his near hind hoof. All spick-

    and-span then, turned out in the yard,
    with the prepuce
    of his yard
    an unprepossessing puce,

    he knew he'd have to buck
    the trend
    of these stud collars, ordered from Sears Roebuck
    at year's end

    by one or other of his American "aunts,"
    knew he'd have to surmount
    the twits and taunts
    of the stable lad who'd watched him mount

    the dais, dressed to the nines,
    to take the prize for Geography. "You can't tell, I'll own,
    the Pennines from the Apennines,
    you little shit-your-knickers,"

    he heard the pit pony vet
    him over his own shoulder, his voice now full-blown,
    now fading into the velvet
    among the other snorts and snickers.


    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"?


    BEAGLES

    That Boxing Day morning, I would hear the familiar, far-off gowls and
    gulders
    over Keenaghan and Aughanlig
    of a pack of beagles, old dogs disinclined to chase a car suddenly quite
    unlike
    themselves, pups coming helter-skelter
    across the plowlands with all the chutzpah of veterans
    of the trenches, their slate-grays, cinnamons, liver-browns, lemons, rusts,
    and violets
    turning and twisting, unseen, across the fields,
    their gowls and guiders turning and twisting after the twists and turns
    of the great hare who had just now sauntered into the yard where I stood
    on tiptoe
    astride my new Raleigh cycle,
    his demeanor somewhat louche, somewhat lackadaisical
    under the circumstances, what with him standing on tiptoe
    as if to mimic me, standing almost as tall as I, looking as if he might for a
    moment put
    himself in my place, thinking better of it, sloping off behind the lorry bed.


    TELL

    He opens the scullery door, and a sudden rush
    of wind, as raw as raw,
    brushes past him as he himself will brush
    past the stacks of straw

    that stood in earlier for Crow
    or Comanche tepees hung with scalps
    but tonight pass muster, row upon row,
    for the foothills of the Alps.

    He opens the door of the peeling shed
    just as one of the apple peelers —
    one of almost a score
    of red-cheeked men who pare

    and core
    the red-cheeked apples for a few spare
    shillings — mutters something about "bloodshed"
    and the "peelers."

    The red-cheeked men put down their knives
    at one and the same
    moment. All but his father, who somehow connives
    to close one eye as if taking aim

    or holding back a tear,
    and shoots him a glance
    he might take, as it whizzes past his ear,
    for another Crow, or Comanche, lance

    hurled through the Tilley-lit
    gloom of the peeling shed,
    were he not to hear what must be an apple split
    above his head.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Moy Sand and Gravel by Paul Muldoon. Copyright © 2002 Paul Muldoon. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Paul Muldoon is the author of eight previous books of poetry. He teaches at Princeton University and is Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford.


Paul Muldoon is the author of eleven books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Moy Sand and Gravel (FSG, 2002) and, most recently, Maggot (FSG, 2010). He is the Howard G. B. Clark University Professor at Princeton.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Moy Sand and Gravel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dhgdhdjdjdjdjddddddddddddddddsss
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it! Here is an Application. <p> Name- Berry Wind <p> Appearance- Has a Ocelot skin but is wearing iron boots and a chain meal cheasplate with a stone sword from the cheasts. <p> Does- teams up with her and guves her anither chain meal cheastplte, leather boots, and a stone sword also some chicken.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a stressful moment for Typh. Why had she signed up for this? Are bragging rights worth dying for? She put her hood on her squared head as a villager walked stiffly over to her and said, "good luck, you'll need it." And waddled off, smirking. A guy with a face of a red creeper sat next to her. "Go away." Typh tried to shoo him off, but he sat closer. "Hope ya win." Whatever he was trying to do, won't work on Typh. But she sensed he wasn't trying to lure her into something. Just pure friendliness. She started to squeak a "thanks", but was cut off. She braced herself as she teleports into her spot on the arena. THE SURVIVAL GAMES. She gave herself a small pep talk: "come on now, Typh. If you lose, you die. If you win, you get a reward." She heard the clicking of pistons as the walls around her lowered. She got herself ready for a sprint... "3...2.....1!" It happened too fast. She started late, and all the other were already at the chests. By the time she got there, all there was left inside was a... single... wheat. She looked through the other chests in the midst of the bloodbath. She kicked at the chest. She was sure to lose now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful feast!