One Thousand Things Worth Knowing: Poems
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Another wild, expansive collection from the eternally surprising Pulitzer Prize–winning poet
Smuggling diesel; Ben-Hur (the movie, yes, but also Lew Wallace's original book, and Seosamh Mac Grianna's Gaelic translation); a real trip to Havana; an imaginary trip to the Château d'If: Paul Muldoon's newest collection of poems, his twelfth, is exceptionally wide-ranging in its subject matter―as we've come to expect from this master of self-reinvention. He can be somber or quick-witted―often within the same poem: The mournful refrain of "Cuthbert and the Otters" is "I cannot thole the thought of Seamus Heaney dead," but that doesn't stop Muldoon from quipping that the ancient Danes "are already dyeing everything beige / In anticipation, perhaps, of the carpet and mustard factories."
If this masterful, multifarious collection does have a theme, it is watchfulness. "War is to wealth as performance is to appraisal," he warns in "Recalculating." And "Source is to leak as Ireland is to debt." Heedful, hard-won, head-turning, heartfelt, these poems attempt to bring scrutiny to bear on everything, including scrutiny itself. One Thousand Things Worth Knowing confirms Nick Laird's assessment, in The New York Review of Books, that Muldoon is "the most formally ambitious and technically innovative of modern poets," an experimenter and craftsman who "writes poems like no one else."
corrupt, we can still hope to salvage something from the raw footage of the waterfall. REQUIRED FIELDS Then we could ride all day and yet not reach the farthest edge of our demesne, its slow handclap of grouse impatient for the mist-wreathed curtain of the moor to rise. Remember the beech where we were filed under our noms de plume, the chestnut tree where a soul was known to roost before it was set in linotype or its path laid in herringbone? For a second asterisk we’d use a
the Vari-X a smidgen to make an adjustment in windage or elevation. A canary is also a stool pigeon, of course, someone who sings in an English accent, the accent reserved for the Romans. The cars in the high-speed chase swap insults as they cross the border. In the way Ben was asked to rat on his coreligionists you asked Billy the Kid to turn informant. It’s something like a badge of honor that our children spare us the details of the undercover cop, tattooed glipe that he is, tied by
SEAT OF WAR It’s been just a week since they were seen off by Stonewall Jackson at Bull Run, which may be why the only one to doff his cap as if there might be an outbreak of fun is Captain Meagher, an intimate of muddling through since he escaped Van Diemen’s Land in 1852. You’ll notice how a smoothbore gun of the type Meagher favors for close combat has found its way into the hands of two brothers who are themselves in a spat as to why a bayonet might expand on an entry wound.
Sometimes it’s only by a crowded pier we recognize what we hold dear. The rifle points toward the linen bands in which Sergeant Tracy’s own wounds are wrapped. His wife helps him off the baggage cart. Lieutenant Nugent’s right arm is strapped awkwardly in a sling. The crowd must surely part before these six or seven drummer boys. We can all but hear the poise they bring to those snare drums. It’s a tribute to Lang’s art that we might for a moment forget the sniper to whom so much of
tree such as you’d find at another ringfort. A tree bestowing many gifts. When it comes to nuts, the hazel trees by my hut never give short shrift. There are the best of wells and lovely waterfalls over which to gush. The medicinal yew and hackberry on which to chew are nowhere more lush. In the vicinity are goats, stags, and hinds, pigs that are the next best thing to pets, and wild pigs lurking in the scrub, the badger sow and her cubs in their sett. In front of my