Whatever We Are, Or Were

Paul Muldoon (1951 – )

Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms

by Thomas Moore

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,
Live fairy-gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul may be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear!
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose!


Holy Thursday

by Paul Muldoon (1951 – )

They’re kindly here, to let us linger so late,
Long after the shutters are up.
A waiter glides from the kitchen with a plate
Of stew, or some thick soup,

And settles himself at the next table but one.
We know, you and I, that it’s over,
That something or other has come between
Us, whatever we are, or were.

The waiter swabs his plate with bread
And drains what’s left of his wine,
Then rearranges, one by one,
The knife, the fork, the spoon, the napkin,
The table itself, the chair he’s simply borrowed,
And smiles, and bows to his own absence.

Every Pig Was A Pig In A Poke

Paul Muldoon

The Old Country

A sonnet sequence
IX

By Paul Muldoon

Every escape was a narrow escape
where every stroke was a broad stroke
of an ax on a pig nape.
Every pig was a pig in a poke
 
though it scooted once through the Diamond
so unfalt—so unfalteringly.
The threshold of pain was outlimened
by the bar raised at high tea
 
now every scone was a drop scone.
Every ass had an ass’s jawbone
that might itself drop from grin to grin.
 
Every malt was a single malt.
Every pillar was a pillar of salt.
Every point was a point of no return.

Hedgehog

By Paul Muldoon

The snail moves like a
Hovercraft, held up by a
Rubber cushion of itself,
Sharing its secret

With the hedgehog. The hedgehog
Shares its secret with no one.
We say, Hedgehog, come out
Of yourself and we will love you.

We mean no harm. We want
Only to listen to what
You have to say. We want
Your answers to our questions.

The hedgehog gives nothing
Away, keeping itself to itself.
We wonder what a hedgehog
Has to hide, why it so distrusts.

We forget the god
Under this crown of thorns.
We forget that never again
Will a god trust in the world.