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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry


Paul Muldoon

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To purchase Poems 1968-1998

Title: Mules
Author: Paul Muldoon
Genre: Poetry
Written: 1977
Length: 31 pages
Availability: in Poems 1968-1998
Mules - UK
in Poems 1968-1998 - UK
  • Also included in Poems 1968-1998 (see our review)

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Our Assessment:

B+ : solid, entertaining collection

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Encounter . 10/1977 Douglas Dunn
TLS . 1/7/1977 Peter Scupham

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The complete review's Review:

       Mules begins with a poem that questions the role of the poet in a political world, Lunch with Pancho Villa. It is a familiar issue:

     Just look around you.
People are getting themselves killed
Left, right and centre
While you do what ? Write rondeaux ?
There's more to living in this country
Than stars and horses, pigs and trees,
Not that you'd guess it from your poems.
       It's a good beginning, the question neatly addressed by Muldoon. It has also, in the meantime, taken on a different meaning, as Muldoon has since abandoned his country, settling in the United States (and becoming an American citizen).
       There is more narrative in this collection than in the earlier New Weather (see our review): stories, reminiscences, brief episodes.
       There are more women: "There was Emily / Who was lovely and tall and slim". Mercy: "thirteen, maybe fourteen." And Harry Conway's daughter (presumable Anne-Marie, Muldoon's first wife): "They're nothing, really, all the girls I've known / ... / Nothing to Harry Conway's daughter":
Well, she's the one, if you can make her out,
Whose head is full -- no, not of pears, not plums --
But pomegranates, pawpaws.
       Often personal, the poems are also very accessible, playful, but not as allusive and elusive as some of Muldoon's later work.
       A nice collection by a maturing poet.

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Paul Muldoon: Other books by Paul Muldoon under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Poetry under review

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About the Author:

       (Northern) Irish poet Paul Muldoon was born in 1951. He has written several collections of poetry and opera libretti. He has become a citizen of the United States and currently teaches at Princeton University and at Oxford.

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