By Paul Muldoon b. 1951 Paul Muldoon
Small wonder
he’s not been sighted all winter;   
this old brock’s
been to Normandy and back

through the tunnels and trenches   
of his subconscious.
His father fell victim
to mustard-gas at the Somme;

one of his sons lost a paw   
to a gin-trap at Lisbellaw:
another drills
on the Antrim hills’

still-molten lava
in a moth-eaten Balaclava.
An elaborate
system of foxholes and duckboards

leads to the terminal moraine   
of an ex-linen baron’s
where he’s part-time groundsman.

I would find it somewhat infra dig
to dismiss him simply as a pig   
or heed Gerald of Wales’
tall tales

of badgers keeping badger-slaves.   
For when he shuffles
across the esker
I glimpse my grandfather’s whiskers

stained with tobacco-pollen.
When he piddles against a bullaun   
I know he carries bovine TB
but what I see

is my father in his Sunday suit’s   
bespoke lime and lignite,
patrolling his now-diminished estate   
and taking stock of this and that.

Paul Muldoon, “Brock” from Poems 1968-1998. Copyright © 2001 by Paul Muldoon. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Poems 1968-1998 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

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Poet Paul Muldoon b. 1951


Subjects Family & Ancestors, Relationships

Holidays Father's Day

Poetic Terms Couplet

 Paul  Muldoon


Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland's leading contemporary poets. He was born in Portadown, County Armagh and raised near The Moy, in Northern Ireland. Muldoon’s work is full of paradox: playful but serious, elusive but direct, innovative but traditional. He uses traditional verse forms such as the sonnet, ballad, and dramatic monologue, but alters their length and basic structure, and uses rhyme and meter in new ways. His work is . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Relationships


Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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