Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Paul Muldoon, [Untitled]

As we zoomed past Loyola and Tulane
I could think only of my nephew, Dillon,
born two days ago in Canada.
‘Let him,’ I heard, ‘let him be one ignited by the quaint

in this new quotidian: a mound
of coffee beans in the ‘Café du Monde’;
the New Orleans School of Cookery’s

monious gumbo; a dirigible of Paul Prudhomme
floating above the Superdome;
let the Prince of the Quotidian lead an alligator

along the banquette of Decatur
yet let him not, with Alejandro O’Reilly,
forget the cries of the bittern and the curlew.’


From: The Prince of the Quotidian (1994)

Continuing this first week's theme of embracing the vitality of the quotidian, this poem is an ode and mimetic invocation of cosmopolitan variety: our globalized marketplace, the ‘Café du Monde’. It comes from a collection titled The Prince of the Quotidian, which documents the one-month success of a New Year's Resolution to write a poem a day. It is not among his best poems (those will no doubt come eventually), but the eccentric, daring rhymes, along with the loose use of the sonnet form, is characteristic Muldoon (b. 1951). The vibrant language reflects the dazzling array of objects that are part of everyday modern life; t the same time, the poem does its best to fit that abundance into the order of the rhyme scheme. "Quotidian", though meaning 'everyday' and 'mundane,' in its polysyllabic latinate excellence reflects the world of objects at once common and exotic. The final couplet offers a turn, exhorting this international (Irish-Canadian) child born unto plenty not to forget his heritage (the bittern and curlew are birds that figure prominently in Irish literature) - in the same way, the poem itself has incorporated a world of references while remaining (marginally) faithful to the traditional sonnet form.

(Paul Muldoon homepage, with audio: http://www.paulmuldoon.net)

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