It Won’t Be Anytime Soon

I need a man with enough sagacity
To wear a coonskin cap
And escort me and my party
Through the Cumberland Gap
A man sufficiently rough hewn
Not to see shooting a racoon
As serious crime
You need a man with enough powder and ball
To see that what lies behind a waterfall’s
The American sublime
Though you may one day track down your Daniel Boone
It won’t be anytime soon

I need a man with just enough gravity
To see how a dripping tap
Will bend the back of a levee
Until you hear it snap
A man sufficiently immune
To the broad strokes of the Times-Picayune
As might turn on a dime
You need a man with enough native wit to call
It like it is from the flood wall
Even as the waters climb
Though he may rise one day with the harvest moon
It won’t be anytime soon

I need a man with enough lucidity
To read a contour map
Of Zion or Monument Valley
Without the appropriate app
A man sufficiently attuned
To looking beyond buttes and dunes
Of sandstone and shale and lime
You need a man with enough old-fashioned gall
To tell you you look small
In geological time
Though that may one day strike you as opportune
It won’t be anytime soon

by Paul Muldoon

Poetry news! The inaugural Reading Poetry Festival runs from 5-9 June and promises to be a fantastic event. Speakers include Iain Sinclair, Bernard O’Donoghue, Leontia Flynn, Kei Miller, Zoe Skoulding, Peter Robinson, and Steven Matthews. There are also two exhibitions curated by Peter Robinson and Natalie Pollard. Many events are free but require you to book. Click here for the full programme and details about how you can book tickets.

‘It Won’t Be Anytime Soon’ is copyright © Paul Muldoon, 2012, and reprinted from his book Songs and Sonnets, published by Enitharmon Books in 2012.

Notes from Enitharmon:

Paul Muldoon was born in 1951 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. From 1973 to 1986 he worked in Belfast as a radio and television producer for the BBC. Since 1987 he has lived in the USA, where he is now Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor at Princeton University and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. Between 1999 and 2004 he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. Apart from Songs and Sonnets, Muldoon’s most recent collections of poetry are Plan B (also published by Enitharmon in 2009), Maggot (2010), and The Word on the Street (2013). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Muldoon was elected a Member of the American Academy in Arts and Letters in 2008. Among his awards are the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Irish Times Poetry Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the International Griffin Prize, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, and the Shakespeare Prize.

Writing in The Guardian about Songs and Sonnets, Maria Johnston commented that ‘perhaps th[e] hyphenated category “poem-songs” best describes these songs and sonnets. They are complex, charged performances that vibrate in the interim between one thing and the other. They’ll rock your world.’ You can read more about Songs and Sonnets on Enitharmon’s site here, and more about Muldoon from his own website here.

Enitharmon Press takes its name from a William Blake character who represents spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration. Founded in 1967 with an emphasis on independence and quality, Enitharmon has been associated with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Kathleen Raine. Enitharmon also commissions internationally renowned collaborations between artists, including Gilbert & George, and poets, including Seamus Heaney, under the Enitharmon Editions imprint. You can sign up to the publisher’s mailing list here to receive a newsletter with special offers, details of readings & events and new titles and Enitharmon’s Poem of the Month.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Extraordinary Rendition

You gave me back your frown
and the most recent responsibility you’d shirked,
along with something of your renown
for having jumped from a cage before it jerked

to a standstill, your wild rampage
shot through with silver falderals,
the speed of that falling cage
and the staidness of our canyon walls.

You gave me back lake-skies,
pulley-glitches, gully-pitches, the reflected gleams
of two tin plates and mugs in the shack,

the echoes of love sighs
and love screams
our canyon walls had already given back.

by Paul Muldoon

A collaborative work with photographer Norman McBeath, Plan B is an evocative set of visually-inspired poems from Paul Muldoon. Born in Northern Ireland, Muldoon is a world-renowned poet and academic. These lines are extracted from ‘Extraordinary Rendition’, one of the poems in the book. They display Muldoon’s verbal dexterity and uncompromising tone, and convey a visceral yet understated power – an effect amplified by their juxtaposition with McBeath’s stunning photographs. You can find out more about the book here, and more about Muldoon on this page.

Enitharmon Press takes its name from a William Blake character who represents spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration. Founded in 1967 with an emphasis on independence and quality, Enitharmon has been associated with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Kathleen Raine. Enitharmon also commissions internationally renowned collaborations between artists, including Gilbert & George, and poets, including Seamus Heaney, under the Enitharmon Editions imprint. Discover more about Enitharmon here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.