Paul Muldoon: a poem



Nativity, 2020


Even a barn makes room for the fresh crop.

Even the cattle have drawn down their stores.

The mangold holds out nothing for even the grub.

Even the piebald sheep are waifs and strays.


Even the cart has been kicked to the curb.

Even the harness is under some stress.

Sweat has cured even the haft of a three-tined graip.

Even the three Wise Men will grimly steer


even if falling foul of mission-creep.

In the grain-bin not even the mouse stirs

though even a mouse may be a greedy wee gorb.

Even the ass shimmies to Richard Strauss


even as the hay shimmies from the crib.

Even a prophet sometimes misconstrues

the trickle-down effect found in even a groop.

Even a camel may be moved to tears.


Even the three Wise Men are shooting craps.

Even the horse has its head in the stars.

The mountain, even the mountain, is up for grabs.

Even the river is grasping at straws.



Paul Muldoon (born 20 June 1951) is an Irish poet. He has published over thirty collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 to 2004. At Princeton University he is both the Howard G. B. Clark '21 Professor in the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He has also served as president of the Poetry Society (UK) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker. His latest book of poems, Frolic and Detour, was published in 2019.