Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


A Mystery

Paul Muldoon

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Trade Paperback

Subtitled A Mystery, this verse narrative collects several poems concerning the so-called "Pantisocracy" (meaning a state ruled equally by all), a utopian scheme devised and later abandoned by the 18th-century poet-philosophers Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. What if they had indeed set up such an ideal community on the banks of the Susquehanna? That is the crux of this book's long and fascinating title poem, which depicts events via the mind's eye of one of Southey's reputed descendants.

The poems in this book also focus more directly on the legend of Madoc himself, the Welsh prince who some believe came to America 300 years before Columbus and sired a line of Welsh-speaking Indians.


Praise for Madoc

“One of the best in a generation of Northern Irish poets born since World War II, Mr. Muldoon has come to be known for . . . a witty, subversive instinct that undermines clichés, truisms, eternal verities, and his own previous sentences . . . Madoc is an outré movie spectacular . . . a tour de force.” —Lucy McDiarmid, The New York Times Book Review

“More than language--and no one who loves words can fail to be amazed by Muldoon--there is Madoc's story . . . Muldoon's magic consists of lifting Southey's shrewdly calculating apostasy off the pages he wrote and transporting it, full-blown, to a vulgar, brawling, optimistic America--an America that of course remains in the warp and woof of the immediate one.” —Geoffrey Stokes, The Village Voice

“Muldoon's reinvention of himself as an American writer is a source of vast entertainment. Madoc is also, though, a profoundly Irish book . . . Muldoon shows us a mind at work, teasing, improvising, listening, reading, loving, and his apparently impersonal narrative turns out to be a winning self-portrait. It is a dazzling achievement.” —Lachlan MacKinnon, Times Literary Supplement

“What takes the reader through the poem is pleasure and puzzlement in roughly equal measure . . . Essentially, [Muldoon] is taking his style for a walk, and the style is mesmerising . . . Every reading--and still, more, every new bit of information--makes Madoc a cleverer and more imposing piece of work . . . [Muldoon is] one of the most metaphoric poets alive, in whom words and facts and things themselves are . . . comprehensively and gracefully destabilized.” —Michael Hofman, London Review of Books

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon was born in Northern Ireland in 1951. He lives with his family in New Jersey, where he chairs the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. In 1999 he was elected Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford.

Paul Muldoon

Peter Cook

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook