April in New Hope


Ascribe it though we may to the McCormick clan

The technology of the mechanical reaper and hay tedder

Had been developed by the Celts

Only to be lost with Rome. A Cambridge man

Might be done for by a “bedder”

But Princeton men kept slaves. In 1849, the Corn Belt

Still stretched to the Delaware.

We few, we happy few, are still so newfangled

With our own Henriad

We forget New Hope is where

Each generation is doomed to wrangle

The shad roe from the shad

Only to pair them once again, fried in bacon fat

And served on a white platter

With capers and lime.

By 1949, Richard Feynman was already plugging away at

The idea of antimatter being matter

That merely goes backwards in time.

Paul Muldoon’s new collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing, is due in January. This poem is  from Berryman’s Fate: A Centenary Celebration in Verse (Arlen House), a new anthology to mark John Berryman's centenary.