Paul Muldoon’s “Pineapples and Pomegranates” was first published in his collection Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), which won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2003. Muldoon’s poem recalls the speaker’s first encounter with a pineapple, as a thirteen-year-old boy growing up in Northern Ireland. The speaker muses on the pineapple’s significance as a symbol of generosity or “munificence.” The speaker then comments on the difference between “munificence” and “munitions” and expresses a wish for peace somewhere on the planet. The poem concludes with the speaker’s assertion that he is talking about pineapples and not pomegranates. Muldoon dedicated the poem to the memory of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, who died in 2000.
Although the poem is partly about the difference between two fruits, it also alludes to the ongoing conflicts in Muldoon’s native country of Northern Ireland and in Amichai’s home of Israel. Like other Muldoon poems, “Pineapples and Pomegranates” addresses the slippery quality of language, as well as the elusive nature of peace. In this poem, Muldoon also employs a deft and unique use of rhyme, word-shifting, and repetition to emphasize his themes. The fourteen-line poem can also be considered a version of the sonnet.