Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Hunter's Log

The essence of autumn on the northern plains of America, and North Dakota in particular, is bagged and brought home in this collection of hunting poetry.

In a preface to his work, the poet explains that hunting has taught him accuracy of observation and, as a writer, accuracy of expression. Both skills are effectively employed in poems like "Missouri Breaks":

A blooded dog quarters the feral rye,
and my body's long quarrel with my mind
is silenced by a landscape and a sky
legible as a Bible for the blind.

Inspired by Ortega y Gassett's "Meditations on Hunting," gifted to him by his father, Timothy Murphy feels "the killing of the game is a ritual preparation for our own mortality." In "The Blind," the poet describes an outing with an aging father:

By some ancestral code
fathers and sons don't break,
we each carry a load
of which we cannot speak.

Here we commit our dead
to the unyielding land
where broken windmills creak
and stricken ganders cry.

Father, the dog, and I
are learning how to die
with our feet stuck in the muck
and our eyes trained on the sky.

Continued in ... The Nature Pages

by Timothy Murphy
The Dakota Institute, 2011.
The Nature Pages
Nature Writing and Natural Histories
Science Writing
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