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162 Western American Literature The Indians give a very formidable account of the strength and ferocity of this animal, which they never dare to attack but in parties of six, eight, or ten persons, and are even then frequently defeated with the loss of one or more of their party. . . . We shot one most tremendous looking animal and extremely hard to kill notwithstanding he had five balls through his lungs and five others in various others parts. . . . The enormous number of grizzlies inhabiting the far West in the early 1800’s (10,000 in California alone according to Frank Craighead’s estimate) made encounters with the great bear inevitable, and if one man met one bear only one survivor would leave the field, for grizzlies were unaccustomed to yielding. The book details individual encounters, the struggles of vaqueros who roped grizzlies, fights between bears and wild bulls, the efforts of sportsmen trying to capture grizzly cubs, attempts of professional hunters to track down and kill cattle-killers, and even the escapes of naturalists such as Enos Mills, who studied grizzlies without a gun. Here is a choice collection of adventure stories for readers of every taste. It is a book which, in the Indian’s phrase, does honor to the bear, and at the same time satisfies a double thirst for excitement and information. KARL E. YOUNG, Brigham Young University This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years. By Robert Bly. (New York: Harper & Row, 1979. 64 pages, $8.95.) Talking All Morning. By Robert Bly. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1980. 308 pages, $5.95.) The first of the above volumes is called a sequel to Robert Bly’s first collection, Silence in the Snowy Fields. Bly writes in his brief preface that “the two books make one book.” Talking All Morning records the direction of his thinking during the intervening years, and is composed primarily of wide-ranging, sometimes disjointed yet freely exploratory interviews, a few essays, and even a few poems, arranged thematically reflecting Bly’s central concerns. The first section explores his notions of the values of solitude and the need to escape the limiting forces imposed by society. A second section, “On the War and Political Poems,” reveals his ideas on the potentially inhibiting effect government support for the arts has on creative endeavors and includes his defense of political activism as a legitimate function of poets and of poetry. One interview in this section is titled “On Urging Others to Refuse the Draft,” which, along with his acceptance speech for the National Book Award for Poetry, reviews his anti-Vietnam War efforts. Reviews 163 Another section of the volume focuses more fully on his ideas about creative processes and the writing of poetry. These interviews (and one essay) lead naturally into another of Bly’s familiar concerns: “Talk About the 'Great Mother.’ ” Interviews here sketch the distinction between the mascu­ line consciousness (associated with “obsessive competitiveness,” “stiffness,” and constructive economic and military drive) and the feminine consciousness (associated with emotion, enthusiasm, and freer creativity) and call for a reawakening of the feminine creativity in America. All in all, Talking All Morning contributes insight into the full range of Bly’s creative efforts. The poems in This Tree Will Be Here a Thousand Years are an attempt, Bly says in the preface, to merge “two presences” : the inner human spirit and the outer consciousness of Nature. He is not the first, of course, to deal with the “two presences.” The tribal mind shares an animistic uni­ verse; nineteenth-century Romantics such as Wordsworth or Thoreau, to whom Bly refers in Talking All Morning, have established a tradition of sharing or aesthetically recreating a similar participation with Nature. Bly writes in that same tradition of the mind’s unencumbered use of sensory perception to tap psychic energy. But here is at once the strength and the fatal flaw in too many of the poems — the pure images free from conscious intellectual warping. The poems are seldom successful. The perceptions are there but are not transformed by art. Hence they lie fallow, lacking the shaping spirit of imagination that uses images in effective natural metaphor and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 162-164
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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