Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Hunter's Log

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Hunter's Log

Article excerpt

Hunter's Log BY TIMOTHY MURPHY ILLUSTRATIONS BY ELDRIDGE HARDY THE DAKOTA INSTITUTE PRESS, IIO PAGES, $19-95

Almost alone in the unforgiving North Dakota landscape, a master of monosyllables as plain as the plains, Timothy Murphy continues to carve out trimeter and tetrameter lines of longing and loss. Nothing that has troubled this soul fails to inform his beautifully crafted, psalm-like poems, with their satisfyingly clinching rhymes. God has gotten hold of Murphy (and vice versa, one sometimes feels), battering him like Donne's deity and in the process rescuing one of America's finest poetic talents from an existence at times harrowing (as is appropriate for a former farmer), and on occasion exalting.

A homosexual man of faith in sometimes hand-to-hand combat with what J. V. Cunningham called "Doctor Drink," Murphy has moved in his poetry from the demands of the flesh to a yearning for the transcendent. In "Cross-lashed"-consider that title-he writes "Summits would loom above / the stony trails I trod. …

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