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Fergus Falling Analysis

Author: poem of Galway Kinnell Type: poem Views: 9

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He climbed to the top

of one of those million white pines

set out across the emptying pastures

of the fifties - some program to enrich the rich

and rebuke the forefathers

who cleared it all at once with ox and axe -

climbed to the top, probably to get out

of the shadow

not of those forefathers but of this father

and saw for the first time

down in its valley, Bruce Pond, giving off

its little steam in the afternoon,

pond where Clarence Akley came on Sunday mornings to cut down

   the cedars around the shore, I'd sometimes hear the slow spondees

   of his work, he's gone,

where Milton Norway came up behind me while I was fishing and

   stood awhile before I knew he was there, he's the one who put the

   cedar shingles on the house, some have curled or split, a few have

   blown off, he's gone,

where Gus Newland logged in the cold snap of '58, the only man will-

   ing to go into those woods that never got warmer than ten below,

   he's gone,

pond where two wards of hte state wandered on Halloween, the Na-

   tional Guard searched for them in November, in vain, the next fall a

   hunter found their skeletons huddled together, in vain, they're


pond where an old fisherman in a rowboat sits, drowning hooked

   worms, when he goes he's replaced and is never gone,

and when Fergus

saw the pond for the first time

in the clear evening, saw its oldness down there

in its old place in the valley, he became heavier suddenly

in his bones

the way fledglings do just before they fly,

and the soft pine cracked.

I would not have heard his cry

if my electric saw had been working,

its carbide teeth speeding through the bland spruce of our time, or


black arcs into some scavenged hemlock plank,

like dark circles under eyes

when the brain thinks too close to the skin,

but I was sawing by hand and I heard that cry

as though he were attacked; we ran out,

when we bent over him he said, "Galway, Inés, I saw a pond!"

His face went gray, his eyes fluttered close a frightening


Yes - a pond

that lets off its mist

on clear afternoons of August, in that valley

to which many have come, for their reasons,

from which many have gone, a few for their reasons, most not,

where even now and old fisherman only the pinetops can see

sits in the dry gray wood of his rowboat, waiting for pickerel.


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