… at the University of Windsor was, after three days, released. It was lured out with a pigeon.

Hawk, in poetry, is always so relentlessly male – always their figure for — remember the last poem UD considered on this blog — for “primitive simplicity” and “savagery” and “rage,” as set against the elaborated civilizing order of women. As in this poem, “The Untamed,” by R.S. Thomas:

My garden is the wild
Sea of the grass. Her garden
Shelters between walls.
The tide could break in;
I should be sorry for this.

[Me Tarzan. You Jane. My garden is wild, a mere sea of grass, exposed to all the elements, taking all those risks. Hers is neatly sheltered. Even, so “the tide could break in,” and he supposes he should feel bad about the possibility, but instead he, let’s say, finds it rather exciting.]

There is peace there of a kind,
Though not the deep peace
Of wild places. Her care
For green life has enabled
The weak things to grow.

[It’s a rather contemptible peace she’s created with her walled garden, lacking the pure savagery of the wild grasses. She merely enables weakness to thrive.]

Despite my first love,
I take sometimes her hand,
Following straight paths
Between flowers, the nostril
Clogged with their thick scent.

[Although I’m a savage first, I can be on occasion made to stoop to her small places, follow her “straight paths,” unpleasantly overcome by the cloying sweetness of her world.]

The old softness of lawns
Persuading the slow foot
Leads to defection; the silence
Holds with its gloved hand
The wild hawk of the mind.

[“The old softness of lawns” is very pretty, the soft S’s and L’s and long O’s evoking the seductive gentleness of cultivated carpets for the feet — an indoors outdoors if you will. And so the man allows himself to “defect” – for a moment to our side, to the womanly living room of the world. He gloves his inner hawk, “the wild hawk of the mind.”]

But not for long, windows,
Opening in the trees
Call the mind back
To its true eyrie; I stoop
Here only in play.

The vast perilous nothingness of the world – windows, opening in the trees – calls the man back to the truth, to the mind’s true eyrie, the hawk’s roost, the savage place from which he does his serious work of predation. Here, in the pretty little garden tarted up by pigeon-woman, who seeks to seduce untrammeled man into her trap and reduce him to her condition, to the condition of the pathetic men in Nemerov’s poem – he only plays at life.


A variant.

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One Response to “A Cooper’s Hawk Trapped in a Cupola …”

  1. Dave Stone Says:

    I ask half-facetiously, half-seriously: what makes the life of the Cooper’s Hawk more valuable than those of the (multiple) pigeons used as lures? Are the lives of carnivores more valuable than those of herbivores? Where’s Peter Singer when you need him to parse out these questions for us?

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