Wampanoag Traveler: Being, in Letters, the Life and Times of Loranzo Newcomb, American and Natural Historian: A Poem

Brendan Galvin, Author
Brendan Galvin, Author Louisiana State University Press $16.95 (43p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1542-8
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Narrated by a fictive 18th century naturalist, Loranzo Newcomb, this ambitious book-length poem meditates on both natural and human phenomena, flawlessly evoking the variegated personality of its speaker. Composed of 14 sections, each a letter, the poem develops from a description of a snakebite and its aftereffects to accounts of distinctively American animals and personal recollections. Galvin ( Seals in the Inner Harbor ) portrays these scenes in crisp, forthright terms, permitting Newcomb to ponder their significance: the narrator detects in the skunk's foul but sometimes curative spray the hand of God; in a letter purporting to depict fiddler crabs, he relates their half-hatched look to human striving and thus to unrequited love; and, in the final ``Envoy,'' addressed directly to the reader, a discussion of apples delicately questions the historical fiction of the poem and the concept of history itself. However, the sections, while individually comely, do not cohere; they do not build on one another and their order seems arbitrary. (June)
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