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The Hunter

by George Murray

In his third collection of poetry, The Hunter, George Murray presents a disturbing image of the end of the world. Focused through the double lens of history and prophecy, Murray’s apocalyptic vision delivers a judgment on human fallibility and culpability. Whether the final end is brought about by a nuclear Armageddon or catastrophic climate change, the verdict rendered in these poems is that human civilization, particularly Western civilization, must be held accountable.

The poems in The Hunter are written in, out of, and about tension – in particular, the tension between prophecy and history. The work mirrors the zeitgeist created by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, which Murray witnessed firsthand in New York. This spirit haunts the collection as both its past and its future: “That the violence we have witnessed/was not random while the kindness was? That intent/could replace randomness as our greatest fear/speaks of how far we’ve come.”

Implicit in Murray’s eschatological vision is a yearning for the beauty, or even more, for the innocent holiness of a pre-lapsarian world. Like Milton in Paradise Lost and many poets of the Western canon, Murray’s moralistic poems yearn for a golden age where man was part of the natural world and not simply “the hunter” threatening it: “history/is not only the prey he hunts, but the beast/he suspects has been tracking him from behind.” It is in part this looking back at history that makes the present so condemnable: “Hell-on-earth/has been in the planning since/shortly after Heaven-on-earth was abandoned.”

Though The Hunter is weighed down with bleak images, there is a beauty within the poetic language that belies the doom and gloom of this post-Apocalyptic world: “Archipelagos/stretch away, a series of moments remembered,/peaking from the wet of life.” This beauty is what makes The Hunter such a compelling read. At this watershed moment in history, we are all looking for the beauty that lies somewhere between the ugliness of history and the ominous tone of prophecy.