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The Bull Moose

The Bull Moose

“The Bull Moose” is a poem by one of the great Canadian poets, Alden Nowlan. It is a finely crafted poem by a very talented poet. It reminds us how far away from Nature the lives of ordinary men and women have strayed. This is something common to all of us who live so much our lives in buildings and who so rarely experience Nature in its raw form. Nowlan creates powerful layers of images, and contrasts them in a way to make us feel just how damaging to our minds and souls this separation from Nature has been. His poem is Romantic in the way it tries to remind us of how far we have fallen and how hollow our idea of progress is. Indeed, Nowlan suggests that we may be more of a beast than the moose.

The moose presents a picture of strength to the reader. I think he is searching for a place to die, but it can be seen that he still seems very powerful in the way he comes “lurching” and “stumbling” in such a powerful way, until he reaches the edge of his world, and the beginning of our world, at the “pole-fenced pasture.” A crowd composed of men, women, and children seems to have materialized out of thin air. These are the representatives of civilized life, and they are uniformly marked by insensitivity and ignorance in the way in which they treat the moose. The people can’t seem to understand that the moose is not the same kind of animal as their domesticated cattle, or their pet collie, or the gelded moose they remember having seen. They suffer from a severe kind of blindness which cannot recognize the deeper significance of this moose which has come to them from “the purple mist of the trees” as if he were some kind of mystical being full of ancient truths. The scene quickly develops into a pageant of obscenity as some of the men “pry open his jaws with bottles” and then “pour beer down his throat.” The moose’s crown of thistles is a symbol which serves to remind us of the unjustified suffering of Christ. In this way it makes us see our fellow humans in a revolting light as they proceed toward the humiliation and execution of one of the “lords of life.”

Analysis of The Bull Moose

Analysis of The Bull Moose

“The Bull Moose” by Alden Nowlan is a finely crafted poem which reminds us of how far man has strayed from Nature. Through a carefully constructed series of contrasted images, Nowlan laments, in true Romantic fashion, man’s separation from Nature.

The strength of the old moose is impressive. On his death march, he nonetheless comes “lurching” and “stumbling” in ponderous and powerful strides to “the pole-fenced pasture”- the edge of civilization. A crowd quickly gathers, a crowd of men and women, old and young – all notable for their insensitivity and lack of respect. They confuse the moose with one of their own domesticated animals, like the cattle or collie or gelded moose or ox, failing to see the nobility and ancient wisdom of this moose from “the purple mist of trees.” The scene becomes obscene as men “pry open his jaws with bottles” and “pour beer down his throat.” The symbolic crown of thistles hammers home the innocent suffering perpetrated by these giggling and snickering buffoons.

But this moose is no “shaggy and cuddlesome” doll. Living in freedom beyond the fences of civilization, this king of the spruce, cedar, and tamarack meets his degraded executioners with overwhelming power. The deep roar of this magnificently horned ancient “blood god” contrasts sharply with the puny and cowardly whine of the automobile horns.

Nowlan’s sympathy for the moose and his disgust for mankind is forcefully expressed in a natural free verse. This poem calls us to rethink the arrogant self-righteousness we hold toward Nature. By fencing ourselves in, perhaps we shut ourselves away from those qualities necessary to make us truly human.

Teachers Comments: This essays strives to be concise, i.

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