On Crazy Horse in Stillness (Independent Publisher)

Ever since Homer's time, poets have wrestled with the difficulty of transmitting historical events through the prism of verse, attempting to balance recorded facts with intuited truths. William Heyen's recounting of America's most legendary adversarial relationship - that of Sioux leader Crazy Horse and Army General George Custer - awards pride of place to the imagination. Though informed by published histories, letters and diaries, this series of more than 450 lyric poems constitutes a "fusion of dream & time," an unpredictable extrapolation of the psychological, social, and spiritual energies that led the principals and their nations to a fateful, bloody meeting on June 25, 1876. Avoiding rhetorical bombast and scholarly clutter, Heyen allows the rich imagery and tragic ironies of the West to emerge: a buffalo herd frozen to death in a canyon; the young Crazy Horse attempting to capture an eagle while cadet Custer struggles with a term paper on "the red race;" the grim, exhausting labor of extracting tens of thousands of buffalo tongues for shipment to chic Eastern restaurants; Custer's wife Elizabeth in a prairie tent, experiencing the "terror of being late, that some day/hundreds of men would have to wait/because a woman had lost her hat pins." Whether or not we believe Heyen's stated claim to psychic kinship with the spirit of Crazy Horse, his ability to maintain the reader's sense of surprise andwonder through an avalanche of poems both surreally plain ("Footnoted") and plainly surreal ("Custer in Cyberspace") is an amazing achievement in itself, enriching our sense of the past with a singular sense of the present.


Criticism Overview
Title On Crazy Horse in Stillness (Independent Publisher) Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Criticism Target William Heyen
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 12 Aug 2013
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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