In "South Wind," describing a dream of horses, John Haines writes: "The thunder of their passage / broke down the walls of my dream. / I awoke in the ruined kingdom / of frost with a warm wind / blowing my hair, and hard about me / and in the distance / the heavy hoofs still pounding ..." Notice how, even in this brief excerpt, Haines marries opposites together in an unsettling way: the heavy inaction of sleep is infused with thunderous commotion, the horses represent both threat and beauty, waking does not chase away the dream, and the positive imagery of a warm wind becomes a "ruined kingdom / of frost." It''s not for nothing that the New York Times Book Review called Haines''s writing "splendidly odd." The passage is representative in terms of content as well as style. Haines, a longtime resident of Alaska, frequently writes about the environment and the elements. This collection uncovers 30 years of good work, from 1966 to 1996.
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