Voyageurs travel to find the palace of Kubilai Khan in the Quetico-Superior border country. The menacing teeth of a northern pike remind us of the potential violence hidden in seemingly innocent lakes. A moose -- "lumbering satyr" -- expresses the bestial nature of life in the woods.This is the North Country as spoken through the voice of Jeff Humphries, who discovers unexpected riches in the wilderness looming around his cabin. As interpreted by renowned illustrator Betsy Bowen, the subjects of the poems come to inhabit the pages of this volume; her spare and beautifully composed woodcuts reveal surprising facets of Humphries' words. These poems trace the layers of invisible meaning embedded in the northern lands -- the inevitable passage from shallow to deep, civilized to wild -- the new forms of wisdom to be gained in such an encounter. It is a book for and about all those who, failing to find what they came for, instead find a benediction and are never the same. Written near Sigurd Olson's Listening Point on Burntside Lake in northern Minnesota, these poems portray a land haunted by animal spirits, long known to Ojibwe and Cree. In words and pictures Humphries and Bowen reveal the secrets and hidden lives of the creatures of the North Woods -- loons, ruffed grouse, bears, wolves, trees, lakes, even stones -- exploring the mysterious common ground between their languages and ours.
Introduction et allegro -- Voyageurs -- The lake -- Northern pike -- Frogs -- The merganser -- Moose -- Osprey -- Jack pine -- Beaver -- Bald eagle -- Alexander MacKenzie -- The bear -- Hummingbird -- Porcupine -- Red squirrel -- Maple -- Ruffed grouse -- Marten -- Lake trout -- Raven -- The drowned man -- Stone -- Saw-whet owl -- The wolf -- Song sparrow -- Walleye -- Birches -- The lynx and the snowshoe hare -- Red-backed vole -- Loons laughing -- The geologist.