The Bull Moose

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“The Bull Moose” by Aiden Nowlan is an intriguing free verse poem, the speaker discussing the plight of a male bull moose who is tormented and killed by people after wandering into a town. Nowlan explores the cruelty of mankind to the natural world, asserting the human tendency to reject what cannot be controlled. This idea is made evident through the sparkles shift in tone and actions. From the onset of the poem, Nowlan presents the apparent contrast between civilization and nature, particularly through the bull’s movements. In the opening stanza, the speaker presents description of the movement of the bull through a “forest of white spruce”, depicting the bull in a majestic and powerful manner. This adopted tone of grandness and praise of the bull’s power is then halted with the speakers’ terse completion of the stanza which was with presentation of a “pole-fenced pasture” which stops the moose. This fence acts as a symbol of the contrast between the wonders of nature and civilization, furthermore alluding to humankind’s tendency to remove itself from the untamed natural world. In the second stanza, this contrast is further asserted through an objective word choice, the speaker observing the simple actions of the bull all whilst praising its commanding appearance with its “ritual mask of a blood god”. This, presented with the cattle’s reluctance to remain near the bull because of their smelling of the “musk of death”, foreshadows the negative outcomes the cattle will face. This greatness of power coupled with the attempt to abolish it, as evident through the fence and foreshadowing of death, assert the greater theme of Nowlan’s work: civilization rejects nature as some aspects remain uncontrolled by the hands of man. The author shifts this tone of exaltation in the first two stanzas to a depiction of the disparaging nature of humanity with the bull moose’s first interaction with society. As he enters the town, his presence is treated by the people as an...
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