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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review of Night Walking with Nathaniel

Thank you to Lee Varon for her recent review of one of my early books, Night Walking with Nathaniel, Poems of Salem. Somehow I missed it at the time. But I do appreciate her thoughtful review





Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2020
Night Walking with Nathaniel by Dennis Daly
(Dos Madres Press, 2014)

I always enjoy books of poetry that center around a central theme. Dennis Daly’s book of poems, Night Walking with Nathaniel, Poems of Salem, brings us deeply into the world of Salem, Massachusetts—both past and present. The Nathaniel of the title refers to Salem’s famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Daly is a master wordsmith. With apparent ease, he create a rich tapestry, often using rhymes and off-rhymes. Whether writing about the native peoples who once inhabited New England, or the disturbing period of the Salem witch trials, Daly draws a vivid picture of his native New England town.
In his poem Nanepashemet’s Fortress, Daly recounts the great native leader’s death:
“New moon, you give/A people no light, they/ Flee before ravage,”
and later speaking of the leader’s demise at the hands of another tribe:
…your fortress/ Impregnable / As a cumulus/Cloud

Daly’s wry humor comes through in poems like Puritan Motel which:
“Offers a sanctuary of bed-crabs, / Broken televisions and obscene verbs”

and later:
“…their prayers/ Of private lust and secret fang/Flowering from them like mildew, or flung/ To the dog-morning when breath brakes on a dime,”

Salem’s history includes the infamous Salem witch trials which Daly deftly touches on in the poem, Lead Mills, that refers to another New England blight—lead paint contamination.
“Does place suck into itself contagion/Enough for all generations to come? /Do we in our time inherit deeds misdone”

Daly is a master at alliterative language, in a shipwreck depicted in The Can Do In Salem Sound:
“Green water engulfs the boat’s bow, / The given grace of God gathers force/Into the carve of gale; the bellow/From blizzard’s blunt maw…”

Perhaps my favorite poem in this wonderful collection is All Soul’s Day: Town House Square in which Daly recollects visiting Woolworth’s Five and Dime with his grandmother as a child. Daly gives us a scintillating memory of the store where “big-hatted women” and children searching for some treasure, walk through aisles that seem to go on forever.
When I put down Night Walking with Nathaniel, the imagery and music of this marvelous book stayed with me.



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