One of the ways the world can be divided is into people who love Galway Kinnell’s “The Bear” and people who hate it. It seems to be one of those poems that sparks little middle-ground reaction. The first time I read it I found it so very gripping, and moved with the poem. Occasionally on re-reads I admit I get mostly just the intellectual tickle of satisfaction from the last couple of lines, the transformation of the hunter’s transformation into metaphor, but other times, particularly hearing or reading it aloud, the whole thing still works wonders on me.

If you haven’t read it before, please do, and see which camp you fall into. Feel free to comment below. It’s available both in print and this video from 1973 of Kinnell reading it aloud.