McAlmon, Robert

United States, (1895-1956)

The Wild Boar

  1. Six months’ rooting and tearing in the wood brushes
  2. Had taken all tamed spirit out of the swine.
  3. They were fleet on their feet as young deer.
  4. One glimpse of them, a sharp grunt, a black swirl
  5. And we were put out to locate them again.
  6.  
  7. Balir, who had been my pet when small, was still uncaught.
  8. We had found him, but twenty miles’ pursuit did not wear him out.
  9. From noon till moonup he evaded us and did not tire
  10. Our horses went wearily and we were muscle worn ourselves.
  11.  
  12. When Balir was cornered in a fenced field,
  13. Where leap and rush as he would he could not escape
  14. He turned upon father, his lips curled back from his tusks.
  15. Father beat and jabbed him with his pitchfork
  16. But the boar persisted.
  17. His eyes were globules of fire.
  18. Foam churned on his snout like hot soapsuds steaming.
  19.  
  20. A bullet from Jed’s gun struck his flank; enraging him
  21. So that his rushes at father had driven reason back of them.
  22. When Jed ran to divert Balir’s attack to himself,
  23. He stumbled and dropped his gun, and the boar was at him.
  24. The impetus of his attack hurled him over Jed,
  25. But he wheeled at once. Jed was quick too,
  26. And on his feet at once running and dodging.
  27. At last he reached the sledge and jumped in.
  28. Balir came on.
  29. When one horse shied he leaped
  30. And ripped its belly open to the flank with his tusks.
  31. Then he turned on the sledge and stood, looking at me.
  32. His eyes shot into me like red hot bullets.
  33. His tusks had pieces of horses’ flesh upon them,
  34. And the foam upon his mouth was pink.
  35.  
  36. I began to shoot as he came at me,
  37. And emptied the magazine of my rifle into him.
  38. The bullets streamed like hot water spurting from a nozzle.
  39. He came on.
  40. Only as he made the leap to clear the sledge
  41. Something within him snapped. In mid-air he poised and fell — limp.
  42. His teeth were chewing his tongue.
  43. Torn to red shreds.
  44. He grunted and mumbled.
  45.  
  46. I watched his eyes glazing, changing from scarlet embers
  47. To wax-covered glass — dull—
  48.  
  49. I was proud of his savagery.
  50. He died.
  51. He never was tamed to serve men’s purposes.

© Robert McAlmon. The Tyro: A Review of the Arts of Painting Sculpture and Design. No. 1, pg. 12. London: The Egoist Press, (1921).

About the Poet:

Robert Menzies McAlmon (1895-1956) was a U.S. author, poet and publisher, as well as a connoisseur of the Parisian nightlife and a fixture of the Lost Generation’s expatriate community in Paris in the 20s and 30s.

McAlmon became a prolific writer after moving to Paris in the 1920, with many of his stories and poems based on his experiences as a youth in South Dakota.

In Paris in 1922, McAlmon founded the Contact Publishing Company in 1923. Lasting until 1929, the Contact Editions brought out books by such luminaries of the modernist movement as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Djuna Barnes, H.D., and Nathanael West. As a publisher, McAlmon also typed the proofs of his friend James Joyce’s monumental novel Ulysses.

McAlmon’s own work experimented with modernist techniques and themes. He reveled in innovation, irreverence, and liberation from the stuffy verses and bourgeois sensibilities of the American tradition.
Often his lines of poetry capture the urgency of the Jazz Age and the Lost Generation’s mantra to “make it new”. Yet, his own reputation as a writer never reached the heights of those contemporaries that he helped or published. [DES-07/12]

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