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When Winter Come

When Winter Come: The Ascension of York

Frank X Walker
Series: Kentucky Voices
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    When Winter Come
    Book Description:

    A sequel to the award-winning Buffalo Dance, Frank X Walker's When Winter Come: The Ascension of York is a dramatic reimagining of Lewis and Clark's legendary exploration of the American West. By focusing on the humanity and struggles of York, Clark's slave, When Winter Come challenges conventional views of the journey's heroes and exposes the deeds, both great and ghastly, of the men behind the myth. Grounded in the history of the famous trip, Walker's vibrant account allows York -- little more than a forgotten footnote in traditional narratives -- to embody the full range of human ability, knowledge, emotion, and experience. He is a skillful hunter who kills his prey with both grace and reverence, and he thinks deeply about the proper place of humans in the natural world. York knows the seasons "like a book," and he "can read moss, sunsets, the moon, and a mare's foaling time with a touch." The Native peoples understand and honor York's innate bond with the earth. Though his expertise is integral to the journey's success, York's masters do not reward him; they know only the way of the lash. The alternately heartbreaking and uplifting poems in When Winter Come are told from multiple perspectives and rendered in vivid detail. On the journey, York forges a spiritual connection and shares sensual delights with a Nez Perce woman, and he aches when he is forced to leave her and their unborn son. Walker's poems capture the profound feelings of love and loss on each side of this ill-fated meeting of souls. When the trek ends and York is sent back to his former home, his wife and stepmother air their joys and grievances. As the perspectives of Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, and others in the party emerge, Walker also gives voice to York's knife, his hunting shirt, and the river waters that have borne the labors and travels of thousands before and after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Despite fleeting hints that escape is possible, slavery continues to bind York and quell the joyful noise in his spirit until his death. Walker's poems, however, give York his voice after centuries of silence. When Winter Come exalts the historical persona of a slave and lifts the soul of a man. York ascends out of his chains, out of oblivion, and into flight.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7291-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[xii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. [xiii]-[xiv])

    In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson instructed Lewis and Clark to explore the Missouri River to its source, establish the most direct land route to the Pacific, and make scientific and geographical observations. In the interests of trade and peace, they also were to learn what they could of the Indian tribes they encountered and impress them with the strength and authority of the United States.

    After meeting in Louisville, enlisting the first permanent members of the party—nine young men from Kentucky—and heading down the Ohio, up the Mississippi, and to the Wood River, Lewis and Clark spent the...

  4. Glossary
    (pp. [xv]-[xvi])
  5. Opening

  6. Part I

  7. Part II

  8. Part III

  9. Part IV

  10. Time Line
    (pp. 109-110)
  11. Another Trek: York’s Nez Perce Legacy
    (pp. 111-115)

    After an evening reading at Summer Fishtrap, a writing conference held every year in Nez Perce country at the foot of the Wallowa Mountains, just outside Joseph, Oregon, I stepped outside of a wooden cabin nestled near the opposite end of beautiful Wallowa Lake and the grave site of legendary Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph. There I met Diana Mallickan, a park ranger stationed in Spalding, Idaho, on the Lapwai reservation, and Allen Pinkham, an important Nez Perce elder and former chair of the tribe’s governing body. I was holding my breath in anticipation of a critique of my book...

  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 116-116)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 117-118)