Adam Kosan at The Quarterly Conversation:
Baker tells us that he followed peregrines for ten years, and that his book is the record of one season’s pursuit, lasting October to April. In fact his book is a compression of ten years of experience and observation into a focused period of mystical journeying toward the outward edge of things. It’s a quest poem in prose, but lacking the human-centered incidents typical of quest poems and fiction, and with an unusual reticence. Not only does the narrator say nothing about his life or his past, he also abstains from the contemplative involvement of, say, the narrator in Walden. He is shorn of biography, austere like Wallace Stevens’s snow man: moving through isolation, stopping for long periods to observe what occurs apart from him, aware of the breath that leaves the heat of his body for the cold of the land. The action, so to speak, emerges around the falcon and Baker’s dogged pursuit of it. When he provides rare self-portraits of himself as pursuer, he appears like one of the slinking creaturely specters of Beckett’s fiction: “I crept towards them along a dry ditch, inching forward like the tide. I crawled across stubble and dry plough.” He aims to achieve alarm-dissipating invisibility: “Hood the glare of the eyes, hide the white tremor of the hands, shade the stark reflecting face, assume the stillness of a tree.”
If this is a grail poem, though, why does Baker chase the falcon? It’s not to capture or tame it, and certainly not to kill it. He wishes to join it, but even in moments of greatest identification, when his language shifts from metaphor and longing into consummation, it isn’t long before the dream of union breaks up: “I shut my eyes and tried to crystallise my will into the light-drenched prism of the hawk’s mind.