Clairvoyant with Hunger: Essays on James Dickey, James Wright, W.S. Merwin, Etc.

By Laurence Lieberman | Go to book overview

“Weeds”

One of the leading motifs of James Dickey’s early career was his exploration of the consciousness of women. “May Day Sermon“ and “Falling” were the two masterworks in this mode. In “May Day Sermon,” his Faulknerian command of Southern speech vernacular electrified the voice of the lady preacher. In “Falling,” written in the third person, an equivalent intimacy is achieved by the sustained wonderment of the falling stewardess’s free association of images in quest for survival. Both poems achieve a remarkable credibility in hypnotic projection of the mind-set of the female persona.

Virtually all of the poems in Dickey’s late volume Puella are uttered in the simulated voice of the poet’s second wife—Deborah. No fewer than three poems in his last collection, The Eagle’s Mile, resume his studies of the nature of woman’s sensibility. Despite its somewhat cryptic start, the brief concise poem “Weeds” develops into an obliquely compelling love lyric:

Stars and grass
Have between them a connection I’d like to make
More of—find some way to bring them

To one level any way I can,
And put many weeds in amongst. O woman, now that I’m thinking,
Be in there somewhere! Until now. Of the things I made up
Only the weeds are any good: Between them,

-7-

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Clairvoyant with Hunger: Essays on James Dickey, James Wright, W.S. Merwin, Etc.
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iv
  • Clairvoyant with Hunger vi
  • Part 1 - James Dickey, Poems from the Eagle’S Mile 1
  • “the Eagle’S Mile” 2
  • “weeds” 7
  • “expanses” 10
  • “farmers” 13
  • “form” 16
  • “poem” 20
  • Homage to the Unburied: a Column - “sleepers” 30
  • “snow Thickets” 35
  • “the Three” 38
  • “the Six” 42
  • “circuit” 46
  • “eagles” 49
  • “night Bird” 51
  • “daybreak” 53
  • Warrior, Visionary, Natural Philosopher: James Dickey’S to the White Sea 56
  • Part 2 - James Wright’S Prose Poems 73
  • Of Two Sublimities: Love Poems “a Small Grove” 74
  • “in Gallipoli” 77
  • “the Gift of Change” 82
  • “flowering Olives” 87
  • “camomilla” 90
  • “may Morning” 96
  • “piccolini” 99
  • “regret for a Spider Web” 103
  • “the Snail at Assisi” 108
  • “the Sunlight Falling at Peace in Moret-Sur-Loing” 114
  • Paradigm for Prose Poems 118
  • “the Secret of Light” 119
  • “bari, Old and Young” 129
  • Part 3 - W.S. Merwin: Apotheosis of the Lepers 133
  • W. S. Merwin: Apotheosis of the Lepers 134
  • Part 4 - Igniting Sparks from Tamura’S Smithy 168
  • Igniting Sparks from Tamura’S Smithy 169
  • Part 5 183
  • On the Brink of Secession: Gwendolyn Brooks “the Wall” 184
  • “the Laggard Bird,” by Dunya Mikhail 192
  • David Bottoms’ Grueling Miracle: Faith in Middle Age 219
  • Part 6 - The Pull of the Sentence: on My Influences 250
  • Voice to Voice 251
  • The Most Essential Element of All: an Interview with Laurence Lieberman 269
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