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

By Laurence Lieberman | Go to book overview

“Snow Thickets”

It is common and unoriginal for us humans to fancifully wish to extend our human limits, to sweep beyond our margins of sensory range, by acquiring the eagle’s sight, the dog’s extensive olfactory whiffs, the bat’s echo-locating radar. But what skills could we possibly hope to append to our narrow human compass, human corpus, by emulating a heavy snowfall? Weeds in a garden? Small waves rolling into shore? Moonlight spread across a night sea? How can a pioneering writer among us, inhabiting each of these living or lifeless entities, greatly widen our human perspective, or outreach? These are all metaphysical inquiries and quests in pursuit of supernal powers that James Dickey approaches with the providential thirst and exhilaration of an inventor first trying to break the sound barrier. Or surpass the speed of light.

In “Snow Thickets,” the sheltered person—“Under the bush / Being bound”—watches a torrential snowfall and tries to envisage what gains for our limited human resources might accrue if we could become embodied in those multitudinous snowflakes. We might harness thousands of eyes, ever open, flashings of epiphany: a great new access for sight, and a new language to record and express it:

Helplessly besieging: it is dim,
Unity wavering

Wavering on us, the land in cancelling flak   From inside, you
and I                                                                        
Are watching gravity come down

-35-

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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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