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

By Laurence Lieberman | Go to book overview

Of Two Sublimities: Love Poems
“A Small Grove”

A contest. Which is strongest? A radiant woman’s beauty. Or beauties of nature, such as a grove of trees. Put them side-byside in the same setting, give them both free reign, and see who wins—who comes out ahead. And indeed, how do the two sublimities interact? How do they rival, or modify, each other?


A Small Grove

Outside our window we have a small willow, and a little beyond
it a fig tree and then a stone shed. Beyond the stone the separate
trees suddenly become a grove: a lemon, a mimosa, an oleander, a
pine, one of the tall slender cypresses that a poet here once called
candles of darkness that ought to be put out in winter, another
willow, and a pine.

She stands among them in her floweren green clothes. Her skin
is darker gold than the olives in the morning sun. Two hours ago
we got up and bathed in the lake. It was like swimming in a vein.
Everything that can blossom is blossoming around her now. She
is the eye of the grove, the eye of mimosa and willow. The cypress
behind her catches fire.

At the work’s finish, James Wright is secretly competing with Catullus. He is taking his own measure in relation to the genius of one of his great mentors. But he is armed with a special wild card that may unfairly tilt the scales of the game

-74-

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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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