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

By Laurence Lieberman | Go to book overview

“In Gallipoli”

Gray as the sea moss wavering among the green shallows along
the shore, her hair blows shaggy. The sky holds. She lifts a cluster
of grapes, aloof and strangely sacred in their frost, and urges them
on me. Forty years ago, her young man, as gray and unaware as
an English butterfly blinded by fog, fluttered amazed across this
cerulean light, sagged, and exploded. I select two or three purple
grapes, and one of them bursts inside my mouth. But they are not
nearly enough for her to give, and she urges me on and on, till all
she holds in her fingers is the hulled branch of the vine. It sways
like a tree set on fire and thrown into water. She looks into the sky.
It holds. All her offerings are gone.

A chance encounter. Two strangers meet, he a foreigner strolling alone down the beach, she a local woman standing near the shore on the outskirts of Gallipoli. She seems to belong to this littoral threshold between land and sea, as if she had been washed ashore by the surf, and then stationed on this exact site for more than forty years, her hair turning shaggy and graying as it grows to resemble the sea moss “wavering among the green shallows along the shore.”

At first glance, she could be an apparition, a sea-wraith bequeathed to the land, but still half-wedded to the sea. Immediately, the speaker falls under her spell. She knows, at once, that she has found an ideal listener. She offers him a “cluster of grapes”—perhaps they are for sale, but a business transaction is the least of it, since the grapes are not a commodity: they are “aloof and strangely sacred in their frost,” and he feels honored to receive them. They are a gift, a ritual offering. Above all, she would entice him to hear out her story, to share her vision. Perhaps the grapes are “sacred in

-77-

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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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