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

By Laurence Lieberman | Go to book overview

“May Morning”

Deep into spring, winter is hanging on. Bitter and skillful in his
hopelessness, he stays alive in every shady place, starving along the
Mediterranean: angry to see the glittering sea-pale boulder alive
with lizards green as Judas leaves. Winter is hanging on. He still
believes. He tries to catch a lizard by the shoulder. One olive tree
below Grottaglie welcomes the winter into noontime shade, and
talks as softly as Pythagoras. Be still, be patient, I can hear him say,
cradling in his arms the wounded head, letting the sunlight touch
the savage face.

Following the cue of the angelic olive tree, the reader may feel inclined to pity this bully. The biggest ego in the place. The spoiled and greedy child, who not only demands the privilege to stay alive much beyond his allotted time, but is jealous of any creature in a prime of life. All life forms that thrive make him angry. Like a child throwing a tantrum, he would stamp them out, so he tries to “catch a lizard by the shoulder.” He is vengeful, since their lively scurrying about the boulder is clearly intended as a personal affront to him. The lizards are as “green as Judas leaves,” for their flashes of life hurt him like stabs in the back. And winter is suffering the punishment of warm daylight’s blows to his “wounded head.” The lizards’ sprightliness threatens winter’s work at killing things. Thus winter seems to feel “hopelessness” in his attempts to prolong his invincible power to eradicate new life. But the sun will have its hour, its day, despite winter’s “bitter and skillful” tries to crush spring.

Yet winter does seem to have a religious side, he can be spiritual, and so despite his anger and hopelessness, “he

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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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