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

By Laurence Lieberman | Go to book overview

“The Sunlight Falling at Peace in Moret-sur-Loing”

At ten o’clock on this midsummer morning the wings of summer
mosquitoes appear in the sunlight across the water. Sudden and
brief, they flash into sight and out again. They move in the light,
deep in its summer life, exposed and defenseless. I am too far away
to glimpse their real bodies, but I know they are there because
of the light they give. I remember a man long ago who could
not bear to look on the face of God, and who fell to his knees
in prayer at the sight of a beloved human face. The mosquitoes
move again, deep in the light. They are like the blue veins that
girls do their best to hide on the backs of their hands for fear
somebody will catch their blood in the act and remind them that
they too will grow old. But the obscene calamity of gray faces and
cynical knowingness is a despair that the mosquitoes are likely to
escape. The swallows resting under the stone bridge are waiting
for twilight and its hungers, but the mosquitoes neither know nor
care.The river, the Loing, moves so lightly it seems adrift from Its
reeds. Fish nuzzle the surface into ripples that lie there a long time
before they slide over to the marges. Two small boys chatter like
finches and sway at the ends of their fishing poles. Their voices
nuzzle the surface of the sky, and lie there a long time before they
slide over to the roof of the church, lost finally in the voice of the
old bell. The river, the Loing, moves so lightly it seems forever still.
I would rather forget it is moving. I would rather forget that its fate
guides it, with its small boys and fish and fishermen, downstream,
to enter the dark red waters of the Marne.

“Midsummer morning” is the very special time of this captivating state of the light. The poem is as much about the quality of the light as the eerie movements of the river and the

-114-

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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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