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The way of exchange in james dickey's poems : 1957- 1967 Hanson, Cherie Frances 1971

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THE WAY OP EXCHANGE IN JAMES DICKEY'S POEMS: 1957-1967 by Cherie Prances Hanson B.A., Western Washington State Gollege, 1965 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF l MASTER OF ARTS . i n the Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of B r i t i s h Columbia A p r i l , 1971 I n p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r a n a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l m a k e i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a n d s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by t h e H e a d o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t o f T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r 8, C a n a d a James Dickey's work as an a r t i s t grows out of the way he f e e l s about l i f e , and about the world of ar t . He believes that aesthetic experience can r e v i t i l i z e the reader, that i t can give him a new v i s i o n . And because of. the new v i s i o n the a r t i s t and the reader are united. The poem , therefore, becomes a very a l i v e , vibrant medium. And during his poetic career James Dickey explores the p o s s i b i l i t y of poetry as a statement. He i s never a f r a i d to push a poem to the l i m i t s of experience. The r e s u l t i s sometimes a strange, and grotesque work of art. However, i n h i s best moment^ James Dickey i s capable of loading the poem with intense energy. And i t i s t h i s energy which he hopes to transfer to the reader so that the reader can see the world with new eyes. TABLE OP CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 I I . THE EARLY POEMS 2k •III. HELMETS and BUCKDANCER'S CHOICE . . . lj.8 IV. THREE POEMS 80 V. CONCLUSION .108 VI. FOOTNOTES i VII. BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . i CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION U n l i k e many contemporary American poets, James Dickey began to w r i t e r e l a t i v e l y l a t e i n h i s l i f e . He was twenty-f o u r when he f i r s t d i s c o v e r e d t h a t he wished to become a poet. I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t w i t h i n f o u r years o f the p u b l i c a t i o n o f h i s f i r s t c o l l e c t i o n Into the Stone, which appeared i n John H a l l Wheelock's s e r i e s Poets o f Today, Dickey had f o r m u l a t e d a system o f a e s t h e t i c s which remains •i b a s i c a l l y the same to date. Prom the b e g i n n i n g Dickey was impressed w i t h the importance o f the act o f p e r c e p t i o n , the a r t i s t ' s p e r c e p t i o n which h e l p s to c r e a t e the work o f a r t and the r e a d e r ' s p e r c e p t i o n which b r i n g s the work o f a r t to l i f e . W i t h i n the poem rDickey was i n t e r e s t e d i n the \ i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n o f the persona*s p e r c e p t i o n . Dickey's p o e t r y and h i s c r i t i c a l works are i n t e r r e l a t e d attempts to ex p l o r e the nature o f p e r c e p t i o n . Perhaps because Dickey underwent a k i n d o f c o n v e r s i o n from businessman to poet, he emphasizes the importance o f the poet's nature and c o n s i d e r s the formal aspect o f v e r s e to be o f secondary, although v i t a l concern. His c o n v e r s i o n and h i s p o e t r y i n d i c a t e t h a t Dickey i s i n t e r e s t e d i n c r e a t i n g a mytho-poetic w o r l d . His poems f r e q u e n t l y d e s c r i b e an experience which E v e l y n U n d e r b i l l would term a m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e . In answer to the q u e s t i o n ,?What i s Mysticism?" she says t h a t , " M y s t i c i s m i s the a r t o f union w i t h R e a l i t y , The m y s t i c i s a person who has a t t a i n e d t h a t u n i o n i n g r e a t e r ot l e s s degree; o r who aims at and b e l i e v e s i n such a t t a i n m e n t . T h e m y s t i c does not i n i t i a t e the experience but r a t h e r must w a i t p a t i e n t l y : Some gre a t emotion, some d e v a s t a t i n g v i s i t a t i o n o f beauty, . l o v e , o r p a i n , l i f t s us to another l e v e l o f consciousness; and we are aware f o r a moment o f the d i f f e r e n c e between the heat c o l l e c t i o n o f d i s c r e t e o b j e c t s and experience which we c a l l the world, and the h e i g h t , the depth, the b r e a d t h o f t h a t l i v i n g , growing, changing Pact, o f which thought, l i f e and energy are p a r t s , and i n which we " l i v e and move and have our b e i n g j " (p.7). Intense emotion l i f t s the i n i t i a t e to a s u b l i m i t y o f v i s i o n i n which a l l d i s c r e t e t h i n g s become continuous. T h i s i s what c o n s t i t u t e s the mystic v i s i o n . Moreover, t h i s experience which D i c k e y d e s c r i b e s again and again i n h i s p o e t r y i s the same experience t h a t brought him i n t o the world o f a r t . In Howard Nemerov's c o l l e c t i o n o f c r i t i c a l essays, Contemporary American Poetry, Dickey d e s c r i b e s the c o n v e r s i o n . ^ The t r a n s i t i o n from businessman to poet i s ma g i c a l , a r e l e a s e o f the t r u e s e l f . "There i s a p o e t — o r k i n d o f p o e t — b u r i e d i n every human be i n g l i k e A r i e l i n h i s t r e e . . . . " The s p i r i t o f a i r , the c r e a t i v e . s p i r i t , i s imprisoned and must be f r e e d . Although James Dickey d e s c r i b e s the p r o c e s s as being m a g i c a l , i t i s p o s s i b l e f o r a l l men, "The people whom we are p l e a s e d to c a l l poets are o n l y those who have f e l t the need and c o n t r i v e d the means to r e l e a s e the s p i r i t from i t s prison."^- Each man thus c o n t a i n s the e n t i r e t y o f the A r i e l myth. He i s , i n a sense, held captive by his own i n a b i l i t y to believe i n the p o s s i b i l i t y of magic. And he alone can act as Prospero to the imprisoned A r i e l . Once released from h i s prison, the a r t i s t begins to prepare himself f o r the act of creation. Before he may even begin to write, however, the a r t i s t must be capable of emotional honesty. "The touch upon words of a humanly perceived beauty, terror, or mystery i s rare indeed, f o r a fundamental kind of u n l i t e r a r y innocence i s necessary i n a writer before he can undergo these f e e l i n g s . The poet must be innocent and open to the most mundane of human emotions before he can f i n d truth because the true poem, for Dickey, i s one which honestly r e f l e c t s l i f e . I f the poet becomes too l i t e r a r y , or too concerned with creating a f i n i s h e d work of art, the current of perception between the world and the a r t i s t , the a r t i s t and the poem, the poem and the reader, and f i n a l l y (to complete the cycle) from the reader back to an awareness of the world, i s s h o r t ~ c i r c u i t e d . A merely t e c h n i c a l l y good poem i s a suspect poem: one that can never possess the spark of l i f e . Here, as i n hi s discussion of the awakening poet, Dickey bases his c r i t i c a l theories on paradox. The poet i s both everyman and an orphic fi g u r e . Poetry i s capable of creating "true" v i s i o n or of destroying that v i s i o n . For Dickey truth i s both a universal and a r e l a t i v e term. In hi s largest c o l l e c t i o n of c r i t i c a l essays Babel to Byzantium: Poets and  Poetry Now Dickey explains that his admiration f o r A.E. Robinson stems from Robinson's understanding that t r u t h k "takes d i f f e r e n t forms f o r d i f f e r e n t people and d i f f e r e n t s i t u a t i o n s . However, there i s a subjective test f o r the veracity of a poem. Dickey states emphatically that,"One thing i s certain; i f the reader does not, through the writing, gain a new, intimate, and v i t a l perspective on h i s own l i f e as a human being, there i s no poem at a l l , or only a poem written by a c o l l e c t i v e e n t i t y c a l l e d "Modern poetry, Period 19I4.5-19601 • T h e a r t i f a c t must contain enough v i t a l energy to s t i r the reader to a new awareness, not only of the aesthetic experience i t s e l f but more importantly, to a new awareness of the very f i b e r of h i s own l i f e . The sense of heightened awareness should stay with him after he has put down the poem. There must be, Dickey believes, a personal kind of communication between the poet and his audience. I f each reader i s to gain a v i t a l perspective on h i s own l i f e , how then can a poem "speak" to a varied audience? The answer to th i s question l i e s i n ;his discussion of the nature of r e a l i t y i n The Suspect i n Poetry: The poet must evoke a world that i s r e a l l e r than r e a l : his work must r e s u l t i n an i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n of q u a l i t i e s , you might say, that we have a l l observed and l i v e d , but the poet has observed and l i v e d most deeply of a l l , This world i s so r e a l that the experienced world i s trans-figured and i n t e n s i f i e d , through the poem, into i t s e l f , a deeper i t s e l f , a more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c i t s e l f . I f a man can make words do t h i s , he i s a poet, (p . 7 6 ) . The a r t i f a c t becomes not only true to l i f e but also bigger than l i f e . When the experience becomes bigger than l i f e i t then also becomes c h a r a c t e r i s t i c . Perhaps James Dickey would say that Constable was a great painter "Constable sky." With that r e a l i z a t i o n he can v i s u a l i z e the painting and see that i t i s accurate. He begins to look at nature as searchingly and with as sensitive an eye as he would a f i n e work of a r t . The perception of art and the perception of nature fuse and both are i n t e n s i f i e d . The sky i s t r u l y seen f o r the f i r s t time. A p a r t i c u l a r mixture of sun and shadow i s , i n a sense, created by Constable: He brings them to l i f e . Thus the painter i s able Q to "transfigure" and to " i n t e n s i f y " the world of nature. That i s not to say that Dickey, either i n h i s c r i t i c i s m or i n h i s poetry, i s concerned with representing l i f e exactly as i t i s . To say that poetry must adhere to a kind of mirrc_=-like r e f l e c t i o n of the world would be to make an a r b i t r a r y and r e s t r i c t i v e demand on the poet's g i f t . His task i s to create a greater awareness of r e a l i t y and, Dickey believes, t h i s can sometimes best be done by not demanding the merely probable of the work of art. In his own poetry animals are given voice( as i n "The Owl King"), the dead revive and speak with the l i v i n g (as i n "In the Tree House at Night") and man experiences a second because-^someone experiences, for the f i r s t time, the feeling(pjn_ a_jtr^geXy_..o,vercast day\that he i s seeing a b i r t h (as i n " R e i n c a r n a t i o n ( I ) " ) , These are a l l events which are, i n the s t r i c t e s t sense, u n r e a l . And yet Dickey u t i l i z e s the in t e r c h a n g e o f the animal and human i^orlds and the worlds o f the dead and the l i v i n g i n o r d e r to presen t an i n t e n s i f i e d e xperience, a mystic experience. The experience causes the r e l e a s e o f energy n e c e s s a r y to a c t i v a t e the rea d e r ' s p e r c e p t i o n . Dickey b e l i e v e s t h a t the v i t a l i t y o f the work o f a r t i s the r e s u l t o f the s u b j e c t i v e nature o f the a r t i s t ' s v i s i o n . Without the presence o f the a r t i s t we are t o l d t h a t the p a r t i c u l a r work o f a r t cannot come to l i f e . The formal aspects are unimportant without the i n f u s i o n o f s p i r i t . Thus the s u b j e c t i v e p e r c e p t i o n becomes a u n i v e r s a l p e r c e p t i o n . The l o g i c a l l e a p from r e l a t i v e to u n i v e r s a l t r u t h i s p o s s i b l e , Dickey i n s i s t s , because man's experiences are u n i v e r s a l . And the poet's experiences become more u n i v e r s a l the more he i s able to s u b j e c t i v e l y l i v e i n t o h i s poem. T h i s paradox forms the b a s i s o f James Dickey's p o e t i c t h e o r i e s . Because o f t h i s , Dickey's c r i t i c a l essays c o n c e n t r a t e almost e x c l u s i v e l y on the r o l e o f the poet. I t i s important f o r D i c k e y t h a t the poet l i v e deeply b e f o r e he can w r i t e e f f e c t i v e l y . The poet i s an o r p h i c b e i n g who must l e a r n to s y n t h e s i z e a v i s i o n . He does t h i s by opening h i m s e l f to l i f e , by c u l t i v a t i n g awareness. Through the c r e a t i v e a ct the poet once again becomes a Prospero f i g u r e ; he r e l e a s e s the reader from bondage and allows h i s l i b e r a t e d s p i r i t a new freedom o f p e r c e p t i o n . The c i r c l e i s complete. The poet experiences l i f e i n o r d e r to c r e a t e the a r t i f a c t . The reader experiences the a r t i f a c t i n o r d e r to p e r c e i v e l i f e . Even though Dickey's t h e o r i e s about a r t c o n t a i n mystic, elements, he i s f a r from b e i n g auesthete. In an i n t e r v i e w by C a r o l y n K i z e r he says, "My God, a poem i s not anything but some words on a page. In the e t e r n a l b a t t l e between l i f e and p o e t r y o r l i f e and a r t , I ' l l take l i f e . And i f p o e t r y were not a means, i n my case, o f i n t e n s i f y i n g experience and o f g i v i n g a k i n d o f p e r s o n a l value to i t I would not have any i n t e r e s t i n i t whatever."9 The a c t o f c r e a t i o n i s the act which f r e e s the imprisoned A r i e l . Again, D i c k e y emphasizes the c y c l i c nature o f c r e a t -i o n . The p o e t r y c r e a t e s and i s c r e a t e d by the p e r s o n a l v i s i o n o f the poet. F o r t h i s reason i t i s important f o r Dickey t h a t the poet's v o i c e r i n g t r u e . S i n c e r i t y i s the major c r i t e r i a to be used i n e v a l u a t i n g a work o f a r t . Truth, s i n c e r i t y and v i t a l i t y are a l l extremely s u b j e c t i v e q u a l i t i e s . The problem o f d e r i v i n g a u n i v e r s a l l y , or c o n s i s t e n t l y v a l i d t e s t f o r g r e a t a r t remains unsolved. And Dickey p r e f e r s i t t h a t way. A l l poems may c o n t a i n some element o f the s u s p e c t : What makes the whole t h i n g d i f f i c u l t , o f course, i s t h a t what may be suspect to me may w e l l be genuine to you, and consequently we e n t e r i n t o a thorough c r i t i c a l chaos. This i s , I suspect, where we should be anyway. What matters i s t h a t there be some r e a l response to poems... t h a t f o r c e r t a i n people there be c e r t a i n poems t h a t speak d i r e c t l y to them as they b e l i e v e God w o u l d . 1 0 L i k e Emerson, James Dickey shrugs o f f mere c o n s i s t e n c y and attempts, i n a more e m o t i o n a l l y d i r e c t manner, to d i s c o v e r the v o i c e o f "God." The act o f c r i t i c i s m becomes a r e l i g i o u s and h i g h l y p e r s o n a l a c t i v i t y . The c r i t i c does not f e e l o b l i g e d to make h i s a e s t h e t i c judgments adhere to a r i g i d l y i n t e l l e c t u a l i z e d system. On the other hand, as a r e s u l t o f the p a r t i c u l a r l y s u b j e c t i v e c r i t e r i a which Dickey chooses i n h i s attempt to d e f i n e good p o e t r y j: h i s c r i t i c i s m i s , at times, a r b i t r a r y and s e l f - c o n t r a d i c t o r y . The b e s t example i s to be found w i t h i n The Suspect i n P o e t r y i n the essay e n t i t l e d " R a ndall J a r r e l l . " In t h i s p a r t i c u l a r i n s t a n c e D i c k ey has c r e a t e d a debate between two aspects o f h i s c r i t i c a l p e r s o n a l i t y i n o r d e r to d i s c o v e r what i t i s he both l i k e s and s i m u l t a n e o u s l y - d i s l i k e s i n J a r r e l l ' s work. Speaker"!?" the dominant p e r s o n a l i t y , f i n d s J a r r e l l ' s p o e t r y d u l l and l i f e l e s s , the images f l a t , the language u n i n s p i r i n g and the inhabitanfce o f the p o e t i c world vague and inhuman. However, Speaker"A," the a l t e r - e g o , i s g i v e n the l o n g e s t speech and the l a s t word; t h a t w o r l i s " R e a l i t y . " Speaker "A" b e l i e v e s t h a t R a n d a l l J a r r e l l ' s p o e t r y i s e f f e c t i v e because he p o r t r a y s "humanity i n the t w e n t i e t h century,"(p.8 3 ) , What the c r i t i c responds to i s J a r r e l l ' s a b i l i t y to empathize w i t h o t h e r s , to experience a time " i n which e v e r y t h i n g to p i t y i s c l e a r as death, and none o f the reasons f o r any of i t , " (p . 8 3 ) . I t i s i m p o s s i b l e to separate the c r i t i c from the poet i n most o f Dickey's c r i t i c a l work. C r i t i c a l l y , he f i n d s J a r r e l l ' s view o f the p r e s e n t day r e l e v a n t because he p e r c e i v e s a s i m i l a r k i n d of w o r l d i n h i s own p o e t r y . "Fathers and Sons," "The S c a r r e d G i r l , " "The L i f e g u a r d , " and "The Wedding," a l l d e s c r i b e people who are e i t h e r v i s i t e d by death or by e i t h e r p h y s i c a l o r p s y c h o l o g i c a l wounding. In each case the v i c t i m s are d e s c r i b e d p a s s i v e l y , l i f e j u s t happens to them. Dickey responds to J a r r e l l ' s p o e t r y because he too i s a b l e to p i t y mankind. The t h r e e poets whom Di c k e y most admires are W i l l i a m S t a f f o r d , Robert Penn Warren, and Theodore Roethke. L i k e h i s f e l l o w p o e t - c r i t i c s , D i c k e y p r a i s e s those a r t i s t s whose work i s s i m i l a r to h i s own or whose poems r e f l e c t s i m i l a r a t t i t u d e s about the world. And a l l three o f the o l d e r poets o f f e r Dickey what he c o n s i d e r s to be a r e l e v a n t view o f l i f e . L i k e him, they have worked w i t h i n the more c o n v e n t i o n a l schools o f p o e t r y and yet each has c r e a t e d a markedly i n d i v i d u a l v o i c e . D i c k e y admires the calm presence which W i l l i a m S t a f f o r d i s able to p r o j e c t . "His n a t u r a l mode o f speech i s a g e n t l e , m y s t i c a l , half-mocking and h i g h l y p e r s o n a l day-dreaming about the landscape o f the Western U n i t e d S t a t e s ^ " jp. 112). However, t h i s statement from Dickey's essay on S t a f f o r d i n The Suspect i s o n l y a p a r t i a l means o f d i s c o v e r i n g what i t i s i n the West Coast poet's work t h a t a t t r a c t s James Dickey. Robin S k e l t o n , i n h i s " I n t r o d u c t i o n " t o F^y® Poets o f the P a c i f i c Northwest, more c l o s e l y analyzes S t a f f o r d ' s m y s t i c a l tone. He d i s c o v e r s t h a t " S t a f f o r d ' s p o e t r y almost always moved from an a p p a r e n t l y d i r e c t p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the concre t e and p a r t i c u l a r toward a sense of the almost numinous unknown. " H The mundane o b j e c t s and experiences o f l i f e become charged w i t h a strange i n t e n s i t y . What S k e l t o n terms the "movement toward mystery," (p. x x x i i i ^ can be found f r e q u e n t l y i n James D i e k e y i p o e t r y as w e l l . In "Fog Envelops the Animals," "The Dusk o f Horses," and "Deer Among C a t t l e , " D i c k e y shares w i t h S t a f f o r d a f e e l i n g f o r open landscape, p o p u l a t e d by animals, i n which a q u i e t communion takes p l a c e . In some poems the two poets resemble one another even more c l o s e l y i n tone and i n use of imagery. Dickey acknoxirledges t h i s debt when he i n c l u d e s the f o l l o w i n g q u o t a t i o n from S t a f f o r d ' s book West o f Your C i t y i n The Suspect; The mangled hand made the water r e d . That was something the ocean would remember: I saw me i n the c u r r e n t f l o w i n g through the l a n d , r o l l i n g , t o u c h i n g r o o t s , the world i n c a r n a d i n e d , And the r i v e r r i c h e r by a k i n d o f marriage, (p. 113)• Pour years l a t e r "The Poisoned Man"was p u b l i s h e d i n Dickey's volume Helmets: The f r e e z i n g r i v e r poured on And, as i t took h o l d o f my b l o o d , Leapt up round the rocks and b o i l e d over. I f e l t t h a t my h e a r t ' s b l o o d c o u l d f l o w Unendingly out o f the mountain, S p l i t t i n g bedrock apa r t upon redness, And the c u r r e n t o f l i f e a t my i n s t e p 12 Give d e a t h l e s s l y as a s p r i n g . In b o t h poems the i n j u r e d speaker washes h i s b l o o d i n t o a stream. Nature has wounded and soothed him. In b o t h cases the stream becomes an e x t e n s i o n of the man. His b l o o d flows out o f h i m s e l f i n t o the water and i s c a r r i e d to sea. With the r i t u a l o f f e r i n g up o f b l o o d he becomes "wedded" to n a t u r e . Thus the f l o w i n g of b l o o d b r i n g s a mystic r e l e a s e , a k i n d of exchange between the speaker and n a t u r e . Another poet whom Dickey c o n s i s t e n t l y admires i s a f e l l o w Southerner, Robert Penn Warren. Dickey b e l i e v e s t h a t Warren's work, l i k e S t a f f o r d ' s , i s capable o f a c t u a l l y t r a n s f o r m i n g the r e a d e r . "Opening a book o f poems by Robert Penn Warren i s l i k e p u t t i n g out the l i g h t o f the sun, or l i k e p l u n g i n g i n t o the l a b y r i n t h and f e e l i n g the t h r e a d break a f t e r the f i r s t c o r n er i s passed. One w i l l never 1 "3 come out i n the same S e l f as t h a t i n which one entered." J The b l a c k i n t e n s i t y o f the p o e t r y f o r c e s the reader i n t o a c r i s i s s i t u a t i o n . One f e e l s pursued by the " S e c r e t - t e r r i b l e , u nforseen, i n e v i t a b l e . . .fjwhich w i l l e i t h e r . . . . s t r i k e us dead, d r i v e us i n t o crime i n e x p l i c a b l e to any but o u r s e l v e s , "or y i e l d up i n t r a n s f i g u r i n g and r e l e a s i n g p a i n our D e f i n i t i o n . " 1 ^ - The process o f c r e a t i n g and then r e l e a s i n g t e n s i o n i s one Dickey, too, f i n d s ' effective,, This technique r e q u i r e s time,, and when Dickey employs i t i n such poems as " P a l l i n g , " "The P i r e b o n b i n g , " and "Sermon" the poems become l e n g t h y . Both Dickey and Penn Warren are able to c r e a t e a Kafkaesque u n i v e r s e i n which one i s c o n t i n u a l l y pursued. The speaker i n " P u r s u i t from Under" f e e l s the dark, under-w o r l d l y presence c o n s t a n t l y under h i s h e e l s . In h i s poem " P u r s u i t " Penn Warren d e s p a i r s because the grotesque q u a l i t y o f l i f e i a i n e s c a p a b l e . However, i t i s i n "The Being" t h a t Dickey most e f f e c t i v e l y c r e a t e s the k i n d o f Vague Other t h a t i n e x p l i c a b l y t e r r i f i e s : I t i s t h e r e , above him, beyond, behind, D i s t a n t , and near where he l i e s i n h i s s l e e p Bound down as f o r warranted t o r t u r e . Through h i s e y e l i d s he sees i t Drop o f f i t s wings or i t s c l o t h e s , (p. 15>li). The v i s i t a t i o n i s i n e v i t a b l e and the speaker cannot f o r c e h i m s e l f to awaken i n o r d e r to r i d h i m s e l f o f i t s presence. In Penn Warren's " O r i g i n a l S i n : A Short S t o r y " the speaker a l s o attempts to escape the t o r t u r e brought on by h i s constant companion, o r i g i n a l s i n : Nodding, i t ' s g r e a t head r a t t l i n g l i k e a gourd, And l o c k s l i k e seaweed s t r u n g on the s t i n k i n g stone, The nightmare stumbles p a s t , and you have heard I t fumble your door b e f o r e i t whimpers and i s gone: I t a c t s l i k e the o l d hound t h a t used to s n u f f l e your door and moan. 15 Both poets u t i l i z e grotesque imagery i n o r d e r to c r e a t e an atmosphere o f tense semi-darkness. The Presence appears because i t i s a n e c e s s a r y p a r t o f l i f e . The t o r t u e which i t i n f l i c t s i s "warranted." The g u i l t which comes from b e i n g a l i v e i s a n e c e s s a r y p a r t o f l i f e as w e l l . I n b o t h o f these poems t e n s i o n i s c r e a t e d and then r e l e a s e d . Warren seeks t h a t sense of p u r g a t i o n which i s brought on by d i s t r e s s . In the same way,Dickey's Being i s a b l e to bestow a mystic awareness on the s l e e p e r as a r e s u l t o f the t o r t u e he has undergone. He exchanges i d e n t i t i e s w i t h the Being d u r i n g s l e e p and r e t a i n s from the experience the a b i l i t y to " r a i s e / Dead p l a n t s and h a l f - d e a d b e a s t s . " Perhaps because o f h i s g r e a t admiration f o r S t a f f o r d and Perm Warren 3Dickey a s s e r t s t h a t Theodore Roethke i s the 16 g r e a t e s t contemporary American poet. Roethke combines S t a f f o r d ' s l o v i n g sympathy f o r the world o f r o o t and rock w i t h Robert Penn Warren's a b i l i t y to d e p i c t the ever p r e s e n t workings o f the subconscious mind. The r e s u l t i s a p o e t r y of domestic t e r r o r and n a t u r a l j o y . Ted Roethke f r e q u e n t l y explores the dark un d e r s i d e o f nature, the damp and mold of r o o t c e l l a r s becomes synonymous w i t h the dark workings o f the p r i m e v a l subconscious o f man. The encounter between poet and Other, whether the Other i s simply another person or another m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f the poet h i m s e l f , r e s u l t s i n the r e l e a s e o f energy. I t i s because o f the r e l e a s e of e i t h e r t e r r i f y i n g o r joyous v i t a l i t y t h a t Dickey most admires Roethke's work. Both poets use the m o t i f o f the encounter as one o f the major thematic d e v i c e s i n t h e i r p o e t r y . The encounter between the poet, the speaker, the human v o i c e c_n.d the s u b j e c t whose consciousness may be t h a t o f the human^ttie }<_~ animal or the v e g e t a b l e world i s so i n t e n s e t h a t the reader becoDB s a p a r t o f the encounter; He i s i n c l u d e d i n the )c (*3 p s y c h i c exchange. The encounter may be one W ^ ? ^ L c r e a t e s sympathy i n the speaker . ^ I f L the experience i s i m o r e ^ n t e i i s - ^ ^ ^ poet becomes ^A-^Xi involve'd: Jfe undergoes an i n t e l l e c t u a l i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w i t h ~V"" the s u b j e c t . But the h i g h e s t i n t e n s i t y o f emotion i s capable o f causing the p o e t to l o s e h i m s e l f and to take on the p e r s o n a l i t y , the emotions, and the l i f e o f the Other w i t h i n the poem. These are, i n a sense, the o p t i o n s t h a t are open to the a r t i s t as he approaches h i a work. Although Roethke and Dickey share w i t h W i l l i a m S t a f f o r d a concern f o r the n a t u r a l world^ they i n v o l v e themselves / ^ \ more completely i n i t . S t a f f o r d can d e s c r i b e a " k i n d o f t 0 it"'* marriage" 17 and y e t f . w i t h these words he p l a c e s a d i s t a n c e c^-^~^'^l between the speaker and the n a t u r a l world. The wedding i s complete i n Theodore Roethke's poem "Her Longing," from The F a r F i e l d . The tumultuous emotions t h a t the poet experiences i n l o v e sweep him i n t o the a i r and he becomes "A pheonix, sure o f my body,/ P e r p e t u a l l y r i s i n g out o f myself,/ My wings h o v e r i n g over the s h o r e b i r d s . " ^ James Dickey's " R e i n c a r n a t i o n ( I I ) " p r e s e n t s a s i m i l a r e x perience. I n t h i s case, however, the s e a - b i r d i s the r e i n c a r n a t e d form o f the speaker who has f i r s t had to experience death b e f o r e he c o u l d exchange h i s p e r c e p t i o n s f o r t h a t o f another. Only then i s he f r e e , "He h u r t l e s as i f m o t i o n l e s s / A l l the a i r i n the upper world/ S p l i t t i n g a part on h i s l i p s ^ " (p. ). In two o t h e r poems "Winter T r o u t " and "The Owl Ki n g " the experience i s more l i k e Roethke's because the human and the animal p e r c e p t i o n s e x i s t s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . In the f i r s t poem the poet comes to see the world i n a new l i g h t , w i t h g r e a t e r c l a r i t y , because he has been capable o f e n v i s i o n i n g the n a t u r a l world through the eyes of a f i s h : B e fore h i s eyes as he l i f t s Into s p r i n g , w i t h the wood ups i d e down Balanced p e r f e c t l y i n a l l i t s l e a v e s And r o o t s as he deeply has A l l w i n t e r made p r o v i s i o n f o r , The s u r f a c e f u l l o f g o l d f l a k e s Of the raw und e r s i d e s o f l e a v e s , And the t h i n g seen r i g h t , F o r once, t h a t w i n t e r bought, (p. 129), The v i s i o n from beneath, from the undersi d e o f consciousness. i s the t r u e r v i s i o n . Things are "seen r i g h t " i n the same way t h a t the Owl K i n g i s capable o f s e e i n g c l e a r l y although he i s the monarch o f the b l i n d . In b o t h cases the p e r c e i v e r comes c l o s e r to t r u t h than man's r a t i o n a l v i s i o n can b r i n g him. Roethe e x p l o r e s the consciousness o f a c r e a t u r e who dwells under water i n the t i t l e poem to The F a r F i e l d . He c o n s i d e r s the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t he, the poet, "might r e t u r n again,/ As a snake o r a raucous b i r d , / Or, w i t h l u c k , as a l i o n , " (p. 26). James Dickey would be p l e a s e d w i t h L o u i s Simpson's comparison o f h i s work w i t h Roethke's because o f Simpson's c o n c e n t r a t i o n on the p o e t i c p r o c e s s . Simpson has s a i d ; ' "In ways James Dickey resembles Roethke. In Poems; 1957-1967 time and again Dickey c r e a t e s a poem t h a t e nlarges our e x p e r i e n c e . The mind i n these poems i s o r i g i n a l and even inhuman. I can t h i n k o f no one e l s e who c o u l d have imagined, as Dickey does i n 1 The Sheep-Child,' what i t might be l i k e to be h a l f - s h p e p and half-human." He and Ted Roethke are 1 able to c r e a t e an e n t i r e l y new experience f o r the reader and t h i s e xperience, because o f i t s i n t e n s i t y , i s a " t r u e " one. I t i s the o f t e n the poets who are most l i k e Dickey who p l e a s e him the most. S t a f f o r d ' s q u i e t understatement, Warren's use o f the grotesque and Roethke's c o n c e n t r a t i o n on an exchange between two worlds are a l l " r e a l " f o r Dickey because they c o n s t i t u t e h i s own p a r t i c u l a r p o e t i c v i s i o n . Simpson's e v a l u a t i o n would p l e a s e Dickey because o f t h i s , and because Simpson understands "Sheep-Child" to be w h o l l y o r i g i n a l and yet unmistakably a t t r i b u t a b l e . Dickey d i s c u s s e s t h i s p o i n t more f u l l y i n the a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d "Your Next-door Neighbor's poems" i n which he d e s c r i b e s what i t i s he most admires about the p o e t r y o f Robinson J e f f e r s : D e s p i t e h i s much-cited i m p u r i t y and h i s excesses, J e f f e r s does have something t h a t a l l poets p r o b a b l y need and few have: a l i f e - v i e w , a hard core o f u t t e r b e l i e f , a p e r s p e c t i v e a g a i n s t which t h i n g s are measured, a p l a c d to stand from which the poet cannot be d i s l o d g e d , a temper o f mind and w i l l t h a t e n t e r s i n t o e v e r y t h i n g the poet w r i t e s , c o n d i t i o n i n g i t , accounting f o r i t s unique weather -- i n a word, c r e a t i n e i t as a coherent and immediately r e c o g n i s a b l e w o r l d « , And here^ f i n a l l y , i s the l a s t step i n the d e f i n i t i o n o f Dickey's term " R e a l i t y . " The poem which seems r e a l to the c r i t i c i s , i n p a r t , able to communicate to him because the poet uses s i m i l a r images, employs much the same s u b j e c t matter, or c r e a t e s p o e t r y o f s i m i l a r i n t e n s i t y as that which ean be found i n the p o e t - c r i t i c ' s own work. But, i n o r d e r to q u a l i f y as a g r e a t poet, the a r t i s t must c r e a t e an o r g a n i c world, one which i s t r u e to i t s own v i s i o n . T h i s i s one way i n which Dickey attempts to escape from an o v e r l y s u b j e c t i v e view o f p o e t r y . Thus Dickey's c r i t i c i s m c o n c e n t r a t e s on the c y c l e of p e r c e p t i o n , on the f r e e i n g o f the a r t i s t , the n e c e s s i t y f o r the a r t i s t t o r e t a i n a k i n d o f u n l i t e r a r y innocence and,at the same time, be able to p o r t r a y h i s v i s i o n w i t h a k i n d o f i n t e n s i t y t h a t w i l l g i v e i t l i f e . S t y l e i s important because i t i s o n l y by f i n d i n g " a p l a c e to stand" t h a t the poet becomes e f f e c t i v e . H i s v o i c e must be d i s t i n c t i v e . I t would seem t h a t because o f h i s emphasis on the s u b j e c t i v e n a t u r e o f the poet's v i s i o n Dickey would allow the poet the t e c h n i c a l freedom to c r e a t e h i s own v i s i o n i n h i s own p a r t i c u l a r manner. And i n h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n to Paul C a r r o l l ' s anthology he p r a i s e s the new poets f o r t h e i r " p e r s o n a l e x p l o r a t i o n s , f o r which, most o f the time, there i s no p r e c e d e n t . " 2 * Here as i n h i s o t h e r c r i t i c a l works he a t t a c k s the t e c h n i c a l l y p e r f e c t poem f o r i t s l a c k of p o e t i c s i n c e r i t y . James Dickey shares w i t h W i l l i a m C a r o l s W i l l i a m s an abhorrence o f E l i o t ' s f o r m a l i s t i c i n f l u e n c e on contemporary p o e t r y : I'm a w f u l l y t i r e d o f the E n g l i s h p o e t i c t r a d i t i o n and o f the awful k i n d o f dead hand t h a t E l i o t i n s i s t s has to be clamped on the i n d i v i d u a l t a l e n t by the p o e t i c t r a d i t i o n . . . . You can use something from i t every now and then f o r your own purposes but the main emphasis to me i s not b a d i t i o n and the i n d i v i d u a l talent,but t r a d i t i o n ( s m a l l l e t t e r s ) and the i n d i v i d u a l t a l e n t ( l a r g e l e t t e r s ) . 2<*-I f o v e r l y t e c h n i c a l v e r s e i s a r t i f i c i a l , and d e s t r u c t i v e o f the c y c l e o f p e r c e p t i o n , t h e n the rough, experimental q u a l i t y o f the poems i n C a r r o l l ' s anthology i s an i n d i c a t i o n o f the p r o c e s s whereby the poet attempts to harness h i s c r e a t i v e energy and u t i l i z e i t to i t s f u l l e s t . The poe§ does not f a l l back on e s t a b l i s h e d p a t t e r n s but t r i e s to c r e a t e h i s own o r g a n i c world. F i n a l l y , Dickey d i s l i k e s E l i o t ' s c r i t i c a l stance because he f e e l s t h a t i t turns p o e t r y i n t o a p a r l o r game. T e c h n i c a l achievements become mere q u a i n t d i v e r s i o n and i r r e p a r a b l y separate p o e t r y from l i f e . On the o t h e r hand, i n the two c r i t i c a l essays d e a l i n g w i t h a n t h o l o g i e s i n The Suspect'(New Poets o f England and  America I (1957) and The Grove Press New American Poets (I960) ) D i c k e y c l e a r l y f a v o r s t h e more c o n s e r v a t i v e E n g l i s h p o e t s ' c o l l e c t i o n . He f e e l s t h a t , " 'The Movement' poets are c o n s i d e r a b l y more i n t e r e s t i n g than ours ... [although they a r e ] . . . "not o f g r e a t moment." (p. l|2). In h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f American poets Dickey p i n p o i n t s another p o s s i b l e f a i l u r e o f a u t h e n t i c i t y . He b e l i e v e s t h a t the American a r t i s t has a tendency to v i o l a t e the o r g a n i c i n t e g r i t y o f a poem. He i n s i s t s on an o r g a n i c form w i t h i n the poem. The technique must grow from the nature o f the a r t i s t ' s v i s i o n . On the one hand^Dickey o b j e c t s to the c o n f e s s i o n a l p o e t s , c h a r g i n g them w i t h a r t i f i c i a l i t y even at the moment when they are attempting to speak n a t u r a l l y , p e r s o n a l l y . He b e l i e v e s them to be too f u l l y c onscious of ma n i p u l a t i n g the poem, and Dickey f e e l s t h a t because o f t h i s the d e s p a i r and the i n s a n i t y t h a t they p o r t r a y i s un-c o n v i n c i n g . They f i n a l l y become mere c a r i c a t u r e s o f themselves. On the o t h e r hand, Dickey d i s m i s s e s many o f the San F r a n c i s c o Renascence poets as mindless men who can o n l y "moan o r howl," (p. 119). In e i t h e r case, when the poet's p e r c e p t i o n and h i s means o f e x p r e s s i o n are incongruous, Dickey b e l i e v e s t h a t the poem can not work e f f e c t i v e l y . D ickey terms t h i s breakdown i n the c r e a t i v e p r o c e s s a f a i l u r e o f the "censor," a concept he has taken from Auden. He d e f i n e s i t as "the f a c u l t y or i n d w e l l i n g b e i n g which determines what s h a l l and what s h a l l not come i n t o a poem, and which has the f i n a l say aa to how the admitted m a t e r i a l s h a l l be used," ( p._>0). The censor can be o v e r a c t i v e and c r e a t e a dry, s t e r i l e v e r s e . On the o t h e r hand, i t can be i n o p e r a t i v e ; i n b o t h cases the poet c r e a t e s an i n s i n c e r e v i s i o n and f o r t h i s Dickey damns him . Once again, the c r i t i c a l c r i t e r i a cannot be s a i d to be s y s t e m a t i c . The c o n t r a d i c t i o n between u t t e r freedom and the p o s s i b i l i t y o f t h i s t e c h n i c a l freedom producing "mindless" p o e t r y i s i m p o s s i b l e to r e s o l v e , and Dickey does not attempt to r e s o l v e i t . T h i s r e l u c t a n c e i s p a r t o f the c y c l e of p e r c e p t i o n . As the c r i t i c grows so do h i s concepts change, and w i t h t h i s h i s r e a c t i o n s to the poem i t s e l f change. The c o n t r a d i c t o r y responses to the American poet's attempt to f i n d a v o i c e are, i n p a r t , a f a c t o r o f time. In I96I4. The Suspect i n P o e t r y i n d i c a t e s a g r e a t e r response to the more t r a d i t i o n a l l y t e c h n i c a l e x p r e s s i o n by the E n g l i s h poets; but by 1968, w i t h the i n t r o d u c t i o n to Paul C a r r o l l ' s anthology } Dickey has expanded h i s views. That he had begun to a l t e r h i s r e a c t i o n i s e v i d e n t from the i n t e r v i e w by C a r o l y n K i z e r which appeared i n 1966. Dickey s t a t e s t h a t the g r e a t poet o f the f u t u r e must f i n d a " p l a c e to s t a n d " t h a t i s u t t e r l y h i s own. His p o e t r y , " w i l l have n o t h i n g whatever to do w i t h t r a d i t i o n except i n s o f a r as the poet uses the E n g l i s h language " (p. 12). Even here he c a l l s f o r a new v i s i o n , a v i s i o n so i n t e n s e and p e r s o n a l t h a t i t c a r r i e s the poet and the reader w i t h him beyond the customary boundaries o f " t r a d i t i o n a l p o e t r y , " i t b r i n g s him once again to l i f e . In h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f technique. Dickey c o n c e n t r a t e s most on the poet's use o f imagery. He b e l i e v e s t h a t "when the stream o f images i s r i c h and f u l l the censor i s at h i s b e s t . " 2 3 And t h i s i s one o f the few s p e c i f i c t e s t s t h a t he o f f e r s o f the censor's a c t i v e presence. L.S, Dembo, author o f Conceptions o f R e a l i t y i n Modern  American p o e t r y , d i s c u s s e s the concern w i t h the image as a p a r t i c u l a r l y t w e n t i e t h cenjsury i n t e r e s t . In t h i s Dickey i s t y p i c a l o f o t h e r American p o e t s . Pound, W i l l i a m s , Stevens, and t h e i r v a r i o u s d i s c i p l e s share what Dembo r e c o g n i z e s as a Bergsonian concept o f the c r e a t i v e use of language. "The i m p l i c a t i o n i s t h a t the image i s not simply a v e h i c l e f o r t r a n s c r i b i n g a s e n s a t i o n but r e p r e s e n t s p a r t o f the s e n s a t i o n i t s e l f - - o r , b e t t e r , i t i s an i d e a l i z e d r e - c r e a t i o n o f a s e n s a t i o n , a 'new v i s i o n , ' which has come to be a t h i n g -i n - i t s e l f . " 2 4 A l t h o u g h the Bergsonian a e s t h e t i c has been emphasized and a p p l i e d d i f f e r e n t l y by each o f h i s f e l l o w contemporary poets, Dickey's system o f a e s t h e t i c s i s d e r i v e d from Henri Bergson as w e l l . The r o l e o f the a r t i s t i s t h a t o f a r e v e a l i n g agent. The i n s i s t e n c e on bot h the s u b j e c t i v e p e r c e p t i o n and the communicability o f the a r t i s t ' s v i s i o n are both Bergsonian. Both the p h i l o s o p h e r and the poet b e l i e v e t h a t p a s t precedent i s not the m o t i v a t i n g f o r c e i n the e v o l u t i o n o f s t y l e , but r a t h e r t h a t i n t u i t i o n i s the means o f " f i n d i n g the t r u e d u r a t i o n . " 2 ^ The i m p l i c a t i o n f i n a l l y i s t h a t each new poet f a c e s i n f i n i t e p o s s i b i l i t i e s j he i s f r e e to d i s c o v e r h i s own " r e a l i t y . " F o r James Dickey " r e a l i t y " i n v o l v e d i n t e n s i t y o f v i s i o n , a k i n d o f i n t e n s i t y t h a t c a l l s f o r the dramatic, or the v i o l e n t image. The poet must b r i n g the f u l l l f o r c e o f h i s p e r s o n a l i t y to the p o e t r y . He must w r i t e about t h a t which he knows b e s t because he can then speak more t r u l y . T h e r e f o r e , Dickey's poems f i n d t h e i r s u b j e c t i n the poet's e x p e r i e n c e s . I n t h i s sense Dickey's p o e t r y c o u l d be under-stood more f u l l y i f we examine Roy Harvey Pearce's d i s c u s s i o n o f the American e p i c . Pearce e x p l a i n s the e p i c i n terms o f i t s audience: Ours i s not the h e r o i c s e n s i b i l i t y . We cannot r e a l l y b e l i e v e i n heroes; ye t they must be c r e a t e d f o r us. I t f o l l o w s t h a t the author o f the American e p i c must be h i s own hero, as h i s e p i c i s the r e c o r d o f h i s s t r u g g l e to make something o f h i m s e l f and o f the w o r l d which c o n s t i t u t e s h i s c e n t r a l s u b j e c t ; 2 6 And t h i s i s c e r t a i n l y the case i n Dickey's p o e t i c u n i v e r s e which c o n s i s t s o f memories o f h i s p a s t , dreams, and the v e r y p e r s o n a l s t r u g g l e w i t h b o t h named and unnamed g u i l t . One o f Dickey's c l e a r e s t statements o f what he b e l i e v e s to be the f u n c t i o n o f p o e t r y i s found i n "Spinning the Cry C r y s t a l B a l l : Some Guesses at the F u t u r e o f American P o e t r y , " which was f i r s t d e l i v e r e d as a l e c t u r e at the L i b r a r y o f Congress on A p r i l 21}., 1967. Although D i c k e y d i s l i k e s W i l l i a m C a r l o s W i l l i a m s ' i n f l u e n c e upon contemporary p o e t r y ( he f e e l s t h a t W i l l i a m s i s too p r o s a i c ) , he begins to sound s u r p r i s i n g l y l i k e W i l l i a m s : I t h i n k the new p o e t r y w i l l be a p o e t r y o f the d a z z l i n g l y simple statement, the statement tha£ i s c l a i r v o y a n t l y and s t u n n i n g l y simple... which has a ... warm s i m p l i c i t y ot v i s i o n : The s i m p l i c i t y t h a t opens out deeper i n t o the world and c a r r i e s us w i t h i t . . . ( p. 16) We s h a l l have a t r u l y t r i b a l p o e t r y , something n a i v e and u t t e r l y c o n v i n c i n g . (p. 17) At one time Dickey d e s c r i b e d the poem as merely "words on a page," and y e t he o b v i o u s l y b e l i e v e s t h a t the poem can be much more. The poem i s the agent capable o f i n d u c i n g a m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e . As A r i e l r e l e a s e s h i m s e l f from the dark p r i s o n , h i s l i b e r a t i n g a ct r e l e a s e s h i s r e a d i n g audience from a s i m i l a r emprisonment. F i n a l l y , the o n l y t e s t f o r the e x c e l l e n c e o f a poem i s a p e r c e p t u a l t e s t . In a good poem the c y c l e o f p e r c e p t i o n completes i t s e l f . The poem comes to l i f e . A C h r o n o l o g i c a l Examination o f James Dickey's P o e t r y : The E a r l y Poems The p r e c e d i n g b r i e f a n a l y s i s o f James Dickey's a e s t h e t i c s and h i s c r i t i c a l work i s important i n s o f a r as i t l e a d s back to the p o e t . In h i s f o u r volumes o f p o e t r y ( Into the Stone, 1960$ Drowning w i t h Others, 1962; Helmets 196k* and. Buckdancer fs Choice, 1965) which appear almost e n t i r e l y i n h i s l a t e s t book ( Poems: 1957-1967) Dickey has attempted to p r e s e n t an o r g a n i c u n i v e r s e . F a l l i n g i s the f i f t h volume which i s c o l l e c t e d f o r the f i r s t time i n Poems. D i s t o r t i o n , darkness, madness and v i o l e n c e (whether a c t u a l o r suggested), c o n t i n u a l l y f i n d t h e i r way i n t o his work. The p o i n t o f view i s n e a r l y always e c c e n t r i c , o f f -c e n t e r . The speaker's v i s i o n i s sometimes l i m i t e d by h a l f - l i g h t , sometimes by the strange environment i n which he i s p l a c e d . He f a l l s through a i r , f l o a t s i n water, sees w i t h the eyes o f the dead, the mad, the m u t i l a t e d , or the b e s t i a l b e i n g . The new v i s i o n i s a c l a i r v o y a n t one. I t r e s u l t s from an exchange o f e n t i t i e s , whether the poet attempts to l i v e i n t o the l i f e o f someone v e r y d i f f e r e n t from h i m s e l f as i n "The S c a r r e d G i r l , " o r "The F i e n d , " or Wtether the exchange o f p e r c e p t i o n occurs between the speaker i n the poem and the dead as i n "The S t r i n g , " o r between the speaker and the animal w o r l d as i n "A Bog S l e e p i n g on My F e e t , " or 11 The Sheep-Child 1.' C r i t i c s more r e a d i l y understand what i t i s t h a t Dickey i s attempting to do i n poems such as " S l e d B u r i a l , Dream Ceremony" and "The B i r t h d a y Dream" because o f the widespread acceptance o f F r e u d i a n dream psychology as a l i t e r a r y d e v i c e . Most are r e l u c t a n t to attempt to understand h i s p o e t r y as a c l o s e d system: a p r i m o r d a l world. Although Dickey's l i t e r a r y g o a ls and the view o f the u n i v e r s e which he p r e s e n t s i n the f i v e volumes of h i s p o e t r y remain e s s e n t i a l l y the same throughout, the t e c h n i c a l treatment v a r i e s . This i s i n p a r t t r u e because the poet i s i n v o l v e d i n the attempt to d i s c o v e r a v o i c e , P e t e r Davidson i n h i s a r t i c l e "The D i f f i c u l t i e s o f Being Major," a t t r i b u t e s the changes i n s t y l e to l a c k o f experience: U n l i k e L o w e l l , whose work had matured i n technique b e f o r e he was t h i r t y , Dickey, s t a r t i n g from s c r a t c h at t h i r t y -f o u r , brought a f u l l y i n h a b i t e d i m a g i n a t i o n to h i s work, but he had to f i n d h i s own technique, a r h e t o r i c t h a t would enable h i s i d e a s and s e n s a t i o n s to move f r e e l y i n verse.2^ His p o e t r y changes from a more t i g h t l y c o n s t r u c t e d formal work i n which the v i s i o n i s h i g h l y s u b j e c t i v e to a l o o s e r v e r s e form i n which the poet works c o n t i n u a l l y toward the n a r r a t i v e , and dramatic impact. F i n a l l y , Dickey moves from the n a r r a t i v e poem to the novely& t fV ihis p u b l i c a t i o n o£ D e l i v e r a n c e . 2 § Although the t e c h n i c a l approach v a r i e s , the cosmology remains the same throughout h i s work. The images o f stone, darkness, water, b i r d , moon, and sun dominate the poems. There i s wide c r i t i c a l v a r i a n c e as to the importance and success o f the t e c h n i c a l changes i n Dickey's s t y l e . P e t e r Davidson, W.D. Strange, Laurence Lieberman, Howard Kaye and Norman Friedman would a l l g e n e r a l l y agree t h a t Dickey's e v o l u t i o n toward a more o b j e c t i v e treatment i s an improvement. On the o t h e r hand, Donald W. Baker, Ralph J . M i l l s j r . , L o u i s Simpson, Robert Duncan, and M.L. Rosenthal would t e n_ to d i s a g r e e . A l l c r i t i c s , however, f e e l i t important to d i s c u s s the strange q u a l i t y t h a t g i v e s Dickey's p o e t r y i t s v i t a l i t y . Ralph J . M i l l s j r . c a l l s t h i s q u a l i t y Metempsychosis, c* H.L. Weatherby terms the movement i n Dickey's p o e t r y the "way o f exchange,"^ and Robert B l y p r e f e r s to d e s c r i b e the t e n s i o n Dickey i s able to c r e a t e i n terms o f a s p i r i t u a l s t r u g g l e . ^ In o r d e r to understand b o t h the nature o f and the reason f o r the c r i t i c a l c o n t r o v e r y which Dickey's t e c h n i c a l changes have aroused and the poet's own j u s t i f i c a t i o n o f these same experiment, i t would be b e s t to examine the p o e t r y c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y . T h i s chapter w i l l d e a l p r i m a r i l y w i t h the f i r s t two books o f h i s p o e t r y . Into the Stone i s unusual f o r contemporary p o e t r y i n t h a t the poet u t i l i z e s the ana p e s t i c and the d a c t y l i c m e t r i c a l f o o t . He chooses t h i s " s t r o n g l y cadenced language" because he b e l i e v e s i t to have a "very compelling sound: an unusual sound o f urgency and p a s s i o n and grave c o n v i c t i o n , of i n e v i t a b i l i t y . . . . " 3 2 " The t i t l e poem o f t h i s f i r s t volume i s one o f the be s t examples o f the m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f the d r i v i n g rhythm which u n d e r l i n e s the emotional i n t e n s i t y e s t a b l i s h e d by theme and imagery. He begins "Into the Stone" i n Medius Res: "On the way to a woman, I g i v e / My h e a r t a l l the way i n t o m o onlight."3^ The tone i s m y s t i c a l . The speaker, w h i l e rowing to a l i a s o n , i s suspended on a dark l a k e l i t o n l y by the moon. He i s suspended between two shores and between the p a s t and f u t u r e meetings w i t h h i s l o v e d one. Because o f h i s a l i e n a t i o n from the d e f i n i t i v e shore, s u n l i g h t , and l o v e he l o s e s h i m s e l f . He becomes a n e g a t i v e b e i n g who part a k e s o f a l l around him. He can, f o r i n s t a n c e , become the moon. The exchange between the speaker and the moon occurs f i r s t i n the poem when he g i v e s h i s h e a r t " i n t o moonlight." At the same time the moonlight becomes synonymous w i t h the l o v e r ' s l o n g i n g f o r h i s woman. H i s p a s s i o n i s e x t e r n a l i z e d : "Now down from a l l s i d e s i t i s b e a t i n g . " The speaker's i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w i t h the moon becomes f u s e d w i t h a second i d e n t i f i c a t i o n : " L i k e the dead, I have newly a r i s e n , / Amazed by the l i g h t I can throw." Darkness, quietude, and a l i e n a t i o n make him t h i n k o f the dead. The c y c l e o f sun and moon l e a d him to t h i n k o f the corresponding c y c l e o f l i f e and death. And he, l f k e the moon, which journeys i n the space between the p l a n e t s , journeys i n the dark space o f water between the shores o f the l a k e . T h i s space, t h i s darkness becomes, by v i r t u e o f i t s n e g a t i v e e x i s t e n c e , a p o s i t i v e p l a c e . The darkness i s i n i t s e l f a " l a n d between." H oward Nemerov i s capable o f understanding and o f admiring t h i s q u a l i f y ! i n D D i c k e y 1 s work. "The p a r a d o x i c a l continuousness o f a l l d i s p a r a t e forms on w i t h another, i n t h i s generated world, i s what Mr. Dickey's poems conc e n t r a t e on r e p r e s e n t i n g , o f t e n by the t r a d i t i o n a l l o r e o f the f o u r elements.' 1-^ E a r t h , a i r , water and f i r e c o n t i n u a l l y r e f l e c t o r partake o f one another i n Dickey's p o e t r y . The exchange and the use o f p a r a d o x i c a l imagery are devi c e s found throughout "Into the Stone." The l i n e , "My t h i n f l e s h i s shed by my shadow" u t i l i z e s b o t h o f these t e c h n i q u e s . There are p o s s i b l y two readings f o r t h i s l i n e . The f i r s t i s t h a t there i s a s h e l l o f f l e s h over the shadow substance o f man. The shedding o f f o f the f l e s h r e v e a l s the i n t e r i o r darkness, the n e g a t i v e b e i n g who g l i d e s through the dark water. A second p o s s i b i l i t y i s t h a t the body i s c a s t by the shadow^rather than v i c e v e r s a . I t i s a k i n d o f l o o k i n g - g l a s s world i n which the moon, the dead, and the l a n d made o f water are the p o s i t i v e f e a t u r e s . The speaker can "see by the dark s i d e o f l i g h t . " He i s not d e p r i v e d o f h i s v i s i o n but r a t h e r g i v e n a new p e r s p e c t i v e . He at t h i s moment has reached h i s f u l l p o t e n t i a l s "I am he who I should have become." This m y s t i c experience i s the Each time, the moon has burned backward. Each time, my h e a r t has gone from me And shaken the sun from the moonlight. Each time, a woman has c a l l e d , And my b r e a t h came to l i f e i n her s i n g i n g , (p. I4.7) By p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the r i t u a l , by l o s i n g h i m s e l f u t t e r l y to the moon and the dead^he i s r e c r e a t e d . The d e l i v e r a n c e from n e c e s s a r y a l i e n a t i o n i s f a c i l i t a t e d by h i s l o v e d one. She p a r t i c i p a t e s i n the r e b i r t h . " I gi v e up my f a t h e r and mother;/ My own l o v e has r a i s e d up my l i m b s . " And as he l i v e s so do a l l o f those whom he has met i n the ne g a t i v e u n i v e r s e , the l a n d o f the dead. In t h i s poem the sun and moon are p l a y e d a g a i n s t one another; however, they are not m u t u a l l y e x c l u s i v e spheres. In James Dickey's cosmology they are p p p o s i t e d o n l y t h a t they may be c o n s i d e r e d as continuous q u a l i t i e s o f the b a s i c harmony o f n a t u r e . T h i s i s p a r t i c u l a r l y t r ue i n h i s e a r l i e r poems. The l i v i n g and the dead, the act o f l i v i n g , and the act o f dying partake o f each o t h e r . At t h i s time i n the poet's development he used s e v e r a l f o r m a l s t r u c t u r i n g d e v i c e s such as r e g u l a r s t a n z a l e n g t h , t r a d i t i o n a l p u n c t u a t i o n , and a pronounced p r e -dominate rhythm,, However, the s t r u c t u r i n g p l a y s a g a i n s t the e s o t e r i c v i s i o n and the romantic use o f language t o cre a t e another source o f t e n s i o n i n the work. The i n t e n s i t y t h a t Dickey c o n s i d e r s n e c e s s a r y i s generated by h i s use o f sound. The p o e t r y becomes a p r i m i t i v e chant i n t e n t on c a s t i n g a s p e l l on i t s audience. I t i s i n the use o f the r e f r a i n l i n e t h a t the chant o f r i t u a l i n c a n t a t i o n becomes most e f f e c t i v e i n these e a r l y poems. "Sleepftiag Out at E a s t e r " and "On the H i l l Below the Lighthouse " are two poems se t i n h a l f - l i g h t . In the f i r s t the t w i l i g h t v i s i o n i s r e s u l t a n t from the n i g h t ' s p a s s i n g and the emergence o f day. With the coming o f l i g h t the world emerges out o f darkness and begins to take shape: the itforld i s c r e a t e d out o f chaos. " A l l Presences change i n t o t r e e s . " As the world i s r e c r e a t e d the speaker becomes i d e n t i f i e d w i t h the sun; the "One eye which opens s l o w l y without me." And as the world merges out o f chaos so does the speaker emerge from the subconscious xrorld o f sleep which he describes as a kind of world of animal con s c i o u s n e s s . "My animal eyes become human." The l i g h t i s seen as an a c t i v e , l i b e r a t i n g agent. I t i s the l i g h t t h a t g i v e s the birds t h e i r song, that c r e a t e s the f o r e s t that surrounds the camper, and that awakens the camper's conscious mind. Another source o f l i f e i s the v e g e t a b l e w o r l d . As the speaker i d e n t i f i e s with the sun so does he i d e n t i f y h i m s e l f w i t h the v e g e t a b l e w o r l d . While s l e e p i n g on h i s hand he has cut o f f the c i r c u l a t i o n and now h i s hand " h o v e r i n g l y t i n g l e s , w i t h g r a s p i n g / The source of a l l song at the r o o t . " With t h i s t w o - f o l d exchange he becomes one w i t h the p r o c e s s o f c r e a t i o n and takes on the power o f sun and r o o t . He now can "put down those seeds" o f l i f e he has d i s c o v e r e d i n h i s deadened hand. The man's body r e c r e a t e s the w o r l d and f u l f i l l s the p o t e n t i a l o f l i f e . A t the same time the w o r l d i s c r e a t e d ao t h a t he may have a w o r l d to p e r c e i v e . B o t h are s i m u l t a n e o u s l y n e c e s s a r y . When Di c k e y says t h a t "the King's grave turns him to l i g h t , " he i s speaking o f the camper who, by s l e e p i n g o r s u r r e n d e r i n g h i m s e l f to a comatose s t a t e , a c t u a l l y i n s u r e s a reawakening. And the k i n g i s a l s o the Vegetable King, the s p i r i t o f n a t u r e who f i n d s l i f e o n l y through death, and day o n l y by the presence of darkness. Four o f the s i x stanzas i n " S l e e p i n g Out at E a s t e r " end w i t h a r e f r a i n l i n e which r e p e a t s the f i r s t l i n e o f t h a t s t a n z a . The l a s t stanza c o n s i s t s o f l i n e s taken from, the r e s t o f the poem and r e o r d e r e d . The s e l e c t i n g p r i n c i p l e seems to be t h a t the most o r a c u l a r l i n e s are c o l l e c t e d f o r the l a s t s t a n z a i c u n i t . The i n c a n t a t i o n n e c e s s a r y to both c e l e b r a t e and to f a c i l i t a t e the c r e a t i o n o f l i g h t seems both f a m i l a r and new to the r e a d e r : A l l dark i s now no more. In your palm i s the s e c r e t o f waking. Put down those seeds i n your hand; A l l Presences change i n t o t r e e s . A f e a t h e r s h a l l d r i f t from the p i n e - t o p . The sun s h a l l have t o l d you t h i s song, For t h i s i s the grave o f the k i n g ; For the King's grave t u r n s you to l i g h t , (p, 17)• The t e n s i o n thus c r e a t e d between a p e r s o n a l statement ( the d e s c r i p t i o n o f waking i n the morning a f t e r h a v i n g spent the n i g h t outOof-doors) and the impersonal r i t u a l o f E a s t e r ( w h i c h c o n s i s t s o f the e n a c t i n g o f the death and l i f e c y c l e ) i s r e s o l v e d . The reader i s f i n a l l y addressed i n the i m p e r a t i v e v o i c e . Although the o c c a s i o n i s E a s t e r Dickey r e t u r n s the re a d e r to a p r e - C h r i s t i a n p r i m i t i v e c e l e b r a t i o n o f s p r i n g . "On the H i l l Below the Lighthouse" again p r e s e n t s the speaker as a man between w o r l d s . He i s h a l f - a s l e e p , yet conscious o f the room around him. A f t e r h a ving made l o v e the speaker l i e s w i t h h i s woman b e s i d e him and r e s t s on the edge o f s l e e p . As i n " S l e e p i n g Out at E a s t e r " the speaker's s o l i t u d e i s emphasized by the presence o f a s l e e p i n g l o v e d one. The camper f i n d s comfort i n h i s son's b i r d - l i k e s l e e p . But w h i l e t h e i r b o d ies are next to one another, t h e i r minds e x i s t on two d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s o f cons c i o u s n e s s . Deep s l e e p , h a l f - s l e e p , and wakefulness are p l a y e d a g a i n s t one another i n "The Lighthouse" i n the same way t h a t darkness, the moonlight, and the l i g h t h o u s e ' s beam o f a r t i f i c i a l l i g h t are c o n t r a s t e d w i t h one another. "The bright arm sweeps through the moon" and transforms the room t h a t they s l e e p i n . The shadows, c a s t by h i s l o v e ' s c l o t h i n g which i s spread over a c h a i r , seem to the speaker to form the f i g u r e o f an angel w i t h spread wings. The l i g h t h o u s e ' s beam o f l i g h t i s s t r o n g e r than the moon's l i g h t and the n a t u r a l world becomes confused w i t h the u n n a t u r a l . "The sun i s dead, t h i n k i n g o f n i g h t / Swung round l i k e a t h i n g on a c h a i n . " The sun i t s e l f exchanges e n t i t i e s w i t h the l i g h t house lamp and i s d e s c r i b e d as i f i t were a mechanical r a t h e r than a n a t u r a l body o f l i g h t . Thus the speaker i s again p l a c e d i n a suspended s t a t e . He e x i s t s i n a w o r l d i n which r e a l i t y and f a n t a s y are i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e ^ -where conscious r a t i o n a l p e r c e p t i o n and the unconscious dream-vision are i n e x t r i c a b l y f u s e d . The l i g h t i s s u e s from b o t h the o u t s i d e world arcffrom w i t h i n the s l e e p e r . "From a p l a c e i n the mind too deep/ For thought, a l i g h t l i k e a wind i s b e g i n n i n g . " And i t i s the l i g h t from the depths, from the dark p a r t o f the mind, which B r i n g s the c e s s a t i o n of the r a t i o n a l p e r c e p t i o n o f l i g h t (however r e l a t i v e and p a r a d o x i c a l the v a r i o u s ( k i n d s of r a t i o n a l l i g h t may b e ) . And i t i s w i t h i n the s l e e p t h a t the image o f the moon i s u n a d u l t e r a t e d . The peace o f l o v e , and the contentment o f s l e e p s l o w l y s t e a l over the speaker. Again, Dickey uses e i g h t s t a n z a i c u n i t s and each o f the f i r s t seven stanzas ends w i t h a r e f r a i n l i n e . The e i g h t h s t a n z a i s a c o m p i l a t i o n of the p r e v i o u s r e f r a i n l i n e s and allows f o r a r e d u c t i o n of the l e v e l o f i n t e n s i t y c r e a t e d i n the r e s t o f the poem. The atmosphere of t e n s i o n r e s u l t s from the p l a y o f the speaker's p e r c e p t i o n o f e x t e r n a l s t i m u l i a g a i n s t h i s subconscious p e r c e p t i o n s o f that same s t i m u l i as he g r a d u a l l y s i n k s i n t o s l e e p . Although the l i n e s i n the e i g h t h s t a n z a are by now f a m i l i a r to the r e a d e r there i s a s h i f t i n tone. The l a s t s t a n z a i s more p e r s o n a l and concentrates more s p e c i f i c a l l y on the s l e e p i n g man and h i s l o v e and l e s s on the o u t s i d e world. There i s g r e a t e r tenderness here. F i n a l l y , as the speaker s i n k s i n t o s l e e p he d i s c o v e r s the t r u e v i s i o n o f both the mo and o f h i s l o v e r : "A woman comes t r u e when I t h i n k Richard Howard p a r t i c u l a r l y admires Dickey's use of this technique: We have a kind of morphology of the r e f r a i n as Dickey uses i t so that ... we can put the i t a l i c l i n e s together at the end of the poem and have yet another poem, a kind of mythographic gloss on the experience presented, a marginalia which aaccounts f o r and perhaps j u s t i f i e s the separate poem i n thi s r i t u a l universe.35 He goes on to point out that "the device i s one taken over from Yeats, ... and the tone, caught from Roethke."36 i n addition, a l l three poets share an i n t e r e s t i n f o l k mythology and rhythms. "The S t r i n g " and "The Jewel" are two more poems from Into the Stone which u t i l i z e the r e f r a i n . In both of these poems a l i n e i s repeated at the end of each stanza. "The Jewel" i s a work i n which the grotesque depersonalized images of war are contrasted-wifHthe poet's a t t r a c t i o n to these same instruments. And the contradiction r e s u l t s i n an alienated v i s i o n . The r e f r a i n "Along, i n l a t e night" emphasizes the p i l o t ' s a l ienation from h i s own s p e c i f i c and highly personal humanity, and his alienation from human society i n general. In a l l of h i s e a r l i e r poems Dickey uses the r e f r a i n l i n e to create atmosphere and to further delineate a r i t u a l universe. Now, however, the p i l o t ' s g u i l t , which i s the subject of the r e f r a i n , separates him from the r i t u a l universe. I t i s important to note that James Dickey was drawn to the more t r a d i t i o n a l poetic forms at the beginning of his work. Into the Stone consists of poems which contain from f i v e to eight stanzas. These poems are composed of t i g h t l i n e s which end on a r i s i n g note. This creates a choppy rhythm and emphasizes the dramatic q u a l i t y which int e r e s t s Dickey consistently. Dickeysbelief that the process of creation i s an organic one has l e d him to t r y several techniques i n an attempt to get the voice r i g h t : I began to write poems by ... ^starting with a subject--often very vaguely d e f i n e d — and l e t t i n g rhythms develop out of i t , aided, no doubt by years of guitar playing, and then supplying what I thought were the r i g h t words to i n j e c t the subject into the cadences that now seemed to be running i n my mind endlessly, not stopping even while I was asleep.37 So the more ^ t r a d i t i o n a l b a l l a d and narrative forms appealed to Dickey both because they grew from f o l k -mythology and because of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p to music. The poems came to him at times of semi-consciousness, as well as when he was f u l l y a l e r t . The i n t e l l e c t u a l s e lection of theme was followed by a p t f i ^ - i i n which the poem was allowed to grow by i t s e l f without the imposition of the purely i n t e l l e c t u a l f a c u l t i e s . In a sense, he car r i e d the poem at the back of h i s mind and allowed i t to develop by i t s e l f . At t h i s stage Dickey i s now able to hear the poem much l i k e one hears a poem that one remembers from the past, although the s p e c i f i c words or images are not immediately r e c a l l e d . I t i s because of his attitude toward the creation of p o e t r y t h a t each o f Dickey's books o f p o e t r y i s not a c o l l e c t i o n o f u n r e l a t e d works. The rhythms, the themes, the cosmology which Dickey u t i l i z e s c r e a t e a u n i t y among h i s poems. Although he begins h i s p o e t i c c a r e e r w i t h predominately a n a p e s t i c o r d a c t y l i c f e e t , he works g r a d u a l l y towards a g r e a t e r freedom o f rhythm. The s t a n z a form e v e n t u a l l y disappears and p u n c t u a t i o n i s g r a d u a l l y r e p l a c e d by a more contemporary technique. In the 1967 c o l l e c t i o n F a l l i n g the t i t l e poem i s f r e e o f s t a n z a f i c a t i o n and pauses are i n d i c a t e d by spaces between words: the s p l i t - l i n e technique i s used. However, the volumes o f p o e t r y are not e x c l u s i v e o f one another. The poet remains i n t e r e s t e d i n the same s u b j e c t s . F a m i l i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , a l i e n a t i o n , death, hunting and l o v e a l l continue to be e x p l o r e d . And c e r t a i n l y the poems themselves r e v e a l Dickey's c o n c e n t r a t i o n on the mystic r i t u a l o f c r e a t i o n . The speaker i n h i s p o e t r y i s both an i n d i v i d u a l and a p r o t o t y p e . He speaks f o r the Twentieth centure f i g u r e , the poet h i m s e l f , and at the same time, he speaks f o r the unnamable i n h a b i t a n t s o f the mystic u n i v e r s e . In " S l e e p i n g Out at E a s t e r " and i n "The Vegetable K i n g , " he comes to be i d e n t i f i e d w i t h what J e s s i e L. Weston c a l l s t h e " F i s h e r King" and J.G-. F r a z e r sometimes c a l l s the "May K i n g . " However, b o t h serve the same f u n c t i o n . The poet c r e a t e s l i f e by the c r e a t i o n o f the poem i n the same way t h a t the Vegetable King i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the r e t u r n o f the h a r v e s t season. The t i t l e i t s e l f suggests a r e t u r n to folk-mythology, to sympathetic magic. Dickey speaks o f h i s f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h r i t u a l and folk-mythology when C a r o l y n K i z e r i n t e r v i e w s him: I have r e a d f o r years a l l these, w e l l , t r a n s l a t i o n s when I d i d n ' t know the language ... but I've t r i e d to come i n t o c o n j u n c t i o n i n one way or another w i t h Eskimo dance r i t u a l s and Bantu h u n t i n g songs and t h a t s o r t o f t h i n g . 3 8 The t h i n g t h a t he f e e l s the study o f v a r i o u s f o l k c u l t u r e s has g i v e n him i s an e v o c a t i v e sense o f imagery, and has, i n p a r t , aided him i n h i s development o f a p o e t i c cosmology. He e x p l a i n s the reason f o r h i s constant use o f p a r a d o x i c a l imagery i n terms o f f o l k - c u l t u r e . The people who s t i l l e x i s t c l o s e to n a t u r e , " are s a y i n g something out o f a c o n d i t i o n w i t h which they are i n p r e c a r i o u s and dangerous and sometimes desperate harmony, but always a harmony o f some k i n d which, even when the environment destroys them i s some k i n d o f harmony w i t h the environment." 3 9 The d e s t r u c t i o n i t s e l f i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f c r e a t i o n . Perhaps an examination o f P r a z e r ' s r e f e r e n c e to stones and the use o f the stone as a r i t u a l d e v i c e wo"gld c l a r i f y some of Dickey's i n t e n t i o n s i n the poem "Into the Stone." The moon-stone i n Dickey's poem turns the speaker i n t o a shadow-figure, and tu r n s h i s h a i r a g h o s t l y white. P r a z e r p o i n t s out t h a t some peoples b e l i e v e stones capable o f c a s t i n g s p e l l s . One stone o f t h i s type i s c a l l e d ",'eating g h o s t s , 1 because c e r t a i n powerful and dangerous ghosts are b e l i e v e d to lodge i n them. I f a man's shadow f a l l s on one o f these stones, the ghost w i l l draw h i s s o u l out from him, so t h a t he w i l l d i e . " 4 ? However, Dickey u t i l i z e s t r a d i t i o n a l techniques and f o l k - p a t t e r n s i n order to i n c o r p o r a t e them i n t o h i s own r i t u a l u n i v e r s e . In the m y t h o l o g i c a l world t h a t Dickey p o r t r a y s there are no b a r r i e r s . A l l worlds partake o f one another. I t i s o n l y by the f u s i o n o f c o n t r a r y worlds t h a t they may e x i s t s as .separate e n t i t i e s . The f u s i o n r e s u l t s i n the c r e a t i o n of l i f e and o f l i g h t : The l i g h t seems to come from some r a t h e r mysterious process o f exchange between a man and h i s o p p o s i t e s . . . i t may occur ... between men who are o p p o s i t e d to each o t h e r by n a t i o n a l i t y , between the l i v i n g and ghe dead, between men and t r e e s and even between men and wrecked machinery. And i t i s t h i s f u s i o n t h a t i s termed "the Way o f Exchange" by H .L. Weatherby. One o f the ways i n which Dickey achieves a mysterious e f f e c t i s , as we have seen, by c a r e f u l l y n o t d i s t i n g u i s h i n g the e x t e r n a l events from the s u b j e c t i v e imaginings o f the speaker who i n h a b i t s the poem. Mind and a c t i o n become confused much as i n a dream the elements o f r e a l i t y become f u s e d w i t h f a n t a s y . In h i s second volume of p o e t r y , Drowning w i t h Others, the poems tend to be l o n g e r . Most of them are composed o f ten s t a n z a i c u n i t s except f o r the l o n g e r n a r r a t i v e poems "The Owl K i n g " and "Dover: B e l i e v i n g i n K i n g s . " The r e l a t i o n s h i p o f man to woman, o f man to members o f h i s f a m i l y , the experiences o f wab-time, and the poet's experiences as a hunter continue to be e x p l o r e d . Although the poet continues to u t i l i z e the same group of s u b j e c t s each volume o f poems concentrates w i t h g r e a t e s t emphasis on one p a r t i c u l a r s u b j e c t . Thus Into the Stone i n c l u d e s poems which are s e t i n "darkness and a s p e c i a l i z e d l i g h t . " ^ - 2 Although Drowning i n c l u d e s former p o e t i c themes, most o f the poems are e x p l o r a t i o n s o f f a m i l i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . "The Owl Ki n g , " "To His C h i l d r e n i n Darkness," "Pacing A f r i c a , " and "The Magus" are poems which express the poet's f e e l i n g s f o r h i s son. "In the Tree House at N i g h t " i s an e x p l o r a t i o n o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the poet and h i s l i v i n g and h i s dead b r o t h e r s . Although one b r o t h e r no l o n g e r l i v e s , we are t o l d t h a t he i s s t i l l i n t r i c a t e l y bound to the two l i v i n g b r o t h e r s . "The S t r i n g " i n Into  the Stone i s s i m i l a r l y a poem about the ever-present dead. The poet's r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h h i s own parents i s the f o c a l p o i n t o f "The H o s p i t a l Window" and "A B i t t h . " The h a l f - l i g h t which c r e a t e s a new v i s i o n i n the f i r s t volume o f p o e t r y i s s t i l l p r e s e n t i n Drowning but the suspension and the a l t e r e d v i s i o n t h a t can be c r e a t e d by water becomes a major c o n c e n t r a t i o n . "The L i f e g u a r d , " "Drowning w i t h Others" and " I n s i d e the R i v e r " are a l l s e t i n the world o f water. " L i f e g u a r d " combines s e v e r a l of Dickey's former a t t i t u d e s . I t i s a poem o f g u i l t , i n c u r r e d through no f a u l t o f the speaker, a g u i l t Ttfhich r e s u l t s from h i s u n i n t e n t i o n a l f a i l u r e as a f a t h e r - f i g u r e . The c h i l d o f water i s l o s t because the o l d e r man cannot f i n d him i n the dark l a k e . Again, the speaker f e e l s i n t i m a t e l y and p h y s i c a l l y connected to the moon which shines on the water. In t h i s poem,as i n "Walking on Water," from Into the  Stone, Dickey p l a y s w i t h the C h r i s t image and the power to perform m i r a c l e s . However, the C h r i s t image in"_he L i f e g u a r d " o n l y f u r t h e r emphasizes the speaker's g u i l t . He walks on water " i n quest o f the m i r a c l e . " The death i s d e s c r i b e d though the use of d i s c o n n e c t e d images. Even the water i t s e l f becomes synonomous w i t h the boy's dead body. The water, as i t r e f l e c t s the moonlight, becomes the " s k i n o f the sky." A l l t h a t the l i f e g u a r d saw o f the drowning v i c t i m was h i s h a i r : " I saw h i s cropped h a i r c u t go under." Water becomes a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the l i f e - g u a r d ' s f a i l u r e to save the boy. The c h i l d r e n who are e n t r u s t e d to him have w i t n e s s e d h i s f a i l u r e . But as darkness f a l l s and as the l i f e g u a r d i s l e f t alone he d i v e s again i n the spot where the boy drowned. And i t i s at t h i s time, w i t h the r e t u r n o f the l i f e g u a r d , t h a t the m y s t i c r i t u u l b egins: As I move toward the c e n t e r o f the l a k e , Which i s a l s o the c e n t e r o f the moon, I am t h i n k i n g o f how I may be the s a v i o r o f one Who has a l r e a d y d i e d i n my c a r e . — •.. I c a l l s o f t l y out, and the c h i l d ' s V o i c e answers through b l i n d i n g water, (p. $2). The water i s b l i n d i n g b o t h because i t has cut o f f the boy's v i s i o n through death, and because i t i s bright with the r e f l e c t e d r i p p l e s of moon-light. In order to magically revive the boy i t i s necessary f o r the l i f e -guard to be within the moon's and the lake's heart. And i t i s when the magical r e v i v a l has bean performed that the l i f e - g u a r d can "wash the black mud from" h i s hands. The g u i l t that had e a r l i e r completely paralyzed him has abated somewhat• However, the c h i l d who he now holds i n his arms i s a c h i l d of "water, water, water." He i s both from the water, and, because of that, from the land of the dead. As the l i f e g u a r d stoops from h i s boat he l i f t s nothing but water i n h i s arms. The difference bBtween t h i s poem- and e a r l i e r poems of darkness, moonlight and magic i s that the action tends to follow a chronological rather than a c y c l i c pattern. The death of the boy i s c l e a r l y a single event which i s followed by a period of g u i l t so intense that i t alienates the speaker from h i s own kind. However, the l i f e - g u a r d re-emerges from the comatose state of shock i n order to act out his g u i l t . F i n a l l y , the denouement arrives leaving the l i f e g u a r d more consciously and fcerrifyingly aware of the loss he has suffered. This poem i s one of the f i r s t i n which Dickey roateuse of the persona who i s u t t e r l y d i f f e r e n t fr>_>#n the usual speaker. The poet frequently uses himself as the persona but increasingly, i n the l a t e r volumes, he attempts the exchange between h i s own perceptions and those of a highly d i f f e r e n t i n d i v i d u a l i n order to preseifct the reader with yet another kind of altered v i s i o n . We w i l l see more of t h i s i n the discussion of Helmets and Buckdancer's  Choice, The poem "Drowning with Others" i s s i m i l a r to "The Being" which appears i n Helmets, i n that the o r i g i n a l strangeness of the tone and the complex mystic v i s i o n that dominate the work i n Dickey's f i r s t volume i s found again i n these poems. In "Drowning" part of the tone of mystery i s a r e s u l t of Dickey's conscious r e f u s a l to designate the boundaries of subjective and objective observations. One possible reading of the poem i s that the speaker again stands i n a boat on water, and t h i s time he watches a f r i e n d who i s swimming underwater. While the speaker envies the man h i s great freedom, he i s unable to arrive at the same degree o£ free action. The act of going into the water transforms h i s f r i e n d ; his shoulder-blades which are the l a s t parts of his body to completely submerge look l i k e "human, everyday wings." His h a i r stands out from his head l i k e "a kingfisher's crest." Once again the elements partake of one another. The water world i s described l i k e the world of a i r . The diver's l i b e r a t i n g f l i g h t underwater i s the r e s u l t of kinesthetic freedom. His body i s released from the p u l l of gr a v i t y much as a b i r d i n f l i g h t would be. Even h i s h a i r has been s e t f r e e . The water i s capable o f " r e l e a s i n g h i s h a i r from h i s b r a i n . " In Dickey's u n i v e r s e h a i r becomes a s e n t i e n t e x t e n s i o n o f the b r a i n . In t h i s case the d i v e r ' s thoughts are u n r e s t r i c t e d by the u s u a l boundaries between a i r and water, or between matter and f l u x , or between l i f e and death because, as we have seen, water f u n c t i o n s as the d w e l l i n g p l a c e of the s p i r i t s o f the dead. Thus i n the poem " I n s i d e the R i v e r " the swimmers1 freedom i s o n l y p o s s i b l e because o f the exchange w i t h the dead: Your f r e e d h a i r f l o a t i n g Out o f your b r a i n , Wait f o r a coming And swimming i d e a . L i v e l i k e the dead (p. 105). In b o t h "DrowMng" and " I n s i d e the R i v e r " the swimmer f l o a t s i n a k i n d o f watery cosmos o f humanity i n which p e r f e c t communion i s p o s s i b l e w i t h a l l men l i v i n g and dead, i f o n l y he can f i n d the "heart o f the c u r r e n t . " When P e t e r Davidson, i n h i s a r t i c l e "The D i f f i c u l t i e s o f B e i n g Major," says t h a t "to drown i s to become one w i t h water, one w i t h the dead," he comes q u i t e c l o s e to an understanding o f Dickey. He goes on to say t h a t "to drown i n nature i s to d i e on b e h a l f o f i t , to e n r i c h nature by l o s i n g y o u r s e l f . " ^ 3 However, the l i t e r a l sense o f drowning i s not the o n l y sense t h a t Dickey e x t r a c t s from the word. One can drown, or submerge o n e s e l f i n t o nature and the l a n d of the dead, i n order to e n l i v e n one's p e r c e p t i o n s . D i c k e y i n s i s t s t h a t the image r e t a i n ^.the f o r c e o f both o f i t s kk paradoxical implications. In "Things, Voices, Minds" a review of Drowning by-Thorn Gunn, the English p o e t - c r i t i c demonstrates a deeper comprehension of Dickey's world-view." Dickey's i s an e f f o r t to make fantasy meaningful, to turn i t into v i s i o n . . . . And the basic v i s i o n i s maybe a p a r t i c i p a t i o n which involves a simultaneous loss of i d e n t i t y and a keen awareness of the tofafel process. In f a c t , Dickey implies that the awareness resu l t s from the l o s s . " ^ -The earth i s another means of achieving psychic communication i n Dickey's poetry. In "Hunting C i v i l War Relics at Nimblewill Creek" two brothers set out together to unearth the scraps of metal that l i e buried i n an old Southern b a t t l e f i e l d . The speaker, again, i s the observer. As the brother holds the metal detector the speaker watches his face. The brother serves as the intermediary between the dead who have been buried at Nimblewill and the l i v i n g . When the detector emits a sound i t i s not just the r e s u l t of radio waves s t r i k i n g metal but rather i t i s the sound of the dead speaking: ... but he the brother Must be hearing the grave, In pieces, a l l singing To h i s clamped head, For he smiles as i f He rose from the dead within Green Nimblewill And stood i n h i s grandson's shape, (p. 99). As the medium's body becomes inhabited by the voice of the the dead, so does the brother's body become infused with the s p i r i t of the dead. Ancestor worship becomes part of the experience as the brother offers up "a metal dish,/ Af l o a t i n the trembling weess." The speaker himself then kneels to the dead, as ha digs f o r r e l i c s . By the act of worship a communion i s established and the brothers are then allowed "to go underground" They are allowed to turn back the earth and discover the instruments of war. And the ancestor i s not merely the grandfather who fought at Himblewill* he has become a more generalized f i g u r e . The speaker kneels, overcome by the mystic experience. He i s l i k e one: ... who s h a l l l i f t up the past, Not breathing "Father," At Nimblewill, But saying," Fathers! Fathers!" (p. 99) In t h i s way James Dickey combines two subjects. He s t i l l u t i l i z e s the f o l k - r i t u a l but a l the same time he concentrates on his own past, on his f e e l i n g toward h i s Southern forebearers. I t i s because of t h i s poem and others l i k e i t that John William Corrington believes that" Dickey grasps the spe c i a l and permanent rela t i o n s h i p between a people and i t s own past. The r i t u a l of discovery figured at ''Nimblewill* places the Southern past beside that of the Hebrews and Christians, setting the confederate dead, * Fathers!, Fathers!', into the archetypal pattern of E c c l e s i a s t i c u s . In t h i s poem, as i n others, the mystical and chronological sense of time exist simulafeanously. There i s a kind of narrative p l o t , and at the same time : the impetus of the narrative i s toward an experience which must, by i t s very nature, supercede time. At a l l times Dickey has been interested i n creating tension between the two dimensions of time. However, there Is a noticeable change i n the treatment of the encounter i n Drowning with Others. Although the poet s t i l l deals with the theme of the, u n i t i n g of contrary q u a l i t i e s or persons and s t i l l attempts to create a mythic world, the myths now begin to f i n d themselves more f i r m l y rooted i n the domestic l i f e of the poet, or of the persona which he explores i n his poems of empathy. It i s easier now f o r the reader to exactly comprehend the nature of the exchange i n poems l i k e "A Dog Sleeping on My Feet." In this poem, as i n "Sleeping Out at Easter," a deadened limb becomes the necessary instrument of the exchange. The poet s i t s alone i n his l i v i n g room writi n g . Because h i s dog lays sleeping over his feet, his c i r c u l a t i o n i s cut o f f and his legs become deadened. However, because of this discomfort the poet i s allowed to share the sleeping dog's s e n s i b i l i t i e s . The poet becomes a dog involved i n the excitement of chasing a fox, and the dog i n turn becomes the poet. In t h i s way the dog i s responsible f o r the creation of the poem. It i s h is v i s i o n that the poet uses i n the poem. In James Dickey's r i t u a l universe images become magic hi symbols capable o f bestowing a new v i t a l c l a i r v o y a n c e upon the i n i t i a t e . The l i f e g u a r d must row to the c e n t e r o f the l a k e because i t i s a l s o the c e n t e r of the moon, the sun, and the e a r t h . A l l e x i s t s t o g e t h e r as one. Michael Goibdman terms t h i s journey i n t o a p o s i t i o n which empowers the i n i t i a t e the journey to the "heart o f e x p e r i e n c e . " "His Dickey's images are bodies w i t h i n which he changes, moving toward a h e a r t which i s not h i s h e a r t but a h e a r t o f e x p e r i e n c e — an animal c e n t e r , u s u a l l y dangerous. Often i n h i s p o e t r y t h e r e i s a sense o f i n c u r r e d . r i s k , or of a not always a t t r i b u t a b l e sense o f g u i l t which generates t e n s i o n . Tension, which a r i s e s from the c o n t i n u a l use of paradox a l s o g i v e s Dickey's p o e t r y an i n t e n s e q u a l i t y . Each of the r i t u a l encounters, o r journeys must be to the h e a r t o f experience. At the c e n t e r e x i s t s the r e s o l u t i o n o f t e n s i o n . The magic,stone, which at times r e p r e s e n t s the moon, i s at t h i s moment b o t h more alike', and more u n l i k e a l l the o t h e r elements i n Dickey's cosmology. The moon i t s e l f i s a l i g h t i n darkness, but i t s presence i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r n i g h t . Water both l i b e r a t e s ' , and emprisons the swimmer. And the e a r t h i t s e l f i s a b a r r i e r which cuts the dead o f f from the l i v i n g and i t i s , a l s o , the p l a c e i n which the p o t e n t i a l f o r new l i f e d w e l l s . A l l c o n t r a d i c t i o n s e x i s t o n l y so t h a t there may be harmony. L i k e the Y i n and Yang, Dickey's images are d e f i n e d so t h a t they may f i n a l l y be Mewed as continuous. In t h i s way James Dickey i s a mystic poet. CHAPTER THREE Helmets and Buckdanoer 1s Choice It i s evident from only one reading of Poemst 1957- 1967 that t h i s work stands whole and u n i f i e d even though there are d e f i n i t e evolutionary stages i n each volume. However much a c r i t i c may object to the p a r t i c u l a r manifestation of Dickey's cosmology, or his poetic voice, each of Dickey's poems are immediately attributable to him. In t h i s sense Dickey's art f u l f i l l s the most important c r i t e r i a of h i s . own c r i t i c a l canon. He has found "a place to stand." Moreover, he s a t i s f i e s his own c r i t e r i a on a second point. The poet i s constantly try i n g to infuse the poem, and through the poem the reader, with an intense v i t a l i t y . The v i t a l i t y , the energy and the tension which he creates i n his art are d i f f i c u l t f o r both the poet and the reader to sustain unless the bridge between the two i s capable of bearing the necessary emotional s t r a i n . In this way Dickey i s , sometimes, caught short. At times the cycle of perception f a i l s because the poem i s incapable of generating the amount and qua l i t y of i n t e n s i t y necessary to give the poem l i f e . The c r i t i c a l opion d i f f e r s about which of Dickey's poems are the most and which the l e a s t successful. . Some f e e l that the e a r l i e r poetry i s flawed and others that i t was only i n the l a s t few volumes that Dickey, began to f a i l the reader. A few have remained with him throughout the evolution. Most c r i t i c s agree that the t r a n s i t i o n begins most c l e a r l y to manifest i t s e l f i n Dickey's t h i r d book, Helmets. The poems i n Helmet3 are generally l e s s rhythmic, and there i s greater v a r i a t i o n i n the kinds of stanzaic units that the poet uses. For instance, "At Darien Bridge" consists of two l i n e stanzas, while "Springer Mountain" and "Drinking from a Helmet" consist of a type of verse paragraph. The form of "Approaching Prayer" i s determined toy the nature of the poem and, here again, the poet u t i l i z e s the i t a l i c i z e d l i n e i n order to designate a change i n voice. Dickey i t a l i c i z e s and indents the l i n e s that are spoken by the wild boar. An examination of companion poems ("Near Darien" from Into the Stone and "At Darien Bridge" from Helmetd) i s , perhaps, the best way to determine the exact nature of thi s ' t r a n s i t i o n . In the e a r l i e r poem the poet creates enclosures such as the boat that the lover i s i n , or the enclosure of the land around the water, i n order that these may be contrasted to the boundless consciousness he i s experiencing. The lover draws an " i n f i n i t e breath." His wife i s both a passionate mate and an ethereal being. He can f l o a t i n her mind both because she thinks of him and because she sustains him. He w i l l " l i e i n *jhe quick of her'image." Thus she p a r t a k e s o f the water and the moon and becomes one w i t h both o f them. She holds a "vast, s h i n i n g p l a c e i n the moonlight," and, because o f t h i s , i n the poet's h e a r t . The second poem, "Near D a r i e n B r i d g e , " d e s c r i b e s the poet's r e t u r n to D a r i e n . He i s a changed man, o l d e r and l e s s romantic. He i s now more aware o f h i s own p a r t i c u l a r f r a i l t y and o f approachirg death. The poet becomes concerned w i t h an e n c l o s i n g space, space which turns inward upon i t s e l f . What was once, i n the e a r l i e r poem, a sea o f mystery i n which " a l l water shines down out of Heaven," now seems to the poet "As i f many c o n v i c t s had b u i l t i t . " The sea which was the d i a l l i n g p l a c e of the moon, a "huge, r u i n e d stone i n the sky," i s now a f l a t impinging gray body which threatens the p o e t . "As the gray climbs the s i d e o f my head/ And cuts my b r a i n o f f from the world,/ I walk and wish m a i n l y f o r b i r d s . " The gray sea comes to be i d e n t i f i e d w i t h death, s t e r i l i t y and'imprisonment. In "Near D a r i e n " the l o v e r ' s b r e a t h was able to shed "the l i g h t o f the sun." However, i n the l a t e r poem the image o f the sun i s a memory from c h i l d h o o d . I t i s a c h i l d h o o d memory o f the sun's r e f l e c t i o n f»*tf>n a c o n v i c t ' s hammer th a t r e t u r n s to the poet. As the b r i d g e was b u i l t by those i n c a p t i v i t y , so the poet's l o v e i s now i n c a p t i v i t y . The " s c r a t c h e d / Wedding band" on h i s f i n g e r i s r e m i n i s c e n t o f the chains t h a t the c o n v i c t s wore on t h e i r f e e t . The poet ends "At Darien B r i d g e " w i t h the l i n e s : I stand and l o o k out over grasses At the b r i d g e they b u i l t , l o n g abandoned, Breaking down i n t o water at l a s t , And l o n g , l i k e them, f o r freedom Or death, or to b e l i e v e a g a i n That they worked on the ocean to g i v e i t The unchanging, hopeless l o o k Out o f which a l l m i r a c l e s l e a p . (p. 117) We see, again, t h a t death and decay l e a d to a new l i f e . The b r i d g e , and the poet's l i f e seem to be the most permanent elements i n the poem; however, even they are s l o w l y b e i n g encroached upon by nature and are b e i n g r e c l a i m e d . Although the m i r a c l e i s o b v i o u s l y the a l t e r n a t i v e the speaker p r e f e r s , i t i s s t i l l one o f three a l t e r n a t i v e ^ and i n t h i s we see a narrowing of the m y s t i c ' s v i s i o n i n "Near D a r i e n " to a more r a t i o n a l i z i n g v i s i o n i n the l a t e r poem. Ri c h a r d Howard f i n d s the l a t e r poem to be b e t t e r i n t h a t i t o f f e r s more concrete d e t a i l s , and a more s p e c i f i c demarkation between t h a t which the speaker sees and the thoughts t h a t a r i s e i n h i s mind as he views the area around D a r i e n . Howard b e l i e v e s t h a t i t i s o n l y w i t h the p u b l i c a t i o n of Helmets t h a t Dickey i s "now content w i t h the poem as i t s own reward, r a t h e r than as a m a g i c a l charm.... "47 He i s accurate i n h i s o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t the poem i s no l o n g e r a charm. I n c a n t a t i o n i s s l o w l y b e i n g r e p l a c e d by the n a r r a t i v e poem w h i l e a growing emphasis i s b e i n g p l a c e d upon the u n f o l d i n g o f n a r r a t i v e a c t i o n . "On the Coosawatte, "Cheerylog Road," "The S c a r r e d G i r l , " "Kudzu," and "A Polk S i n g e r o f the T h i r t i e s " are some o f the poems i n Helmets which f o l l o w a n a r r a t i v e p l o t . In some of Dickey' middle and l a t e r poems the a c t i o n i t s e l f i s the enactment o f r i t u a l . ^ F r e q u e n t l y , the r i t u a l t h a t Dickey d e s c r i b e s i n h i s p o e t r y i n v o l v e s animals. And the e n l i g h t e n e d v i s i o n which can r e s u l t from the exchange w i t h animal consciousness i s the s u b j e c t o f b o t h "A Dog S l e e p i n g on My F e e t , " (Drowning) and "Approaching P r a y e r , " (Helmets). In the l a t e r poem "there i s an a c t u a l ' p u t t i n g on' o f the b e a s t , " as H..L. Weatherby n o t e s . ^ The exchange i s d e s c r i b e d i n a manner which p l a c e s most o f the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the encounter on the speaker. He i s no l o n g e r taken over while he i s i n a demi-conscious s t a t e , as i n the e a r l i e r poems and some l a t e r poems l i k e "The Being." Now he must put the boar's head over h i s own i n order t h a t he may i n i t i a t e the exchange and consequently o f f e r up a p r a y e r . With t h i s act he i s _ r e l e a s e d from the p a r a l y z i n g l o n e l i n e s s 1 , and g r i e f t h a t he f i n d s i n h i s f a t h e r ' s empty house. The pr a y e r he o f f e r s i s a p r a y e r o f the x^arrior who through the enactment o f the hunt can guarantee-, the d i s c o v e r y o f food, and w i t h t h i s d i s c o v e r h i s own m a s c u l i n i t y . In t h i s poem we can see the d i r e c t i o n t h a t Dickey w i l l take l a t e r . The exchange i s i n i t i a t e d by the speaker and the speaker becomes more and more an aggressor i n the n a t u r a l world. With t h i s , the poems come to be more a c t i v e . Furthermore, the poet has begun to experiment w i t h the use o f v o i c e s , as i n the "Owl K i n g . " In t h i s sense the Other, the being, or the p a r t n e r i n the a c t o f exchange becomes more o b j e c t i f i e d . "The S c a r r e d G i r l , " and "A F o l k Singer o f the T h i r t i e s " are two of the poems from Helmets which express James Dickey's i n t e r e s t i n the empathetic exchange. In both o f these poems the reader i s i n t r o d u c e d to the personae and then watches them become p a s s i v e v i c t i m s . They are both m u t i l a t e d . The g i r l l o o s e s her beauty i n a c a r a c c i d e n t , and the f o l k -s i n g e r i s c r u i c i f i e d and f i n a l l y s u f f e r s the l o s s of h i s i n t e g r i t y . There i s a k i n d o f i r o n y suggested i f these two poems are c o n s i d e r e d t o g e t h e r . The s c a r r e d g i r l i s i r r e p a r a b l y m u t i l a t e d by her a c c i d e n t . Because the w i n d s h i e l d of the c a r broke on her f a c e t h e " s m a l l war f o r her beauty/ Is s t i t c h e d out o f s i g h t and l o s t . " However, o f the two v i c t i m s i t i s she who remains more w h o l l y a l i v e . She can piece' t o g e t h e r her s h a t t e r e d world by a c c e p t i n g i t s i m p e r f e c t i o n s and her own. She l e a r n s t h a t "a newborn countenance" may be "put upon e v e r y t h i n g . " The f o l k - s i n g e r , who s u f f e r s and i n t u r n i s g i v e n a new v i s i o n u t i l i z e s what he has l e a r n e d i n a n e g a t i v e way. He becomes a prophet f o r a s i c k s o c i e t y and makes h i m s e l f r i c h . The c o n v e r s i o n , i n t h i s case, i s from a C h r i s t f i g u r e to a mass-medium demagog. In b o t h poems, as i n " D r i n k i n g from a Helmet," c l a i r a v o y a n c e i s the p o s s i b l e e f f e c t o f an experience so over-whelming t h a t i t takes the i n i t i a t e out of h i m s e l f . " D r i n k i n g from a Helmet" i s a f r e q u e n t l y a n t h o l o g i z e d poem l i k e "The Performance-'f from Into the Stone, "Between Two P r i s o n e r s " from Drowning w i t h Others and "The Firebombing" from Buckdancer 1s Choice, which takes as i t s s u b j e c t the experiences o f war. A helmet i s , o f bourse, the n e c e s s a r y head-gear t h a t s o l d i e r ' s wear d u r i n g b a t t l e . On the o t h e r hand, i t becomes another symbol i n Dickey's mythos. In "Armor" Dickey e x p l a i n s the f u n c t i o n o f t h i s symbol. When the speaker puts on armor" there i s no way o f s t a n d i n g / alone/ More, or no way o f b e i n g / More w i t h the bound, s h i n i n g dead." Again the poet c r e a t e s o p p o s i t i o n so t h a t there may be continuum. At one and the same time the speaker l o o s e s h i m s e l f to the dead, and r e c o v e r s h i s i d e n t i t y . His p h y s i c a l body becomes i d e n t i f i e d w i t h the armor: "I took o f f my body o f m e t a l . " ( p . 8 l ) . With the removal o f boundaries he i s now f r e e to completely experience the exchange, i n t h i s case w i t h h i s dead b r o t h e r and through him w i t h a l l o f the dead. F i n a l l y , the poet i s s a y i n g t h a t when he, the speaker, has l o s t h i s armor o r h i s body he may put on o t h e r e n t i t i e s : "I l o n g to dress deeply at l a s t / "In the g o l d o f my w a i t i n g b r o t h e r / Who s h a l l wake and shine on my l i m b s . " In " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" the helmet becomes an ext e n s i o n o f armo"*V- The image f u n c t i o n s i n much the same way i n both poems. The helmet i s p r o t e c t i v e o f both the s o l d i e r ' s p h y s i c a l w e l l - b e i n g and of h i s i n d i v i d u a l i t y . He does not ;Gare to remove h i s helmet w h i l e on the b a t t l e f i e l d , p a r t i c u l a r l y at a spot "where somebody e l s e may have come/ Loose from the s t e e l o f h i s head." In t h i s manner the s t e e l of the helmet i s envisaged as an i n t e g r a l p a r t of the s o l d i e r ' s head. At the same time Dickey i n t r o d u c e s the reader to the poem by i m p l y i n g t h a t the s o l d i e r has not ceased to existy but r a t h e r t h a t he has j u s t escaped from the encasing body which was much l i k e a helmet to him. As Dickey e s t a b l i s h e s the theme of the exchange i n "D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" he a l s o goes on to. p r e s e n t the reader w i t h a more p h y s i c a l ambience. The b a t t l e f i e l d i t s e l f i s d e s c r i b e d and many o f the more concrete d e t a i l s o f the scene are pr e s e n t e d to the reader. In t h i s poem, as i n others from the l a t e r books, the reader i s more aware of the p r e c i s e nature o f the encounter and the d u r a t i o n o f the exchange becomes a f a c t o r . Perhaps, because o f t h i s the reader i s more aware of the mystic experience o c c u r i n g w i t h i n time r a t h e r than superceding time. And perhaps, a l s o because o f the more s p e c i f i c d e s c r i p t i o n s , Dickey wishes h i s audience to now conc e n t r a t e on the r i t u a l p r e p a r a t i o n f o r the mystic experience. As we can see, i t i s but one more step to "The Firebombing," a poem i n which the poet prepares h i m s e l f f o r the exchange, submits h i m s e l f to the r i t u a l , p r e p a r a t i o n and yet never achieves the myst i c ex p e r i e n c e . The s o l d i e r i n " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" can s t i l l achieve the exchange. Because he does not remove h i s own helmet to d r i n k , and thereby r e t a i n s h i s i n t e g r i t y , h i s own i d e n t i t y , he must p i c k one up from the ground. The f i r s t t h i n g t h a t he sees, as he gazes i n t o the helmet he has now f i l l e d w i t h water, i s h i m s e l f . The death of the o t h e r s o l d i e r thus g i v e s the speaker back to h i m s e l f . The dead man's b r a i n : ..1 k i l l e d e a r l y t h a t morning, Most l i k e l y , and now In i t s absence h o l d i n g My s e a l e d , sunny image from harm (p. The r i p p l e s i n the water d i s t u r b h i s image and the experience begins to change i n t o a m y s t i c one. As he d r i n k s from the helmet he becomes l i t e r a l l y possessed toy the dead man. "I swayed, as i f k i s s e d i n the b r a i n . " His consciousness has been a l t e r e d . "In the c l o s e d d a z z l e o f my mouth/ I fought w i t h a word i n the water/ To c a l l on the dead..." He begins at t h i s moment to understand what i t i s the dead understand* "On even the f i r s t day o f death/ The dead cannot r i s e up,/ But t h e i r l a s t thought hovers somewhere/ For whoever f i n d s i t . " So t h a t , i n t h i s way, the l i v i n g s o l d i e r i n h e r i t s the thoughts of the dead s o l d i e r . At t h i s moment he i s overcome by the presence o f the dead and by a heightened awareness o f h i s own v i t a l i t y . "My u n i n j u r e d f a c e f l o a t e d s t r a n g e l y / In the r i n g s o f a b o d i l e s s t r e e . " He seems s t r a n g e l y whole to h i m s e l f because of h i s union w i t h the wounded dead. He i s l i t e r a l l y g i v e n h i m s e l f again; he i s reborn. And w i t h the f e e l i n g o f new l i f e he undergoes a f e e l i n g o f e c s t a s y so i n t e n s e that at t h i s moment he f e e l s t h a t he "c o u l d have stepped up i n t o a i r . " Because the s o l d i e r has chosen not to separate h i m s e l f from h i s armor, h i s s t e e l , h i s helmet, he has undergone an encounter w i t h the dead and the i n i t i a t i o n now f r e e s him f o r a c t i o n : I threw my o l d helmet down And put the wet one on. Warmed water ran over my f a c e . My l a s t thought changed, and I knew I i n h e r i t e d one of the dead. (p. 177) . He has, i n a sense, earned the complete mystic experience at t h i s p o i n t . He has partaken o f the tjater and now i s b a p t i z e d by i t . As he b a p t i z e s h i m s e l f w i t h water from the helmet he accepts the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t h a t he has i n c u r r e d and i s gi v e n a v i s i o n o f the dead s o l d e r ' s homeland. He must now go there and t e l l the dead man's b r o t h e r : ;..where I had stood What poured, what s p i l l e d , what swallowed: SIX And t e l l him I was the man. (p. 178) He was the man who was allowed to enter the l i v i n g thoughts and the dead l i f e o f the deceased s o l d i e r and he w i l l f o r e v e r c a r r y t h i s w i t h him. Once more the poem becomes f o r Dickey the enactment o f a mystic r i t u a l . The i n i t i a t e becomes i n f u s e d w i t h the s p i r i t o f the dead a f t e r he has proved him-s e l f worthy. The r i t u a l nature o f James Dickey's p o e t r y offends Howard Kaye. In h i s a r t i c l e " W h y Review P o e t r y ? " which appears i n the June 29,1968 e d i t i o n o f the New R e p u b l i c , Kaye r e g i s t e r s h i s disappointment w i t h Dickey's c o n t i n u i n g use o f a p r i v a t e cosmology: I had hoped t h a t some o f the elements o f h i s p o e t r y t h a t I don't l i k e , such as h i s meters and h i s a n i m i s t i c m y sticism, had somehow s l i p p e d i n a c c i d e n t a l l y , l i k e bad , h a b i t s ; i t t u r n s out t h a t he d i d e x a c t l y what he i n t e n d e d . ^ " Kaye p r e f e r s the more domestic poem which d e s c r i b e s the more common experiences o f man, l i k e teen-age l u s t i n "Chesrylog Road" and the domestic nightmare o f the never-ending impinge-ment o f nature i n "Kudzu." On the ot h e r hand, Laurence Lieberman, a c r i t i c who f r e q u e n t l y takes James Dickey's p o e t r y as the s u b j e c t o f h i s c r i t i c a l w r i t i n g s , has a v e r y d i f f e r e n t o p i n i o n . In h i s e v a l u a t i o n o f " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" Lieberman a p p l i e s some of the poet's own c r i t e r i a , and, on t h i s b a s i s , f i n d s the poem to be s u c c e s s f u l : So f a r are these images from c r e a t i n g the u s u a l remove, the a b s t r a c t i n g from l i t e r a l experience, we expect from f i g u r e s o f speech, these f i g u r e s seem to c a r r y us i n t o a more i n t e n s e and immediate l i t e r a l - n e s s than l i t e r a l d e s c r i p t i o n c o u l d p o s s i b l y a f f o r d . 5° Both Dickey and Lieberman would r e j e c t a mere d e p i c t i o n o f the everyday world o f r e a l i t y . The v e r y strange and m y s t i c a l q u a l i t y t h a t d i s p l e a s e s Kaye i s what a t t r a c t s Lieberman. He i s drawn by Dickey's a b i l i t y to p e n e t r a t e to the h e a r t of experience. That Dickey i s capable o f g e n e r a t i n g a g r e a t i n t e n s i t y o f emotion i s c o n s i d e r e d by Lieberman as the mark o f h i s a b i l i t y as a poet. He notes p a r t i c u l a r l y the poet's use of images. "These f i g u r e s suggest a mind s t r e t c h i n g i t s n a t u r a l l i m i t s o f p e r c e p t i o n to a s s i m i l a t e experience o f p a i n and anguish t h a t can o n l y be apprehended a c c u r a t e l y through i h a l l u c i n a t i o n . The i n t e n s i t y of emotion t h a t the s o l d i e r undergoes can o n l y be p o r t r a y e d by d i s t o r t i o n , by the grotesque or, as Kaye would have i t , the " u n r e a l " image. However, the symbols t h a t the poet uses i n t h i s poem, as i n o t h e r s , are c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the poet's created r i t u a l u n i v e r s e . "The Firebombing" i s another e q u a l l y i n t e n s e poem o f war. However, i t i s . t h e a n t i t h e s i s of " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" because i n the e a r l i e r poem the s o l d i e r ' s encounter w i t h the dead was an empathetic consummation of fehe r i t u a l o f exchange. The empathy and the r e s u l t a n t exchange are m i s s i n g from "Firebombing," and the reason f o r t h i s l i e s i n the former p i l o t ' s own i n a b i l i t i e s . L i k e " C h e r r y l o g Road" the poem d e a l s -with the poet's own past.-" 4 . The images are domestic; f l a s h l i g h t s , a s c r e w d r i v e r , spoons, t e n n i s shoes and h e d g e - c l i p p e r s become mythic instruments. I t i s through these o b j e c t s , as through the helmet, t h a t the former p i l o t can hope to communicate w i t h those he cannot n o r m a l l y r e a c h : the dead. I r o n i c a l l y the v e r y d o m e s t i c i t y o f the p a n t r y i n which he p l a c e s h i m s e l f , i n o r d e r to i s o l a t e h i m s e l f i n p r e p a r a t i o n f o r the r i t u a l o f exchange, acts as a b a r r i e r to the exchange. The images of war a l t e r n a t e w i t h the images o f the household i n a jumbled manner at the o u t s e t o f the poem i n o r d e r to e s t a b l i s h the s t a t e o f mind of the former p i l o t . He i s caught i n a k i n d o f limbo; he remembers the past and yet cannot completely escape to i t , . As he dwells i n the present,, the p a s t (with i t s message o f death and g u i l t ) c o n s t a n t l y i n t r u d e s . The t r u e continuousness o f time cannot be e s t a b l i s h e d because the harmony which r e l i e v e s t e n s i o n must be c r e a t e d out of two e q u a l l y v i t a l o p p o s i t e d f o r c e s . As the former p i l o t s i t s i n the pa h t r y , he loo k s down at h i s hands and experiences a l i e n a t i o n . He remembers the " t e c h n i c a l - minded s t r a n g e r " y v f t q p i l o t e d the plane which . c a r r i e d napalm and g a s o l i n e over a Japanese town twenty years ago. As always Dickey i s entranced by r e f l e c t i o n o r a l t e r e d h a l f - l i g h t . When the p i l o t l o o k s foreward from the c o c k - p i t he sees the plane push forward out o f complete darkness i n t o "the moon." The b r i g h t n e s s of the moon i s r e f l e c t e d by the "moon-metal-shine o f p r o p e l l e r s . " The plane then journeys i n t o the s o l i t u d e o f a c l o u d . "In the white-dark the a i r c r a f t s h r i n k s ; Japan/ D i l a t e s around i t l i k e a thought." Thus Dickey emphasizes the strange luminescence o f the c l o u d , the suddennbss o f time while i n f l i g h t , and the f a c t t h a t the firebombing i s a remembered o c c a s i o n . The h a l f - l i g h t , the s l e e p i n g town beneath him, and the d e s c r i p t i o n o f the f l i g h t which does not i n c l u d e the o t h e r members o f the crew, a l l serve to i s o l a t e t h e p i l o t from the sun, from the town below him and from the men around him. The mysterious s h i n i n g h a l f - l i g h t which the p i l o t sees makes the town appear to be dream-like, u n r e a l . But he a c t u a l l y terminates the d e s c r i p t i o n o f the c o u n t r y - s i d e w i t h the use o f the s p l i t l i n e : The woods w i t h one s i l v e r s i d e , Rice-water calm at a l l l e v e l s Of the t e r r a c e d h i l l . Enemy r i v e r s and t r e e s S l i d i n g o f f me l i k e a snakeskin (p. 182) He immediately reminds h i m s e l f and the re a d e r t h a t t h i s i s the country o f the enemy. The language i t s e l f i s r e v e a l i n g . The r i v e r s , t r e e s , and f i e l d s are the p i l o t ' s enemy because a h o s t i l e people d w e l l i n t h a t country. At the same time, he i s o b v i o u s l y aware o f the f a c t t h a t a r i v e r o r . a t r e e i s a n e u t r a l i n h a b i t a n t o f nature's world. His attack,, i s , i n p a r t , on nature as w e l l as on those who dwell i n t h a t country. The p i l o t l o o k s behind him and sees the t r a i l o f vapor that the plane l e a v e s . T h i s impermanent a r t i f i c i a l c l o u d i s the f i r s t mark t h a t he l e a v e s on the c o u n t r y - s i d e . I t foreshadows the i r r e v e r s i b l e s c a r r i n g which he the b r i n g e r of f i r e , w i l l i n f l i c t on the e a r t h below. Watching the vapor t r a i l s e t t l e and d i s s i p a t e c r e a t e s a f e e l i n g o f d i s t a n c e and s e p a r a t i o n from the l a n d below. The p i l o t has a " g l a s s e d -o f f f o r e h e a d . " H i s b e i n g , h i s i n t e l l e c t , and h i s empathy are e n c l o s e d i n the c o c k - p i t which becomes synonymous w i t h the suburban p a n t r y . He i s trapped; he cannot escape from h i m s e l f . The e x p a n s i o n a l space i n the e a r l i e r poems i s a l t e r e d to become an e n c l o s i n g space. F i n a l l y , as the p i l o t remembers the plane's approach to the town of f i v e - t h o u s a n d s l e e p i n g people, the movement of the poem quickens. The r e p e t i t i o n o f h i s thoughts suggests o b s e s s i o n . He seems to speak i n a s t u t t e r i n g voice as one who i s t r y i n g to a r t i c u l a t e something t h a t he i s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y s u p r e s s i n g . The s u p p r e s s i o n i s a defense; i t guards the p i l o t from a r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t would d r i v e him mad. H.L. Weatherby understands t h i s when he says t h a t "the c o s t o f the exchange makes i t i m p o s s i b l e . " ^ The o r i g i n a l moment, and the memory i t s e l f are e q u a l l y u n r e a l to the p i l o t . He moved then, and moves now: In a dark dream t h a t t h a t i s That i s l i k e f l y i n g i n s i d e someone's head Think o f t h i s t h i n k of t h i s I d i d not t h i n k o f my house But t h i n k ' o f my house now. (p. 183) A f t e r twenty ye a r s , the former p i l o t must aven now demand o f h i m s e l f an i n t e n s e c o n c e n t r a t i o n i n order to empathize^ And even now i t i s o n l y on the most e a s i l y manageable l e v e l o f awareness t h a t he can f a c e the r e a l i z a t i o n of what he has <ion*» The thought o f the instantaneous f i e r y d e s t r u c t i o n o f h i s o w n house o n l y b r i n g s h i s thoughts back to h i m s e l f , the suburban b a n a l i t i e s o f h i s own e x i s t e n c e . He t r i e s to l o s e twenty years toy d i e t i n g and by the w i l l e d act o f memory but he cannot: The enemy-colored s k i n o f f a m i l i e s Determines to h o l d i t s c o l o r In s l e e p , as my hand turns w h i t e r Than ever... (p. As he f l e w over the s l e e p i n g c o u n t r y - s i d e , the people of the town d i d not awaken, they d i d not grow whit e r w i t h f e a r . The p i l o t ' s f a i l u r e to experience the exchange i s emphasized by the d i f f e r e n c e i n c o l o r of the two peop l e s . The f a c t o r o f "otherness" i s e s t a b l i s h e d most c l e a r l y f o r the p i l o t by s k i n - c o l o r . And twenty years l a t e r , as he t r i e s to d i s m i s s t h i s r a c i a l d i f f e r e n c e , he.succeeds o n l y i n becoming more i n t e n s l e y aware o f i t . F i n a l l y , i t i s w i t h a d i s t a n t tone t h a t the p i l o t d e s c r i b e s the dy i n g . The speaker i s o l a t e s h i m s e l f even f u r t h e r from the s u f f e r i n g which i s a c t u a l l y o c c u r r i n g by emphasizing the panoramic-view he has from the plan e ' s g r e a t h e i g h t . The f i r e i t s e l f i s "a mote o f r e d dust/ At a hundred f e e t . . . he s a i l s ... a r t i s t i c a l l y o v e r " the town and admires the beauty of the f i r e as he e x u l t s i n the g o d - l i k e f e e l i n g o f power which the r e l e a s e o f such v a s t energy g i v e s him: I t i s t h i s detachment, The honored a e s t h e t i c e v i l , The g r e a t e s t sense o f power i n one's l i f e . (p. 186) Conc\>Yve.<vt\>y t h Q S p e a _ _ e r r e a l i z e s t h a t what he should have f e l t at t h i s moment i s a g r e a t r u s h o f g r i e f and p e r s o n a l Now, twenty years l a t e r , he must s t i l l c a r r y the memory of the bombing w i t h him because o£ h i s f a i l u r e to assume the n e c e s s a r y r e s p o n s i b i l i t y lor h i s a c t i o n s at the time of the bombing. The f a i l u r e o f g u i l t i s i n i t s e l f a c u r s e . He was unable to a c t i v a t e the exchange and to s u f f e r w i t h the dying and, consequently, he now f e e l s so f u l l o f g u i l t t h a t the exchange becomes i m p o s s i b l e . He i s caught i n a p s y c h o l o g i c a l trap and he i s f u l l y aware o f i t . He knows t h a t empathetic v i s i o n should have allowed him to i n h a b i t a d y i n g v i l l a g e r ' s psyche, as the s o l d i e r i n the poem " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" was able to do. His v i s i o n should have been so i n t e n s i f i e d t h a t i t would have allowed him to see "the i n s i d e o f houses, the low t a b l e s / as they Catch f i r e from the door mats." In s t e a d he i s so i s o l a t e d by the c o c k - p i t t h a t the r a g i n g f i r e can o n l y be r e f l e c t e d by the plane as a b l u e l i g h t . I t i s c o o l e d , shaped to tho body o f the p l a n e , and transformed, again, i n t o a s t r a n g e l y b e a u t i f u l l i g h t . In the l a s t s e c t i o n o f the poem Dickey most c l e a r l y expresses the g u i l t and f a i l u r e of empathy t h a t the p i l o t ^ must l i v e w i t h . He cannot i n v i t e the s p i r i t s of the dead i n t o h i s house because they cannot "pass t h i s u n f i r e d door." The e x p l i c i t and l i v i n g b e i n g t h a t the s o l d i e r i n " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" i s able to b r i n g t o . l i f e cannot be e n v i s i o n e d by the p i l o t . He sees a more t e r r i f y i n g f i g u r e , a k i n d o f g h o s t - l i k e disembodiment o f the dead. He can o n l y imagine ... n o t h i n g With i t s ears c r a c k l i n g o f f L i k e powdery l e a v e s , Nothing w i t h c h i l d r e n o f ashes, n o t h i n g not Amiable, g e n t l e , well-meaning . . . . ... n o t h i n g I haven't l i v e d w i t h For twenty y e a r s . . . (p. 188) T h i s s e c t i o n o f the poem expresses the same k i n d o f i n t e n s e d e s p a i r t h a t Hemingway c r e a t e s w i t h the Nada p r a y e r i n "A Clean-Well L i g h t e d P l a c e . " "Firebombing" begins and ends w i t h a c l i c h e . Although a l l homeowners cannot u n i t e i n a mutual understanding o f one another, although they t u r n a g a i n s t one another i n war and i n f l i c t p a i n f u l death on one another, the j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s , as always, p a t r i o t i s m . He s t i l l sees "nothing not as American as I am, and proud o f i t , " (p. 188)„ The l i n e can be re a d i n two p o s s i b l e ways. He i s unable to e n v i s i o n . any homeowner who i s not American; he can see o n l y h i s own k i n d . And the second p o s s i b i l i t y i s t h a t h i s p r i d e i n being an American and the g u i l t which he incurs. 1 from not under-going the exchange are i n themselves the answers to h i s questions twenty years l a t e r . In any case, the poet demonstrates a v e r y d i f f e r e n t awareness o f s e l f i n "Firebombing" from t h a t i s expressed i n " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet." The confidence and awe o f the l i n e " I am the man" becomes the mere e x p r e s s i o n o f a c u l t u r a l s e l f when he says "As American as I am." James Dickey r e c e i v e d the g r e a t e s t ; c r i t i c a l p r a i s e f o r the volume i n which "The Firebomb!ng" appeared: Buckdancer 1s Choice. He was awarded the N a t i o n a l Book Award i n Poe t r y i n 1966 f o r t h i s p a r t i c u l a r book. C e r t a i n l y Buckdancer can be c o n s i d e r e d a t r a n s i t i o n volume, the years p r e c e d i n g t h i s p r i z e we have seen t h a t Dickey's a r t has undergone s i g n i f i c a n t changes. A summarial d i s c u s s i o n o f some o f h i s war p o e t r y and of some o f the poems which take as t h e i r s u b j e c t man i n nature w i l l make the t r a n s i t i o n more c l e a r l y 1 e v i d e n t . In "Armor" (from Drowning w i t h Others) the boundaries -WV>icJh separate- . l i v i n g man from the animal world wv„ re p r e s e n t e d by "the crab and the insect," and the boundaries IMV\ s e p a r a t e the speaker from h i s dead b r o t h e r are e a s i l y c r o s s e d . In the poem " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" the speaker must p a r t i c i p a t e i n a c l e a r l y e s t a b l i s h e d r i t u a l b e f o r e he can i n h a b i t the psyche of the dead. Dickey emphasizes the need f o r the r i t u a l by changing the form o f h i s p o e t r y i n "D r i n k i n g from A Helmet." I t i s , as Lieberman d i s c o v e r s , l i k e a f i l m s t r i p s each frame (or stanza) focuses on a p a r t i c u l a r event: This form i s an extremely important development f o r Dickey, s i n c e i t r e a d i l y achieves e f f e d t s e x a c t l y o p p o s i t e to the unbroken ..flow and rhythmic sweep o f most of the p r e v i o u s works.-5*-The e t h e r e a l o r f l o w i n g q u a l i t y o f the e a r l i e r poems i s als o d i s t u r b e d by the boundaries o f o b j e c t s , and the s e t t i n g i t s e l f now o f f e r s i t s e l f as a boundary. This i s i n p a r t because Dickey's images now seem to g a i n a g r e a t e r weight and s o l i d a r i t y i n the poems i n pelmets. Whereas i n "Armor" the s e t t i n g i s "Place i t s e l f , " i n " D r i n k i n g " the s e t t i n g i s c l e a r l y a b a t t l e f i e l d . F i n a l l y , even the mundane and s p e c i f i c d e s c r i p t i o n d e l i n e a t e s the s e t t i n g i'n "The Firebombing." In t h i s poem the boundaries between the l i v i n g and the dead are insurmountable. Most of James Dickey's p o e t r y has pxpressed a l i n g e r i n g f e e l i n g o f g u i l t . As we have seen, he was drawn to the work o f Robert Penh Warren because o f h i s admiration f o r the o l d e r poet's a b i l i t y to d e s c r i b e the constant presence o f the g u i l t which can o n l y come from a type o f " O r i g i n a l S i n ; , " o r as Franz. Kafka d e s c r i b e s i t , " c o r p o r a t e s i n . " A l l men share the g u i l t because they a l l have been g i v e n l i f e . As Dickey's poems have undergone a t r a n s i s t i o n , so has the s p e c i e s o f g u i l t which the p o e t r y d e s c r i b e s . I t begins as a p a s s i v e k i n d o f awareness t h a t the speaker hasSSITTN-XYOJAJ w h i l e h i s b r o t h e r (whom he has never known) has had to d i e . Once again, i n the poem "Armor" the poet s u f f e r s from the g u i l t o f s u r v i v a l In a s i t u a t i o n i n which ot h e r s have p e r i s h e d . In the poem " D r i n k i n g from A Helmet" the s o l d i e r who s u r v i v e s a b a t t l e t h a t has destroyed o t h e r s o l d i e r s can e x p i a t e h i s g u i l t by s u f f e r i n g . F i n a l l y , the poet e x p r e s s _ s the most h a u n t i n g l y g u i l t - r i d d e n statement i n "The Firebombing." The p i l o t must s u f f e r the p a i n s o f the s p e c i f i c and i n e s c a p a b l e g u i l t of knowing t h a t he has w i l l i n g l y ' taken the l i v e s o f o t h e r s . A s i m i l a r change can be found i n the poet's use of nature i n h i s work. The p o e t r y grows more earth-bound, ,more t i e d to the laws of nature and h i s imagery becomes h e a v i e r . In the poem "Trees and C a t t l e " Qickey c r e a t e s a C h a g a l l - l i k e landscape. The c a t t l e walk through him. He and the t r e e s are d e s c r i b e d as so w e i g h t l e s s t h a t they are "about to get wings." A t r e e i s d e s c r i b e d as I f i t had become uprooted and f l o a t s about the speaker's head. Nothing i s c o n s t r a i n e d by the laws o f g r a v i t y , o r by i t ' s own p a r t i c u l a r p h y s i c a l q u a l i t i e s . The r e d b u l l , the sun, and the poet's golden s i g h t are a l l continuous images of v i r i l i t y and v i t a l i t y . P e r c e i v e d c o r r e c t l y the landscape i s capable o f c r e a t i n g a new v i s i o n . These are the rewards t h a t the speaker reaps from the exchange. The s p a c i a l concepts are q u i t e d i f f e r e n t i n "Fog Envelops the Animals.' 1 Red c a t t l e , heat, and the sun are a l l thematic images i n "Trees and C a t t l e , " whereas f o g , m i s t and whiteness become thematic images i n the l a t e r poem.' ^ The presence o f the f o g i s a major d i f f e r e n c e because now the poet i s c r e a t i n g an o p t i c a l i l l u s i o n r a t h e r than a p u r l e y m y s t i c a l experience. In t h i s poem the poet f l o a t s through the a i r once again. But the d o u b l e - v i s i o n which Lieberman d i s c o v e r s i n other poems from Drowning i s o p e r a t i v e i n t h i s poem as w e l l . ^ The poet's being i s not u t t e r l y merged w i t h the landscape; he experiences a b i f u r c a t e d v i s i o n . The f o g i s bot h the c r e a t o r o f the strange landscape , and a s p i r i t of the myst i c l a n d . The poet submits h i m s e l f to r i t u a l and yet he remains s e l f - c o n s c i o u s . He i s aware o f h i s "long sought i n v i s i b i l i t y " and, at the same time, he i s aware of h i s p h y s i c a l appearance as h i s white t e e t h shine i n the dim l i g h t . The d u p l i c i t y i s o p e r a t i v e on y e t another l e v e l . In t h i s poem the speaker comes to the l a n d -scape prepared to hunfe; he c a r r i e s a bow and a sheaf o f arrows w i t h him. The arrows are transformed i n t o p a r t o f the c o u n t r y - s i d e i t s e l f ; they are white l i k e the f o g - l a y e r e d e a r t h . On the oth e r hand the arrows separate him from n a t u r e . He has come to take l i f e . ' In "Fog Envelops the Animals" the hunter's sense o f h i m s e l f i s c o n s t a n t l y d u p l i c i t o u s . He e x i s t a as a p h y s i c a l and as a s p i r i t u a l e n t i t y . ' Even the d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i s c l o t h i n g suggests this... . His. hood i s "peaked l i k e a flame." I t s s o l i d shape suggests pure energy and the f l i c k e r o f the hood i n the h a l f - l i g h t o f the f o g as i t appeals and disappears suggests the energy o f flame. On the other hand, a v e r y d i f f e r e n t f e e l i n g i s evoked by the d e s c r i p t i o n of the hunter's c l o t h i n g i n the poem "S p r i n g e r Mountain" from Helmets. The hunter i s trapped by h i s own f l e s h . I t i s d i f f i c u l t f o r him to walk swaddled w i t h warm c l o t h i n g . On the o t h e r hand he cannot f r e e h i m s e l f from c l o t h i n g . In t h i s case the hood he wears i s no l o n g e r made of flame^ _ns"e<____t '•Vis a simple woollen VioctfL. His arrows are not snow-flakes N but r a t h e r n o i s y cumbersome weapons t h a t r a t t l e as he walks. The environment around the man i n nature has become i n c r e a s i n g l y xri.lder. The e a r l y poem i s s e t i n a culti¥ated meadow, or farm land? the next p l a c e s the hunter i n a magic f o r e s t j and the t h i r d p l a c e s him i n a h e a v i l y undergrown wood t h a t makes even walking d i f f i c u l t . In "Trees and C a t t l e " the poet s t a t e s t h a t he is_ the animal t h a t he views. He wears the horns o f the red b u l l upon h i s head. In "Springer Mountain" as the hunter views the deev he can o n l y experience a tenuous exchange. "I may be t h e r e , a l s o , / Between them, i n head bones u p l i f t e d . " The exchange f a i l s , i n a way, because the buck's presence o n l y serves to remind him of h i s own p a r t i c u l a r m o r t a l i t y ; he i s f o r t y - y e a r s of age. When the hunter t r i e s to a c t i v a t e the exchange by the removal o f h i s c l o t h i n g he makes him-s e l f i n t o a l u d i c r o u s f i g u r e . He does not merge w i t h nature but f e e l s even more f o r e i g n to the p e r f e c t i o n t hat he has seen. He r e a l i z e s t h a t he i s "a middle-aged, s o f t e n i n g man." Wendell B e r r y f i n d s " S p r i n g e r Mountain" to be a flawed poem. I t i s an i n s u f f i c i e n t conductor and r a t h e r than g e n e r a t i n g emotion the poem becomes s e l f - c o n s c i o u s : The poet seems to be u s i n g c a p a b i l i t i e s developed elsewhere, but to be u s i n g them d e l i b e r a t e l y and m e c h a n i c a l l y . The hunter's g e s t u r e , o r t r a n s p o r t o f , whatever i t i s , seems to have been made to happen ....^^ B e r r y charges Dickey w i t h the same k i n d o f a r t i s t i c f a i l u r e t h a t Dickey r e a c t s a g a i n s t i n hiw own c r i t i c a l w r i t i n g . The manufactured emotion, the manipulated g e s t u r e , make the poem u n r e a l , a f a n t a s y . And t h i s i s what the poet c o n s t a n t l y r i s k s by attempting to c r e a t e a h i g h l y e n e r g e t i c and unusual p o e t i c statement: the poem c r e a t ^ a b e l i e v a b l e o r g a n i c u n i v e r s e o r i t s u f f e r s a c o l l a p s e under i t s own i n t e n s e emotional weight. C e r t a i n l y , there i s a g r e a t e r t e n s i o n generated by some of the l a t e r poems because o f the d i s p a r i t y between the d e s i r e f o r the exahange and the i m p o s s i b i l i t y o f the exchange o c c u r i n g . T h i s , i n i t s e l f , g i v e s the p o e t r y v i t a l i t y and he l p s the poet to b r i n g to l i f e h i s c r e a t e d v i s i o n . Buckdancer's Qhoice c o n t a i n s three poems which are examples of t h i s k i n d o f r e a l i t y . In "The Firebombing," "The F i e n d , " and "Slave Quagters," "the s e l f i s f r u s t r a t e d , p a r a l y z e d , h e l p l e s s l y unable to e s t a b l i s h l i b e r a t i n g connections w i t h the world. The c h i e f o b s t a c l e to s e l f - l i b e r a t i o n i s a sense of moral g u i l t . " ^ As the t i t l e o f Buckdancer i n d i c a t e s , many o f these l a t e r poems are drawn from the poet's own Southern background^ ghe g u i l t t h a t he expresses i n "Slave Quarters" and "Buckdancer' s Choice" i s i n h e r e n t h i s r e g i o n a l i d e n t i t y . In the e a r l i e r books the Southern poems d e a l w i t h l o v e , l u s t , and v i o l e n c e . I t i s o n l y l a t e r t h a t Dickey comes to w r i t e about the r a c i a l g u i l t he has i n h e r i t e d . Dickey a r t i c u l a t e s some o f the a t t i t u d e s which u n d e r l i e poems l i k e "Slave Q u a r t e r s " and "Buckdancer" i n "The D e c l i n e of O u t r a g e . " ^ Here again the poet s u f f e r s from a dual v i s i o n . H is educa t i o n and experience have l i b e r a t e d him enough so t h a t he i s able to d i s m i s s the b l a t a n t l y r a c i s t argument and, upon boarding a segregated bus, to s i t w i t h a b l a c k man and h i s son at the r e a r of the bus. With t h i s gesture he i s demonstrating h i s b e l i e f t h a t "the Negro i s a man l i k e any o t h e r . " At the same time the act causes him to become v e r y s e l f - c o n s c i o u s , to escape i n t o h i s own mental a c t i v i t y i n order to avoid a c o n f r o n t a t i o n . He f e e l s i n e x t r i c a b l y bound to the South and to h i s own p a r t i c u l a r c l a n d e s t i n l y southern f a m i l y . Even at t h i s moment he imagines the anger o f h i s now dead g r a n d - f a t h e r because o f the ' s i n ' he i s commiting hy v i o l a t i n g the code of the white Southern c u l t u r e . He t h i n k s o f "the outrage w i t h which he the g r a n d f a t h e r would view a white man s i t t i n g among b l a c k s . "5^And the poet s u f f e r s g u i l t f o r b e t r a y i n g h i s g r a n d f a t h e r ' s i d e a l s . The poet i s thus caught doubly i n g u i l t . He s u f f e r s g u i l t i n any case. But f i n a l l y he i s s t i l l caught up by the Southern Myth. He admits to h i m s e l f t h a t he s t i l l " f l i n c h e s at the i d e a o f Negro-White i n t e r m a r r i a g e ^ " (p. 276)„He goes on to say th a t "he can at l e a s t b e g i n to r e c o g n i z e the common humanity o f h i m s e l f and the young man s i t t i n g b e s i d e him." And i t i s j u s t t h i s a t t i t u d e which bothers some o f James Dickey's c r i t i c s . A lthough Lieberman responds to these poems f a v o r a b l y , o t h e r c r i t i c s are d i s t u r b e d by Dickey's a b i l i t y to bring-up the q u e s t i o n o f h i s own moral f a i l u r e s and a t the same time to admit t h a t they are i n e s c a p a b l y a p a r t o f him. While Lieberman b e l i e v e s t h a t Dickey i s making an honest attempt to face his own short-comings, Louis Simpson disagrees. He believes that: "Slave ©juarters" i s thoroughtly unconvincing.... A white man speaks as he lurks around the slave quarter's at night;' he i s sweating with ... l u s t ; at the same time he i s ridden with modern l i b e r a l guilt.-'*" Simpson believes that James Dickey's i n a b i l i t y to face his own g u i l t r e s u l t s i n a t e c h n i c a l l y flawed fpoem; ...sometimes Dickey seems to be writing i n a panic. He seems to be faced with a choice: either to i n f l a t e and lose himself, l i k e Thomas Wolfe, i n volumes of pseudo-writing, or to t e l l the truth. When he does the l a t t e r he i s a magnificent poet , °^C . In some ways Simpson has arrived at an apt comparison. Like Wolfe, Dickey.is tr y i n g to create a romantic v i s i o n . The esoteric v i s i o n , the mythic symbolism, the emotive language, and the very length of h i s poems suggest a comparison to Thomas Wolfe. Like Wolfe, Dickey writes r e l a t i v e l y e a s i l y and voluminously. In an interview by Nat Robertson which appears i n the New York Times, Robertson reports that Dickey was at work on a poem which ran to f i v e hundred type-written pages at the time of the interview. The poet intended to cut i t back to four or f i v e pages i n i t s f i n a l form.^ 1 Prom this., and from an examination of h i s work, i t becomes clear that Dickey i s a f i r e with the same kind of creative energy that Thomas Wolfe manifested. I t i s when Dickey i s able to construct a strong enough bridge to the reader that Simpson finds h i s poetic statements to be " t r u t h f u l . " One poem which generates, emotion from within, rather than having emotion infused into i t , i s "The Being." Ik M.L. Rosenthal and Robert Duncan b e l i e v e t h a t t h i s poem shows Dickey's t a l e n t s at t h e i r b e s t . Rosenthal has s a i d o f i t t h a t i t comes c l o s e s t ... to the d i s c o v e r y o f i t s own proper form i n a d d i t i o n to d i s c o v e r y o f the c h a r a c t e r of an experience.... The stages o f the experience, from the f i r s t r e a l i z a t i o n o f what i s happening through submission to " u t t e r d e l i g h t " to a s t a t e o f f r o z e n t e r r o r and then the r e v i t a l i z e d awakening, c o n s t i t u t e a s e r i e s o f s i x b e a u t i f u l l y paced movements."2 Rosenthal b e l i e v e s t h a t Dickey achieves t h i s h e i g h t because the experience t h a t the poet d e s c r i b e s i s so ephemeral t h a t i t demands a k i n d o f f o r m a l and s t y l i s t i c e x a t i t u d e t h a t many o f h i s o t h e r poems do not. The exchange here i s w i t h pure s p i r i t . There i s no c o r r e l a t i v e f o r the "Other," not man, beast,tfov the dead. The complexity of the exchange i s i n c r e a s e d by the range of emotional r e a c t i o n s the i n i t i a t e undergoes. The process i t s e l f i s one t h a t Dickey has, perhaps, l e a r n e d from Theodore Roethke. The i n f u s i o n o f pure s p i r i t i n t o body and the c r e a t i o n o f human poems which enter i n t o a k i n d of sub-conscious world are what Dickey most admires about Roethke's workd. He a l s o admireSo Roethke's a b i l i t y to o p p o s i t e i n t e n s e emotions so t h a t the g r e a t e r i n s i g h t can be reached? The b a l a n c e , the t r a n q u i l awareness t h a t comes o c c a s s i o n a l l y ... i s . . . the product of a t e r r i b l e t e n s i o n not f a r from madness at times, not f a r from tofeal d e s p a i r , but a l s o not f a r from t o t a l joy.63 And i t i s , f i n a l l y , that emotional exhilaration and that sense of r e l i e f which can only be described as joy that Dickey t r i e s to achieve i n his ox-m poetry. The comments that Dickey makes on Roethke's work are applicable to his own. In "The Being" madness, despair, and joy a l l partake of one another. A l l of these reactions are from the dark side, the i r r a t i o n a l side of man's nature, and by that very fac t they are capable of releasing him from the narrow prison of r a t i o n a l i t y . As the poet awakens after his v i s i t a t i o n from the Being he i s capable of "seeing s t r a i g h t / Through the roof." Although the Being i s a purely s p i r i t u a l e n t i t y ^ i t awakens i n the sleeper a greater sense of his own physical beingj of h i s own nudity. Rosenthal concludes that Dickey i s describing a being that i s vaguely l i k e a Succubus.^ The description of the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the nude sleeper and the Being does bring to mind a similar kind of description from D.H. Lawrence's short story "Glad Ghosts." Certainly the encounter, the infusion of each into the other and the strengthening of the sleeper as a r e s u l t of the encounter; i s a s i m i l a r pattern i n both of the works. Both ""the Being" and "Drinking from A Helmet" are d i f f i c u l t poems, poems i n which the poet attempts to describe an experience that by i t ' s richness seems almost i n e f f a b l e . Robert Duncan believes that i n both of these poems Dickey achieves a kind of higher truth. That the poet i s able to " t e l l of seizures of psychic invasions," pleases Duncan. However, ^The Firebombing" and "Reincarnation ( I ) " are l e s s v i t a l poems because: ...He [iickey.] has sh i f t e d from the tense verse and concentrated stanza sequence, the d i r e c t mode of a poetic experience and commitment, towards a more casual verse following a set story l i n e , allowing even cliches of the supernatural t a l e : "My hat should crawl on my head/ In streetcars thinking of i t . " 6 5 He goes on to explain that he i s disappointed by Dickey's imagination i n the l a t e r poems. He believes that the poet has trapped himself into the narrative pattern so that he i s no longer capable of the great v i s i o n he displays i n "The Being." On the other handjLieberman considers the l a t e r poems to be the r e s u l t . o f evolution, of the stripping away of the excessive or unnecessary i n order to create a more ef f e c t i v e s t y l e . That which has become suspect i s eliminated. Lieberman believes that James Dickey has moved toward "a more d i r e c t engagement with l i f e - e x p e r i e n c e , " ^ i n the more recent poetry. I f Dickey's own evaluative c r i t e r i o n i s used to measure the success of h i s poetryyit becomes clear that both c r i t i c s are r i g h t . In order f o r the reader to come away from the poetry with that sense of exhilaration, joy^and through th i s to gain a new ins i g h t into l i f e ^ i t i s necessary for the poet's voice to ring true. The poem must be strong enough to act as a conductor. During the entire t r a n s i t i o n that the poet undergoes he has demanded a great deal of the poem and of the reader. Some of Dickey's e a r l i e r poetry i s extremely d i f f i c u l t and demands a great deal of the reader^ while i n h i s l a t e r work more of the poem i s paraphraseable, more i s given to the reader. On the other handjmany poems i n the l a s t few books suffer from over-statement or cliched sentiments. They seem, at times, to be i n f l a t e d . One seriou s l y wonders where Dickey can go a f t e r writing such massivejintense works as "Sermon" and " F a l l i n g : ! .'J The very i n t e n s i t y of emotion which the poet evokes i n these l a s t poems places, again, a demand on h i s audience. But when the poet l i v e s up to the demand that his- art places on him, when the poetry l<Q>ses the self-conscious quality and moves away from the merely dramatic, Dickey i s as e f f e c t i v e a creator of the r i t u a l universe as he was i n the best poems of Into the Stone. I t i s at these moments that the reader i s w i l l i n g to meet Dickey half-way and to l e t the work of art come to l i f e . Each volume i n Poems: 1957-1967 has a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c quality a l l i t s own. The poems work together as a unit within each volume, while at the same time a l l of the books share si m i l a r subject matter: man alone, man i n nature, man with h i s loved ones, and man at war. James Dickey's v i s i o n i n the f i r s t volume centers on the poetry of war and love. He i s concerned with the magical power of the natural world. Moonlight, as the t i t l e suggests, i s the governing element i n most of the poems while i n Drowning water i s the element which most frequently alteres v i s i o n . In Drowning he begins to discuss h i s own southern past, and to explore f a m i l i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Again, the South concerns the poet i n Helmets and,again, he explores the i n d i v i d u a l ' s relationship to the animal world. While the poetry gains i n awareness of the environment, i t travels.outside of the poet's own view point. Empathy, the exploration of p a r t i c u l a r presences, the attempt to see the would through the eyes of another s p e c i f i c being, begin to i n t e r e s t the poet more as he grows older. In Buckdancer the poet explores the minds of those who are sick or disabled: • "Gamecock," "Mangham," and "Angia." In P a l l i n g he i s able to describe the feelings of those who l i v e i n two worlds.; i n "The Leap" the woman partakes of earth and a i r , of the past and the present and of the l i v i n g and the dead. The Sheep-child i s both man and animal and exists i n an i n t e r -mediary world between the txiro kinds of consciousness. Generally speaking, the country-side and place settings become highly important in- Helmets. The earth i t s e l f i s the most important element and continues to be i n Buckdancer. In t h i s volume, also, the poet's personal t i e s to his past gnd to the two sons who constitute his future are explored. The awareness of time, the duration of time, begins to impress i t s e l f . As the poetry moves from the world of l i g h t , to x-jater, to earth and, f i n a l l y , to a i r (with "Palling") i t begins to generate an ever greater tension. In the l a s t volume man inhabits a world i n c o n f l i c t . His relationship with the animal world has changed. The mystic love of man f o r f o r woman, which becomes the c a p t i v i t y and the f a m i l i a l l o v e found i n marriage, has now changed to a p a s s i o n a t e e x p r e s s i o n o f sexual energy. The poet expresses a concern f o r h i s own approaching death, an awareness o f the aging p r o c e s s , and he now w r i t e s more about the l i f e p o s s i b l e a f t e r death: " R e i n c a r n a t i o n ( I ) , " " R e i n c a r n a t i o n ( I I ) , " "The Head Aim," and "The Common Grave." The p a s s i v i t y and calm o f the moo n - l i t world o f Into the Stone (\m not always to be found i n the l a t e r p o e t r y . Many o f the poems from the l a s t volume are a l i v e w i t h a k i n e t i c teind o f energy which i s o n l y suggested i n the e a r l i e r p o e t r y . However, i n a l l o f James Dickey's work the g o a l remains the same. The p o e t r y must ax^aken i n the reader a heightened awareness. What Dickey admires about the work o f Theodore Roethke i s t h a t which he would most l i k e to -be noted f o r h i m s e l f : the c r e a t i o n o f a " t r u e " v i s i o n . The poet must be able " to r e l a t e to you, the unknown but p o t e n t i a l l y 66 human Other, to the world t h a t a l l o f us e x i s t i n . " And the reader alone can judge the s i n c e r i t y o f the poet's v i s i o n . There must be a v e r y p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p e s t a b l i s h e d between the a r t i s t and h i s audience i n or d e r to a l low the re a d e r to b e l i e v e the a r t i s t . The experience should be " at f i r s t s i g h t l i k e a l o o k i n t o the one r i g h t p a i r o f eyes i n the world. When the eyes are r i g h t , when the poem i s e f f e c t i v e , Dickey b e l i e v e s t h a t the same k i n d . of exchange which he d e s c r i b e s as o c c u r i n g between the i n i t i a t e and the Other i n a poem can occur between the poet and h i s audience. CHAPTER POUR Three Poems: A Look at the L a t e r Poetry James Dickey continues to c r e a t e a r i t u a l u n i v e r s e i n the l a t e r p o e t r y from Poems: 19,^ ,7-19,67" hhmeyia^the cosmology o f imagery i s more a c c e s i b l e to the reader, i n p a r t , because o f the g r e a t e r f o r m a l i s t i c freedom the poet allows h i m s e l f . "Sheep-Child," " P a l l i n g , " and "May Day Sermon to the Woman Preacher L e a v i n g the B a p t i s t Church" ( r e f e r r e d to i n t h i s t e x t as "Sermon") are three o f the l a t e r poems which seem to i n d i c a t e another t r a n s i t i o n i n the peet's work. A l l of them u t i l i z e the s p l i t - l i n e technique, and the s h i f t i n g from n a r r a t i v e v o i c e to the v o i c e o f a speaker who i s i n v o l v e d i n the a c t i o n . . In these poems the exchange i s not i n i t i a t e d by the persona. I t i s i n f l i c t e d upon him. The encounter between two worlds o r between two elemental f o r c e s , p l a c e s the speaker i n a c r i s e s s i t u a t i o n . The t e n s i o n of encounter i s r e l e a s e d w i t h a good d e a l more energy i n the l a t e r poems. Only the death of the i n i t i a t e s a t i s f i e s the problem o f r e s o l u t i o n . Encounter, c r i s e s , awareness and death c o n s t i t u t e e s s e n t i a l l y the same ceremony th a t we have seen i n the e a r l i e r work^but now the death i s more d r a m a t i c a l l y p h y s i c a l . .Pain, v i o l e n c e , estrangement, are a l l aspects o f t h a t death. While the poet's c o n c e n t r a t i o n on the v i o l e n t a c t i o n i n c r e a s e s , so does h i s a b i l i t y to l i v e i n t o the l i v e s o f o t h e r s . "The Sheep-Child" i s one o f Dickey's b e t t e r poems because o f the poet's a b i l i t y to empathize. In t h i s poem there are two v o i c e s ; the n a r r a t o r and the s h e e p - c h i l d b o t h speak. The n a r r a t o r comes to be a spokesman f o r s o c i e t y . His v o i c e speaks f o r the c u l t u r a l mores t h a t keep the members o f a s o c i e t y o p e r a t i v e w i t h i n a g i v e n c u l t u r a l system. He r e p e a t s the myth wMch causes the taboo to be p l a c e d on sodomy, a myth t h a t f i n d s i t s b a s i s i n f a c t . His d e s c r i p t i o n o f the s h e e p - c h i l d i s grotesque and t e r r i f y i n g : ... t h i s t h i n g t h a t ' s o n l y h a l f Sheep l i k e a wooly baby P i c k l e d i n a l c o h o l . . . h i s eyes Are open but you can't stand to l o o k What i s most, h o r r i f y i n g to the farm boys and to the reader-i s the f a c t t h a t t h i s " t h i n g " resembles a baby. I t becomes a symbol o f the c u l t u r a l crime t h a t they would s e c r e t l y commit. As the c h i l d ' s eyes accuse, g u i l t i s so s t r o n g l y f e l t t h a t none of the t r a n s g r e s s o r s * or would-be t r a n s g r e s s o r s , can w i t h s t a n d h i s gaze. The n a r r a t o r p l a y s the apparently, normal a d u l t r e l a t i o n -s h i p of the nbw-grown farm boys to t h e i r wives a g a i n s t the i r r e f u t a b l e f a c t t h a t the s h e e p - c h i l d has been produced. As always the s h e e p - c h i l d ' s unseeing gaze and h i s dead v o i c e accuse. At t h i s p o i n t i n the poem the s h e e p - c h i l d h i m s e l f speaks of another k i n d o f exchange between man and b e a s t . The romantic language used to d e s c r i b e the sheep-mother who gftazes l i k e "moon-light" o n l y emphasizes the b e s t i a l i t y of the man who a t t a c k s h e r . While h i s s e x u a l i t y i s s e l f i s h , she g i v e s "her b e s t / S e l f to t h a t g r e a t need." Thus the exchange i s f i r s t i n i t i a t e d by an act th a t was "something l i k e l o v e . " The exchange i s eomplete at the moment i n which human and animal consciousness are u n i t e d , at the b i r t h o f the s h e e p - c h i l d . And the encounter again b r i n g s w i t h i t an in t e n s e v i s i o n . The c h i l d speaks: ... I saw f o r a b l a z i n g moment The g r e a t gsassy world from both s i d e s , Man and beast i n the round o f t h e i r need, And the h i l l wind s t i r r e d my wool, My hoof and my hand c l a s p e d each o t h e r . The c h i l d i s a l i n k / he makes continuous what was once separate. Two op p o s i t e p e r c e p t i o n s are u n i t e d i n t o a* harmonious v i s i o n . But the harmony i s tenuous. The dead s h e e p - c h i l d i s brought to h i s " f a t h e r ' s house," a museum which Dickey d e s c r i b e s as being a p a r a d o x i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n . I t p r e s e r v e s i t s specimens and p l a c e s them i n g l a s s cases. The s h e e p - c h i l d i s removed from the p a s s i n g of time} He i s p i c k l e d i n s i d e a j a r which i s p l a c e d inside'; of a case, e t c . , e t c . He a t t a i n s e v e r - l a s t i n g l i f e by h i s removal from l i f e . He can l i v e , but o n l y as the f i g u r e i n a legend may s u r v i v e . And, by t h i s p r e s e r v a t i o n , he a t t a i n s the same k i n d o f power t h a t a legendary f i g u r e may a t t a i n . Even the sun's g r a i n s , or the b i t s o f d u s t ^ " f a i l " at h i s " c l o s e t o f g l a s s . " Lawrence Lieberman d e s c r i b e s dust as t h e element of a middle condition i n Dickey's cosmology. I t i s "a mediating / A Borra between organic and inorganic matter, l i f e and death." 0 And because the sheep-child remains i n the middle world, the world of exchange, he retains the power of d i r e c t i n g the l i v e s of the farm boys: ...Dreaming of me, They groan they wait they suffer Themselves, they marry, they r a i s e t h e i r kind. ( p . 2 5 3 ) In "The Sheep-Child" the act of sodomy i n i t i a t e s the exchange. The stewardess i n " P a l l i n g " also undergoes a grotesque exchange. She becomes increasingly more aware of her sexuality as she nears her death* r i i tJ&n t h i s poem Dickey describes a kind of love a f f a i r between the woman and the elements: earth, a i r and water. The sexual encounter that the poet describes i n "Sermon" i s both passionate and animal while, at the same time, i s i s a kind of holy act. Thus, i n the l a t e r poems, a strange kind of sexuality becomes an i n t e g r a l part of the process of exchange. To understand the importance of the sexual aspects of the encounter described i n Dickey's work we w i l l examine the l a s t two poems that w i l l be considered at any length i n th i s study: " P a l l i n g " and "Sermon." " P a l l i n g " begins with the same atmosphere of suspension, of mystic calm that we have seen i n e a r l i e r poems l i k e "Into the Stone." The earth i s described as a magnetic orb which i s capable of "drawing moonlight out of the great/ Onesided stone." The ruined stone, the one-sided stone, i s again the only source of l i g h t i n a vast darkness. The moon i s a k i n d o f n e g a t i v e l i g h t i n the h a l f - d a r k world o f the exchange. I t i s the r e i g n i n g s p i r i t o f a r i t u a l u n i v e r s e i n which mere r a t i o n a l i t y i s e x i l e d . The e a r t h i t s e l f partakes o f the moon's power. And as the stewardess i s swept through an emergency door i n the plane on which she i s working, she too becomes p a r t of the r i t u a l u n i v e r s e . Her f a l l f r e e s her from the boundaries of the normal, the r a t i o n a l , and the w e l l - l i t world that she has known and she begins to partake of the elements. She, l i k e the p i l o t i n "The Firebombing," has been both s h i e l d e d and separated from the elemental power o f the exchange by the presence o f the plane's e n c l o s i n g space. She, l i k e the moonlight, i s drawn i r r e s i s t a b l y to the e a r t h . While she f a l l s she becomes one w i t h a i r , and f i n a l l y , w i t h her f a l l , w i l l become one w i t h the e a r t h . But as the poem begins she i s f r e e d from her f o r m e r l y r i g i d b oundaries. The f i r s t and g r e a t e s t awareness t h a t she reaches as she f a l l s from the plane i s t h a t none o f her former d e f i n i t i o n s are o p e r a t i v e . She i s i n c a p a b l e o f i n t e r p r e t i n g the experience of w e i g h t l e s s n e s s , o f toTalL a l i e n a t i o n from human companionship and p o s s i b l e d e l i v e r a n c e , and o f the momentary immanance o f her death. V o i d , n o t h i n g -ness, i n f i n i t y have opened up f o r one who i s " s t i l l neat l i p s t i c k e d s t o c k i n g e d g i r d l e d by r e g u l a t i o n . " And now, o n l y seconds from death, she i s g i v e n complete freedom; a t h i n g which she c o u l d never a t t a i n w h i le f u l l y p r o t e c t e d . L i k e the d i v e r i n "Drowning," she experiences k i n e s t h e t i c freedom. In the e a r l i e r p o e t r y the persona, who i s the poet, undergoes the experience o f freedom w h i l e suspended i n water. However, i n "Drowning w i t h Others'.' the poet's v i s i o n i s ambiguous. The speaker i s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y i n s i d e of'^and o u t s i d e of the suspended freedom t h a t he d e s c r i b e s . The sea o f f e r s complete ' l i b e r a t i o n and yet he can o n l y d e s c r i b e the w e i g h t l e s s world through the eyes o f another; he cannot achieve i t h i m s e l f . "The hand on my shoulder-ears/ to f e e l my own wingblades s p r i n g . " The d o u b l e - v i s i o n has faded i n the poem " P a l l i n g . " The freedom^the r e l e a s e from the weight a f g u i l t are accomplished, but not by the poet. As the double v i s i o n f a d e s j t h e poet u t i l i z e s the empathetic view e n t i r e l y . The persona ho l o n g e r the poet, enters the w e i g h t l e s s world. The stafee o f suspension i s no l o n g e r terminated by the r i t u a l d e a t h - i n - l i f e and r e b i r t h c y c l e of poems such as " S l e e p i n g Out at E a s t e r , " but r a t h e r the i n t e n s i f i e d emotional t e n s i o n o f the l a t e r poems i s r e s o l v e d by a p h y s i c a l death. The stewardess, l i k e Donald Armstrong i n "The Performance," d i d " a l l t h i n g s i n t h i s l _ f e " t h a t can be done by an i n d i v i d u a l whose l i f e i s circumscribed, by time and chance. They both had to f a c e death and were l e f t w i t h o n l y one p o s s i b l e d e c i s i o n ; and t h a t d e c i s i o n was to d i e i n as p e r s o n a l a manner as they c o u l d . For Donald Armstrong t h i s meant that he would stand on h i s headj f o r the stewardess i t meant the removal o f her c l o t h i n g so t h a t her youth and beauty would be p r o p e r l y r e c o g n i z e d and s u f f i c i e n t l y mourned. In the-.few remaining seconds o f l i f e b oth o f these i n d i v i -duals make o f an unusual f a t e an even more b i z a r r e f a t e . It i s the only personally s i g n i f i c a n t act l e f t to them. Although Donald Armstrong and the stewardess share a s i m i l a r kind of bravery, the poems themselves have a very d i f f e r e n t impact on the reader. There i s a kind of sadness and yet s a t i s f a c t i o n i n Armstrong's death. The distance of time and the distance the poet achieves from his subject by the use of the narrative voice, permit a kind of mostalgic admiration. Tv.jxln the l a t e r poem the reader i s not allowed to view the p a i n f u l death of the stewardess at a distance, but i s forwarned of the violence of her death, allowed to experience a l l of the shock and terror that she f e e l s as she f a l l s and i s forced to observe the l i n g e r i n g demise. The i n t e n s i t y achieved by thi s poem and the greater length of the poem act as a kind of challenge to the reader. Dickey threatenSs to cross that threshold which distinguishes art from a merely personal experience. In a way, one almost f e e l s that t h i s kind of poem i s an attack on the reader, that i t charges himoto accept a pain f u l r e a l i t y much l i k e the theater of cruelty does. Perhaps the poet attempts to achieve the greatest tension possible i n an e f f o r t to bring the reader f u l l y into the exchange. But i t i s a dangerous technique and brings with i t a greater chance of f a i l u r e . I f the reader i s not w i l l i n g to p a r t i c i p a t e , or I f the poem f a i l s , then the in t e n s i t y of exchange may become mere bombast and contrivance. In a long poem such as " P a l l i n g " there are, more occasions f o r the f a i l u r e of the exchange and the poet places himself i n greater jeopardy. The experiences described i n " P a l l i n g " are again, multifarious. The stewardess 1 f a l l i s a journey from moon to a i r to death. She thus takes on elemental power. As she nears death, she grows more p h y s i c a l l y comfortable and more p h y s i c a l l y aware. She takes on such power that she f e e l s as i f she could open her mouth and suck"All the heat from the c o r n f i e l d . " She i s " i n superhuman health." By this Dickey means that she i s more than human both because she enters the minds of n i g h t - f l y i n g predatory birds and because she becomes a l i v i n g embodiment of the f e r t i l i t y powers of the goddess Diantu^. and of other f o l k goddesses. Even as she passes over the sleeping country g i r l s , her power awakenes i n them and i n he r s e l f a sense of sexuality which i s concurrently personal and archetypal. In the creation of a myth-poetic world Dickey does not d i f f e r e n t i a t e between the mundane-the magical. The stewardess i s both at once. This approach to h i s work shows that James Dickey i s capable of mythic creation. David Bidney attempts to define the creation of myth i n his essay "Myth, Symbolism, and Truth," He states that ,"In primitive language, art, and magic" symbolic representations are used "without d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g symbols from t h e i r o b j e c t s . T h e farm g i r l s are described as they sleep under chen i l l e g u i l t s . This i s a kind of objective r e a l i t y . On the other hand, the very beds i n which they sleep become an i n t e g r a l part of the enactment of the f e r t i l i t y r i t u a l of the dying god. In t h i s case the stewardess i s the goddess, the Diana, the one who can awaken the s l e e p i n g g i r l s and awaken i n them t h e i r l a t e n t s e x u a l i t y . I t i s she who can awaken the e a r t h i t s e l f from the s l e e p i n g darkness. And the beds t h a t the g i r l s l i e i n are a neeessary p a r t o f the r i t u a l . "The s c r a t c h -s h i n i n g posts o f the bed" are c e r t a i n l y p h a l l i c totems, and the moon becomes a "female s i g n . " As the f a l l i n g woman passes her hands over her now nude body, she awakens the d e s i r e o f the men who s l e e p c o m fortably on the l a n d beneath her. With her p a s s i n g , w i t h the approach o f the goddess to the a c t u a l s p i l l i n g o f her' own blood, she i n c r e a s e s the excitement o f sexual f e r v e r i n the s l e e p i n g men. "The male blood l i k e i n o n " becomes p a r t o f the sexual dream o f the s l e e p i n g g i r l s , w h i l e s l e e p i n g boys f i n d " f o r the f i r s t time t h e i r l o i n s f i l l e d w i t h h e a r t ' s b l o o d . " Dickey seems to say t h a t i n a ver y d i r e c t way i t i s the stewardess' b l o o d which f i l l s t h e i r l o i n s . As she d i e s , the e a r t h i s e n r i c h e d . The s u n r i s e i t s e l f i s made p o s s i b l e by her death. Because o f her a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h the moon she i s r e s p o n s i b l e , hy her pa s s i n g , f o r the waning o f i t and consequently f o r the break o f day. With the n e a r i n g o f death, the n i g h t i t s e l f comes to a c l o s e . • P a l l i n g , she turns i n m i d - a i r to o f f e r obeisance to the r i s i n g sun, to the e a s t . And i t i s , a g a i n , the s p i l l i n g o f h er blood t h a t b r i n g s renewal. The s u n r i s e , i n a l l i t s c o l o r , i s "blood u n e a r t h l y drawn/ Towards c l o u d s . " As moonlight was drawn to e a r t h , b l o o d i s now drawn back to the sky to create day. The stewardess, therefore, becomes a v i r g i n o f f e r i n g i n a r i t u a l death. As she l i e s i n the wheat-fields o f Kansas, the farmers discover her. Even while they sleep they know of her passing because of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with the land. It i s an immediate, subconscious awareness which prevades t h e i r dreams. By her death she becomes one with the land and as the farmers discover her body they walk "toward the dreamed eternal meaning of t h e i r farms." With this image Dickey combines archetypal myth with dream psychology i n order to create his own p a r t i c u l a r r i t u a l universe. However, i n the l a t e r poetry i t i s now the unconscious mind that i s capable of perceiving the enactment of r i t u a l . Thus the sleepers and the stewardess are i n t r i c a t e l y bound; they a l l exist i n a sta^e o f suspension, a state which cannot l a s t . The stewardess' consciousness unites the elements, crosses the boundary between human and animal consciousness; i n other words^she makes continuous what was discontinuous. In t h i s way " P a l l i n g " i s s i m i l a r to Dickey's other poetry; i t i s a r i t u a l incantation i n i t s e l f . While the regular rhythms of the e a r l i e r work are, gone, the phrases s t i l l "multiply into a trance-like massive sound-aggregate. However, the poet i s conscious of the discovery of a new kind of sound as he composed the poem. In an interview given about the time he was writing " P a l l i n g , " Dickey said: I think I've got a new kind of sound again, another beat, a h a l t i n g , hesitant, s t u t t e r i n g kind of sound. I haven't r e a l l y made i t go yet, but occassionally I can hear a ha l t i n g voice saving amazing things.71 That the poet hears l i n e s being spoken to him i s not a mere figure of speech. Like other romantics before him, he can at times perceive a voice. "The surging unstoppable rhythm" that Lieberman so admires brings to mind the prose style of William Faulkner. The violence of the stewardess 1 death and the violence of her extreme emotional state as she nears death, are also reminiscent of Faulkner. That the stewardess i s not representative of a f e r t i l i t y goddess, but i n f a c t i_s one i s s i m i l a r to Faulkner's treatment of Eula Varner, the earth-mother of The Hamlet. Certainly the strangely romantic description of bizarre sexuality i n Dickey's poetry brings to mind sim i l a r descriptions i n Faulkner's work, such as the sodomaic rela t i o n s h i p of Ike Snopes with a cow. However, thi3 p a r t i c u l a r c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Dickey's work can be discussed more thoroughly after an examination of the poet's most ambitious, poem, "Sermon." The f r o n t i c e piece poem of Poemst 1 9 5 7 9 1 9 6 7 continues i n the t r a d i t i o n of " F a l l i n g . " The long phrase, the s p l i t -l i n e , the unwinding of mythic narrative, are technical devices which Dickey employs i n t h i s poem once again. A woman who symbolizes the dying god and the country setting are also found again. However, Peter Davidson places i t apart from Dickey's other poetry. He believes i t to be the culmination of Dickey's poetic aareer as i t stood i n 1 9 6 7 . He says that the poem," contains everything that Dickey, at t h i s stage, can put Into a poem. The new metric and syntax are there; the obsessive theme of death and renewal and r e p e t i t i o n and eternity; the transformations of the "earthbound, the archetypes of country l i f e . I t strains toward u n i v e r s a l i t y . " ? 2 In "Sermon" Dickey moves his mythic v i s i o n nearer to the more usual l i t e r a r y archetypal poetry and further from the esoteric v i s i o n represented intthe e a r l i e r poetry. The sermon i s a kind of speech against organized r e l i g i o n , i n favor of the r i t u a l rennwal of May Day ( the day of the crowning of a May Queen who t r a d i t i o n a l l y represents f e r t i l i t y and the reawakening fecundity of the earth). The cycle of l i f e and death i s again evoked as a part of the magic of r i t u a l . As the farm g i r l dies again every spring, so the preacher r e t e l l s the story of her death. The sermon i t s e l f i s a necessary part of the nenewal of spring; i t becomes an i n t e g r a l part of the r i t u a l . The Lord whom the preacher reveals to her audience i s an ambiguous f i g u r e . The . f i r s t implication i s that he i s the guiding s p i r i t of nature who abides darkly i n a l l l i v i n g things; he i s the creator. At the same time he i s the destroyer whose very act of destruction enables creation i n a never ending cycle. The second l o r d , the Lord of organized "religion, i s played against and sometimes merged with the begtable king. The poem i t s e l f i s a r e f l e c t i o n of a statement which James Dickey made to Paul O'Neil i n an interview on July 22, 1966. At this time the poet said that, "I haven't k i l l e d Jesus o f f . I f e e l we understand each other. But my r e l i g i o n i s akin to some primitive s t i c k and stone r e l i g i o n . " ? 3 The poem i s a part of that r e l i g i o n . Instead of an actual s t i c k , or the a c t u a l movement of a stone b r i n g i n g on the power of the sun i n the s i x t h month darkness o f the Eskimo w i n t e r j t h e poet has access to the i m a g i s t i c s t i c k and stone. The poem i t s e l f i a an implement o f a r i t u a l r e l i g i o n . In the enactment of the ceremony which reawakens! the e a r t h from Winter's death-sleep, the f e r t i l i t y p o t e n t i a l r e s i d e s s p e c i f i c a l l y i n one woman. This i s t r u e f o r "Sermon" as w e l l as f o r " P a l l i n g . " I t i s the farm g i r l who Dickey emphasises i n the f r o n t i c e - p i e c s poem. On the o t h e r hand, the p a r t i c u l a r m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f f e r t i l i t y i s t r a n s f e r r e d to other female f i g u r e s ; the sermon i s d e l i v e r e d by a female preacher to an annual g a t h e r i n g o f women. The sermon begins w i t h the e v o c a t i o n o f the symbols o f mythic power. "Fog, gamecock, snake, and neighbor" w i l l , t ogether, g i v e "men a l l the he l p they need/ To drag t h e i r daughters i n t o barns." The presence o f f o g p r o v i d e s the ne c e s s a r y a l t e r a t i o n o f v i s i o n and p e r c e p t i o n . Again, one must remember t h a t i n Dickey's cosmology when p e r c e p t i o n i s a l t e r e d the p e r c e i v e r and the o b j e c t s which he views take on a new, more v i t a l l i f e . The gamecock, which i s i n s t r u m e n t a l i n the exchange, i s a symbol o f v i r i l i t y , o f o b s t i n a n c y . In one poem ("Gamecock";) Dickey a s s o c i a t e d i t w i t h h i s f a t h e r . The snake i s a l e s s d i r e c t image. In i t s ambiguity i t i s both the r e i n c a r n a t i o n of e v i l (one who c a r r i e s p o i s o n ) ^ t h e d e v i l manifest^and i t i s a symbol f o r l i f e . Like the bedposts i n " P a l l i n g , " the snake i s a p h a l l i c sign of suggested masculine sexuality. F i n a l l y , with the necessary altered v i s i o n , and i n the presence of male v i r i l i t y symbols, the r i t u a l can begin. But f i r s t the necessary communion must take place: the neighbor must be present. In t h i s p a r t i c u l a r poem Dickey sees the neighbor both as a projection of the s e l f , and,at the same time, as an al i e n being. At times the s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l t i e s which eliminate or minimize i n d i v i d u a l differences are of fore-most importance. In t h i s case the presence of the neighbor forces the father to punish his daughter f o r a transgression against the c u l t u r a l moral code.- However, by acting out a neighborhood condemnation of his daughter's sexual behavior he alienated himself from humanity. He takes on the wrath of the Lord and loses himself to i t . By his passionate anger he, perhaps, becomes a part of the very sexual fever that he condemns i n his daughter. As the woman preacher continues her sermon about the r i t u a l s u f f e r i n g of the farmer's daughter the language with which she recreates the May Day Ceremony i s t y p i c a l l y B i b l i c a l . She addresses her audience as "children" who have come to learn. "Children, I s h a l l be showing you/ The fox hide stretched on the door l i k e a f l y i n g s q u i r r e l . " And with t h i s she reveals the part that the father i s to play i n the ceremony. The fox, as we see i n "Listening to Foxhounds" and i n "Fox Blood," i s associated with masculine stoicism. At the same time the presence of the p e l t on the barn door i n d i c a t e s t h a t the f a t h e r i s a hunter, another s i g n of v i r i l i t y and power. In t h i s way Dickey uses the f o x - s k i n i n the same manner t h a t D.H. Lawrence does i n h i s s h o r t s t o r y "The Pox." John B* V i c k e r y ' s essay "Myth and R i t u a l i n the S h o r t e r F i c t i o n of D.H. Lawrence-" c o n t a i n s an a n a l y s i s of the symbolic q u a l i t y of the f o x - s k i n . Perhaps Wickery's o b s e r v a t i o n s c o u l d apply to Dickey's "Sermon" wit h equal accuracy. Both Dickey and Lawrence evoke the p r i m i t i v e f e r t i l i t y d e i t y , Dionysus, and both u t i l i z e the f o x as a H i v i n e animal to be s a c r i f i c e d . The f o x s k i n a l s o comes to be i d e n t i f i e d w i t h the daughter. The f o x must be k i l l e d and l a i d f l a t on the barn door i n the same way t h a t the g i r l must be beaten and t i e d to the p h a l l i c May-pole which f i n d s i t s p a r t i c u l a r m a n i f e s t a t i o n i n the c e n t e r - p o l e o f the barn. Even the l i g h t i t s e l f which f i l t e r s i n t o the barn becomes a k i n d of e x t e n s i o n o f the May-pol e image. The l i g h t o f the sun p r o c l a i m s t h a t s p r i n g has come to break-up the w i n t e r darkness. The t h i n beam o f s u n l i g h t i s d e s c r i b e d by Dickey as i f i t too were a s u p p o r t i n g p o l e i n the barn's s t r u c t u r e . As i t touches the grotesque barn d w e l l e r s , i t s t i r s them and t r a n s f e r s to them a new v i t a l i t y . Again, we see that Dickey's images partake of one another. The sun, l i k e the snake, i s not merely a symbol, anymore than a note i n a movement w i t h v a r i a t i o n s i s a symbol. Because i t i s combined, a l t e r e d by, and c o n t r a s t e d w i t h o t h e r major symbols i t gains a k i n d o f p o e t i c energy. The continum of images such as the snake, s u n l i g h t , c e n t e r p o l e , and the winding roadway which lea d s to death i s a p a r t i c u l a r l y apt technique f o r the c r e a t i o n o f mythic p o e t r y . And the c y c l e i s a p a r t i c u l a r l y a p p r o p r i a t e device f o r the a c t i o n of the mythic poem. As the women i n the audience partake of the preacher's experience they become p a r t o f the c y c l e . The preacher i n t u r n r e c r e a t e s the f a r m - g i r l ' s experience. The c y c l e completes i t s e l f . The p h a l l i c e n e r g i e s o f the f a t h e r and the l o v e r ^ although d i f f e r e n t i n k i n d , are a l s o continuous q u a l i t i e s . Thus, out of p a r t i c u l a r people Dickey again c r e a t e s two o p p o s i t e d s e x u a l f o r c e s . And as male and female beings they are a l s o s o c i a l , r e l i g i o u s , and mythic e n t i t i e s . When the f a t h e r chains h i s daughter to the c e n t e r p o l e i n order to beat her, a t r a n s f o r m a t i o n begins« The L o r d Jehovah becomes a snake which goes "Down on His B e l l y descending c r e e k - c u r v i n g blowing h i s l e g s / L i k e candles out." Thus the f a t h e r , the v e n g e f u l God, the snake, the D e v i l and the l o v e r become one. In the h e l l i s h dark o f the barn the temptor i s Jehovah, and the f a t h e r h i m s e l f becomes the Jehovah o f the n e g a t i v e world. L i k e the copper-headed snake, the f a t h e r i s a deadly c r e a t u r e . In t h i s u n i v e r s e the v e r y a i r i s r e d w i t h dust, and the i n h a b i t a n t s , the " s w e l l i n g t i c k s , " are f u l l o f b l ood. The snake becomes a r e i g n i n g t l l e r u l e r °^ the dark world, much l i k e D.H. Lawrence's snake i n the poem <xF Jr~ "Snake" i s a r e g a l c r e a t u r e by nature o f i t s ominous power. In h i s d e s c r i p t i o n o f the barn Dickey has c r e a t e d a negati'uae world i n which revenge, p a s s i o n , l u s t and death are the c r e a t i v e f o r c e s . C r e a t i o n i s c e r t a i n l y suggested by the p o s s i b i l i t y o f b r e a t h i n g "the b r e a t h o f Adam" i n t o the a r r i d dust. And as the f a t h e r , who t h i n k s o f h i m s e l f as "the Lord's own man," becomes a k i n d o f l i v i n g v e n g e f u l god he becomes a p a r t o f the c y c l e o f death f o r the purpose o f r e - b i r t h t h a t i s c e n t r a l to the poem. As the i n t e n s i t y o f p a s s i o n i n c r e a s e s there i s a t r a n s f e r e n c e o f energy; a l l t h i n g s , inanimate, human or animal, b e g i n t o partake of one another. Time i t s e l f i s j a r r e d l o o s e from the b a s i c frame o f n a r r a t i v e chronology. The w r a t h f u l f a t h e r becomes l e s s human as the animals and even the t r a c t o r absorb h i s rage and become l i k e him. Although the t r a c t o r remains motionless i n the barn, i t absorbs so much energy t h a t i t seems to b e l i e v e t h a t : I t must p u l l up a stump p u l l p u l l down the w a l l s of the barn L i k e Dagon's temple s e t the Ark o f the Lo r d i n i t s p l a c e change a l l Things f o r good, by p a i n . (p. ii) And t h i s k i n d o f ambivalence i s p r e v a l e n t throughout the poem. The l o v e / l u s t o f the farm g i r l f o r her l o v e r , the r e v e n g e / l u s t that the f a t h e r enacts by h i s b e a t i n g , and the journey to death a l l are necessary p a r t s o f the r e c u r r i n g r i t u a l . While the poet i s sympathetic w i t h the g i r l and vehemently d e c r i e s the s e l f - r i g h t e o u s n e s s o f the f a t h e r who would j u s t i f y h i s a c t i o n s w i t h a B i b l e b e l t r a t i o n a l , he, at the same time remains aware t h a t the c r u c i f i x t i o n i s necessary f o r the coming awakening of na t u r e . This i n i t s e l f h e l p s -to c r e a t e t e n s i o n w i t h i n the poem. The poem i s e l e c t r i c w i t h p a s s i o n and. §cet the poet i s s t r a n g e l y d i s t a n t from h i s s u b j e c t . He achieves t h i s by c a r e f u l l y u t i l i z i n g the n a r r a t i v e v o i c e . As the poem b u i l d s to a p a s s i o n a t e d e s c r i p t i o n of the love-making of the g i r l • and the motorcycle r i d e r , there i s a s h i f t to a more g e n e r a l i z e d d e s c r i p t i o n . The g i r l l i e s i n her bed a f t e r she i s beaten and w i t h her thoughts the tempo o f the poem b u i l d s . She With d i g n i t y walks w i t h no he l p to the house l i e s f a c e down In her room, b u r n i n g t u r n i n g i n h e a r i n g i n the spun r u s t - g r o a n o f b e d s p r i n g s . (p. 8) Her p h y s i c a l p a i n and her mental t u r m o i l i n c r e a s e s . The verbs begins to p i l e one upon another. Because of the p a i n she r e c e i v e s from the b e a t i n g , her sexual awareness i s heightened. And when the g i r l , i n her s p e c i f i c s u f f e r i n g , i s s u f f i c i e n t l y aroused she l o o s e s her i n d i v i d u a l i t y . In other words, the poet s h i f t s focus from the farm g i r l to a more g e n e r a l i z e d k i n d o f female demiurge. Her s e x u a l i t y i s t r a n s f e r r e d to the l i s t e n i n g women. And the preacher s a n c t i o n s t h i s when she says, " In May 0 g l o r y to the sound of your man gone w i l d / . . . l e t your n i p p l e s r i s e . " Thus the poet i s able to b u i l d a p a s s i o n a t e crescendo and then to l e s s o n the t e n s i o n by moving back from the persona. At t h i s p o i n t the p r o g r e s s of the poem i t s e l f i s o v e r l a i d w i t h another dimension. The magic words "Each year" remind the r e a d e r t h a t t h i s i s a c y c l i c occurence. Each year marks another a n n i v e r s a r y of the day o f murder and death; and w i t h the commemorating of the a n n i v e r s a r y , s p r i n g i s again brought to the l a n d . As we have seen the p o e t r y of James Dickey, p a r t i c u l a r l y the l o n g e r poems, are, works o f v i o l e n c e and p a s s i o n . Whether t h i s q u a l i t y can be c o n s i d e r e d to be an i n h e r i t a n c e of the Southern t r a d i t i o n i s a debatable p o i n t . Although Dickey i s a Southern poet i n the general: sense of that catagory (he was born i n G e o r g i a and educated at V a n d e r b i l t )j P r o f e s s o r Louise Cowan would not p l a c e him w i t h i n the F u g i t i v e T r a d i t i o n : Where i n prose f i c t i o n there seems l i t t l e o r no abatement o f the Southern L i t e r a r y Renascence that began i n the 1 9 2 0 ' s . . . there has been no comparable l i t e r a r y s u c c e s s i o n i n Southern p o e t r y . J a r r e l l , Dickey, Smith and others seem to have f a r l e s s i n common w i t h such o t h e r non-Southern poets o f t h e i r own g e n e r a t i o n as Robert L o w e l l , K a r l Shapiro, R i c h a r d Wilbur, Howard Nemerov, John Berryman. W i l l i a m M e r e d i t h and Reed Whittemore, than i s t r u e f o r the n o v e l i s t . And, as we have seen, Dickey's p o e t r y does p r o v i d e enough m a t e r i a l f o r comparison w i t h non-Southern p o e t r y so t h a t c r i t i c s f e e l secure enough to p u b l i s h c r i t i c a l statements to t h a t e f f e c t . I t has been s a i d t h a t he owes a c e r t a i n debt to Yeats, perhaps to Auden, c e r t a i n l y to Roethke and S t a f f o r d . His poems have been compared to John Berryman's and Robert L o w e l l ' s , without too g r e a t an e x t e n s i o n o f t h a t p a r t i c u l a r c r i t i c a l i m a g i n a t i o n which i s o p p e r a t i v e i n comparisons o f t h i s s o r t . Perhaps the b e s t way to r e s o l v e the dilemma as to whether or not Dickey i s a N o n - F u g i t i v e Southern poet might be to examine some of h i s own o b s e r v a t i o n s o f the Southern t r a d i t i o n . In Dickey's admiration o f Robert Penn Warren r e s t s a c l u e . Warren, a Southern poet, i s a l s o a n o v e l i s t and i n that genre he u t i l i z e s some of the techniques o f the p o e t . C e r t a i n l y Warren's work was c o n s i d e r e d to be the b r i d g e between the A g r a r i a n s and the neo-romantics. The Southern t r a d i t i o n has been a l t e r e d f o r a new age. Dickey's p o e t r y i s another b r i d g e ; he, l i k e Warren, can be seen to have been i n f l u e n c e d by the prose f i c t i o n t r a d i t i o n . The themes t h a t one f i n d s r e p e a t e d l y i n Robert Penn Warren's and W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r ' s n o v e l s are taken up by Dickey. The problems o f g u i l t , r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , i n d i v i d u a l a c t i o n and p a r a l y s i s are concerns which appear f r e q u e n t l y i n the Southern n o v e l i s t s ' t r a d i t i o n . What Waggoner says o f Warren i s e q u a l l y a p p l i c a b l e to the more contemporary poet: Warren simply takes i t f o r g r a n t e d that we are a l l g u i l t y , and i n v o l v e d i n each o t h e r ' s g u i l t , whether we choose to t h i n k about i t i n p s y c h o l o g i c a l or t h e o l o g i c a l t.'ermss. 75 R i c h a r d T i l l i n g h a s t , i n f a c t , sees Dickey as the. Southern Contemporary Poet and p l a c e s him i n the t r a d i t i o n because of Dickey's concerns: "Nowhere e l s e does one f i n d so many poems about animals, hunting, f i s h i n g , f i g h t i n g , and the n a t u r a l world."^^-However, these are r e l a t i v e l y s u p e r f i c i a l q u a l i t i e s . F i n a l l y , g u i l t , damnation, a concern with the responsible r e l a t i o n s h i p between man and nature and between man and fellow man^give the subjects Dickey chooses for his poetry a kind of Southern q u a l i t y . Even his language, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the l a t e r poetry, begins to be reminiscent of the Southern novel. In Dickeyfe search f o r a voice he came upon the Southern t r a d i t i o n and changed i t to s u i t his needs. In t h i s following statement he places himself f i r m l y i n the romantic t r a d i t i o n : But I sensed immediately that writers l i k e Faulkner and Wolfe had d i f f e r e n t orientations with language than, say, Maugham. I responded to t h i s q u a l i t y . I kept looking for writers who had t h i s thing. M e l v i l l e . James Agee.77 In f a c t , i n his recent book Self-Interviews^ Dickey states that h i s ^personal heroes of the s e n s i b i l i t y are John Keats, James Agee, and Malcolm Lowry."?^ He goes on to praise Agee more s p e c i f i c a l l y . James Agee, f o r me, word-by word and sentence by sentence, i s the writer I care f o r more than f o r anybody I've ever read i n any language. I t ' s not only that he xtfas a Southerner and came out of somewhat the same background as I, but that he had the kind of verbal s e n s i b i l i t y that my own responds::to most. (p.75) What he admires about a l l of these fellow writers i s t h e i r a b i l i t y to commit themselves completely to a work of a r t . And this sense of largeness, the freedom to express the kinds of perceptions and emotions which are not e a s i l y discernible by the l o g i c a l use of language, r.i& what Dickey continually works toward. This i s what he finds to be a p a r t i c u l a r l y useful aspect of the romantic t r a d i t i o n . This i s what drove the poet on to experiment with the longer poem, the f r e e r l i n e . In A p r i l 1968, he explained how he had come to use the poetic l i n e found i n " P a l l i n g " and "Sermon": What I wanted to do, i t seemed to me that the poetic l i n e , you could take i t and wring i t s neck, as Mallarme aaid, you could take i t and take a l l the punctuation out and you could make a l i n e that would do something about approximating the way the human mind r e a l l y does associate-sort of, i n jumps, i t ' s not continuous at all.'° What Dickey says here, and the way he says i t , begins to sound l i k e Faulkner's experimentation with the stream of consciousness technique. The p i l i n g up of images and phrases, the continuousness of time, the association of contradictory emotions i n an instant of time, and the violence and passion of the atmosphere are a l l to be found i n both the novels of Faulkner and i n the poetry of James Dickey. Both a r t i s t s i u t i l i z e the elements of r i t u a l and attempt to create a prophetic voice: the prophecy of the nightmare world of the Southern Gothic t r a d i t i o n . In f a c t , i n another Southern poet's work Dickey i s drawn to the gothic q u a l i t y . Dickey admires Allan Tate's portrayal of the "everyday nightmare."® 0 The tension between the f a m i l i a r and the t e r r i f y i n g aspects of l i f e i s explored and creates a kind of amalgamation of the mundane and the h o r r i f y i n g . This tension i s , i n part, responsible f o r the prophetic v i s i o n . Thus James Dickey can be considered a poet who u t i l i z e s some aspects of the Southern prose f i c t i o n t r a d i t i o n . And what appeals to hi/*i most from the t r a d i t i o n i s i t s use of the gothic. In order to understand the poet'"s reason f o r the use of the grotesque i t i s important to arrive at a d e f i n i t i v e statement which w i l l correlate the poet's own statements about the purpose, d i r e c t i o n , and . meaning of hi s work with the function of the grotesque. The presence of grotesque can be determined by the influence i t has upon the perceptions of the reader. Clayborough, i n his book The Grotesque i n English Literature,- r e i t e r a t e s G.K. Chesterton's d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque: ... Cit i s 3 ... an a r t i s t i c device which does not so much serve to draw our attention from the natural world as to make us see the world with new eyes i n a way which i s not less but more t r u t h f u l than the usual attitude of casual acceptance.81 In other words, the grotesque i s capable of inducing wonder, of leading the reader to clairavoyance. With t h i s d e f i n i t i o n i n mind one can place Dickey's own aesthetic c r i t e r i o n s f i r m l y i n the romantic t r a d i t i o n . Both Clayborough ( who here paraphrases Chesterton) and James Dickey believe that the altered v i s i o n , although unattractive, can lead to an i n t e n s i t y which r e s u l t s i n the sublime. In f a c t , when Clayborough describesaKayser's treatment of madness i n the German author's book The Grotesque i n Art and Literature , a substitution of Dickey's name f o r Kayser's would not al t e r the ver a c i t y of Clayborough 1s observations: Even i n describing madness, i t i s not dementia, insane energy which he Kayser stresses, but the strangeness and impersonality of madness: "It i s as though an al i e n inhuman s p i r i t had entered the s o u l d " 8 2 . This statement i s a p p l i c a b l e to Dickey's treatment o f madness i n poems such as "The F i e n d . " The fieod does not c o n s i d e r h i m s e l f to be i n a c a p a b l e o f c o n t r o l l i n g h i s p a s s i o n , and i n t h i s l i e s h i s madness. The sense o f strangeness and of i m p e r s o n a l i t y i s an i d e n t i f y i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f Dickey's p o e t r y . He i s able to c r e a t e t e n s i o n w h i l e a t the same time the p o e t r y seems s t r a n g e l y d i s t a n t . There i s a c o o l r a t i o n a l i t y , a d i s t a n c e between the poet and the persona, even i n the most empathetic p o e t r y . "The F i e n d , " i n f a c t , ean be p l a c e d w i t h "Sermon" and " F a l l i n g " i n the sense t h a t i n t h i s poem the poet combines the e x p l o r a t i o n o f the s p l i t - l i n e technique i n a l o n g poem w i t h the e x p l o r a t i o n of a strange s e x u a l i t y . The romantic-t r a g i c v o i c e i s p l a y e d a g a i n s t an o c c a s i o n a l l y humorous image mn a l l three poems. Although the F i e n d i s s i c k and dangerous the poet humorously d i s c u s s e s h i s v o y e u r i s t i c d e l i g h t at the s i g h t of the u n d r e s s i n g woman. "She touches one button at her t h r o a t , and r i g o r m o r t i s / S l i t h e r e s i n t o h i s pockets, Making e v e r y t h i n g there--keys, pen/ and s e c r e t l o v e - - stand up." With t h i s l i n e Dickey achieves a k i n d of p e r verse " s l a p - s t i c k . " In the same way he uses humor to r e l i e v e the dark t e n s i o n which i s c r e a t e d i n "Sermon." Even as the farm g i r l b r u t a l l y k i l l e d her f a t h e r ^ ; -the poet t u r n s a r e l i g i o u s maxim i n t o a black-humor pun. !fA g i r l w i l l tend to take an i c e p i c k i n b o t h hands.../ Things happen q u i c k l y and i t i s easy f o r a needle to pass/ Through the eye of a man bound f o r heaven." Even h i s 1 ok peculiar use of humor places Dickey i n the grotesque t r a d i t i o n . William Van O'Connor has aaid that the grotesque i s a "new genre, merging tragedy and comedy, and seeking, seemingly i n perverse ways, the sublime."83 The sublime, the experience of e l a t i o n o r j o y ^ i s the ultimate goal of the grotesque, whether molded s p e c i f i c a l l y to the Southern t r a d i t i o n or to a more generally gothic-one. In Edmund Burke's d e f i n i t i v e work On the Sublime and Beautiful one finds the clearest expression of the grotesque and i t s place i n the world of art. Burke says that Whatever i s f i t t e d i n any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that i s to say, whatever i s any sort t e r r i b l e , or i s conversant about t e r r i b l e objects, or operates i n a manner analogous to terror, i s a source of the sublime; that i s i t i s productive of the strongest emotion which the mind i s capable of f e e l i n g . 8I4. The grotesque pushes the njind to the threshold; i t threatens the reader. And i t i s the grotesque, present i n James Dickey's poetry, which produces the necessary tension f o r the creation of the sublime. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , Dickey's poetry f i t s aptly into Burkets point-by-point delineation of the grotesque. Burke l i s t s s i x major imagistic themes which may be found i n a gothic work. The f i r s t i s the creation of monsters; c e r t a i n l y the sheep-child can be considered to be a monstrous f i g u r e . The second i s the presence of strange animals such as owls, snakes, spiders, toads, boar, and vermin; i n short the presence of nocturnal or creeping creatures. As we have seen Dickey's poetry i s generally set i n a night-time or darkened world. The owl-king rules because his day-time blindness allows him to see c l e a r l y at night at night. The barn i n "Sermon" i s a microcosmic gothic world i n which the snake rules, and blood f i l l e d t icks are the populace. And f o r Burke's t h i r d imagistic theme^the unruly plant l i f e which creates a jungle^ Mckey supplies the Kudzu vine. In the poem "Kudzu" >;the plants are encroach! almost sentient vines which provide the necessary environment for r e p t i l i a n - l i f e . The Kudzu again f o l i a t e s the country-side i n "Sermon." The l a s t three items, i n Burke's catalogue of grotesque images are: the use of tools, the presence of the mask, and the exploration of the insane mind. Tools which take on a kind of l i f e of t h e i r own provide the fourth category. The plane, the tfeactor, and the wire fence a l l take on a kind of organic v i t a l i t y i n Dickey's work. S i m i l a r l y , Dickey i s fascinated by the mask, by the wearing of the mask i n the Dance of Death i n such poems as "Approaching Prayer," and "Drinking from A Helmet." In both of these poems the persona r e l i v e s the death of another being by wearing , i n the one case^a boar's head and a father's sweater, and i n the other a dead man's hat. F i n a l l y , the s i x t h item i n Burke;'s l i s t i s the a r t i s t ' s i n t e r e s t i n the insane. As we have seen, Dickey writes s p e c i f i c a l l y about insanity i n "The Fiend" and he explores the minds of people who reach the l i m i t s of sanity i n such poems as "The Leap" and " F a l l i n g . " The area of the mind which l i e s i n darkness fascinates James Dickey. And the manner i n which he treats the unconscious powers, the thematic imagery of the grotesque i s i n i t s e l f an extension of the gothic t r a d i t i o n . Irving Malin's description of the gothic again sheds l i g h t on James Dickey's negative world, as have other d e f i n i t i v e statements about the grotesque. Malin has said that: "Chronology i s confused, i d e n t i t y i s blured, sex i s twisted, the buried l i f e erupts. The Total e f f e c t i s that of a dream."85 ( I t a l i c s , are the author's). It i s c e r t a i n l y the buried l i f e , the dark-side of the moon, which Dickey explores. But that i s not to say that the dark v i s i o n i s a l e s s e r v i s i o n . Dickey's c r i t e r i a f o r a t r u l y good poem would not, i n any way, c o n f l i c t with Thomas Mann's f e e l i n g about the function of the grotesque. Mann believes that "The grotesque i s that which i s excessively true and excessively r e a l , mat that which i s arbitrary, f a l s e , unreal and absurd."®^ By the very nature of i t s excess, of i t s generative energy, the v i s i o n i s more r e a l than i f i t were the r e s u l t of a highly i n t e l l e c t u a l ! z e d a c t i v i t y . I t i s , i n part, because the grotesque threatenes the reader that i t involves him more completely i n the work of a r t . Both of the major c r i t i c s who write about the grotesque and about James Dickey c i t e , as the basic c r i t e r i o n of art, that i t involve the reader and that i t bringshimo to a state of sublimity, of joy. Moreover, t h i s i s s p e c i f i c a l l y what Dickey has attempted to achieve i n h i s own poetry. He c a l l s f o r "the touch upon words of a humanly perceived beauty, t e r r o r or mystery. "8-7 However, t e r r o r and mystery are i n themselves capable o f b e i n g b e a u t i f u l . They are d e v i c e s by which the poet, and through him : the reader^may be l e a d "Toward a S o l i t a r y 88 Joy." " This i s the t i t l e Dickey g i v e s to h i s essay about the work of Theodore Roethke. And i n t h i s essay on Roethke he bringS"together h i s c r i t i c a l c r i t e r i a , h i s a t t i t u d e toward h i s own a r t , and the reason f o r h i s admiration o f Roethke and o t h e r poet's work. Dickey admires i n others and wishes to produce i n h i s own a r t a r i t u a l u n i v e r s e . And by p l a c i n g the grotesque image i n a r i t u a l u n i v e r s e he wishes to produce "A t e r r i b l e t e n s i o n not f a r from madness, at times, not f a r from t o t a l d e s p a i r , but a l s o not f a r from t o t a l joy."°^ And t h i s i s f i n a l l y what the r i t u a l s t r u c t u r e o f Dickey's p o e t r y i s working towards to f i n d the reader, to pass him through the f i r e , to s u b j e c t him to an i n t e n s e experience and to then r e l e a s e the t e n s i o n , to allow the reader to experience a Hew v i s i o n . CHAPTER FIVE C o n c l u s i o n James Dickey i s a poet w i t h a g r e a t c r i t i c a l awareness. He w r i t e s p o e t r y w h i l e c o n s c i o u s l y f o r m u l a t i n g an o p e r a t i v e a e s t h e t i c . In the p o e t r y i t s e l f he c r e a t e s a c o n s i s t e n t mytho-poetic world. T h i s world, and h i s c r i t i c a l work are both based on the c y c l i c nature of p e r c e p t i o n . And i t i s the p a t t e r n of the gyre, the c i r c l e which turns back on i t s e l f i n o r d e r to a r r i v e at an e n t i r e l y new p l a c e , t h a t comes to mind when one examines Dickey's work i n Poems 1957-1967. As we have seen, Dickey has experimented w i t h h i s p o e t r y d u r i n g t h a t t e n year span. He moves from a m i s t y world where the exact c o r r e l a t i o n between man and nature, or man and the s p i r i t world, remains u n c l e a r to a l e s s e s o t e r i c enactment of the ceremony o f i n i t i a t i o n . The poet draws more on h i s Southern h e r i t a g e toward the end of the volume and he moves from the t i g h t m e t r i c l i n e to a more p r o s a i c k i n d of e x p r e s s i o n . The poems become i n c r e a s i n g l y l o n g e r . I t i s not s u r p r i s i n g t h a t Dickey, j u s t t h r e e years a f t e r the p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s volume, brought out a n o v e l which takes as i t s s e t t i n g the Southern c o u n t r y s i d e . However, though he experiments w i t h the use of language, and w i t h the p a t t e r n o f i n i t i a t i o n i n h i s p o e t r y , h i s c r i t i c a l g o a ls hage remained the same. The r i t u a l c y c l e i n the poem can tee viewed as a k i n d o f c y c l i c e x t e n s i o n of the c r e a t i o n o f the poem i t s e l f . Both are capable of l i f t i n g man out o f h i m s e l f and u n i t i n g him w i t h the Other. In t h i s way Dickey attempts to w r i t e a " t r i b a l p o e t r y , " b e l i e v i n g t h a t he can thereby g i v e man a c l e a r view, perhaps f o r the f i r s t time: ... the v e r y s a y i n g has the p e c u l i a r grace o f b e i n g able to r a i s e one's random p e r c e p t i o n o f a blade o f grass bending i n the a i r to a k i n d o f Nth pox-jer o f f r a g i l e s i g n i f i c a n c e . I t i s t h i s t h a t we have, i n the end, aga i n s t "the s i l e n c e o f the i n f i n i t e spaces." We don't have i t . f o r e v e r , but f o r a w h i l e we do have i t ; and i t i s , because t h i s i s our c o n d i t i o n , m a g n i f i c e n t l y enough. n90 Because o f i t s f r a g i l i t y ^ time becomes important to Dickey. He c o n s t a n t l y t r i e s to c r e a t e the e t e r n i t y w i t h i n the second. In h i s e a r l i e r p o e t r y he i s concerned w i t h thee_croachment of the mundane boundaries o f l i f e upon the momentary m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e . In the l a t e r p o e t r y he i s concerned w i t h the moment o f suspended l i f e b e f o r e death. As the stewardess, Donald Armstrong, the Mourning son, the dying p i l o t f a c e the t e r r o r and mystery o f deathj they a l s o r e a l i z e the beauty o f l i f e . They are human, " m a g n i f i c e n t l y enough." The t r i n i t y o f beauty, t e r r o r , and mystery I s important to the poet and the grotesque elements w i t h i n h i s p o e t r y c r e a t e beauty out of t e r r o r and mystery. They c r e a t e i n the reader a c e r t a i n s u b l i m i t y o f v i s i o n when the c y c l e o f p e r c e p t i o n i s complete and when the poem i s s t r o n g enough to h o l d the immense emotional x^eight t h a t Dickey p l a c e s on i t . Dickey understands th i s when he says,"It's l i k e Roethke said somewhere toward the end of his l i f e : 'In spite of everything I seek to e s t a b l i s h some kind of condition of joy.' " ^ And at his best, Dickey can i n t e n s i f y the reader's perceptions of l i f e . He can create joy when the cycle of perception i s complete. The resolution of a l l paradoxes and the continuity of a l l disparate q u a l i t i e s reside, f o r James Dickey, i n the instant of exchange. The s t i l l point i n a turning world i s "Joy, by God." \ 1 Poets of Today VII, ed. John H a l l Wheelock (New York, 1960) . 2Evelyn U n d e r h i l l , P r a c t i c a l Mysticism: A L i t t l e Book  fo r Normal People,(London, 194°)> P«3» 3Howard Nemerov, "The Poet Turns on Himself," Contemporary American Poetry (Washington, D.C., n.d.), pT28TJ~ ^Contemporary American Poetry, p. 281).. ^James Dickey, The Suspect i n Poetry (Madison, Minnesota, 1964) , p. 9 . D"Edwin Arlington Robinson," Babel to Byzantium: Poets  and Poetry Now (New York, 1968), p. 21k.. 7The Suspect i n Poetry, p. 9 . g In t h i s sense Dickey r e f l e c t s some aspects of Bergsen's philosophy. The a r t i s t becomes the revealing agent. Bergsei has said that Corot and (Turner are capable of showing us what "we had perceived without seeing." Bergsen uses the word perceived to mean an i n t e l l e c t u a l a c t i v i t y whereas Dickey uses i t . t o mean a complete experience, a "seeing." Henri Bergsen, The Creative Mind, Trans. Mabelle L. Andison, (New York, 194677~p. 160. ^Carolyn Kizer and James Boatwright, "A Conversation with James Dickey," Shenandoah, XVIII, 1, (Autumn 1966), p. 17. 1 0 T h e Suspect i n Poetry, p. 9. 1 1 Five Poets of the P a c i f i c Northwest, ed. Robin Skelton (Seattle, 196k), p. x x i i i . 12James Dickey, Poems: 1957-1967 (New York, 1968), P. 145. 1 3]gabel to Byzantium, p. 75. 1 4 i D i d , p . 77. 1-'Robert Penn Warren, Selected Poems: New and Old; 1923Q1966 (New York, 1966), p. 2k5. 1 oJames Dickey, "The Greatest American Poet," A t l a n t i c CCXXII (November, 1968), p. 53-56. ^^The Suspect i n Poetry, p. 113) 1 uTheodore Roethke, The Far F i e l d (New York; 196k) p. 3 9 . ^ L o u i s Simpson, "New Books of Poems," Harperts, CCXXV (August^ 1967), p. 9 0 . 2 0James Dickey "Your Next-door Neighbor's Poems," Sewanae Review, LXXII, ( A p r i l - J u n e 196k) , p. 311. 2 1?The Son, the Save, and the Burning Bush," The  Young American Poets (Chicago, 1968), p.8 . 2 2 C a r o l y n K i z e r , Shandoah, p. 12. 2 3The Suspect, p. 51 . 21+L.S. and L.A. Dembo, Conceptions of R e a l i t y i n Modern American Poetry (Berkeley, 1966), p. 12. 2 ^ H e n r i Bergson, The C r e a t i v e Mind, p. 3k. 2 o R o y Harvey Pearce, The C o n t i n u i t y of American Poetry, ( P r i n c e t o n , Hew Jersey, 1961), p. 13k. 2 ? P e t e r Davidson,"The D i f f i c u l t i e s of Being Major," A t l a n t i c , CCXX, (October 1967), p. 119. 2 8 P u b l i s h e d by Houghton M i f f l i n i n March 1970. 2 9 R a l p h J . M i l l s j r . , "The Poetry of James Dickey," Tri-Qjuarterly (Winter 1968), p. 233. 3°H.L. Weatherby, "The Way of Exchange i n James Dickey's Poetry," The Sewanee Review, LXXIV, 3, (July-September,1966) p. 669-680. 3 1 Robert B l y , "The C o l l a p s e of James Dickey: Buckdancer's Choice," The S i x t i e s , IX (Spring 1967), p.70-79. 3 2Contemporary American Poetry, p. 288. 33AH poems of Dickey's are from Poems:1957-1967 unless otherwise i n d i c a t e d . I l l Howard Nemerov, "Poems of Darkness and A Specialized Light," Sewanee Review, LXXI, 71 (Winter 1963) , p. 103. »^Richard Howard, "On James Dickey," Partisan Review, 3 3 , ( 1 9 6 6 ) , p. L1/I6. 3 6 i b i d , p. Li-17. ^Contemporary American Poetry, p. 2 8 9 . •^Shenandoah, p. 1 3 • 39ibid. ^°J.G. Prazer, The Golden Bough (London, 1 9 1 1 ) ,III, p.8 0 . H.L. Weatherby, Sewanee Review, p. 670. Howard Nemerov, Sewanee Review, p. 1 0 0 . ^ P e t e r Davidson, "The D i f f i c u l t i e s of Being Major," A t l a n t i c , CCXX (October 1 9 6 7 ) , p.119. kk-Thorn Gunn, "Things, Voices, Minds;" Yale Review, LII, (October 1962)-, p. 1 3 2 . hSJohn William Corrington, "James Dickey's Poems: 1 9 5 7 - 1 9 6 7 : A Personal Appraisal," Georgia Review, XXIII No. 1 (Spring 1 9 6 8 ) , p. 18 . chael Goldman, "Inventing the American Heart," The Nation, CCIV ( A p r i l 2ij., 1 9 6 7 ) , p. 5 2 9 . ^ R i c h a r d Howard, "On James Dickey, " Partisan Review, p. ij-25. ^ 8H.L. Weatherby, p. 6 7 3 . ^Howard Kaye, "Why Review Poetry," The New Republic, CLVIII (June 29 , 1968) p. 29 ^Laurence Lieberman, "Notes on James Dickey's Style," The Far Point (Spring/ Summer 1969) , p. 5 9 . 51 i b i d Co ^ The reference here and elsewhere to the poet as speaker i n the poem i s a consideration of the poet as persona. This consideration i s necessary f o r Dickey's poetic ontology: there i s no greater "truth" than that whidh exists i n the poem. Therefore, the poet must be free to create a mythos of his own l i f e and to abstract from or a l t e r biography at any time. ^ H . L . Weatherby, p. 677. -^"Laurence Lieberman, The Par P o i n t , p. 60, tc Laurence Lieberman, r >The Achievement o f James Dickey,£ (Glenview, I l l i n o i s , 1968), p. 10. ^ W e n d e l l Berry, "James Dickey's New Book," Poetry, GV (November 1965), p. 130. ^ L i e b e r m a n , "The W o r l d l y M y s t i c , " Hudson Review, XX (Autumn 1967), p. 513. 5 8Dickey, "The D e c l i n e o f Outrage," From Babel to Byzantium, p. 257-266. 59»Decline o f Outrage,"p. 260. 6 o L o u i s Simpson, "New Books o f Poems," Harper's, GCXXF (August 1967), P. 90. 61 Nat Robertson, "Interview w i t h James Dickey," Nexj York Times, (September 10, 1966), Sect. 1, p. 11 . M.L. Rosenthal, The New Poets: American and B r i t i s h  Since 1956 (New York, 196~7), p. 327. 63Dickey, "Theodore Roethke," Poetry, CV (November 19611) p. 121. ^ R o s e n t h a l , p. 327. ^ R o b e r t Duncan, " O r i e n t e d by I n s t i n c t - by S t a r s , " Poetry?: CV (November 1961 .^), p. 132. 6 6 T h e Far P o i n t , p. 60. 6 7 J , Dickey, "Theodore Roethke," p. 119. 6 8 T h e Far P o i n t , p . 62. 6 9James Bidney, "Myth, Symbolism, and Tr u t h , " Myth  And L i t e r a t u r e , ed. John B. V i c k e r y ( L i n c o l n , 1966), p.7 70_deberman, "New Books i n Review: The Expansional Poets: A Return to P e r s o n a l i t y , " Yale Review, LVII (Winter 1968), p. 266. "^Dickey quoted by Laurence Lieberman, Yale Revi ew, p.267. ? 2 D a v i d s o n , A t l a n t i c , p. 121. 7 3 p a u i O'Neil, "James Dickey: Improbable Poet," L i f e (July 22, 1966), p. 78. ^American Poetry, ed. Irving Ehrenpreis, (London 1965), p r i j T : ^ H y a t t Waggoner, American Poets: Prom the Puritans  to the Present (Boston 1968), p. 551.. 7 6Richard T i l l i n g h a s t , " P i l o t Into Poetry," The  New Republic (September 9, 1967) p. 28. 7 7 P a u l O'Neil,Life, p. 74. 7°James Dickey, Self-Interviews, ed. Barbara and James Reiss (New York 1970) 7 9 C a r o l Buck, Poetry A u s t r a l i a , I II (A p r i l 1968), p . 6 . ®°Dickey, Spinning the.Crystal B a l l (Washington 1967), P. 13 u 1 Arthur Clayborough, The Grotesque i n English Literature (Oxford 1965) , P. 58. ^Wolfgang Kayser, The Grotesque i n Art and Li t e r a t u r e , trans. U l r i c h Weisstein (Blooraington 1 96~3) , P. 80 ^ % i l l i a m Van O'Connor, The Grotesque: An American Genre and Other Essays (Carbondate 1962), p. 1. ^Edmund Burke, On the Sublime and Beautiful (New York, n.d.), p. 32. ^^Irving Malin, New American Gothic (Carbondate 1962) p. 9. B.6 Quoted by Kayser from Mann's Reflections of An U n p o l i t i c a l Man, p. 128. Pt"7 The Suspect, p. 9. 0 The t i t l e of the concluding essay i n The Suspect. ^james Dickey, "Theodore Roethke," Poetry, p. 121. 90 7 Hyatt Waggoner, American Poets contains exerpts from Dickey's speech acknowledging receipt of the national Book Award f o r Buckdancer 1s Choice, p. 61k. Kizer, Shenandoah, p . 26. PRIMARY WORKS a) Books Bergsen, H e n r i . The C r e a t i v e Mind, trans.. Mabelle L. Andison. New York, 19U-6". Burke, Edmund. On the Sublime and B e a u t i f u l , New York, n.d. C a r r o l l , P a u l , ed. The Young American Poets. I n t r o d . James Dickey. Chicago, 196b. Clayborough, A r t h u r . The Grotesque i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e . Oxford,. 1 965. Dembo, L.S. and L.A. Conceptions o f R e a l i t y i n Modern  American Poetry. B e r k e l y , 19^ 6". Dickey, James. Babel to Byzantium: Poets and Poetry Now. New York, 1968. . Poems: 1957-1967. New York, 1968. . "The Poet Turns on H i m s e l f , " Contemporary American Poetry, ed. Howard Nemerov. Washington, D.C, n.d. . S e l f - I n t e r v i e w s , ed. James R e i s s , New York, 1970. . The Suspect i n Poetry. Madison, Minnesota, 196ij.. E h r e n p r e i s , I r v i n g , ed. American P o e t r y . London, 1965. P r a z e r , J.G. The Golden Bough. London, 1911. Kayser, Wolfgang. The Grotesque i n A r t and L i t e r a t u r e , t r a n s . U l r i c h W e i s s t e i n . Bloomington, 1963. Lieberman, Laurence, ed. The Achievement of James Dickey. Glenview, I l l i n o i s , 1968. M a l i n , I r v i n g . New American G o t h i c . Carbondate, 1962. O'Connor, W i l l i a m Van. The Grotesque: An American Genre  and Other Essays. Carbondate, 1962. Pearce, Roy Harvey. The C o n t i n u i t y of American Poetry. P r i n c e t o n , 1961. Roethke, Theodore. The Far F i e l d . New York, 1961+. Rosenthal, M.L. The New Poets: American and B r i t i s h Poetry  Since 1965. New York, 1967. Skelton, Robin, ed. Five Poets of the P a c i f i c Northwest. Seattle, 196)+. Underhill, Evelyn. P r a c t i c a l Mysticism: A L i t t l e Book for  Normal People. London, 194.8. Vickery, John B. ed. Myth and L i t e r a t u r e . Lincoln, 1966. Waggoner, Hyatt H. American Poets: From the Puritans to  The Present. Boston, 1961H Warren, Robert Penn. Selected Poems: New and Old: $923- 1966. New York, 1966. Wheelock, John H a l l , ed. Poets of Today VII. New York, 1960. b) Magazines Berry, Wendell. "James Dickey's New Book," Poetry, CV (November 1964.), 1 3 0 - 1 . Bly, Robert. "The Collapse of James Dickey: Buckdancer's Choice," The S i x t i e s , IX (Spring 1967), 70-79. Buck, Carol. "The 'Poetry Thing 1 with James Dickey," Poetry A u s t r a l i a , XXI ( A p r i l 1968), 4 - 6 . (An interview) Corrington, John William. "James Dickey's Poems: 1957-1967 A Personal Appraisal," G-eorgia Review, XXII( Spring, 1968), 12=23. Davidson, Peter. "The D i f f i c u l t i e s of Being Major," A t l a n t i c , CCXX (October 1967), 116-21. • Dickey, James. "The Greatest American Poet," A t l a n t i c  Monthly, CCXXII (November 1968), 53-58. . "Theodore Roethke," Poetry, CV (November 196!+). 119-22. _. "Two Days i n September," A t l a n t i c (February 19$0) . "Your Next-Door Neighbor's Poems," Sewanee Review, LXXII (April-June 1961+), 307-21 . Duncan, Robert. "Oriented by Instinct--by Stars," Poetry, CV (November 1961+), 1 3 1 - 1 3 3 . Goldman, Michael. "Inventing the American Heart," The Nation, . CCIV ( A p r i l 2l+, 1 9 6 7 ) , 5 2 9 - 3 0 . • • ' . Gunn, Thorn. "Things, Voices, Minds," Yale Review, LII. (October 1 9 6 2 ) , 129-38. H oward, Richard. "On James Dickey," Partisan Review, XXXIII ( 1 9 6 6 ) , 4.14.-28. Kaye, Howard. "Why Review Poetry?" The New Republic, CLVIII . (June 29, 1 9 6 8 ) , 2 8 - 9 . • Kizer, Carolyn, and James Boatwright. "A Conversation with Dickey," Shenandoah, XVIII (Autumn 1 9 6 6 ) , 3 - 2 8 . Lieberman, Laurence. "New Books In Review: The Expansional . Poet: A Return to Personality," Yale Review, LVII (Winter 1 9 6 8 ) , 258-72. . • . "Notes on James Dickey's Style," The Far Point, (Spring/Summer 1 9 6 9 ) , 5 7 - 6 3 . . "The Worldly Mystic," Hudson Review, XX (August 2967), 5 1 3 - 9 . M i l l s , Ralph J., J r . "The Poetry of James Dickey," T r i -Quarterly, XI (Winter 1 9 6 3 ) , 231 -4-2. Nemerov, Howard. "Poems of Darkness and A Specialized Light," Sewanee Review, LXXI (Winter 1963), 999104.. O'Neil, Paul. "James Dickey: Improbable Poet," L i f e , ( J u l y 2 2 , 1 9 6 6 ) , 6 8 - 7 0 . Robertson, Nat. "Interview with James Dickey," New York  Times, (September 1 0 , 1 9 6 6 ) , Sect 1 , -p.11. Simpson, Louis, "New Books of Poems," Harper's CCXXXV (August 1 9 6 7 ) , 89-91. T i l l i n g h a s t ^ Richard. " P i l o t into Poetry," The New Republic. CLVII (September 9, 1 9 6 7 ) , 2 8 - 2 9 . Weatherby, H.L. "The Way of Exchange i n James Dickey's Poetry," The Sewanee Review, LXXIV (July-September 1 9 6 6 ) , 6 6 9 = F 0 . a ) . Books Beach, Joseph Warren. Obsessive Images: Symbolism i n Poetry of the 1930's ancTT9U-0ra. ed. W i l l i a m Van O'Connor. M i n n e a p o l i s , 1960. Bradbury, John M.,Renaissance i n the South: A C r i t i c a l  H i s t o r y o f the L i t e r a t u r e 1920-1960. Chapel H i l l , 1963. Cash, W. J . The Mind of the South. New York, 1941• Rubin, L o u i s D., J r . , and Robert D. Jacobs, ed. The South Modem Southern L i t e r a t u r e i n i t s C u l t u r a l S e t t i n g . New York, 1961. . Southern Renascence: the L i t e r a t u r e of the Modern South. B a l t i m o r e , 1953." Stepanchev, Stephen. American Poetry Since 1945? A C r i t i c a l Survey. New York, 1965. b) Magazine A r t i c l e s Davis, D.M. "Pour Volumes Prove that L y r i c Poetry S u r v i v e s , " N a t i o n a l Observer, tiJvily 10, 1967), 19. Dickey, James. "An Old Family Custom," The New York Times Book Review (June 6, 1965), Sect. 7, 1-16. Dickey, William.. " T a l k i h g About What's R e a l , " Hudson Review, XVIII (Winter 1965-66), 613-17. (About the  Suspect i n P o e t r y ) . Dickey, W i l l i a m . "The Thing I t s e l f , " Hudson Review, XIX (S p r i n g 1966), 146-155. (About Buckdancer's Choice. Donoghue, Denis. "The Good Old Complex Pate," Hudson Review, XVII (Summer 1964), 267-77. " Durham, Prank. "The Southern L i t e r a r y T r a d i t i o n : Shadow o r Substance," South A t l a n t i c Q u a r t e r l y , LXVII (Summer 1968), 455-465":: " Evans, O l i v e r . " U n i v e r s i t y I n f l u e n c e on P o e t r y , " P r a i r e Schooner, 35 (Summer 1961 ),. 179-80. (About Poets of Today V I I ) . F i e l d , Kenneth. 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"The Necessary and Permanent R e v o l u t i o n , " Southern Review, N.S.,.I (Autumn 1965) , 9 2 6 - k k . Meredith, W i l l i a m . "James Dickey's Poems," P a r t i s a n Review, XXXII (Summer 1965), k 5 6 - k 5 7 . Murphy, F r a n c i s . "Going i t Alone: Estrangement i n American Po e t r y , " Y a l e Review, LVI (October 1966), 1 7 - 2 k . Scarborough, George. "One Flew East, One Flew West, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," The Sewanee Review, LXXIII (January-March 1965), 138-150. S c h e v i l l , James. "Poetry Q u a r t e r l y : Experience i n Image, Sound, and Rhythm," Saturday Review, KLV ( May 5 , 1962), 2k-27. Simon, John. " C r i t i c ' s Choice f o r Christmas," Commonweal, LXXXVII (December 1, 1967), 315. Strange, W i l l i a m . "To Dream, to Remember: James Dickey's Buckdancer's Choice," Northwest Review, V I I ( F a l l -Winter 1965-1966), 33-Iffi^ Thompson, John. "A Catalogue of Poets," Hudson Review, XIII (Winter 1960-1961 ), 618-25. Tulip, James. "The Wesleyan Poets-II," Poetry A u s t r a l i a , IV. (October 1968), 3 k - k 7 . Watson, Robert. "Two Books of C r i t i c i s m , " Poetry, CVII (February 1966), 332-333. Wright, James. "A Shelf of New Poets," Poetry, IC (December 1961), 178-83. 1 

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