Thursday, February 02, 2012

Happy Birthday James Dickey !

James Dickey
Today is the birthday of an American poet and novelist James Lafayette Dickey. James  Dickey (February 2, 1923 – January 19, 1997) was appointed the eighteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1966. presenting some poems : being poet

In The Tree House At Night

And now the green household is dark. 

The half-moon completely is shining 
On the earth-lighted tops of the trees. 
To be dead, a house must be still. 
The floor and the walls wave me slowly; 
I am deep in them over my head. 
The needles and pine cones about me
Are full of small birds at their roundest, 
Their fist without mercy gripping 
Hard down through the tree to the roots 
To sing back at light when they feel it. 
We lie here like angels in bodies, 
My brothers and I, one dead, 
The other asleep from much living,
In mid-air huddled beside me. 
Dark climbed to us here as we climbed 
Up the nails I have hammered all day 
Through the sprained, comic rungs of the ladder 
Of broom handles, crate slats, and laths 
Foot by foot up the trunk to the branches 
Where we came out at last over lakes
Of leaves, of fields disencumbered of earth 
That move with the moves of the spirit. 
Each nail that sustains us I set here; 
Each nail in the house is now steadied 
By my dead brother’s huge, freckled hand. 
Through the years, he has pointed his hammer 
Up into these limbs, and told us
That we must ascend, and all lie here. 
Step after step he has brought me, 
Embracing the trunk as his body, 
Shaking its limbs with my heartbeat, 
Till the pine cones danced without wind 
And fell from the branches like apples. 
In the arm-slender forks of our dwelling
I breathe my live brother’s light hair. 
The blanket around us becomes 
As solid as stone, and it sways. 
With all my heart, I close 
The blue, timeless eye of my mind. 
Wind springs, as my dead brother smiles 
And touches the tree at the root;
A shudder of joy runs up 
The trunk; the needles tingle; 
One bird uncontrollably cries. 
The wind changes round, and I stir 
Within another’s life. Whose life? 
Who is dead? Whose presence is living? 
When may I fall strangely to earth,
Who am nailed to this branch by a spirit? 
Can two bodies make up a third? 
To sing, must I feel the world’s light? 
My green, graceful bones fill the air 
With sleeping birds. Alone, alone 
And with them I move gently. 
I move at the heart of the world. 

The Performance
The last time I saw Donald Armstrong 
He was staggering oddly off into the sun, 
Going down, off the Philippine Islands. 
I let my shovel fall, and put that hand 
Above my eyes, and moved some way to one side 
That his body might pass through the sun,
And I saw how well he was not 
Standing there on his hands, 
On his spindle-shanked forearms balanced, 
Unbalanced, with his big feet looming and waving 
In the great, untrustworthy air 
He flew in each night, when it darkened. 

Dust fanned in scraped puffs from the earth 
Between his arms, and blood turned his face inside out, 
To demonstrate its suppleness 
Of veins, as he perfected his role. 
Next day, he toppled his head off 
On an island beach to the south, 

And the enemy’s two-handed sword 
Did not fall from anyone’s hands 
At that miraculous sight, 
As the head rolled over upon 
Its wide-eyed face, and fell 
Into the inadequate grave 

He had dug for himself, under pressure. 
Yet I put my flat hand to my eyebrows 
Months later, to see him again 
In the sun, when I learned how he died, 
And imagined him, there, 
Come, judged, before his small captors, 

Doing all his lean tricks to amaze them— 
The back somersault, the kip-up— 
And at last, the stand on his hands, 
Perfect, with his feet together, 
His head down, evenly breathing, 
As the sun poured from the sea 

And the headsman broke down 
In a blaze of tears, in that light 
Of the thin, long human frame 
Upside down in its own strange joy, 
And, if some other one had not told him, 
Would have cut off the feet 

Instead of the head, 
And if Armstrong had not presently risen 
In kingly, round-shouldered attendance, 
And then knelt down in himself 
Beside his hacked, glittering grave, having done 
All things in this life that he could.

Farm boys wild to couple
With anything with soft-wooded trees
With mounds of earth mounds
Of pine straw will keep themselves off
Animals by legends of their own: 
In the hay-tunnel dark
And dung of barns, they will
Say I have heard tell

That in a museum in Atlanta
Way back in a corner somewhere
There's this thing that's only half
Sheep like a woolly baby
Pickled in alcohol because
Those things can't live his eyes
Are open but you can't stand to look
I heard from somebody who...

But this is now almost all
Gone. The boys have taken
Their own true wives in the city, 
The sheep are safe in the west hill
Pasture but we who were born there
Still are not sure. Are we, 
Because we remember, remembered
In the terrible dust of museums? 

Merely with his eyes, the sheep-child may
Be saying saying

I am here, in my father's house.
I who am half of your world, came deeply
To my mother in the long grass
Of the west pasture, where she stood like moonlight
Listening for foxes. It was something like love
From another world that seized her
From behind, and she gave, not Iifting her head
Out of dew, without ever looking, her best
Self to that great need. Turned loose, she dipped her face
Farther into the chill of the earth, and in a sound
Of sobbing of something stumbling
Away, began, as she must do, 
To carry me. I woke, dying, 
In the summer sun of the hillside, with my eyes
Far more than human. I saw for a blazing moment
The great grassy world from both sides, 
Man and beast in the round of their need, 
And the hill wind stirred in my wool, 
My hoof and my hand clasped each other, 
I ate my one meal
Of milk, and died
Staring. From dark grass I came straight

To my father's house, whose dust
Whirls up in the halls for no reason
When no one comes piling deep in a hellish mild
And, through my immortal waters, 
I meet the sun's grains eye
To eye, and they fail at my closet of glass.
Dead, I am most surely living
In the minds of farm boys: I am he who drives
Them like wolves from the hound bitch and calf
And from the chaste ewe in the wind.
They go into woods into bean fields they go
Deep into their known right hands. Dreaming of me, 
They groan they wait they suffer
Themselves, they marry, they raise their kind.

The Hospital Window

I have just come down from my father. 
Higher and higher he lies 
Above me in a blue light 
Shed by a tinted window. 
I drop through six white floors 
And then step out onto pavement. 

Still feeling my father ascend, 
I start to cross the firm street, 
My shoulder blades shining with all 
The glass the huge building can raise. 
Now I must turn round and face it, 
And know his one pane from the others. 

Each window possesses the sun 
As though it burned there on a wick. 
I wave, like a man catching fire. 
All the deep-dyed windowpanes flash, 
And, behind them, all the white rooms 
They turn to the color of Heaven. 

Ceremoniously, gravely, and weakly, 
Dozens of pale hands are waving 
Back, from inside their flames. 
Yet one pure pane among these 
Is the bright, erased blankness of nothing. 
I know that my father is there, 

In the shape of his death still living. 
The traffic increases around me 
Like a madness called down on my head. 
The horns blast at me like shotguns, 
And drivers lean out, driven crazy— 
But now my propped-up father 

Lifts his arm out of stillness at last. 
The light from the window strikes me 
And I turn as blue as a soul, 
As the moment when I was born. 
I am not afraid for my father— 
Look! He is grinning; he is not 

Afraid for my life, either, 
As the wild engines stand at my knees 
Shredding their gears and roaring, 
And I hold each car in its place 
For miles, inciting its horn 
To blow down the walls of the world 

That the dying may float without fear 
In the bold blue gaze of my father. 
Slowly I move to the sidewalk 
With my pin-tingling hand half dead 
At the end of my bloodless arm. 
I carry it off in amazement, 

High, still higher, still waving, 
My recognized face fully mortal, 
Yet not; not at all, in the pale, 
Drained, otherworldly, stricken, 
Created hue of stained glass. 
I have just come down from my father.