James Dickey (1923-1997)
...is best known for his poetry combining themes of religion, nature,
and history. Many fiction readers also know him for his famous novel, Deliverance. Dickey was a fighter-bomber
pilot in the US Army Air Forces during World War II, flying thirty-nine missions in the 418th Night Fighter
Squadron based in the South Pacific. He began to read widely while in the South Pacific, asking his mother to send
him volumes of the classic poets and the contemporary poets. After the war, he earned both a Bachelor of Arts and
a Master of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He published his first volume of poems, Into the Stone, in 1960. From
1966 to 1968 he served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. Dickey has won many awards for his work,
including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Book Award, and the French Prix Medicis. He died in 1997, following
distinguished career as a writer and teacher.
Inventing a story with grass,
I find a young horse deep inside it.
I cannot nail wires around him;
My fence posts fail to be solid,
And he is free, strangely, without me.
With his head still browsing the greenness,
He walks slowly out of the pasture
To enter the sun of his story.
My mind freed of its own creature,
I find myself deep in my life
In a room with my child and my mother,
When I feel the sun climbing my shoulder
Change, to include a new horse.