GORDON VAN NESS , professor of English at Longwood University, has published four books on James Dickey, including Striking In: The Early Notebooks of James Dickey and a two-volume collection of Dickey’s letters, titled The One Voice of James Dickey: His Letters and Life 1942-1969 and The One Voice of James Dickey His Letters and Life 1970-1997, as well as numerous articles on Dickey’s work and the works of other contemporary writers. He is presently editing Dickey’s final collection of poems, Death, and the Day’s Light.
The article herein is the full text of a briefer paper given at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) Conference in Atlanta in 2011.
The Question of Poetics: James Dickey and the Modernists
by Gordon Van Ness
In the fall of 1950, when modernism still strongly held the air, so to speak, James Dickey began teaching at Rice Institute in Houston, Texas. He was attempting to establish a career as a poet, extensively using notebooks to discover a subject matter and style and writing poems that literary quarterlies would publish. Dickey found himself confronting the formidable presence of T. S. Eliot and other modernists, including Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. Delmore Schwartz had argued the year before that “it might be desirable to have no literary dictators” (137), and Edmund Wilson would soon observe in his journal that Eliot seemed “an obsolete kind of American” (127). Time magazine, however, which had viewed The Waste Land as a hoax in its 3 March 1923 issue, labeling it a “new kind of literature […] whose only obvious fault is that no one can understand it,” enthroned Eliot on its 6 March 1950 cover, acknowledging his “Olympian judgments” and declaring, “Mr. Eliot is secure and honored in his high place as one of the foremost men of English letters.” Pound and Williams, moreover, had all issued major collections which had seemed to consolidate their work; the publication of The Pisan Cantos (1948) and Paterson (1946-51) demonstrably revealed that modernists could extend themselves into unexplored areas. In doing so, they reaffirmed such critical dicta as tightly structured lyrics, learned allusions, witty figures of speech, and verbal ambiguity. Dickey therefore understood that poetry continued to be judged by its adherence to New Critical principles. It is little wonder that he should later state, “the poetry I wrote before Into the Stone was influenced stylistically not so much by individual writers as by an amalgam of writers: something called in capital letters, MODERN POETRY” (Self-Interviews 46). Because these elder poets had successfully achieved a literary hegemony, Dickey determined to court them, praising their work and assuring them of his shared sensibilities, while he simultaneously wrote poems that stressed, at least initially, artistic impersonality and a poetics grounded in irony and linguistic construction. This effort involved subjugating his natural inclinations toward sensuous, if energetic, romantic verse as well as toward narrative in an endeavor to become more widely published. It was a question of poetics.
The efforts to court his literary elders began with T. S. Eliot. Dickey hoped to meet Eliot when he visited London during fall 1954 on his Sewanee Review Fellowship, but circumstances did not permit it. First Dickey fell ill, though upon renewed health he immediately began immersing himself in the sights of England, and then Eliot became sick. Dickey continued his travels and, in January, wrote Eliot from Italy that he hoped they would finally meet upon his return to London. Eliot, however, having fallen ill again, wrote on 9 March 1955 that he would be in New York at that time, stating, “I hope […] that there will be some future occasion to meet on one side of the Atlantic or the other” (Hart 184). Dickey subsequently returned to America and a teaching job at the University of Florida, crossing the Atlantic as Eliot simultaneously returned to London. They never met. It is possible to argue, as Henry Hart suggests, that Dickey simply avoided Eliot, awed and intimidated by the latter’s literary stature. If so, he would not have been the only poet to do so; John Berryman and Winfield Townley Scott, among others of their generation, felt similarly. However, with Ezra Pound, himself a literary giant and a notorious one at that, Dickey showed no reticence and established an immediate rapport.
Dickey began by trying to ingratiate himself with Ezra Pound, then confined at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. He had met Pound in June 1955 following his return from Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship. Bill Pratt, a poet and anthologist who had been a schoolmate of Dickey’s at Vanderbilt University and who was then researching Pound, Eliot, and Henry James for his dissertation, introduced them. Conversation centered on the Fugitive writers and the French literary scene; Dickey politely listened. In late August, however, he initiated a correspondence that would last three years.1 The first letter, dated 29 August 1955, demonstrates Dickey’s desire to endear himself, informing Pound that he would “like very much to hear from you” and thanking the poet for providing “a new orientation toward America.” Though he did not specify the nature of this change, he implied that in “the vast, lucid (but withal bewildering, despite everything) tangle of highways and super-highways” through which he had driven from New York, he had seen the misdirection of American values. His missive displayed a continental sensibility, with Dickey suggesting the country’s cultural bankruptcy and lamenting that after his European travels, “American life has us by the throat again.” When he declared that “poetry has come again to have the attributes of a personal weapon rather than those of artisanship,” Dickey was clearly acting like a modernist, and his guise was successful. Pound responded within the week.
The subsequent correspondence reveals an increasingly familiar tone. Dickey, for example, addressed Pound as “Cher Maitre” or “Uncle,” and even signed his letter of 30 September 1955 as “Yr O’bt Sv’t.” In an unpublished letter dated 15 August 1956, he praised Pound’s recent cantos, saying, “They are mighty good. But you sure don’t need me to tell you that.” Such flattery continued. Writing the following June, he declared that the image of the water bug and its shadow in Rock-Drill was the best single image in all the Cantos. He asked Pound to recommend books on monetary reform and related that he and his wife Maxine were knitting him a sweater. “It is good and strong,” he wrote, “and should keep the Cantos warm this winter.” To show that he shared Pound’s poetic sensibilities and predilections, Dickey declared that he had written an omnibus review that “gets in some good licks against […] Jarrell, whose work has been to some extent influential, in a bad and sentimental way, here for the last few years.” He also hoped Pound would want to read a poem of his which, he claimed, would appear in Partisan Review. That poem, “The Father’s Body,” which was published in Poetry, would result in Dickey’s abrupt departure from the University of Florida following its reading to, and the subsequent protest by, the American Pen Women’s Society, “’all accusations refuted,’” he asserted, ‘but that of being the bohemian type’” (Crux 93-94). It is unclear whether Pound ever read the poem. Dickey did not send a copy but in mentioning it and his alienation from the University, he hoped Pound would sympathize, viewing him as a confrère.
In his 1983 essay, “The Water-Bug’s Mittens,” Dickey acknowledged his indebtedness to Pound: “Pound’s presence is so pervasive that a contemporary poet cannot put down a single word, cannot hear, even far off or far back in his head, a cadence, a rhythm, without the suspicion that Pound has either suggested it or is in the process of causing him to accept it or reject it” (Night Hurdling 30). Pound’s primary influence on his poetry, Dickey declared, was his perception of the world’s beauty, that is, of “the qualities of its beauty” (31), and his insistence on the validity of the perception, its “wording or voicing” (31). He labeled Pound “the inspired image-maker” (31) whose presentation of an observable or imaginable part of reality could be said in “the tone of a thing meant, which is also the tone […] of a delivered truth” (41). It was through Pound, Dickey wrote in a later essay, that he became centered on “the necessary and infinitely valuable personal nature that is evoked” (“LIGHTNINGS” 11). Such statements suggest, ironically enough, that his courtship of modernism generally and Pound specifically led to Dickey’s discovery of his own voice. At the very least the process was occurring during their correspondence.
At about the time he ended his correspondence with Pound, Dickey wrote William Carlos Williams, describing his letter in the summer of 1957 as a “cry of homage”: “I hope it dins in your ears with at least as much force as the others coming in over the brain-waves of poets every day.”2 He thanked Williams for “a lifetime of devotion to the language I love, and for bringing to it the resources of a beautiful and responsible human being.” He then praised Williams’s poetry, singling out its “hardness” and “vividness.” “This is understanding life and experience,” he asserted, “because the feelings themselves are the understanding, if you can get them into words.” When Williams responded by seeming to criticize Dickey’s sentimentality in describing experiences with his son Christopher Dickey, Dickey explained in a letter dated 22 November 1957 that working in business, which he described as “a terrible, well-paid life,” he had little time to write and read; consequently, he had a personal relationship to poetry, having recovered the feeling of its personal worth.
Dickey never discussed literary theory with Pound; their correspondence, for example, never addressed the latter’s insistence on presenting “the thing itself” or in defining the image as a psychological and emotional complex necessary to convey that thing. Moreover, Dickey did not offer any sense of his own poetics. Unlike his letters to Pound, which centered on concerns largely unliterary, Dickey’s correspondence with Williams, while deferential and flattering, began to reveal the outlines of a poetry grounded in private experience and past memories. In his 22 November letter, he asserted the danger of becoming what he termed “a ‘literary career boy,’” whereby one lost “the essential, the personal meaning of writing: that is, the sense that poetry has something to do with the movement of your life, and comes out of it.” Williams’s poems, he claimed, with which “I have been familiar […] for as long as I have known about poetry,” possessed “concreteness” and a sense of “letting the world have its own say, instead of serving as ‘material’ for a ‘work of art.’” Dickey then added: “It seems to me that all the poetry I care anything about has this quality, which is at once impersonal and yet so deeply personal that one cannot imagine the world seen another way.” The statement must have baffled Williams. Yet even as he attempted to defer to modernist tenets, Dickey clearly desired to push the poet, the essential complex of his experiences and memories, into the forefront of the poem. Not surprisingly, he would later complain of Williams’s lack of personal vision, which brought all his poetry “to the same dead level of commonplaceness: commonplaceness of fact and commonplaceness of apprehension of the fact” (Night Hurdling 34).
Nothing more clearly reveals Dickey’s adherence to modernist dicta during the Fifties than the early poems themselves, poems on which he was working before and during his correspondence with Eliot, Pound, and Williams. Shortly before 1949, Dickey had given his friend Cal Winton an unpublished poem titled “The Earth Drum” that along with works such as “Of Holy War” and “The Anniversary,” published in the October 1951 and June 1953 issues of Poetry, respectively, reveal the extent to which he was adhering to modernist principles to achieve critical acceptance. “The Earth Drum” depicts in obscure language an anthropoid with “unsubtle, shagged and plexus-dweller / Brow” as he surreptitiously watches with carnal longing a blond-haired creature whom he wants to “Anoint with semen” and who “curvets the void / Bequeathed by the latest girl his hands misplace.” Inflated diction in phrases such as “The seraphim, / Burl, cult and ring, lip phospher tushes” and classical references to Phidias and the Phoenix suggest the self-conscious academic poetry crafted by the modernists. “Of Holy War” presents similar elements, juxtaposing the holy war at Acre, where Christians fought during the Crusades, and the modern holy war at Caen, the city in Normandy that served as a primary target during the Allied invasion in World War II. Though war would remain a principle concern in Dickey’s work, the spare, allusive form in “Of Holy War” typifies the poetry he wrote during the late Forties and early Fifties:
O sire, I dreamed
You danced with greaves
Afire (it seemed)
At Acre, or leaves
In Caen gave on
That phoenix watched.
Rood and gate
Embered and percht
His spreaded weight.
Sire, flee this shadow.
I grass his meadow.
As with “The Earth Drum,” “Of Holy War” utilizes inflated language and obscure allusions, including references to John Bunyan’s The Holy War and possibly to Yeats. Its publication in Poetry, his first in that magazine, reflects New Critical standards. Except for lines two and five in the second stanza, Dickey utilized four syllables and three stresses per line. The parenthetical interjection in line three forces a strong end rhyme. The poem’s emphasis on form deferred to the modernist demand for intellectual verse at once impersonal and objective, a standard promoted by Eliot in his essays and by influential texts such as Brooks and Warren’s Understanding Poetry, which Dickey had read.
“The Anniversary,” whose title alludes to Donne’s sonnet, further reveals the aesthetic norms Dickey was attempting to meet, specifically, Eliot’s embrace of the Metaphysicals. While Donne’s narrator argues that all things after a year lie closer to their demise except the love shared with his lady, Dickey’s speaker provides an ironic reversal. After detailing a pleasant sexual experience that “coined a stitch / To lace the river / An inch from sight,” a union whose alchemy culminates in “Two golds together / That else would’ve been / No hue of the scene,” he then depicts the experience going awry. As the speaker plays a guitar, symbolic of the lover’s body, the imagery alters to reflect the Metaphysical interest in rough verse and strained imagery but also the tendency to psychoanalyze the emotions of love: “The hell of the ear, / I splay the guitar, / Bleeding my faces.” The poem’s imagery, including that of metallurgy, sewing, guitar playing, and bookmaking, parallels Donne’s penchant for extremes.
These poems, however, do not exhibit another modernist tendency and the one from which Dickey leapt into the style he later labeled his “early motion”—the use of myth. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Pound’s Cantos had used mythology to portray cultural decline. Eager to be published, Dickey consciously embraced classical and biblical myth during the late Fifties and early Sixties in poems such as “Orpheus Before Hades,” “The Vegetable King,” “Lazarus to the Assembled,” “Sleeping Out at Easter,” “The Magus,” “Walking on Water,” “Adam in Winter,” and “The Rib.” What is clear in examining these poems is that while Dickey initially used myth to satisfy standards necessary for critical acceptance, he quickly centered himself in the myth for reasons that owe less to modernism and more to psychological needs.
In Self-Interviews, Dickey admits to writing Into the Stone with the deliberate intent to experiment with new stanza forms, including the use of a semi-couplet (for example, in “The Underground Stream”) and, more frequently, a simple rhyming quatrain followed by a refrain line, these lines then making a separate stanza that acts as a summation (for example, “On the Hill Below the Lighthouse”). These forms, however, all reveal the craft and impersonality demanded by New Critics. Dickey then proceeds to discuss at length both “The Vegetable King,” in which he admits, “I was working both consciously and unconsciously toward mythologizing my own factual experience” (85), and “Sleeping Out at Easter,” a poem he calls “the beginning of Phase One” (87). Both poems, while utilizing myth as in modernism, do so by directly involving the poet himself. As Dickey emphatically declared, “I have never been able to dissociate the poem from the poet, and I hope I never will. I really don’t believe in Eliot’s theory of autotelic art, in which the poem has nothing to do with the man who wrote it. I think that’s the most absolute rubbish!” (24).
In “Orpheus Before Hades,” published in the 5 December 1959 issue of New Yorker, Dickey adopted simple diction and a narrative element highlighted by anapestic meter and stanzas whose last lines are italicized—all features of his first collection of poems, Into the Stone, published in 1960. Yet in assuming the persona of Orpheus, Dickey most clearly breaks free of modernism, which in any event had become largely discredited by new poetic movements. Formalist members of the Third Generation, such as Richard Wilbur and Howard Nemerov, had adopted traditional verse not to redesign or extend themselves as Eliot had done but for their own sakes. Sonnets and sestinas on the one hand and couplets and terza rima on the other hand possessed an historical authenticity that offered stability against the violence of the outside world. Dickey, of course, having participated in a world war, was not unfamiliar with that violence. Yet he also had his own reasons for entering into the myths he was using in his poems.
For Dickey, life was warfare, the inherent opposition of two distinct forces, each striving for precedence. Those forces assumed various identities. Presently, they involved two forms of poetry. Because this conflict was essentially dualistic, Dickey identified not so much with Jung’s collective unconscious as with Freud’s psychological concept of existence as a battle between Eros and Thanatos, the life and death forces that Freud believed constitute the basic foundation of human drives. For Dickey, this duality likely defined the structure of Into the Stone, for he unconsciously paralleled the life force of love and family with its opposite, death and war, in the four titled sections of the book.
Dickey’s acceptance of existence as a battlefield between the forces of life and death may explain, moreover, the presence of fertility and other rituals in his early poems, for such rites involve the individual’s moving beyond his present self and returning to his origins. In effect, they not so much reveal a chronological pattern of development as a psychological complex in which distinctions of life and death disappear or become synonymous. In other words, they mythologize. The poems Dickey began to write drew explicitly on pagan or Christian myth and depict Freud’s theory of Eros and Thanatos. “Orpheus Before Hades,” for example, concludes with Orpheus praying for new abilities to return Eurydice from the dead while also portraying the interconnection of life and death:
God add one string to my lyre,
That the snowflake and leaf-bud shall mingle
As the sun within moonlight is shining,
That the hillside be opened in heartbreak,
And the woman walk down, and be risen
From the place that she changes, each season,
Her death, at the center of waiting.
What is important here, however, is the way Dickey himself enters the myth, centers it on himself. As he wrote later in Self-Interviews regarding “The Vegetable King,” another poem written in 1959 and which he declared was “my answer to Eliot’s use of the Osiris myth,” “I was working both semi-consciously and quite consciously toward mythologizing my own factual experience. It’s not that my experience lent itself more to mythology than anybody else’s, but that my own life lent itself to being mythologized just as much as anybody else’s” (85).
These poems all present a highly imaginative, personal re-creation of familiar classical and biblical characters, including Orpheus, Adam, Lazurus, and Jesus, in which Dickey himself assumes the central consciousness. Either Dickey as persona positions himself within the traditional myth, participating in a scene of miraculous renewal or heightened perspective, as in, say, “Orpheus Before Hades,” “Lazurus to the Assembled,” or “Adam in Winter,” or he conceives of a common, or perhaps ordinary, act that serves to parallel or even re-create a story, as in, for example, “Sleeping Out at Easter,” “The Magus,” or “The Rib,” among others. In all these poems involving myth, however, Dickey entered the story for personal reasons; they validated his existence. The heightened experiences, whatever else they might suggest, allowed him, as Ed Gentry says of Lewis Medlock in Deliverance, “to hold on to his body and mind and improve them, to rise above time” (9).
By the end of 1957, Dickey’s poems had begun appearing regularly in Poetry and Sewanee Review, and in the next two years, those prior to the publication of Into the Stone, he achieved broader success. Kenyon Review, Hudson Review, Quarterly Review of Literature, Saturday Review, and New Yorker, among others, all published his poems. The reasons for this increasing acceptance are varied. Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Kenneth Rexroth, for example, had rendered the American literary scene a more crowded, and more competitive, place. Third Generation poets—including Robert Bly, Anthony Hecht, John Hollander, William Meredith, and Adrien Rich—had all appeared in the 1957 publication of an anthology titled New Poets of England and America, edited by Donald Hall, Robert Pack, and Louis Simpson, which centered on poets under age forty. Robert Frost had even offered an introduction. The anthology seemed to suggest a new direction or constitute a new literary manifesto. Dickey’s success, moreover, also derived from his decision to forgo modernist practices and embrace a poetics grounded in personal experience, a re-direction apparent both in his comments to Williams and in his new poems.
Dickey’s decision to categorize his poetry in terms of various “motions” remains, sixteen years after his death in 1997, problematic, for it presupposes a clear and clean delineation among what he termed his “early,” “central,” and “late” poems. Dickey himself seemed aware of this oversimplification, writing in the preface to The Early Motion (1981) that in this volume “can be seen and heard the later motion, and doubtless, when all the poems are done, the whole motion as well” (ix). While it is true, moreover, that the poems in The Central Motion (1983) are more focused, less a display of what Doug Keesey calls “the volatile interplay of styles” (2) in Dickey’s early poetic efforts, even this grouping presents decided variety and linguistic experimentation. One would never, for example, consider Dickey’s poem “Pine” with his long narrative The Zodiac, both included in a motion that he called “the centrality in my writing life” (v). The motions, in other words, overlap. Yet that stated, a more puzzling observation presents itself. Dickey’s early motion consists of his first three volumes—Into the Stone (1960), Drowning with Others (1962), and Helmets (1964). In The Early Motion, however, he completely omitted Into the Stone. In his final volume, appropriately titled The Whole Motion: Collected Poems, 1945-1992, Dickey included some, though not all, of Into the Stone—only 15 of the original 24 poems. Though such exclusion owes partly to Wesleyan University Press’s concern over the size, and hence cost, of the book (Puella was similarly truncated), I would like to suggest that more than marketing was at issue in this tendency to downplay Into the Stone. Rather, Dickey’s omissions resulted from his deliberate efforts to distance himself from almost any poem that affirmed such modernist dicta as structured lyrics, learned allusions, witty figures of speech, and verbal ambiguity.
The earliest poetic efforts of his mission owed a heavy debt to modernist tenets, and Dickey largely decided in retrospect either not to publish them or, if he did, not to collect them. For example, such poems as “The Earth Drum,” “As in a Tower,” “Bathsheba’s Lament in the Garden,” and “The First Cold Winter,” were never published and, indeed, most Dickey scholars have not heard of them. More familiar poems, such as “The Litter Bearers” and “The Child of the Forge,” were also never published, while “The Confrontation of the Hero” finally appeared in print only in The Whole Motion. On all of these, Dickey worked diligently and frequently discussed them in his correspondence with Andrew Lytle and others during the Fifties. “Of Holy War,” “The Child in Armor,” and “The Anniversary,” all published in Poetry during the Fifties, were not included in Into the Stone. Moreover, poems such as “The Signs,” “The Call,” “The Game,” and “Orpheus Before Hades,” while appearing in Into the Stone, are not in The Whole Motion. These poems all acknowledge modernist influences. Other modernist poems, including “Angel of the Maze,” “The Shark at the Window,” and “The First Morning of Cancer,” for example, all published individually in the Fifties, were met with critical bewilderment to the extent that the poet was accused of being deliberately obscure. By 1960 Dickey’s focus clearly centered on a personal poetry that, while it might present visually inspired, and inspiring, images, and while it might mythologize personal experiences, nevertheless avoided obscure allusions and cultural myth. As he stated in his 1964 essay “The Suspect in Poetry,” “if the reader does not, through the writing, gain a new, intimate, and vital perspective on his own life as a human being, there is no poem at all, or only a poem written by a collective entity called ‘Modern Poetry, Period 1945-1960’” (9).
In a 26 July 1958 letter to James Wright, Dickey complained about the public’s view of poetry as being primarily concerned with stanzaic form, meter, and rhyme; complained also about Wilbur, “so perfectly self-assured and so perfectly empty of any ability to move me as a human being”; and complained about “the stone-cold, pedantic, dry, patient, academic stuff of Ivor Winters,” parenthetically adding, “who on earth but Winters would feel the need to write a poem ‘On the Opening of the William Dinsmore Briggs Room’?”. Clearly, Dickey viewed modernism as outdated and even irrelevant, and he proceeded to declare what he felt contemporary poetry must do: “We have got to get them [the readers] into the poem, where the thing operates as a human gesture. Not let them stand off and admire our use of the short line, or the long line, or tot up our debts to Auden, Thomas, and so on. All that is death to the great, soaring, irrevocable motion that good poetry is. I am convinced that, even in the face of all that has been done, poetry is capable of as yet unheard-of flights, depths, and motions that, to contemplate, would put you in the presence of God. Or nearly.” He declared in his letter to Wright, “Life and poetry at the best levels, are, so to speak, interchangeable” (Crux 132-34). Thus, just as clearly, Dickey dismissed modernism once and for all, committing himself to his own poetic direction.
1Dickey’s correspondence with Pound, some of which is published in Crux: The Letters of James Dickey, is housed at Yale University, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
2The letter is undated. Dickey’s correspondence with William Carlos Williams is among his papers at Emory University, Department of Special Collections, Robert W. Woodruff Library.
Dickey, James. “Adam in Winter.” Choice 2 (1962): 14-15. Print.
—. “The Anniversary.” Striking In: The Early Notebooks of James Dickey. Ed. Gordon Van Ness. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1996: 248-49. Print.
—. Crux: The Letters of James Dickey. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli and Judith S. Baughman. New York: Knopf, 1999. Print.
—. Deliverance. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970. Print.
—. “Lazurus to the Assembled.” The Whole Motion. 19-20. Print.
—. “LIGHTNINGS, or Visuals.” James Dickey Newsletter 8.2 (1992): 2-12. Print.
—. “The Magus.” The Whole Motion. 121. Print.
—. Night Hurdling. Columbia: SC and Bloomfield Hills, MI: Bruccoli Clark, 1992. Print.
—. “Of Holy War.” Poetry 79 (October 1951): 24. Print.
—. “Orpheus Before Hades.” New Yorker 35 (5 December 1959): 52. Print.
—. Self-Interviews. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970. Print.
—. The Central Motion. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan U P, 1983. Print.
—. The Early Motion. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan U P, 1981. Print.
—. The One Voice of James Dickey: His Letters and Life, 1942-1969. Ed. Gordon Van Ness. Columbia, U of Missouri P, 2003. Print.
—. The Suspect in Poetry. Madison, MN: Sixties Press, 1964. Print.
—. The Whole Motion. Hanover and London: U of Missouri P and UP of New England: 1992. Print.
Hart, Henry. James Dickey: The World as a Lie. New York: Picador, 2000. Print.
Keesey, Doug. “The Poetics of James Dickey: The Early Motion.” James Dickey Newsletter 14.1 (1997): 2-15. Print.
Schwartz, Delmore. “The Literary Dictatorship of T.S. Eliot.” Partisan Review 16.2 (1949): 119-37. Print.
Wilson, Edmund. The Fifties. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986. Print.