“’Stand Waiting, my love, where you are’: Women in James Dickey’s Early Poetry” is reprinted from James Dickey Newsletter Volume Six, Number One (Fall 1989). The following information is given in CONTRIBUTOR’S NOTES in that issue:
GORDON VAN NESS teaches English at Longwood College and is a member of the editorial board of James Dickey Newsletter. He has published articles on the work of James Dickey and other twentieth-century writers and recently completed a volume of biographical criticism on Dickey’s early years and work.
Presently, Gordon Van Ness is professor of English at Longwood University, where he is on sabbatical while editing a collection of Dickey’s last poems which he was working on at the time of his death. Dickey initially entitled the collection “Real God, Roll,” later changing it to “Death, and the Day’s Light.” Since the publication of the essay included herein, Van Ness has published Striking In: The Early Notebooks of James Dickey and a two-volume collection on Dickey titled The One Voice of James Dickey: His Letters and Life 1942-1969 and The One Voice of James Dickey His Life and Letters 1970-1997.
Although slight changes may occur with digitizing, page numbers herein replicate those in the initial publication. The copyright remains in effect, of course.
“Stand waiting, my love, where you are”:
Women in James Dickey’s Early Poetry
By Gordon Van Ness
In assessing James Dickey’s poetry, critics have often focused on his wide-ranging variety of thematic concerns, recognizing the interrelation of the topics themselves and their often biographical connection to the artist. Ronald Baughman, for example, states that as Dickey “treats his major subjects–war, family, love, social man, and nature–the writer is working out his constantly evolving perspective as a survivor” (8). Richard Calhoun and Robert Hill have written of his “emotional primitivism,” which Dickey himself defines only as that “condition where we can connect with whatever draws us” (136). Critics have felt, in other words, that attempts to confront narrow aspects within Dickey’s poetry invariably risk distortion and oversimplification. As Robert Kirschten in the most recently published book on the poetry admits: “Indeed, his subject matter is as mixed as his emotional effects,” a realization which necessitates four “hypotheses” to scrutinize Dickey’s “lyric universe” (3).
Yet, if examination of a single subject within Dickey’s poetry invites misconception because of its specialized focus, it nevertheless may offer large insights, the possibility of identifying some unified field theory, as it were, by which to understand Dickey’s “universe.” As Dickey himself notes regarding the whole question of identity, “one must work with such misconceptions for whatever hint of insight–the making of a truth–they may contain: that fragment of existence which could not be seen in any other way and may with great good luck, as in the best poetry, be better than the truth” (Night Hurdling xi). I wish to suggest, therefore, that in his early poetic treatment of women, Dickey consciously used mythic archetypes to depict what Joseph Campbell in The Hero With A Thousand Faces calls the Queen Goddess of the World. My discussion primarily centers on certain short, overlooked, or unexamined poems, both published and unpublished, in that longer works such as “Falling” and “May Day Sermon” have been numerously examined by critics and that, in any event, these poems also support my contention. In narrowing my topic and making this assertion, I am conscious that Dickey’s image as macho or Byronic, what Calhoun and Hill refer to as his “sexual legendry” and “nearly Rabelaisian experiences” (138, 2), has influenced previous criticism and renders debatable any interpretation of, say, “The Earth Drum” or “A Morning,” two unpublished poems discussed below that are dominated by a distinctly male perspective.1
In an overlooked essay entitled “Complicity” and published in Night Hurdling (1983), Dickey notes the poet Paul Claudel’s view of Woman as “the promise that cannot be kept,” and be then declares: “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it–the real earth, and not just the enchanted fragment of it that blazes in the longing mind to furnish and down in it–the real earth, and not just the enchanted fragment of it that blazes in the longing mind to furnish
her setting–she becomes a hidden archetype to the beholder rendered god-like by her presence: his possession and promise, soulless and soulful at the same time, receding, flashing up with a terrible certainty at the most inopportune times that she then makes opportune” (217). Such a view of women as mythic incarnations of the female principle receives earlier attention in Dickey’s discussion of his poem “The Enclosure.” Referring to the nurses the airmen saw in World War II as they were trucked to the awaiting planes, Dickey states: “they were unmistakenly women. They had the inaccessibility I’ve always deemed such an important part of the man-woman relationship: the idealization of woman. You can see this idea in many places, not just in my poems” (Self-Interviews 91). Dickey’s comments suggest that he, and by extension all men, views women as idealized figures whose possibilities offer fulfillment, the end of male isolation and inadequacy and the completion of the self.
Dickey’s years at Vanderbilt had exposed him to the works of such mythologists and anthropologists as Joseph Campbell, Sir James George Frazer, Jane Ellen Harrison, and W. H. R. River. Following his unrestricted readings of many of their books, he consciously began using myth as the basis of his poetry. Indeed, the bound, unpublished notebooks Dickey kept in the early Fifties, in which he sought to determine his poetic method, suggest the conscious employment of this perspective and, specifically, the idealization of mortal women into an archetype who promises larger, life-fulfilling knowledge. One entry, for example, asserts: “it is part of my job to show that physical sex-fulfillment is only the prelude to a greater hunger which is unappeasable, but which is related to the idealized image of sex.” Another notation states: “the inviolable virgin one longs for.” Another asks: are the mythic and the ‘true-to-experience’ irreconcilable? Are the archetypal + the ‘true-to-experience’?”2
In The Hero With A Thousand Faces Campbell characterizes the hero’s rites of passage, the ultimate adventure of which occurs as “a mystical marriage of the hero-soul with the Queen Goddess of the World.” Campbell describes her as “mother, sister, mistress, bride. Whatever in the world has lured, whatever has seemed to promise joy, has been premonitory of her existence–in the deep of sleep, if not in the cities and forests of the world. For she is the incarnation of the promise of perfection; the soul’s assurance that, at the conclusion of its exile in a world of shared inadequacies, the bliss that once was known will be known again” (111). Frazer in The Golden Bough refers to this incarnate female principle as the “great Mother Goddess, the personification of all the reproductive energies of nature” (385). Always associated with her is a lover who is divine yet mortal and with whom she unites. The Queen Goddess, however, as Campbell further details, soon becomes temptress: “The mystical marriage . . . represents the hero’s total mastery of life; for the woman is life, the hero its knower and master. And the testings of the hero, which were preliminary to his ultimate experience and deed, were symbolical of those crises of realization by means
of which his consciousness came to be amplified and made capable of enduring the full possession of the mother-destroyer, his inevitable bride” (120-121). Through her promise, in other words, the hero becomes fully actualized, his consciousness freed of all limitations; yet in the very process of uniting with the world, he experiences revulsion. Campbell asserts: “life, the acts of life, the organs of life, woman in particular as the great symbol of life, become intolerable to the pure, the pure, pure soul” (122). Woman transforms him into something greater than he was, but in doing so the hero becomes disillusioned that the real does not sustain his previous idealized image. Dickey himself perhaps best acknowledges this disparity when he asserts in Sorties: “The phantom women of the mind–I speak from the man’s standpoint only–are a great deal more important than any real women could ever possibly be. They represent the Ideal, and as such are indestructible. It is quite arguable that poor mortal perishable women are as dust before these powerful and sensual creatures of the depths of one’s being. I believe that no one can understand what it is to live a human life without understanding this, at least to some small degree” (4). For Dickey women are actualizing agents without whom men remain unfulfilled and for whom they seek because as ideal figures they offer larger possibilities.
First published in Poetry in 1959, “Into the Stone” suggests this mythic view of what Woman can effect. Dickey notes that the poem depicts “the quality of a love relationship” as the speaker approaches “the love object, the woman,” and that “not only the world of the person in love is changed by the new love relationship, but the whole universe is changed” (Self-Interviews 98). Calhoun and Hill assert that the poem shows love as “almost a naturalistic sacrament” (21), while Baughman states that love becomes “a principal means of countering death” (26). None of the criticism centers specifically on the woman, whose presence informs the poem though she herself never literally appears. Nor should she, for “Into the Stone” concerns itself with the liberating results of union on the hero. Campbell alludes to these effects when he describes the hero’s approach to the Queen Goddess: “Woman, in the picture language of mythology, represents the totality of what can be known. The hero is the one who comes to know. As he progresses in the slow initiation which is life, the form of the goddess undergoes for him a series of transfigurations: she can never be greater than himself, though she can always promise more than he is capable of comprehending. She lures, she guides, she bids him burst his fetters. And if he can match her import, the two, the knower and the known, will be released from every limitation” (116). As he journeys “On the way to a woman,” the speaker in Dickey’s poem comes “through the land between.” Their union has affected the natural world: “The moon turns around in the fix / Of its light.” But it has also transformed the hero: “Like the dead, I have newly arisen, / Amazed by the light I can throw. / Stand waiting, my love, where you are.” Possessed with new and larger powers, he knows “No thing that shall die as I step / May fall, or not sing of rebirth.” Bis quest has taken him “Very far from myself,” but as a consequence, “I am he who I should have become.” Amazed by his initiation
into innate mysteries, the speaker knows that “The dead have their chance in my body.” The woman’s complicity has transformed him, for “I am known; I know my love.” However, Dickey clearly wishes to suggest that the Queen Goddess throughout her series of transfigurations creates the speaker’s greater awareness: “Each time, the moon has burned backward. / Each time, my heart has gone from me / And shaken the sun from the moonlight. / Each time, a woman has called.” The poem reveals Woman as a creature whose powerful attraction promises the man larger knowledge and initiation into natural mysteries.
Occasionally in his early poetry Dickey deliberately employs Christian myth to depict the archetypal Woman. Published in Drowning With Others (1962), “The Rib,” for example, though its focus is on kinship with the natural world, alludes to Adam and Eve: “A rib in my right side speaks / To me more softly / Than Eve,” whom the poet describes as “the bidden, unfreeable shape / Of my own unfinished desire / For life, for death and the Other.” Here Woman becomes the means through which the speaker figuratively dies and whose symbolic rebirth promises larger understanding of those processes, specifically death, which govern the world. Another poem, “Eden,” an unpublished manuscript in the Washington University Special Collections, also focuses on the Genesis myth. Fifteen typed pages long in its last-completed draft, it concerns creativity generally; however, the poem specifically presents the story of a painter of pornographic pictures dying of encephalitis who decides to combine sex and religion into one final portrait of Eden. Dickey’s notes for the poem read in part: “We should start with Adam himself, coming into being color by color. Eve is also coming. What is gradually revealed is their relationship to the man who is conceiving them–somewhat like God may be supposed to have conceived them–out of sickness and chance and death.” Dickey writes of Eve’s appearance on the canvas, “a woman this time / Taking form, her whole body / Weeping-red, as if skinned alive, / Just born of her man. The one in all / Equal to his desire.” Later, her form complete, she “quivers With affirmation of being” and then “Eden is accomplished in this room.” Again, it is the archetypal woman, Eve, whose presence signifies wholeness.
In what is Dickey’s only published poem whose title is a woman’s name, “Mary Sheffield,” first published in Shenandoah in 1964, provides another example of how Dickey attributes larger, life-sustaining qualities to a woman; through her, the man realizes new knowledge. The poem depicts a speaker who, “Forever at war news,” stands thinking in the “low green of water” by the river’s bank. It is “the last day but one before world war,” and he is conscious of the water’s running, “quietly carving / red rocks,” and of time’s passage which in retrospect will soon reveal a cataclysm of violence and death. Nearby Mary Sheffield sings, “sustained in the poured forms of live oaks / taking root.” Both she and her song belong to nature: “When the slight wind dies / each leaf still has two places / such music touched alive.” Her singing suddenly, intimately, involves the physical world: “all things spread sail sounds gather / on blunt stone streaming white /
E minor gently running.” Discovering himself involved with her, “loving Mary Sheffield / for her chord changes,” the speaker figuratively joins with her by sitting down in the river. His transformation happens quickly; he is freed from time: “anywhere water flows the breastplate of time / rusts off me sounds green forms low voice / new music long long / past.” Mary Sheffield’s singing becomes the means by which the narrator achieves a heightened understanding of the unchanging processes inherent in the natural world.
Dickey’s idealization of Woman does not ignore the reality lived by mortal females. Behind the archetype, he declares, are “real women, giving to the ideal the substance it requires from the lived world, and serving to make more powerful and imperious those all-powerful creatures of the depths of our being, the slaves of our needs who enslave us” (Night Hurdling 217). That “lived world,” however, is not only one dominated by unrealizable male expectations but also by death and suffering. Both “The Leap” and “The Scarred Girl” reflect Dickey’s awareness that “taking on the mortal and identifying flesh without which all ideals die” (Night Hurdling 217) necessitates confronting finitude. First published in Poems 1957-1967 (1967), “The Leap” concerns a woman who “married a man whom she didn’t get along with, had his children, and eventually committed suicide because of it” (Self-Interviews 172). Obviously affected by what he states was an actual situation, Dickey uses her suicide to suggest a previous leap in the seventh grade, “when boys were beginning / To be as big as the girls.” Then, Jane MacNaughton before a dance jumped up and “touched the end / Of one of the paper-ring decorations / To see if she could reach it. She could.” Now, years later, having seen pictured in the paper the body of Jane MacNaughton Hill on the top of a taxi, “lying cradled / In that papery steel as though lying in the grass,” the speaker realizes she has “reached me now as well.” Caught and betrayed by “some boy who did not depend / On speed of foot,” the speaker’s classmate has reached through the years with “her light, earthhspurning feet” to show him at last the nature of relationships, what Dickey himself calls “the results of her being a woman” (Self-Interviews 172). Humbled by the fact that “My feet are nailed to the ground,” the narrator, now with larger understanding, knows “Whatever it proves when you leap / In a new dress, a new womanhood, among the boys.” The poem, while it idealizes a woman, also displays an awareness of the reality of an ephemeral world.
Similarly, “The Scarred Girl,” published in New Yorker in 1963, reflects Dickey’s awareness of what being a woman means, in this instance this culture’s worship of physical beauty. Interpreting an incident that happened while he attended North Fulton High School, Dickey depicts “a girl who was the prettiest girl in Atlanta, by far. She was not pretty in a sexy way, but she had a Madonna-like beauty” (Self-Interviews 130). In an automobile accident her face shattered the windshield and, despite years of plastic surgery, “She never looked anything like she had before” (Self-Interviews 131). In the poem the girl worries that “the bright, fractured world,” momentarily whole before
her face breaks the glass, now “Burns and pulls and weeps / To come together again.” She desires to have “The pastures of earth and heaven / Restored and undamaged, the cattle / Risen out of their jagged graves / To walk in the seamless sunlight / And a newborn countenance / Put upon everything.” Her selflessness and her inner, spiritual beauty elevate her and provide the narrator with a new knowledge of what womanhood should be. In his explanation of the poem, Dickey declares: “I had been reading in Plato about the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. This girl was true–although she seemed almost too good to be true–and good and beautiful she surely had been. It struck me that when a woman who is only beautiful loses her beauty through an accident or through age, she has had literally everything taken away from her. But she had this marvelous resource of being good, too. So . . . as I say at the end of the poem, that is now ‘the only way’” (Self-Interviews 131). With “good no nearer, but plainly / In sight,” the girl with her final transfiguration assumes the transcendent quality of Campbell’s Queen Goddess.
Dickey’s concern with relationships, manifested in such otherwise unrelated works as “In the Treehouse at Night” and “Hunting Civil War Relics at Nimblewill Creek,” also appears in poems focusing specifically on men and women, among them “Adultery” and “The Fiend.” Incautious critics have particularly attacked these latter poems, which sexually idealize women. Commenting on “Adultery,” which was published in Nation in 1966, Dickey writes: “As I get older I write more and more about sex. Adultery seems to me to be the most potentially beautiful and fruitful relationship between men and women, and also the most calamitous and destructive. . . . Not love with responsibility, but love without responsibility; just sex and being together like it is in the movies and in the popular songs of the forties where it’s all lovely and there are no troubles connected with it. This is not an unworthy ideal, nor is it contemptible. It can result in some bad human situations and has, doubtless, many times, and will again. But if you are willing to pay the price of anxiety and possible disgrace, an adulterous situation is frequently, for a very short period of time, absolutely glorious” (Self-Interviews 166). Calhoun and Hill blatantly declare: “Although ‘Adultery’ makes an effort to portray evenhandedly the anxious passions of the man and the woman, [it is] powerfully male-dominant” (32). While told from the male perspective, however, the poem neither celebrates nor condemns adultery. Rather it shows its human dimension, the fact that “Gigantic forepleasure lives / Among such scenes, and we are alone with it,” that “we would not give / It up, for death is beaten,” and that “Guilt is magical.” Dickey’s intent centers on the momentary enhancement of the act for both the man and the woman, not on its ethics. The poem manifests his belief that even in an illicit affair, the nature of which is usually transitory, women become elevated to a status that renders them life-enhancing. Dickey’s narrator recognizes that despite his guilt, he will not end the relationship because “One could never die here.” While the male voice dominates, it is the woman’s unspoken presence that informs the poem, rendering the speaker more conscious of himself, the setting, and others.
Regarding “The Fiend,” first published in the Partisan Review” in 1965, Dickey observes: “I think the idealization of women is indigenous to men. There are various ways of idealizing women, especially sexually, based in almost every case on their inaccessibility. . . . But when a woman functions as an unobtainable love object, then she takes on a mythological quality” (Self-Interviews 153). Exploring a deviant aspect of the male tendency to view a woman as transcendent, the poem depicts a voyeur who climbs a tree by an apartment house to watch secretly while a woman undresses and then showers.
It suggests that, continually frustrated at not being able to behold her, the voyeur will eventually enter her room and knife her to death. Commenting on the fiend himself, Dickey asserts: “It’s important to the voyeur to have an invisibility that enables him to function in kind of a God-like way, as though he could be present at any scene, sexually or otherwise, that he wished to be present at” (Self-Interviews 153). Dickey’s poetic intent also included the idea “that women, with their great hunger to be idealized, might feel something of this extreme, concentrated idealism coming in from the night where the voyeur in the tree would be having his transports of ecstasy. The woman would feel that she was on a kind of stage, and it would be a wonderful sexual experience for her. Because she’s not being just looked at; she’s being beheld, which is different (Self-Interviews 154). Specifically, “The Fiend” examines the positions of power from which men and women view each other: the ability or need of the former to control events, whom he sees and when, while maintaining invisibly “some all-seeing eye / Of God”; and the desire of the latter to demand that attention, to stand and “move like a saint,” “Uncontrollable,” a “blaze of uncompromised being.” The poem should not be viewed principally, as Calhoun and Hill do, for its “ability to teeter on the brink of perversity and yet hold balance enough to maintain readers’ interest and empathy” (71). The woman becomes Campbell’s Queen Goddess whose “movement can restore the green eyes / Of middle age looking renewed.” That Dickey’s concerns are inaccessibility, idealization, and fantasy, and not sexual degradation, are shown not only by the poem’s title but also by his statement that “I’m fighting very hard, as I think everybody else ought to be fighting, against the notion of sex as mere meat” (Self-Interviews 168).
Two other early poems, “The Earth Drum” and “A Morning,” both unpublished, illustrate that Dickey’s portrayal of women should almost always be viewed within the larger context of myth and myth-making: the idealization of mortal females into an archetype and the hero’s subsequent view that the woman, symbol of life and source of the hero’s power, finally “falls” because her own flesh, her own desires, condemn her as unworthy. Written in the late 1940s after Dickey had graduated from Vanderbilt and was teaching at Rice University in Houston, Texas, “The Earth Drum” is clearly an apprentice work. It depicts the marriage ceremony of an unnamed protagonist, seemingly Tarzan, to a woman who “solely merits gleam / Glenned and mooned.” As Dickey searched for a technique and style to deliver best certain aspects of myth, his language sometimes became imitative and inflated, even abstract, but it nevertheless retained the influence of his readings in mythology and
anthropology. Exhorting the animals to “Rise ever . . . to his carnal coming,” the speaker urges that they “warp him to the ritual where / Lyricks on diamond joints beyond his muddy thumbing / The chaste and frost-cut queller.” With his “unsubtle, shagged and plexus-dweller / Brow,” Tarzan approaches the one who “curvets the void / Bequeathed by the latest girl his hands misplace / Upon bedevilled dark.” Here the woman promises an understanding presently beyond the “Evangel anthropoid” because previous incarnations of the Queen Goddess have failed to sustain him.
Focusing on the hero’s enlightenment as a consequence of the woman’s inability, finally, to maintain her ideality, “A Morning,” presently in the Washington University Special Collections, presents a speaker who is walking on the beach and whose nearby dog “surroundingly howls.” The dog senses change and reacts to it: “Painfully he is changing / His voice from a voice for the moon / To the voice he has for the sun.” The sun’s more glaring reality implies that for the man new knowledge has come reluctantly, a lessening of possibilities inherent in the moon’s more suggestive light. The speaker reaches into the water and picks up “a piece of the sea / To feel how a tall girl has swum / Yesterday in it too deeply.” Because she was “below the light,” the woman has become “More naked than Eve in the Garden.” The speaker’s physical connection to and emotional participation with the sea links him again to this lost woman such that his “hands are shining with fever.” Yet the memory of the girl and the knowledge she has brought him provide the speaker with an understanding of what change means. He realizes the “long, changing word of the dog” and “the pain when the sun came up / For the first time on angel-shut gates / In its rays set closer than teeth.” The poem does not specify the nature of the narrator’s relationship to the woman or what actually happened to her, whether she drowned or whether her death was figurative. Rather, “A Morning” presents Dickey’s imaginative attempt to understand an archetypal situation in which the hero’s fulfillment requires the loss of the woman.
This idealization of mortal women pervades Dickey’s early poetry and noticeably appears in all his volumes, including Puella (1982), his full statement on this theme. The book’s pointed epigraph, T. Sturge Moore’s lines, “I lived in thee, and dreamed, and waked / Twice what I had been,” suggests Dickey’s continuing belief in Woman as a source of life-enhancing possibilities. More important, however, Puella attempts to present Deborah’s girlhood “male-imagined.” Taken together, the poems trace her maturation and reveal her heightened consciousness of the world, including her kinship with the elements of fire, air, earth, and water, and her growing knowledge of human relationships. The first-person point of view, in lyric poems that only in composite yield any real sense of “story,” along with a technique that offers reality through simultaneous, intuited images or associations, gives the book a psychological depth and richness not derived from Dickey’s previous narrative methods.
The involved technique is important, for the images Deborah conveys evoke an emotional complex inherent in certain narrative points in time that increasingly seem timeless, that is to say, mythical, presenting the simultaneous penetration of worlds–male and female, present and past, transcendent and physical. Deborah understands, as she reflects in “The Lyric Beasts,” that Woman is “a body out-believing existence: / The shining of perfection, the myth-chill” and that “One form may live from another.” She enjoins the men who “witness” her to “Rise and on faith / Follow. It is better that I should be; / Be what I am not, and I am.” Given the reality of mortal men and women, Deborah knows that “Controlled, illusory fire is best / For us.” In the imaginations of men, who are “Young outriders of the Absolute,” she is “hurled and buried.” Yet if men require idealized women, mortal females also need men to achieve completion, for Deborah in “The Lode” recognizes her inherent inadequacy: “Teach me / And learn me, wanderer: every-man-jack rain-soaked and vital / To the bone.” Male sexual potency releases her yet confirms her own heightened role. She thinks in “Deborah in Mountain Sound: Bell, Glacier, Rose”: “With one glance, one instant / Crystallization / Of an eyelash she is set, the mason’s rose / Of ice sculpture in her fist, / Her image flash-frozen, unmerited / And radiant in the making-fluid of men.” At the end of Puella, having undergone a series of transfigurations, Deborah finally becomes the Surround, and “With half of my first child, / With invention unending,” she achieves mythic dimensions, a creature more her creation than that of men. The book’s concluding poem, “Summons,” using an italicized refrain reminiscent of Dickey’s earliest works, offers her vision both of herself and her world and a pronouncement whose utter simplicity suggests intuitive knowledge: “Have someone be nearing.”
In his early notebooks written almost forty years ago, Dickey declares: “It is the task of poetry to find and articulate the archetypal individual (or, possibly, racial) vision, examine it, determine (or arrive at a tentative, or even assign one) its meaning, + make this meaning available.” His poetry has done just that, presenting the inherent male tendency to mythologize Woman, to render her transcendent, the source of possibility and the means through which he fully realizes his potential in a world whose larger mysteries have been revealed. Only by means of the Queen Goddess can the mythic hero finally complete his rites of passage.
I am indebted to Professor Calhoun Winton of the University of Maryland and Professor Joyce Pair, editor of the James Dickey Newsletter, for making a copy of “The Earth Drum” known and accessible. Professor Winton states Dickey gave it to him sometime during or shortly before 1949. “A Morning” presently resides in Washington University Special Collections.
2The unpublished early notebooks are on deposit at the South Caroliniana Library of the University of South Carolina. Access is restricted. Material from James Dickey’s notebooks may not be reprinted without his permission.
Baughman, Ronald. Understanding James Dickey. Columbia, SC.: U of South Carolina P, 1985.
Calhoun, Richard J., and Robert W. Hill. James Dickey. Boston: Twayne, 1983.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton: UP, 1968.
Dickey, James. Drowning With Others. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1962.
—. Night Hurdling. Columbia, SC and Bloomfield Hills, MI: Bruccoli Clark, 1983.
—. Self-Interviews. Ed. Barbara and James Reiss. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970.
Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough. 1 Vol. Abridged Edition. New York: Macmillan, 1951.
Kirschten, Robert. James Dickey and the Gentle Ecstasy of Earth: A Reading of the Poems. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1988.
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