Monday, April 22, 2013

Fence Wire (by James Dickey)* (#PoetryMonday)

Too tight, it is running over
Too much of this ground to be still
Or to do anything but tremble
And disappear left and right
As far as the eye can see

Over hills, through woods,
Down roads, to arrive at last
Again where it connects,
Coming back from the other side
Of animals, defining their earthly estate

As the grass becomes snow
While they are standing and dreaming
Of grass and snow.
The winter hawk that sits upon its post,
Feeling the airy current of the wires,

Turns into a robin, sees that this is wrong,
Then into a boy, and into a man who holds
His palm on the top tense strand
With the whole farm feeding slowly
And nervously into his hand.

If the wire were cut anywhere
All his blood would fall to the ground
And leave him standing and staring
With a face as white as a Hereford’s.
From years of surrounding grain,

Cows, horses, machinery trying to turn
To rust, the humming arrives each second,
A sound that arranges these acres
And holds them highstrung and enthralled.
Because of the light, chilled hand

On the top thread tuned to an E
Like the low string of a guitar,
The dead corn is more
Balanced in death than it was,
The animals more aware

Within the huge human embrace
Held up and borne out of sight
Upon short, unbreakable poles
Wherethrough the ruled land intones
Like a psalm: properly,

With its eyes closed,
Whether on the side of the animals
Or not, whether disappearing
Right, left, through trees or down roads,
Whether outside, around, or in.


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* I thought for a change that I'd, on occasion, post a poem by someone else -- you know, like a real poet. James Dickey is one of my all time favorite poets and "Fence Wire" is a favorite poem. I believe it first appeared in the February 24, 1962 issue of The New Yorker. 

I've always thought it would make for the narration of a great video showing the action described in the poem. I think that one of the reasons I like it is that I can picture my grandfather Clark, or my dad, or one of several uncles, standing by a fence with a calloused hand perched on the top wire. I've also always thought that this poem pairs well with this passage of Scripture:

AND HE IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD,
the firstborn of all creation.
For by Him all things were created,
both in the heavens and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things,
and in Him all things hold together.
He is also head of the body,
the church;
and He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
having made peace
through the blood of His cross;
through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

                         - Colossians 1:15-20 (NASB)
Dickey died in 1997. His poems are earthy and imagery-rich treasures. He also authored the novel "Deliverance" and appears in the role of a sheriff in the movie.

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