photo from amazon
Near fine / Good. “Privately Printed for Sylvan Press” but no numbering or edition statement. Gold stripes at edge of protective clear plastic jacket are beginning to pull away a little at the edges, and the jacket is brittle and scratched. Black leather finish boards with faded gilt or green engraving design. End papers are quite yellowed but pages are only lightly yellowed, clean and unmarked. Top of text block is dyed wine red. Other surfaces of text block are yellowed with dust / time. Engravings in the fashion of the era; please contact seller for additional photos.
James Dickey: Poems 1957 – 1967. Wesleyan University Press. First Edition.
I almost always crack each book I list, unless it is just a numerous and easily available edition of a well known title.
Today I took a minute to randomly read a James Dickey Poem. It was Buck Dancer’s Choice, from the section of the same name.
Then I had to go listen to the song, in several varying styles by several artists. Then I had to go look at videos of buck dancing, which according to Emmylou Harris’ teacher is NOT the same as clogging.
Then I had to wipe a tear.
And now I need some tap shoes. I want to wear them all day all around the house.
The poem and links to some of what I found in my explorations below.
So I would hear out those lungs,The air split into nine levels,Some gift of tongues of the whistlerIn the invalid’s bed: my mother,Warbling all day to herselfThe thousand variations of one song;It is called Buckdancer’s Choice.For years, they have all been dyingOut, the classic buck-and-wing menOf traveling minstrel shows;With them also an old womanWas dying of breathless angina,Yet still found breath enoughTo whistle up in my headA sight like a one-man band,Freed black, with cymbals at heel,An ex-slave who thrivingly dancedTo the ring of his own clashing lightThrough the thousand variations of one songAll day to my mother’s prone music,The invalid’s warbler’s note,While I crept close to the wallSock-footed, to hear the sounds alter,Her tongue like a mockingbird’s breakThrough stratum after stratum of a toneProclaiming what choices there areFor the last dancers of their kind,For ill women and for all slavesOf death, and children enchanted at wallsWith a brass-beating glow underfoot,Not dancing but nearly risenThrough barnlike, theatrelike housesOn the wings of the buck and wing.
James Dickey, “Buckdancer’s Choice” from The Whole Motion: Collected Poems 1945-1992. Copyright © 1992 by James Dickey. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press, www.wesleyan.edu/wespress.
Source: James Dickey: The Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)
Directed by D.C. choreographer Emily Oleson, this work features Urban Artistry with Good Foot Dance Company and Baakari Wilder. The piece investigates the origins behind the term “buck dance,” which in tap dance history is used to describe an early American percussive dance style. Drawing on a short video of buck dance taken by Thomas Edison in 1894, the dancers use the technique of freestyling to compare different dance styles in conversation. Part of Local Dance Commissioning Project.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light!
Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
My relationship advice for the year!
Help each other keep things nice. Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up. It works for the family, it works for the nation and the world when we think of our environment or poverty and other painful social ills. When in doubt, kiss your sweetheart.
It’s a great theme for our family -er, Wine Country Books- because we moved in December, enjoyed the holidays, half of us took a long vacation in January, and we are now picking up the pieces- stacks of moving boxes, missing inventory, remembering how to make the coffee, finding a joyful and productive routine.
Will you be our Valentine?
I love TS Eliot’s beautiful language and weary tone. As I read it feels as if I am perpetually struggling home in a foul, foggy, freezing winter twilight, breathing air choked with coal smoke and auto exhaust, longing for hot tea and warm lamplight.
You can hear Eliot reading his Journey of the Magi here, a rare treat.*
It is wonderful to listen to the question the wise man asks, and ponder the double edge of The Holidays. Be happy, be gracious, enjoy OR ELSE!! This is a time of mass stress and guilt and acute consciousness of loss and lack in our personal lives and our world, right alongside the dictatorial mandate to celebrate the hope and beauty of various religious and natural events.
In the natural order of things, this should be a time of natural ‘death’- hunkering down, resting, feeling a little melancholy, to make way for spring’s rebirth. Instead we work twice as hard to ‘get ready’ for the season and find it is over before we even enjoyed it.
We are left with regrets- why did I allow myself to be taken in by obligation, guilt trips and marketing when I KNEW I wouldn’t enjoy myself and that nobody else cared about those details that left me chasing my tail when I should have been just enjoying? Why didn’t I follow my instinct to do less and love and enjoy more?
Instead of hibernating, getting the rest and communion and connection we crave, NEED, to sustain us until spring, our entire nation is not just fighting to be super productive as always, but taking on the obligations and dreams of The Holidays on top- no wonder we are all so dang depressed in January!
A little like the exhausted, wondering narrator, I have doggedly pursued the joy of this season, telling myself that it ain’t over til Epiphany. I just ordered babies for the King cake.
But a voice says ‘Doesn’t the tree look sad, standing there well beyond its season? Take it down. Get on with your life. It’s over now. You know you’re tired. You didn’t start early enough, you didn’t enjoy enough, and now it is over.’ Get thee behind me!
I have worked hard. I have done the right thing, sometimes for not much reward. And yes, I am tired. I am glad to ponder the double edge with the wise man.
One gift that will never be beyond this season is The Books! The holiday has given us time and resolve to stop frantically trying to force the new home into shape and just enjoy. So what do I do when I have a few quiet moments? I work on the books, of course! I’ve been going through the collection yet again as we move it into our new digs, and came across this sweet little book.
The author discusses the astronomical possibilities and the mysteries of symbolism and prophecy surrounding the Star of Bethlehem that led the Three Kings on their journey. The drawings by Glenn Wolff are very sweet, but what I loved most about it was the snippets of medieval ballads, plays, poetry and scripture throughout, including Eliot’s Journey.
I truly enjoyed stopping to ponder, in a way I should have been pondering since Thanksgiving. Because we were moving, I did give myself some freedom from the world of endlessly stressful holiday to-do lists… but I still didn’t ponder enough or enjoy enough. We were moving, packing, unpacking, rushing, buying, running here and there. Perhaps next year I will do better… Meanwhile, I have dear weary Eliot** and it ain’t over til Epiphany.
*Yes, I know about his racism, his misogyny, his anti-semitism and I absolutely do not approve. But I fell in love with these works before I knew, and we share a culture (sort of) in the Episcopal church. In spite of his airs and snobbery, please, please let me enjoy Prufrock and Journey and Wasteland on their own sad and cynical terms?
** See *