Lynen, John. "Frost as Modern Poet." In Robert Frost: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by James M. Cox. Engle-wood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962, pp. 177-197. Marcus, Mordecai. The Poems of Robert Frost: An Explication. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991.
Edwin J. Barton
DICKEY, JAMES (1923-1997) Emerging from no specific "school" but clearly allied with modern
"primitive" poets, such as Theodore ROETHKE and Robert Penn WARREN, James Dickey early on exhibited, in tone and diction, a kinship with the fugitive/agrarIAN SCHOOL, but his driving rhythms also echoed the popular poetry of Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Service. visionary and surrealistic, grounded in the southern landscape both geographically and metaphysically, Dickey was ideologically and stylistically at odds with antimilitaristic contemporaries like Robert BLY, with whom he publicly feuded, and CONFESSIONAL poets like Robert lowell, Sylvia plath, and Anne sexton, whom he dubbed the "school of gabby agony" ("Lecture"). The distinctive margin-to-margin lines he developed in his later work, which use space—rather than line breaks or punctuation—to indicate pauses and highlight rhythm, derive from the influence of Walt Whitman and Hart crane.
Dickey was born in Buckhead, Georgia. His father, Eugene Dickey, was a lawyer who encouraged a love of oratory in his second son through the reading of famous legal trials aloud. His mother, Maibelle Swift Dickey, who frequently quoted Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was an invalid who whistled as she lay in bed, a practice that would inspire one of Dickey's greatest poems, "Buckdancer's Choice" (1965): "Warbling all day to herself / The thousand variations of one song." Dickey attended Clemson A&M (now Clemson University) in South Carolina for one semester before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943. He served as a bombardier in the 418th Night Fighter Squadron in the South Pacific through 1945, flying in approximately 100 combat missions between 1943 and 1945. During the long idle periods between missions, he began to read poetry seriously; when the war ended, he enrolled at vanderbilt University, earning a B.A. in 1949 and an M.A. in 1950. It was at vanderbilt that he began to write poetry. Dickey joined the faculty at Rice Institute in the fall of 1950 but was recalled to active military duty in the Korean War four months later. After serving two years, he returned to Rice, where he taught until 1954, when he received a Sewanee Review fellowship, which he used to travel to Europe and concentrate on his writing.
At the age of 34, he sought a new career in New York and entered the advertising field while continuing
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