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The Heaven of Animals -- James Dickey

Guest poem sent in by Kerri Clarke
(Poem #1657) The Heaven of Animals
 Here they are.  The soft eyes open.
 If they have lived in a wood
 It is a wood.
 If they have lived on plains it is grass rolling
 Under their feet forever.

 Having no souls, they have come,
 Anyway, beyond their knowing.
 Their instincts wholly bloom
 And they rise.
 The soft eyes open.

 To match them, the landscape flowers,
 Outdoing, desperately
 Outdoing what is required:
 The richest wood,
 The deepest field.

 For some of these, it could not be the place
 It is, without blood.
 These hunt, as they have done,
 But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

 More deadly than they can believe.
 They stalk more silently,
 And crouch on the limbs of trees,
 And their descent
 Upon the bright backs of their prey

 May take years
 In a sovereign floating of joy.
 And those that are hunted
 Know this as their life,
 Their reward:  to walk

 Under such trees in full knowledge
 Of what is in glory above them,
 And to feel no fear,
 But acceptance, compliance.
 Fulfilling themselves without pain

 At the cycle's center,
 They tremble, they walk
 Under the tree,
 They fall, they are torn,
 They rise, they walk again.
-- James Dickey
Following a recent discussion amongst friends about whether or not animals
possess souls (and whether beloved pets will meet us in the afterlife), I
was very happy to come across this entirely beautiful poem by James Dickey.
I hope that it acts as a valuable addition to the Dickey poems already on
your site.

Kerri Clarke
Sydney

[Links]

http://james.dickey.com/ contains several interesting pages on Dickey,
including biographical snippets under http://james.dickey.com/life.html

118 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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i found this poem five years ago. I am not a 'poetry' person. Poetry is
not part of my day-to-day life.

I think about this poem -- and send it -- to everyone in my life that has
loved animals.

it has always given me enormous pleasure to share it. And it has given me
such comfort when I think about the pets I have had that died.

Thank you so much Mr. Dickey for writing it!

Pamela Thomas

PamelaJo111 said...

Once again, i am moved greatly by The Heaven of Animals.

I am not overly educated, but well rounded and care deeply for all living
things.

Except roaches - abundant in Fla.

They don't get to go to The Heaven of Animals :))

Thank you so much.

Pamela

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I think about this poem -- and send it -- to everyone in my life that has
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Thank you so much Mr. Dickey for writing it!
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