The Heaven of Animals, by James Dickey

The Heaven of Animals

Here they are. The soft eyes

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.


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 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,

reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance,

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

My Droogie, Robert, sent me this poem for my birthday. Dickey

has long been a favorite of mine. mjh

my poem

for Dickey

2 thoughts on “The Heaven of Animals, by James Dickey”

  1. mjh —


    poem was quite wonderful. The term “droogie,” used in your comment appended to the end, however, gave me pause. After the fact, I learned

    I had indeed intuited its meaning and the probable forum in which I had first heard it used. But before that, I embarked on a cyberhunt

    for the fact. Mirriam-Webster has thus far declined to include the term in its lexicon (though I suspect The American Heritage Dictionary

    might include it). Once again, Google to the rescue. Google directed me to where I learned that one of a number

    of definitions imparted that, “droog” and “droogie” were indeed “nadsat” (i.e., slang) for “friend,” and had originated from Stanley

    Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” — though, according to said same directory, only used as such “amongst certain Northerners.” “Droog” is

    also Russian for “friend.”

    There you have it.

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