Here are some excerpts from James Dickey's wonderful long poem The Zodiac, published in 1976.
He moves among stars.
Sure. We all do, but he is star-crazed, mad
With Einfuehling, with connecting and joining things that lay their meanings
Over billions of light years
Eons of time--Ah,
Years of light: billions of them: they are pictures
Of some sort of meaning. He thinks the secret
Can be read. But human faces swim through
Cancer Scorpio Leo through all the stupefying design,
And all he can add to it or make of it, living or dead:
* * *
Only one way beyond
He must solve it must believe it learn to read it
No, wallow in it
* * *
He has to hold on to the chair: the room is pitching and rolling--
He's sick seasick with his own stars,
Seasick and airsick sick
With the Zodiac. . . .
He knows he's not fooling himself he knows
Not a damn thing of stars of God of space
Of time love night death sex fire numbers signs words,
Not much of poetry. But by God, we've got a universe
Those designs of time are saying something
Or maybe something or other.
Night tells us. It's coming--
Venus shades it and breaks it. Will the animals come back
Gently, creatively open,
Like they were?
The great, burning Beings melt into place
A few billion-lighted inept beasts
What else is there? What other signs what other symbols
Are anything beside these? If the thing hasn't been said
This way, then God can't say it.
* * *
What animal's getting outlined?
All space is being bolted
Together: eternal blackness
Studded with creatures.
Beasts. Nothing left but the void
Deep-hammering its creatures with light-years.
Years made of light.
* * *
Look, stupid, get your nose out of the sky for once.
There're things that are close to you, too. Look at that!
Don't cringe: look right out over town.
Real birds. There they are in their curves, moving in their great element
That causes our planet to be blue and causes us all
To breathe. Ah, long ghostly drift
Well, son of a bitch,
He sits and writes,
And the paper begins to run
But he can't get rid of himself enough
To write poetry. He keeps thinking Goddamn
I've misused myself I've fucked up I haven't worked--
I've traveled and screwed too much,
But but by dawn, now NOW
Something coming through-coming down-coming up
To me ME!
His hand reaches, dazzling with drink half alive,
For the half-dead vision. That room and its pages come in and
Of being. You talk about looking: would you look at that
Electric page! What the hell did I say? Did I say that?
You bastard, you. Why didn't you know that before?
Where the hell have you been with your head?
You and the paper should have known it, you and the ink: you write
With blackness. Night. Why has it taken you all this time?
All this travel, all those lives
You've fucked up? All those books read
Not deep enough? It's staring you right in the face. The
Is whiteness. You can do anything with that. But no--
The secret is that on whiteness you can release
The night sky. Whiteness is death is dying
For human words to raise it from purity from the grave
Of too much light. Words must come to it
Words from anywhere from from
Swamps mountains mud shit hospitals wars travels from
From the Zodiac.
You son of a bitch, you! Don't try to get away from yourself!
I won't have it! You know God-damn well I mean you! And you too,
Pythagoras! Put down that guitar, lyre, whatever it is!
You've driven me nuts enough with your music of the spheres!
* * *
You know that from the black death,
The forest of beast-
Symbols, the stars are beaten down by drunks
Into the page.
By GOD the poem is in there out there
Somewhere the lines that will change
Everything, like your squares and square roots
Creating the heavenly music.
* * *
the stars are gasping
For understanding. They've had Ptolemy,
They've had Babylon
But now they want Hubbell
They want Fred Hoyle and the steady-state.
But what they really want need
Is a poet and
I'm going to have to be it . . . .
In all this immensity, all this telescope-country,
Why this microscopic searching
Of the useless human heart?