by Louis Daniel Brodsky
Whining combines, grinding in tandem,
Have pillaged the fields,
Wrested their precious golden pleasures,
Before setting dust adrift,
And left, in their wake, stubbly specters,
Crones, and moaning widows
Praying for November winds
To redeem them from barrenness and old age,
By assimilating their stray seeds.
The land recoils, in shame, from its desuetude.
Now, across the broad Delta and as deep,
A ubiquitous haze
Of smoky, black shrouds
Rises above flames
Releasing shrill, crying voices.
Soon, no trace of harvest
Will mar the terrain;
Shoots and blooms will burst from silence,
Like maidens, in petticoats, silk hose,
And lacy pinafores, dancing round the Maypole,
Their hands braiding the sun's slanting rays.
A passionate exploration of the Faulkner country.… Art copes with nature and reshapes it. The author confesses himself an "outsider" but he has an observant eye and he knows his Faulkner in spirit and detail. The poems themselves are sharply perceptive, honest, tense, and yet properly varied in mood and tone. The best of them are indeed excellent.
— Cleanth Brooks, author of Understanding Poetry and William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country
You approach Mississippi and Oxford as an outlander, but one imbued with Faulkner; then you write about the land and its people; then from the countryside you turn to the town of Oxford; then you approach the shrine itself, and depart from it (though not as you came). All that is beautifully conceived. The book as a whole is an achievement.
— Malcolm Cowley, editor of The Portable Faulkner and author of Exile's Return
Brodsky’s work both interprets Faulkner’s vision of Yoknapatawpha and issues in another vision of Mississippi; integrally related to Faulkner’s, this is yet remarkably a literary disciple’s own searching vision.
— Lewis P. Simpson, consulting editor of The Southern Review and author of The Fable of the Southern Writer
Remarkably effective…. You and F.[aulkner] and Mississippi are there, and that relationship is, of course, the single, demanding subject.… The poetic tone is right for the occasion, the sense of the occasion demanding the man’s attention is accurately there…giving a deep sense of the traveler and his mission.… A unique book, which I am grateful for in all senses.
— Robert Penn Warren, America’s first poet laureate and author of All the King’s Men