By Blythe Clod
Good Morning Pansies!
Today I wanted to provide access to a previously unknown James Dickey poem, Au Courant. In French, au courant literally means “the current” a reference to the river, but the connotated meaning is different, and implies something that is fashionable, perhaps even a bit avant garde.
These lines were lost to posterity and have only recently come to light when a priest, Father Arthur Scott, found them in his deceased mother’s attic. Knowing of my love of Dickey’s works, he forwarded the paper to me. There was no date on the document, but the lines themselves clearly indicate this was a precursor to both the 1970 book, and the 1972 movie, Deliverance. This proves that a poem is the basis of both. Quite a shock!
This also answers a statement made by Dwight Garner in his 2010 review of the book, on its 40th anniversary:
It’s odd, then, that Dickey is probably best remembered for a spare novel, one from which he stripped most of the poetry, pulling out the finer phrasings like weeds. That novel was his first, “Deliverance” (1970), a book that turns a youthful 40 this year. It’s a novel that I was happy to discover upon rereading it by a deep lake this summer — Dickey’s stuff is always best read beside a vaguely sinister body of water — has lost little of its sleekness or power. The book’s anniversary shouldn’t slip by unnoticed.
Well, we found the stripped poetry! So, here for the first time ever—
The Lost Quatrains Of James Dickey
So merrily we row along.
A banjo song! A banjo song!
Far up the creek; A broke canoe.
What do we do? What do we do?
Hillbilly rednecks; Big shotgun!
We run, run, run. We run, run, run.
Over a barrel; Bubba big!
Squeal like a pig! Squeal like a pig!
He shot an arrow in the air!
Hit Bubba there! Hit Bubba there!
Other inbred redneck scurry!
In a hurry! In a hurry!
We run to the cliff; Man dive in!
Guilty as sin! Guilty as sin!
Other White Trash redneck follows!
Thru the hollows! Thru the hollows!
The arrow hits him as he cocks!
Sink with rocks! Sink with rocks!
The three remaining go home now!
Oh Holy Cow, Man! Holy Cow!
I hope that you all enjoyed the rough and thrusting pulse of the words. They sent a thrill up my leg!
Everybody have a nice day!
FootNote. The Image is of John Derek playing the son of Robin Hood in the 1950 film, Rogues of Sherwood Forest. Curiously, his ex-wife was Bo Derek.