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"Falling" is Dickey's closing word in Poems 1957-1967, and it says plainly that human beings, all of whom are caught in a precipitous mortal plunge, can make that descent to death speak of ecstasy rather than despair. As the airline stewardess falls from high over Kansas corn fields, she is able to gain some aerodynamic mastery over her own plummeting body, to achieve some integrative vision of the diverse and fertile world beneath her, to discard the symbolic constraints of her occupational uniform ("to die / Beyond explanation"), and, in her death, with "The furrows for miles flowing in upon her where she lies very deep / In her mortal outline," to serve the American agricultural heartland as a newfound fertility goddess. She becomes herself a symbol for others. Whereas "May Day Sermon" gives us a preacher who promises to "tell" each year the story of the fugitive lovers who epitomize the "procreant urge of the world," as Walt Whitman called it, the stewardess in "Falling" preaches only two words, "Feels herself go go toward go outward breathes at last fully / Not and tries less once tries tries AH, GOD--" Chosen to speak the last words of Dickey's first "collected poems," the stewardess utters the pure epiphany, the apotheosis of herself as goddess and the release of herself through the final human experience. She does not preach, really; in her death she quite simply becomes the sermon-object, the considered thing itself. Her downward flight through air and watery clouds, through the levels of cold and "the growing warmth / Of wheatfields rising toward the harvest moon," through the sights of distant bus and car lights, houses and lakes, through the widest swings of joy and tragic recognition, this flight works magic on the readers as it does on the farmers, wives, and boys of the land that receives her. For Dickey, the gift of the stewardess "from the frail / Chill of space to the loam where extinction slumbers in corn tassels thickly / And breathes like rich farmers counting" is the whole human gift of sacrifice: the relinquishment of life because we are all mortal, and the simultaneous affirmation of life and meaning through the imaginative will. Few other modern American poems speak so hopefully of the universal human creative spirit.