From Bonfires on the Levee to the Beaches of Grand Isle, “The Fiddler of Driskill Hill” Contemplates Life in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE – Deeply rooted in personal and regional history, David Middleton’s “The Fiddler of Driskill Hill,” now available from LSU Press, celebrates a particular place and universal human experience. While evoking distinctive Louisiana landscapes, both north and south, the poems address the great philosophical and theological questions of the ages.
In the title poem, a mysterious fiddler climbs Driskill Hill – the highest point of elevation in Louisiana – under the cover of darkness to practice his craft: “I sing what is and ought to be / And will until I die: // For that’s what bow and strings are for, / To raise things up in song / Between The Fall and Paradise / And urge the world along.”
Other poems contemplate loneliness and loss – a father mourning the death of his 10-year-old daughter, a soldier’s recollections of war, and a woman, who, in bidding farewell to the only home she and her husband ever owned, says that she “must walk one final time these rooms I share / With ghosts that speak and breathe in memory’s breathless air.” This collection reflects on the agrarian way of life, southern historical events, family, racial reconciliation, the relation between language and things, becoming and being a poet, and the experience of tragedy, death, and love. Middleton’s graceful musings on the significance of life ask questions human beings continually hope to answer.
Born in Shreveport, La., Middleton served as professor of English, poet-in-residence, Distinguished Service Professor, Alcee Fortier Distinguished Professor, and head of the Department of Languages and Literature at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. Currently professor emeritus of English at Nicholls, he lives in Thibodaux with his wife, Francine. He has one grown child, a daughter, Anna Marie Middleton Conrad.