The focus of "Italics Mine and Them That Digs" is, I suppose, twofold. Although the images and poetry are mindful of, and draw from the histories of mythology, poetry, and painting, they are also a personal reinterpretation of the various connotations of those images. Dionysus, Pan, Mercury, and Esau all retain their historic significance, but accommodate contemporary gesture easily.
In D.H. Lawrence's poem "Snake", the snake is not a symbol of malevolence but of the secret depths of the human soul, it is "one of the lords of life". For me as well, the snake image represents the most sought after elements of ourselves, the most treasured and fugitive moments in life, the erotic, the sacred, the transcendent.
Likewise, the skeleton images broke from their historic, clichéd content to become for me the symbolic of the poet, that deep-cached and endlessly discreet piece of us that harvests the interior landscape. They are celebratory images of the vital, joyfully undertaking the search for meaning, as laughingly "absolute" as the gravedigger in "Hamlet".
Wallace Stevens, whose thinking is an inescapable influence, used not a snake but a candle to symbolize this encounter within ourselves:
"We say God and the imagination are one…
How high that highest candle lights the dark."