The Zodiac is a long poem, a short book; as Dickey explains in a prefatory note, it's loosely based on another poem of the same title, written by a Dutch sailor before his death by storm at sea in 1940. The persona of Zodiac is a Dutch sailor, too, at home in Amsterdam after years of travel; he drinks and becomes delirious, and appears to be dying from a consuming disease he associates with the constellation Cancer. Throughout the twelve sections he struggles to relate himself--by means of poetry and aqua vitae--from the sea, through the "beastly" stars, to the universe itself. In despair, he wishes to gain entrance into the zodiac for Orion, that great hunter of beasts, god of storms, uniter of the senses and the intellect. Though his imagination fails him and his senses spin, he ends in a chanting affirmation of his effort. But the effort has been a curious thing: an unsanctified Dutch poet beseeching the sea and stars with deep and melodic Southern intonations. Intense and ardent solipsism, not Dickey at his best.