Post more comments

George Oppen

(1908-1984 / United States)

Of Being Numerous


‘Whether, as the intensity of seeing increases, one’s distance from Them, the people, does not also increase’
I know, of course I know, I can enter no other place


Yet I am one of those who from nothing but man’s way of thought and one of his dialects and what has happened to me
Have made poetry


To dream of that beach
For the sake of an instant in the eyes,


The absolute singular


The unearthly bonds
Of the singular


Which is the bright light of shipwreck


Strange that the youngest people I know
Live in the oldest buildings


Scattered about the city
In the dark rooms
Of the past—and the immigrants,


The black
Rectangular buildings
Of the immigrants.


They are the children of the middle class.


‘The pure products of America—’


Investing
The ancient buildings
Jostle each other


In the half-forgotten, that ponderous business.
This Chinese Wall.


They carry nativeness
To a conclusion
In suicide.


We want to defend
Limitation
And do not know how.


Stupid to say merely
That poets should not lead their lives
Among poets,


They have lost the metaphysical sense
Of the future, they feel themselves
The end of a chain


Of lives, single lives
And we know that lives
Are single


And cannot defend
The metaphysic
On which rest


The boundaries
Of our distances.
We want to say


‘Common sense’
And cannot. We stand on


That denial
Of death that paved the cities,
Paved the cities


Generation
For generation and the pavement


Is filthy as the corridors
Of the police.


How shall one know a generation, a new generation?
Not by the dew on them! Where the earth is most torn
And the wounds untended and the voices confused,
There is the head of the moving column


Who if they cannot find
Their generation
Wither in the infirmaries


And the supply depots, supplying
Irrelevant objects.
Street lamps shine on the parked cars
Steadily in the clear night


It is true the great mineral silence
Vibrates, hums, a process
Completing itself


In which the windshield wipers
Of the cars are visible.


The power of the mind, the
Power and weight
Of the mind which
Is not enough, it is nothing
And does nothing


Against the natural world,
Behemoth, white whale, beast
They will say and less than beast,
The fatal rock


Which is the world—


O if the streets
Seem bright enough,
Fold within fold
Of residence ...


Or see thru water
Clearly the pebbles
Of the beach
Thru the water, flowing
From the ripple, clear
As ever they have been


My daughter, my daughter, what can I say
Of living?


I cannot judge it.


We seem caught
In reality together my lovely
Daughter,


I have a daughter
But no child


And it was not precisely
Happiness we promised
Ourselves;


We say happiness, happiness and are not
Satisfied.


Tho the house on the low land
Of the city


Catches the dawn light


I can tell myself, and I tell myself
Only what we all believe
True


And in the sudden vacuum
Of time ...


... is it not
In fear the roots grip


Downward
And beget


The baffling hierarchies
Of father and child


As of leaves on their high
Thin twigs to shield us


From time, from open
Time

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Of Being Numerous by George Oppen )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. twentig jare later, BrokenHeartPheko Motaung
  2. Bar Xanadu, Lynda Hull
  3. Ballad #10 (To Alice), Aziz AlAkresh
  4. Ballad #9 (To Alice), Aziz AlAkresh
  5. Knees Of Advanced Peace, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  6. Lost Fugue for Chet, Lynda Hull
  7. Chapter 10, Michael Mira
  8. ' Time, Efe Benjamin
  9. Ballad #8 (To Alice), Aziz AlAkresh
  10. The Window, Lynda Hull

Poem of the Day

poet Robert Browning

After
by Robert Browning

Take the cloak from his face, and at first
Let the corpse do its worst!

How he lies in his rights of a man!
Death has done all death can.
...... Read complete »

   
[Hata Bildir]