George Oppen

(1908-1984 / United States)

Populist


I dreamed myself of their people, I am of their people,
I thought they watched me that I watched them
that they


watched the sun and the clouds for the cities
are no longer mine image images


of existence (or song


of myself?) and the roads for the light
in the rear-view mirror is not
death but the light


of other lives tho if I stumble on a rock I speak
of rock if I am to say anything anything
if I am to tell of myself splendor
of the roads secrecy


of paths for a word like a glass


sphere encloses
the word opening
and opening


myself and I am sick


for a moment


with fear let the magic
infants speak we who have brought steel


and stone again
and again


into the cities in that word blind


word must speak
and speak the magic


infants’ speech driving
northward the populist
north slowly in the sunrise the lapping


of shallow
waters tongues


of the inlets glisten
like fur in the low tides all that


childhood envied the sounds


of the ocean


over the flatlands poems piers foolhardy


structures and the lives the ingenious
lives the winds


squall from the grazing
ranches’ wandering


fences young workmen’s


loneliness on the structures has touched
and touched the heavy tools tools
in our hands in the clamorous


country birth-
light savage


light of the landscape magic


page the magic
infants speak

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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