George Oppen

(1908-1984 / United States)

Populist - Poem by George Oppen

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

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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