April 6, 2004

Two Poems by George Oppen

From Disaster

Ultimately the air
Is bare sunlight where must be found
The lyric valuables. From disaster

Shipwreck, whole families crawled
To the tenements, and there

Survived by what morality
Of hope

Which for the sons
Ends its metaphysic
In small lawns of home.

World, World—

Failure, worse failure, nothing seen
From prominence,
Too much seen in the ditch.

Those who will not look
Tho they feel on their skins
Are not pierced;

One cannot count them
Tho they are present.

It is entirely wild, wildest
Where there is traffic
And populace.

'Thought leaps on us' because we are here. That is the fact of the matter.
Soul-searchings, these prescriptions,

Are a medical faddism, an attempt to escape,
To lose oneself in the self.

The self is no mystery, the mystery is
That there is something for us to stand on.

We want to be here.

The act of being, the act of being
More than oneself.

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