Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Semite

what art and anti-art to lead us by the sharpness 

of its definitions connected 
to all other things this is the bond 

sung to all distances 

my distances neither Roman
 
nor barbarian the sky the low sky 

of poems precise 
as the low sky 

that women have sung from the windows 
of cities sun's light 

on the sills a poetry 

of the narrow 
end of the funnel proximity's salt gales in the narrow 

end of the funnel the proofs 

are the images the images 
overwhelming earth 

rises up 

in its light nostalgia 
of the mud guilts 

of the foxhole what is a word a name at the 
     limits

of devotion 
to life the terrible knowledge 

of deception 

a lie told my loves tragically 
pitifully had deceived 

themselves had been betrayed 

demeaned thrown away shamed 
degraded 

stripped naked Think 

think also of the children 
the guards laughing 

the one pride the pride 
of the warrior laughing so the hangman 
comes to all dinners Aim 

we tell each other the children cannot be 
     alone whereupon murder 

comes to our dinners poem born 

of a planet the size 

of a table top 
garden     forest          an awning 

fluttering four-lane 

highway the instant 

in the open the moving 
edge and one 
is I 

Credit


From New Collected Poems by George Oppen, copyright © 1975 by George Oppen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Author


George Oppen

Born in 1908, George Oppen was known for both his poetry and his political activism, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1969

Date Published: 1975-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/semite