Je ne peux pas même aujourd’hui
Tout entier me dégager
De ces hommes
Avec qui je me tenais dans des tentes en désordre,
Dans les hôpitaux et les hangars et dans les ravines des routes fustigées
D’un pays ruiné,
Parmi eux beaucoup d’hommes
Plus capables que moi
Maykut et un sergent
Ce lieutenant aussi-
Comment oublier tout ça ? Comment parler
Lointainement de ces «gens»
Qui sont la force
Dans les murs
Dans lesquelles leurs voitures
Raisonnent comme l’histoire
En bas des avenues murées
Dans lesquelles on ne peut parler.
This book is important to me. I am in a stage in which I need an Objectivist poetry that can tie my inner world to the concrete world of physical fact… and where the discovery of those facts burst in a paroxysm of emotions.
It’s definitely for me a new way to experience the opus metaphysicum and silence.
George Oppen’s embrace of silence in his work, both in the way he writes and in his philosophy, shows the influence of post-classical science and mathematics, an influence that extends to avant-garde poets writing after World War II and that situates Oppen as a key figure among them.
There is something exemplary about Oppen’s silence. In 1935 he joined the Communist party, becoming its election manager for Brooklyn a year later. His judgment was that, against the backdrop of the depression and the emergence of fascism, there were more important things to do than write poetry. This was a political decision, but it was also an aesthetic decision, in that by his silence he was declining to write the rhetorically charged, exhortative verse that then, as now, was the poet’s characteristic form of protest. More than poetry, or even politics, what mattered to Oppen was the truth of things. The truth, in the 1930s, was best arrived at politically. Political, in the sense of agitational poetry was not, in his view, true.
I had to order this George Oppen’s New Collected Poems from Australia for 62,52 AUD, I couldn’t find it elsewhere.