By George Oppen
In the small beauty of the forest
The wild deer bedding down—
That they are there!
Effortless, the soft lips
Nuzzle and the alien small teeth
Tear at the grass
The roots of it
Dangle from their mouths
Scattering earth in the strange woods.
They who are there.
Nibbled thru the fields, the leaves that shade them
Hang in the distances
The small nouns
In this in which the wild deer
Startle, and stare out.
“Psalm” by George Oppen, from New Collected Poems, copyright © 1975 by George Oppen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: New Collected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002)
George Oppen was an Objectivist poet born in New Rochelle, New York. Along with his wife, Mary, he published the groundbreaking Objectivist Anthology, which included work by Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. He also worked for the Objectivist Press Co-Op in New York. He turned to political activism in the 1930’s and joined the communist party in 1936. Oppen spent time in the military from 1942-1945 and was wounded in combat.
More By This Poet
Time of the Missile
I remember a square of New York’s Hudson River glinting between warehouses.
Difficult to approach the water below the pier
Swirling, covered with oil the ship at the pier
A steel wall: tons in the water,
The hand for holding,
Legs for walking,
The eye sees!...
More Poems about Nature
What Women Are Made Of
We are all ventricle, spine, lung, larynx, and gut.
Clavicle and nape, what lies forked in an open palm;
we are follicle and temple. We are ankle, arch,
sole. Pore and rib, pelvis and root
and tongue. We are wishbone and gland and molar
Of Tribulation, these are They,
Denoted by the White.
— Emily Dickinson
in the split geode
a Santa’s grotto
every surface —
like sea urchins’ —
in the doorways
sleepers from the womb
to make of anything succulent