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By George Oppen

In the small beauty of the forest

The wild deer bedding down—

That they are there!


                              Their eyes

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.


                              Their paths

Nibbled thru the fields, the leaves that shade them

Hang in the distances

Of sun


                              The small nouns

Crying faith

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)

Poet Bio

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. 

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