My Generation Reading the Newspapers

By Kenneth Patchen 1911–1972 Kenneth Patchen
We must be slow and delicate; return
the policeman's stare with some esteem,   
remember this is not a shadow play
of doves and geese but this is now
the time to write it down, record the words—
I mean we should have left some pride
of youth and not forget the destiny of men   
who say goodbye to the wives and homes   
they've read about at breakfast in a restaurant:   
"My love."—without regret or bitterness   
obtain the measure of the stride we make,   
the latest song has chosen a theme of love   
delivering us from all evil—destroy. . . ?
why no. . . this too is fanciful. . . funny how   
hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,   
this thing of framing words to mark this grave   
I mean nothing short of blood in every street   
on earth can fitly voice the loss of these.

Kenneth Patchen, “My Generation Reading the Newspapers” from Collected Poems. Copyright 1936 by Kenneth Patchen. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1957)

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Poet Kenneth Patchen 1911–1972


 Kenneth  Patchen


Largely a self-taught writer, Kenneth Patchen never appeared to win widespread recognition from the professors at universities or many literary critics. As the New York Times Book Review noted, "While some critics tended to dismiss his work as naive, romantic, capricious and concerned often with the social problems of the 1930's, others found him a major voice in American poetry.... Even the most generous praise was usually . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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