By George Oppen 1908–1984 George Oppen
Truth also is the pursuit of it:
Like happiness, and it will not stand.

Even the verse begins to eat away
In the acid. Pursuit, pursuit;

A wind moves a little,
Moving in a circle, very cold.

How shall we say?
In ordinary discourse—

We must talk now. I am no longer sure of the words,
The clockwork of the world. What is inexplicable

Is the ‘preponderance of objects.’ The sky lights
Daily with that predominance

And we have become the present.

We must talk now. Fear
Is fear. But we abandon one another.

George Oppen, “Leviathan” from New Collected Poems. Copyright © 1965 by George Oppen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: New Collected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2008)

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Poet George Oppen 1908–1984

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

Subjects Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Social Commentaries

 George  Oppen


George Oppen, a prominent American poet, was one of the chief exponents of Objectivism, a school of poetry that emphasized simplicity and clarity over formal structure and rhyme. Born in 1908 to a wealth family and expelled from a high school military academy, Oppen and his wife Mary travelled across the country, finding work wherever they could, until he received a small inheritance at 21. With these funds, the couple moved to . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Social Commentaries

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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