Song, the Winds of Downhill

By George Oppen 1908–1984 George Oppen
‘out of poverty
to begin

again’    impoverished

of tone of pose that common

of parlance   Who
so poor the words

would   with   and   take on substantial

meaning   handholds   footholds

to dig in one’s heels   sliding

hands and heels beyond the residential
lots   the plots   it is a poem

which may be sung
may well be sung

George Oppen, “Song, the Winds of Downhill” from New Collected Poems. Copyright © 1972 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 Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Class

 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Class

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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