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Valéry as Dictator

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Sad. And it comes
tomorrow. Again, gray, the streaks
of work
shredding the stone
of the pavement, dissolving 
with the idea
of singular endeavor.  Herds, the
herds
of suffering intelligences
bunched,
and out of 
hearing. Though the day
come to us
                    in waves,
                                       sun, air, the beat
of the clock.
                       Though I stare at the radical 
world,
              wishing it would stand still.
                                                                 Tell me,
and I gain at the telling.
Of the lie, and the waking
against the heavy breathing
of new light, dawn, shattering
the naive cluck
of feeling.
                   What is tomorrow  
that it cannot come 
                                    today?

“Valéry as Dictator” from The Dead Lecturer (1964), reprinted in S O S: POEMS, 1961-2013 © 2014 by The Estate of Amiri Baraka; collection edited by Paul Vangelisti; recorded with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. Previously published in Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1961-1995) by Marsilio Publishers, 1995.
Source: Poetry (Poetry)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 1963 issue of Poetry magazine

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Valéry as Dictator

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