Having touted George Oppen in my previous entry, I realized I’d never posted any of his poetry and decided to remedy the omission. Here’s the last poem in his great book Of Being Numerous (I presume the fifth line refers to Swan’s Island, Maine; the poem was originally published in Poetry, December 1967):

Astrolabes and lexicons
Once in the great houses—
A poor lobsterman
Met by chance
On Swan’s Island
Where he was born
We saw the old farmhouse
Propped and leaning on its hilltop
On that island
Where the ferry runs
A poor lobsterman
His teeth were bad
He drove us over that island
In an old car
A well-spoken man
Hardly real
As he knew in those rough fields
Lobster pots and their gear
Smelling of salt
The rocks outlived the classicists,
The rocks and the lobstermen’s huts
And the sights of the island
The ledges in the rough sea seen from the road
And the harbor
And the post office
Difficult to know what one means
—to be serious and to know what one means—
An island
Has a public quality
His wife in the front seat
In a soft dress
Such as poor women wear
She took it that we came—
I don’t know how to say, she said—
Not for anything we did, she said,
Mildly, ‘from God’. She said
What I like more than anything
Is to visit other islands…

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