They have lost the metaphysical senseOf the future, they feel themselvesThe end of a chainOf lives, single livesAnd we know that livesAre singleAnd cannot defendThe metaphysicOn which restThe boundariesOf our distances.
from "Of Being Numerous" #26, 1968; New Collected Poems, New Directions, 2002, ISBN 0-811-21488-5
'O city ladies'Your coats wrapped,Your hips a possessionYour shoes archedYour walk is sharpYour breasts Pertain to lingerieGeorge Oppen
And we saw the seed,The minuscule Sequoia seedIn the museum by the tremendous slabOf the tree. And imagined the seedIn soil and the growth quickenedSo that we saw the seed reach out, forcingEarth thru itself into bark, wood, the greenNeedles of a redwood until the treeStood in the room without soil—How much of the earth'sCrust has livedThe seed’s violence!The shock is metaphysical.George Oppen
The steel worker on the girderLearned not to look down, and does his workAnd there are words we have learnedNot to look at,Not to look for substanceBelow them. But we are on the vergeOf vertigo.George Oppen