Oppen’s “The Source”

I haven’t read enough of George Oppen to identify his major themes, but, like William Carlos Williams, he has written a number of poems focusing on the poor, and so far those tend to be my favorite poems, this one in particular:


If the city has roots, they are in filth.
It is a slum. Even the sidewalk
Rasps under the feet.

-In some black brick
Tenement, a woman’s body

Glows. The gleam; the unimaginable
Thin feet taper down
The instep naked to the wooden floor!

Hidden and disguised
-and shy?

The city’s
Secret warmth.

perhaps because it reflects some of my own experiences.

It seemed to me that the men in the poor areas where I grew up were most often angry or “tough,” perhaps because they needed to be to survive.

The women were tough, too; they had to be in order to survive; but they were often secretively kind and loving, managing to make such a life bearable.

Closer to Home

Though I’ll admit as I’ve gotten older I’ve become increasingly enamored of large, public gardens with their showy flowers and exotic species, that doesn’t mean that I’m indifferent to the beauty in my own yard.

For instance, I think the rhododendron that’s been nearly engulfed by the large fir in the front yard, the one that desperately needs to be moved three feet or so, is as beautiful as any I’ve seen in Pt Defiance’s Rhododendron garden and even Weyerhauser’s Rhododendron Garden:

On a smaller scale, the wallflowers seem to draw more bees than nearly any flower I’ve observed anywhere else. It doesn’t take much patience to get as many pictures of bumblebees at work as you’d ever want:

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