Showing posts with label James Oppenheim (1882-1932). Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Oppenheim (1882-1932). Show all posts

James Oppenheim – Immoral

James Oppenheim – Immoral

I keep walking around myself, mouth open with amazement:
For by all the ethical rules of life, I ought to be solemn and sad,
But, look you, I am bursting with joy.

I scold myself:
I say: Boy, your work has gone to pot:
You have scarcely enough money to last out the week:
And think of your responsibilities!
Whereupon, my heart bubbles over,
I puff on my pipe, and think how solemnly the world goes by my window,
And how childish people are, wrinkling their foreheads over groceres and rent.

For here jets life fresh and stinging in the vivid air:
The winds laugh to the jovial Earth:
The day is keen with Autumn's fine flavor of having done the year's work.
Earth, in her festival, calls her children to the crimson revels.
The trees are a drunken riot: the sunshine is dazzling...

Yes, I ought, I suppose, to be saddened and tragic:
But joy drops from me like ripe apples.

James Oppenheim – Bread and Roses

James Oppenheim – Bread and Roses

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!

As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.

As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.

As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.

Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; bread and roses, bread and roses.

The American Magazine, December, 1911.

James Oppenheim – The Slave

James Oppenheim – The Slave

They set the slave free, striking off his chains…
Then he was as much of a slave as ever.

He was still chained to servility,
He was still manacled to indolence and sloth,
He was still bound by fear and superstition,
By ignorance, suspicion, and savagery…
His slavery was not in the chains,
But in himself….

They can only set free men free…
And there is no need of that:
Free men set themselves free.

James Oppenheim – The Runner In The Skies

James Oppenheim – The Runner In The Skies

Who is the runner in the skies,
With her blowing scarf of stars,
And our Earth and sun hovering like bees about her blossoming heart?
Her feet are on the winds, where space is deep,
Her eyes are nebulous and veiled,
She hurries through the night to a far lover.

James Oppenheim – The New God

James Oppenheim – The New God

Ye morning-glories, ring in the gale your bells,
And with dew water the walk's dust for the burden-bearing ants:
Ye swinging spears of the larkspur, open your wells of gold
And pay your honey-tax to the hummingbird . . .

O now I see by the opening of blossoms,
And of bills of the hungry fledglings,
And the bright travel of sun-drunk insects,
Morning's business is afoot: Earth is busied with a million mouths!

Where goes eaten grass and thrush-snapped dragonfly?
Creation eats itself, to spawn in swarming sun-rays . . .
Bull and cricket go to it: life lives on life . . .
But O, ye flame-daubed irises, and ye hosts of gnats,
Like a well of light moving in morning's light,
What is this garmented animal that comes eating and drinking among you?
What is this upright one, with spade and with shears?

He is the visible and the invisible,
Behind his mouth and his eyes are other mouth and eyes . . .
Thirster after visions
He sees the flowers to their roots and the Earth back through its silent ages:
He parts the sky with his gaze:
He flings a magic on the hills, clothing them with Upanishad music,
Peopling the valley with dreamed images that vanished in Greece
   millenniums back;
And in the actual morning, out of longing, shapes on the hills
To-morrow's golden grandeur . . .

O ye million hungerers and ye sun-rays
Ye are the many mothers of this invisible god,
This Earth's star and sun that rises singing and toiling among you,
This that is I, in joy, in the garden,
Singing to you, ye morning-glories,
Calling to you, ye swinging spears of the larkspur.

James Oppenheim – Where Love Once Was

James Oppenheim – Where Love Once Was

Where love once was, let there be no hate:
Though they that went as one by night and day
Go now alone,
Where love once was, let there be no hate.

The seeds we planted together
Came to rich harvest,
And our hearts are as bins brimming with the golden plenty:
Into our loneliness we carry granaries of old love . . .

And though the time has come when we cannot sow our acres together,
And our souls need diverse fields,
And a tilling apart,
Let us go separate ways with a blessing each for each,
And gentle parting,
And let there be no hate,
Where love once was.

James Oppenheim – The Lincoln-Child

James Oppenheim – The Lincoln-Child

Clearing in the forest,
In the wild Kentucky forest,
And the stars, wintry stars strewn above!
O Night that is the starriest
Since Earth began to roll—
For a Soul
Is born out of Love!
Mother love, father love, love of Eternal God—
Stars have pushed aside to let him through—
Through heaven's sun-sown deeps
One sparkling ray of God
Strikes the clod—
(And while an angel-host through wood and clearing sweeps!)
Born in the wild
The Child—
Naked, ruddy, new,
Wakes with the piteous human cry and at the mother-heart sleeps.

To the mother wild berries and honey,
To the father awe without end,
To the child a swaddling of flannel—
And a dawn rolls sharp and sunny
And the skies of winter bend
To see the first sweet word penned
In the godliest human annal.

Frail Mother of the Wilderness—
How strange the world shines in
And the cabin becomes chapel
And the baby lies secure—
Sweet Mother of the Wilderness,
New worlds for you begin,
You have tasted of the apple
That giveth wisdom sure….

Soon in the wide wilderness,
On a branch blown over a creek,
Up a trail of the wild coon,
In a lair of the wild bee,
The rugged boy, by danger's stress,
Learnt the speech the wild things speak,
Learnt the Earth's eternal tune
Of strife-engendered harmony—
Went to school where Life itself was master,
Went to church where Earth was minister—
And in Danger and Disaster
Felt his future manhood stir!

All about him lay the land,
Eastern cities, Western prairie,
Wild, immeasurable, grand;
But he was lost where blossomy boughs make airy
Bowers in the forest, and the sand
Makes brook-water a clear mirror that gives back
Green branches and trunks black
And clouds across the heavens lightly fanned.

Yet all the Future dreams, eager to waken,
Within that woodland soul—
And the bough of boy has only to be shaken
That the fruit drop whereby this Earth shall roll
A little nearer God than ever before.
Little recks he of war,
Of national millions waiting on his word—
Dreams still the Event unstirred
In the heart of the boy, the little babe of the wild—
But the years hurry and the tide of the sea
Of Time flows fast and ebbs, and he, even he,
Must leave the wilderness, the wood-haunts wild—
Soon shall the cyclone of Humanity
Tearing through Earth suck up this little child
And whirl him to the top, where he shall be
Riding the storm-column in the lightning-stroke,
Calm at the peak, while down below worlds rage,
And Earth goes out in blood and battle-smoke,
And leaves him with the sun—an epoch and an age!

And lo, as he grew ugly, gaunt,
And gnarled his way into a man,
What wisdom came to feed his want,
What worlds came near to let him scan!
And as he fathomed through and through
Our dark and sorry human scheme,
He knew what Shakespeare never knew,
What Dante never dared to dream—
That Men are one
Beneath the sun,
And before God are equal souls—
This truth was his,
And this it is
That round him such a glory rolls—
For not alone he knew it as a truth,
He made it of his blood, and of his brain—
He crowned it on the day when piteous Booth
Sent a whole land to weeping with world-pain—
When a black cloud blotted the sun
And men stopped in the streets to sob,
To think Old Abe was dead.
Dead, and the day's work still undone,
Dead, and war's ruining heart athrob,
And earth with fields of carnage freshly spread—
Millions died fighting,
But in this man we mourned
Those millions, and one other—
And the States to-day uniting,
North and South,
East and West,
Speak with a people's mouth
A rhapsody of rest
To him our beloved best,
Our big, gaunt, homely brother—
Our huge Atlantic coast-storm in a shawl,
Our cyclone in a smile—our President,
Who knew and loved us all
With love more eloquent
Than his own words—with Love that in real deeds was spent….

Oh, to pour love through deeds—
To be as Lincoln was!—
That all the land might fill its daily needs
Glorified by a human Cause!
Then were America a vast World-Torch
Flaming a faith across the dying Earth,
Proclaiming from the Atlantic's rocky porch,
That a New World was struggling at the birth!

O living God, O Thou who living art,
And real, and near, draw, as at that babe's birth,
Into our souls and sanctify our Earth—
Let down Thy strength that we endure
Mighty and pure
As mothers and fathers of our own Lincoln-child—
Make us more wise, more true, more strong, more mild,
That we may day by day
Rear this wild blossom through its soft petals of clay;
That hour by hour
We may endow it with more human power
Than is our own—
That it may reach the goal
Our Lincoln long has shown!
O Child, flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,
Soul torn from out our Soul!
May you be great, and pure, and beautiful—
A Soul to search this world
To be a father, brother, comrade, son,
A toiler powerful;
A man whose toil is done
One with God's Law above:
Work wrought through Love!

James Oppenheim – Assurance

James Oppenheim – Assurance

Yea, there are as many stars under the Earth as over the Earth...
Plenty of room to roll around in has our planet...
And I, at the edge of the porch,
Hearing the crickets shrill in the star-thick armies of grass,
And beholding over the spread of Earth the spread of the heavens...
Drink this deep moment in my pilgrimage,
With a sense of how forever I have been alive,
With a conviction that I shall go on, ever safe, ever growing,
The stars to be included in my travels,
And the future sure before me.

James Oppenheim – Tasting the Earth

In a dark hour, tasting the Earth.

As I lay on my couch in the muffled night, and the rain lashed at my window,
And my forsaken heart would give me no rest, no pause and no peace,
Though I turned my face far from the wailing of my bereavement...
Then I said: I will eat of this sorrow to its last shred,
I will take it unto me utterly,
I will see if I be not strong enough to contain it...
What do I fear? Discomfort?
How can it hurt me, this bitterness?

The miracle, then!
Turning toward it, and giving up to it,
I found it deeper than my own self...
O dark great mother-globe so close beneath me...
It was she with her inexhaustable grief,
Ages of blood-drenched jungles, and the smoking of craters, and the roar of tempests,
And moan of the forsaken seas,
It was she with the hills beginning to walk in the shapes of the dark-hearted animals,
It was she risen, dashing away tears and praying to dumb skies, in the pomp-crumbling tragedy of man...
It was she, container of all griefs, and the buried dust of broken hearts,
Cry of the christs and the lovers and the child-stripped mothers,
And ambition gone down to defeat, and the battle overborne,
And the dreams that have no waking...

My heart became her ancient heart:
On the food of the strong I fed, on dark strange life itself:
Wisdom-giving and sombre with the unremitting love of ages...

There was dank soil in my mouth,
And bitter sea on my lips,
In a dark hour, tasting the Earth.