Wednesday, September 05, 2007

hi. the following excerpt is from a George Oppen essay written in the Spring of 1962 titled "The Mind's Own Place" and can be found in his "Selected Poems" published by New Directions Press.
Modern American poetry begins with the determination to find the image, the thing encountered, the thing seen each day whose meaning has become the meaning and color of our lives. Verse, which had become a rhetoric of exaggeration, of inflation, was to the modernists a skill of accuracy, of precision, a test of truth. Such an art has always to be defended against a furious and bitter Bohemia whose passion it is to assist, in the highest of spirits, at the razing of that art which is the last intrusion on an onanism which they believe to be artistic. In these circles is elaborated a mock-admiration of the artist as a sort of superannuated infant, and it is the nightmare of the poet or the artist to find himself wandering between the grim grey lines of the Philistines and the ramshackle emplacements of Bohemia. If he ceases to believe in the validity of his insights--the truth of what he is saying--he becomes the casualty, the only possible casualty, of that engagement. Philistia and Bohemia, never endangered by the contest, remain precisely what they were. This is the Bohemia that churns and worries the idea of the poet-not-of-this-world, the dissociated poet, the ghostly bard. If the poet is an island, this is the sea which most lovingly and intimately grinds him to sand.