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To the Oracle at Delphi | The Nation

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To the Oracle at Delphi

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Great Oracle,why are you staring at me,

do I baffle you, do I make you despair?

I, Americus, the American,

wrought from the dark in my mother long ago,

from the dark of ancient Europa--

Why are you staring at me now

in the dusk of our civilization--

Why are you staring at me

as if I were America itself

the new Empire

far greater than any in ancient days

with its electronic highways

carrying its corporate monoculture

around the world

And English the Latin of our day--

Great Oracle, sleeping through the centuries,

Awaken now at last

And tell us how to save us from ourselves

and how to survive our own rulers

who would make a plutocracy of our democracy

in the Great Divide

between the rich and the poor

in whom Walt Whitman heard America singing

O long-silent Sybil,

You of the winged dreams,

Speak out from your temple of light

as the serious constellations

with Greek names

still stare down on us

as a lighthouse moves its megaphone

over the sea

Speak out and shine upon us

the sea-light of Greece

the diamond light of Greece

Far-seeing Sybil, forever hidden,

Come out of your cave at last

And speak to us in the poet's voice

the voice of the fourth person singular

the voice of the inscrutable future

the voice of the people mixed

with a wild soft laughter--

And give us new dreams to dream,

Give us new myths to live by!


Spoken to the Oracle by the author at UNESCO's World Poetry Day, March 21, at Delphi

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