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Lawrence Ferlinghetti




  • Politics September 20, 2001

    To the Oracle at Delphi

    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

    Lawrence Ferlinghetti