describing the long poem, in context of oppen's serial poems.
most paradigms for reading the american long poem or sequence cannot accommodate Oppen's work...(others describe as) 'an effort to wrest a hero from history'-an effort on the poet's part to make himself or herself into that hero by persuing through poetry a struggle for 'self-idenification and self-preservation'...'the epic struggle of modern times.' Oppen's series, however, are resolutely nonmythopoetic and nonheroic, and he suspects the ambition and large vision by which ...measures the success of the american epic.
Oppen is temparmentally suspicious of the large claims for poetry, of the expansive tone and form which in various ways characterize the modernist long poem.
For Oppen, poetry is a form of thinking, and the serial poem allows him a different, a more extendedand flexible form of thinking than is possible in the lyric...'the series permits any number of variations without forcing new beginnings and without losing sight of the object.'
By Oppen, cited in essay:
out of poverty
Soul-searching, these perscriptions,
Are a medical faddism, an attempt to escape,
To lose oneself in the self.
The self is no mystery, the mystery is
That there is something for us to stand on.
what breath there is
In the rib cage we must draw
from the dimensions
words say the grass blade
hides the blaze
of a sun
to throw a shadow
in which bugs crawl
at the roots of the grass