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About this Poem 

“This poem is part of a sequence of lyric meditations entitled The Word and the World. I’m fascinated by the spark and arc of connection between us and the world that words enact—meaning-making at its most intense, which is lyric poetry. What Emily Dickinson endorses as the poet’s ‘Audacity of Bliss,’ what Martin Buber urges as the spasmodic but sustaining power to turn the ‘it’ of things into the ‘thou’ of the beloved.”
—Gregory Orr

The World Seems…

Gregory Orr, 1947

The world seems so palpable
And dense: people and things
And the landscapes 
They inhabit or move through.

Words, on the other hand, 
Are so abstract—they’re
Made of empty air
Or black scratches on a page
That urge us to utter
Certain sounds.
                           And us:
Poised in the middle, aware
Of the objects out there
Waiting patiently to be named,
As if the right words 
Could save them. 
                               And don’t
They deserve it? 					
So much hidden inside each one,
Such a longing 
To become the beloved.

And inside us: the sounds 
That could extend that blessing—
How they crowd our mouths,
How they press up against
Our lips, which are such 
A narrow exit for a joy so desperate.

Copyright © 2014 by Gregory Orr. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 14, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Gregory Orr

Gregory Orr

The author of numerous collections of poetry, Gregory Orr is considered by many to be a master of short, lyric free verse

by this poet

I know now the beloved
Has no fixed abode,
That each body 
She inhabits
Is only a temporary
             That she
Casts off forms
As eagerly
As lovers shed clothes.

I accept that he's
Just passing through
That flower
Or that stone.

And yet, it makes 
Me dizzy—
The way he hides
In the flow of it,
The way
A house just like his mother's,
But made of words.
Everything he could remember
Inside it:
Parrots and a bowl
Of peaches, and the bright rug
His grandmother wove.

Shadows also—mysteries
And secrets.
Only ghosts patrol.
And did I mention
Strawberry jam and toast?

Did I mention
That everyone he loved
This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.