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Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Poet and translator, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the author of more than thirty books of poetry and the founder of City Lights Books Shop in San Francisco...
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To the Oracle at Delphi

 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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
vaster than any in ancient days
with its electronic highways
carrying its corporate monoculture
around the world
And English the Latin of our days--

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!

Read at Delphi, Greece, on March 21, 2001 at the UNESCO World Poetry Day







Reprinted from San Francisco Poems by permission of City Lights Foundation. Copyright © 2001 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. All rights reserved.
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