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American Poetry, 1922
A Miscellany

written by "Oppenheim, James, 1882-1932"
...dy. There goes one ... What, I have often mused, did Goethe mean? So many years ago at Weimar, Goethe said [Pg 105] "Heine has all the poet's gifts but love." Good God! But that is all I ever had. More than enough! So much of love to give That no one gave me any in return. And so I flashed and snapped in my own fires Until I stood, with nothing left to burn, A twisted trunk, in chilly isolation. Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam—you recall? I was that Northern tree and, in the South, Amalia... So I turned to scornful cries, Hot iron songs to save the rest of me; Plunging the brand in my own misery. Crouching behind my pointed wall of words, Ramparts I built of moons and loreleys, Enchanted roses, sphinxes, love-sick birds, Giants, dead lads who left their graves to dance, Fairies and phœnixes and friendly gods— A curious frieze, half Renaissance, half Greek, Behind which, in revulsion of romance, I lay and laughed—and wept—till I was weak. Words were my shelter, words my one escape, Words were my weapons against everything. Was I not once the son of Revolution? Give me the lyre, I said, and let me sing My song of battle: Words like flaming stars Shot down with power to burn the palaces; Words like bright javelins to fly with fierce Hate of the oily Philistines and glide Through all the seven heavens till they pierce The pious hypocrites who dare to creep [Pg 106] Into the Holy Places. "Then," I cried, "I am a fire to rend and roar and leap; I am all joy and song, all sword and flame!" Ha—you observe me passionate. I aim To curb these wild emotions lest they soar Or drive against my will. (So I have said These many years—and still they are not tame.) Scraps of a song keep rumbling in my head ... Listen—you never heard me sing before. When a false world betrays your trust And stamps upon your fire, When what seemed blood is only rust, Take up the lyre! How quickly the he...

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