Category Archives: Modernism

Green Light (303/415)

For 303: A modernist poem from the Depression era.

For 415: A poem about the commodity.

Kenneth Fearing, “Green Light” (from Angel Arms)

Bought at the drug store, very cheap; and later pawned.
After a while, heard on the street; seen in the park.
Familiar, but not quite recognized.
Followed and taken home and slept with.
Traded or sold.  Or lost.

Bought again at the corner drug store,
At the green light, at the patient's demand, at nine o'clock.
Re-read and memorized and re-wound.
Found unsuitable.
Smashed, put together, and pawned.

Heard on the street, seen in a dream, heard in the park, seen
	by the light of day;
Carefully observed one night by a secret agent of the Greek
	Hydraulic Mining Commission, in plain clothes, off
	duty.
The agent, in broken English, took copious notes.  Which he
	lost.
Strange, and yet not extraordinary.
Sad, but true.

True, or exaggerated, or true;
As it is true that the people laugh and the sparrows fly;
As it is exaggerated that the people change, and the sea stays;
As it is that the people go;
As the lights go on and it is night and it is serious, and just
	the same;
As some one dies and it is serious, and the same;
As a girl knows and it is small, and true;
As the corner hardware clerk might know and it is true, and
	pointless;
As an old man knows and it is grotesque, but true;
As the people laugh, as the people think, as the people
	change,
It is serious and the same, exaggerated or true.

Bought at the drug store down the street
Where the wind blows and the motors go by and it is always
	night, or day;
Bought to use as a last resort,
Bought to impress the statuary in the park.
Bought at a cut rate, at the green light, at nine o'clock.
Borrowed or bought.  To look well.  To ennoble.  To prevent
	disease.  To entertain.  To have.
Broken or sold.  Or given away.  Or used and forgotten.  Or
	lost.

http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88v/fearing.html

Easter, 1916

Easter, 1916

By William Butler Yeats 1865–1939

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

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