My Generation Reading the Newspapers

We must be slow and delicate; return
the policeman’s stare with some esteem,
remember this is not a shadow play
of doves and geese but this is now
the time to write it down, record the words —
I mean we should have left some pride
of youth and not forget the destiny of men
who say goodbye to the wives and homes
they’ve read about at breakfast in a restaurant:
“My love.” — without regret or bitterness
obtain the measure of the stride we make,
the latest song has chosen a theme of love
delivering us from all evil — destroy . . . ?
why no . . . this too is fanciful . . . funny how
hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,
this thing of framing words to mark this grave
I mean nothing short of blood in every street
on earth can fitly voice the loss of these.

— Kenneth Patchen

The early work of American poet Kenneth Patchen received critical praise, but his anti-war stance — Patchen was unwavering in his pacificism even during World War II — alienated a would-be wider audience. After the New Directions publishing house dropped plans to produce his novel The Journal of Albion Moonlight, deeming its anti-war rhetoric too controversial, Patchen self-published the book by subscription.

[Research note: Kenneth Patchen, Collected Poems (New York: New Directions Publishing, 1968), p. 22]

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