Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry by Eli Siegel

Discouraged People
The discouraged
People were wedged
So closely together in the subway
You could take one discouraged person for the other.

Discouraged People. 1961. People like other objects can be seen as different; but there is a tendency stronger than we know to make them alike. How strong this is can be seen if we contemplate the Rocky Mountains without a photograph or a painting to help us. We shall find an inclination in us to make the mountains all the same size. It needs an effort to retain clear distinction of size or height. And so with tomatoes. We are told some are four inches in width, some two-and-a-half inches, and some one inch. Our mind proceeds drearily, however, to make them the same size, whatever that may be. People in amphitheatres, stadiums, subways are so easily seen as the same size, wearing the same things, and having the same outlooks or dispositions. This is strongly so when we look at "discouraged" or tired people going home in the subway. It is difficult to see one person as different from another: indeed, it is difficult to see one person as such. The congestion predominates over individuality. This is on the dreary side, but a thorough aesthetic study of difference and sameness as one will result in tingling and emancipating wonders.


From Hail, American Development (Definition Press)
© 1968 by Eli Siegel
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