Paul Goodman described himself once as “an orphan who had had a home.” His father abandoned the family while Paul was still an infant. His older brother set out early on his own, and his mother, “a bourgeois gypsy,” was often away. He was cared for—through even his years in college—by his sister Alice, almost ten years his senior. The first book of The Empire City is dedicated to her.

Many writers speak of a lonely youth, a flight into books and the world of the imagination. Paul seems instead to have contrived a family of poets and philosophers. His great masters, his fathers, were Aristotle and Kant. If the many principled examples of Paul’s life were not well known, it would be difficult to make believable the simple earnestness with which he pursued the ideals conceived in obedience to these two.

I met him in 1948. He was then thirty-seven. I was studying with William Troy at the New School, and like several of my classmates was already a Goodman fan (The Facts of Life, Kafka’s Prayer, The Grand Piano, Parents’ Day, Art and Social Nature; two Noh plays at the 91st Street Y, a production of Faustina by some poets and artists in a loft on 8th Street).

Paul’s conversation was dazzling. He was bold and iconoclastic, and was much given to rearranging, or removing entirely, the accepted pillars of culture. Yet for all his high spirits and the spontaneity of his thought and wit, there was something about him that seemed willed, willed in exactly the style of an idealistic youth correcting himself continually toward some lofty goal. Ten years later the same thing was visible; and ten years after that.

Another trait was striking. Among his agemates (as one would say, in the egotism of one’s own generation) he was combative and arrogant, and could rarely abide to be opposed; but when he felt secure, as before us admiring younger ones who accepted him as a teacher, the egotist vanished, and there appeared instead a selfless, prodigious boy, an angel of mind whose feats of memory and analysis seemed like familiar descriptions of a much-loved home. (This kind of love, comradely, familial, and touched by yearning, appears also in a writer who otherwise doesn’t resemble him: Maxim Gorky.)

By his own count Paul wrote forty books. The apparent diversity of his work is actually the unfolding of one large underlying theme: the search for harmony of the life made by man, and the life not made, but given.

It was a theme that entailed many duties. We find him, for example—especially in the poems, and the autobiographical Five Years—speaking of the task of creating a self. (“Long have I labored to make me Goodman.”) It was such a self, however, as stands in contrast to the familiar persona of art (as a poet imagines a bardic figure and tries to live it), for it was the minimal, or transparent self implicit in Aristotle’s definition of the highest good: the unimpeded functioning of the powers that are distinctly human.

Needless to say, our very characters impede these powers, and there is much in what we call our “personalities” that might be better understood as received opinion. Seen in this light, the methods of psychotherapy take on historical meaning. Paul’s self-analysis was of this kind. The public and the private self became one. The therapist and the poet were the same man. Paul’s writings on psychotherapy are intrinsically political. His political writing is philosophic. In short, wherever one touches his work, one finds his major theme, which was a task of living as well as of writing.

There are other ways of saying this. He lived “the examined life.” His tools were art, psychotherapy, and philosophy. Or one can say simply that thought was real to him, and that the truth as he saw it was never a mere intellectual proposition, but a commandment. Or one can say—as Paul does in many poems—that he “staggered from need to need,” was an exile among men, had come “from another planet.” The fact remains that most of his thought is devoted to the nature that is prior to ego, its progress through the self, and the requisites of the human home (political, social, ethical, etc.) necessary to fulfillment. (His name for the whole, at times, is Adam.) These are the subjects not only of his social criticism but also of Gestalt Therapy, and in more imaginative forms, of his short fiction and his major work The Empire City.

But to speak of tasks and themes is to say nothing of the enormous gifts that produced that body of work. Nor is it to say much about his remarkable poetry, which never was a projection of his main task, but seems to have been read off straight, or gathered in (I think of Picasso’s remark: “I don’t search, I find”) from the day-after-day, “the thousand suns falling westward.” In its uninhibited, highly detailed telling of a life, his poetic oeuvre is unique. I doubt that he set out to tell the story of his life; rather, it was the kind of poetry that he wrote, and he wrote it all the time. Whatever memories pass through my mind—Paul arriving for a game of poker, or joining friends at a bar, or conducting a session of group therapy, or presiding at dinner—there comes a moment when he hands around five or six sheets of new poems.


Paul’s days were extraordinarily varied. Anecdotes, especially in small quantity (as I discovered in earlier versions of his memoir), tend to be distorting. Moreover, he was complex beyond description. There are people who knew him, and with cause, as a monster of Reason. And others who knew him as a knight of Reason. I remember talking with a young woman after seeing the Living Theater production of The Young Disciple. She said there was a Romantic in him somewhere. And she was right, for though the whole of his work, in surface and in theme, is powerfully rationalistic, it expresses also a deep yearning, and unrequited love.

There was no end to his contradictions. He was wholly committed as a therapist, was on call at desperate hours, and displayed often a sweet, paternal kindliness. His dignity was becoming, it was the face of his service, his desire to be used. Yet he could he ruthless and destructive, quite blind to his own motives.

On the other hand, he knew his motives. He knew his faults. They are all anatomized in his poems. At times he seemed tossed by obsessions, at other times calmly attentive to the dreamwork of his life. His stability was like the eye of the storm. Then he would stumble with the awkwardness of a man who has mistaken the entire environment. Many thought him pedantic, and were astonished by the lyric turns of his conversation or his art. I remember how, more than twenty years ago, at my place, a scholarly friend who on the basis of one calamitous argument with Paul detested him and knew all about him, picked up some carbon copies of poems from my table, and began showering me with astonished praise; a moment later—“What?! Goodman wrote this?” If ever a man deserved that marvelous line of Whitman’s, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself,” it was Paul.

He taught the drifting of the Tao—and was never at rest, but strenuous, possessed of enormous will, and of what he often described as puritanical persistence. Yet during his middle forties his gaiety was striking, it amounted to a power.

In his forties, too, he sailed around on his bike, rather “pedalled like a ferocious fireman,” went everywhere, and grew sedate at last by switching to a Lambretta. For years—as he put it—he “looked for love where it can’t be found,” which however costly in emotion added considerably to his sense of the city. But he was a lover of the city itself, knew its history in close detail, and labored much for its possibilities. He foresaw its present condition, which many older residents would simply call its fate. Early in his career he described himself as a “regional poet,” and the region, of course, was New York. Those he sought out, either as opponents or colleagues, lovers or companions, spanned an extraordinary range: the universities and City Hall, several of the professions, the literary cliques, the community of the arts and groups of political dissidents, and the wandering youths and semidelinquents of several neighborhoods. It was really his life as a poet—that is, his classical learning and his lively pursuit of so many, including fleshly, interests—that gave such point to his later works of social criticism.

He lacked physical grace—and one was continually surprised by his agility and competence at sports. He was an excellent handball player, and was good at the games for which there was room at the place in the country: badminton, croquet, horseshoes. He played with verve, stretching the rules in favor of himself and arguing loudly, with the extended, hifalutin legalisms of young boys. He was far more domestic than (especially) his poems would lead one to believe. To see him at home was to understand his deep dependence on his wife Sally. She abetted and endured his genius, and tended the desperate child in him. The ambiance of their home, its hospitality and domestic festivals, its music and love of learning, was very much in her character as well as in his.


In his later years he enjoyed gardening. He traveled to the country ahead of the family in order to plant the seeds. His poem “Proverbs of a Small Farm” is wise: he includes the A&P in his ecology, and the neighbors’ preferences in food, and his own preference for writing books. He enjoyed swimming, small boats, campfires, and kites. He never had much feel for making things. I remember how at Wellfleet, at Dyer’s Pond, he wanted to make a raft of some timbers and scraps. What seemed to be needed—so the rest of us argued—was a good quantity of small cord. But he wouldn’t listen. He went away and came back with a piece of one-inch rope eight feet long. The contraption floated, though not all in the same direction. Nevertheless, he enjoyed it, and even went so far as to say, “I told you so.” And he was right. His study in New Hampshire was a cool corner of the barn loft. Where other men of letters would put up shelves and paintings, bring in chairs, sofas, desks, and whatnot, he braced a plank against the wall to write on, threw a mattress on the floor, and commenced with letters. Parts of ten or twelve books were produced there.

Paul’s late career as a philosopher of social change was, in one sense, a subtraction of picnics, ballgames, parties, and therapy sessions from what he had always done, and their replacement with lecture platforms and large audiences in chairs. Paul at ease, Paul enjoying himself, was Paul philosophizing. He was rarely silent, and never idle.

During the early Fifties a crowd of us met annually at Ward’s Island for softball and a picnic. Of all the settings I saw him in, these outdoor events—and the festivals of the artists and friends at Stony Point, near Bear Mountain—gatherings of a good size, with people of all ages, children, infants, dogs, games and gaiety, erotic possibility, and high talk—seemed most to his liking. Their ambiance was that of his lovely early story, “A Ceremonial.” Stretched on the grass between turns at bat, puffing at his pipe, he would chuckle and anatomize the postures and characters of our opponents in the field, and make humorous predictions of their likely errors; or would notice a youthful black face against the blue of the sky and remark how it retained its aesthetic value, whereas our white faces, against that same blue, seemed drained. And he would talk at length of the book under way. His work was with him continually.

At such times his wit could let go into glee, and there was an attractive ease to his gravity. In more contentious settings he behaved quite otherwise. No one listens in New York. But where others say, “Yes, but….” and interrupt, Paul would say, “You couldn’t be more mistaken” and interrupt. Or would interrupt with a formulation in itself a little gem of contradiction: “By strong you mean weak—no?” He would enter a crowded room shuffling like an old-clothes merchant, smiling to himself, avoiding others’ eyes—and abruptly would seize everything. Soon the room would be strewn with bodies, eyes fixed on his. The power of his talk was not its insistence (for anyone could leave), but its clarity, its pertinence, its learning and breadth, its elegant swiftness, its structure—in short, its beauty.

He handled ideas in their potential for use, for structural change in politics, morals, education. And the magnetic attraction of Paul-at-thought was that he did try to live, tried both awkwardly and bravely, everything he believed. If this won him admirers, it won him enemies as well. He was harsh in his own defense, and harsh in his loyalties. Many who now praise him once feared his scorn.

Yet even among his detractors he aroused an unusual fascination. It was a response, in good part, to his many-sided combat. The New Critics, the adjustment psychologists, the behaviorists, the architects and planners of centralization, the military-industrial, the schools…to describe his opponents is very nearly to write the history of the last thirty years.

But the fascination, for many, was more personal than that. Paul was living, was in himself, an existential drama, the small events of which—the troublesome lusts, the stubborn insistence upon values—were joined both verbally and by demonstration to much larger issues. He rejected Freud’s theory of sublimation. He accepted Reich’s insight into the continuity of politics and sexuality. All such beliefs, sooner or later, showed up in his behavior. He meant to be exemplary, and in exactly the Kantian spirit. He could not live with himself otherwise. The stands he took came to mean a great deal to the country as a whole—and they were costly to him in social ease. His very gestures occasionally seemed didactic. His exemplary demonstration—life being what it is—sometimes expressed also contempt and spite.

I remember Paul at a party during his forty-sixth year. It was a stressful period. He had written twenty books, among them his best, and had seen no reward. He had much need, certainly, of love and pleasure. The party was lively. There were a great many young women, and they were conventional, were scrubbed and scented and prettily dressed. There were no intellectuals. The young actor he had been waiting for arrived with a woman. And it seemed that all the young men had come with women. He talked with this one, and talked with that one. Soon he was looking into the distance, his jaw clenched and his eyes vacant in exasperation.

But a handsome mongrel dog, part shepherd, was ambling about, pausing at this one and at that one. Paul by now was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, dismayed and contemptuous. The dog went to him and wagged its tail. Paul took its head caressingly in both hands and spoke to it. There was self-pity in his voice, but also admiration and outright gratitude. “Yes, my darling,” he said, “you’re the prettiest one here.” The dog licked him, and Paul licked him back, and for a full twenty minutes they exchanged kisses. The voices in the room fell silent…started up…fell silent. The two red tongues touched again and again, and Paul opened his mouth to the dog’s tongue.

He meant to offend the human company. It was an effective display of contempt. But much more than this could be seen. The longing expressed by his open mouth was real, and was disquieting, as of something beyond placation. His affection for the dog was real, too; his fingers liked its fur, and he welcomed the closeness. Yet in the entire event there was a quality of will. I don’t mean that he willed to kiss the dog in order to express his contempt, but that he willed—now, and had in the past—to overcome the squeamishness, that is, the way of life, and the entire tradition of that way, that appeared in those other faces. For in fact their fascination—persistently staring eyes and nauseated mouths—was neurotic disgust: unlived life.

Before taking up Gestalt therapy, Paul had undergone Reichian analysis. He had also performed self-analysis. During his years as a therapist he devoted a great deal of time to the Gestalt exercises, and more time still to an investigation of breathing (on which he had considered writing). Certainly he was concerned, in all this, with his competence as a therapist; but more deeply it was simply another aspect of the examined life, and as such was nothing new, but all of a piece with the task he had long made his own.

The didactic burden of his display with the dog was obvious: if you would affirm, and not suppress, your animal nature, etc.; if you would be as direct as this dog instead of wasting life in idiotic avoidances, the world would be more practicable, and I not so alone. In the event, the message was equivocal, for to some extent his dismay was a private matter. Generalized, the message was true. It has come to us, since then, from many quarters…not least from Paul.

This little incident with the dog showed still another aspect of Paul’s character. I can indicate it best with an anecdote.

When my younger brother was three or four, he and the family bulldog were much enamored of each other. There came a night when my father couldn’t bear it any longer, and said, “Stop kissing the dog on the mouth.” But the kissing went on. My father grew angry and sent my brother up to bed. Ten minutes went by. They heard his footsteps coming down the stairs, and then he stalked into the room, both fists clenched, and made for the dog, shouting, “I don’t care! I love Skippy and I’m gonna kiss ‘im on the mouth.”

There really was a child like that alive in Paul. The child was a burden to him, and was certainly a nuisance to others. But it was a remarkable source of power.

It’s a truism—that is to say, difficult to credit—that the child-presence in the artist is a strong resource of his art. It was for Paul. One notices it in both his fiction and his poetry, for his descriptions of physical events—crowds in motion, a workman at work, the ocean, a cyclist—have often the freshness of discovery, the surprising physicality that is prior to category and type. In what he notices, too, one sees the instinctive, that is, the attracted noticing of a child. It is this that takes him so often through the Everyday Sublime (for which he much loved Wordsworth), and puts him so acutely in touch with the desperation of ordinary life. He writes learnedly, and with an ease and acuity of analysis that find many readers unprepared. Yet (and this too can be disorienting) one comes frequently upon the sufficient simplicity of the naïve glance—as when the far-off ocean in the sun is not described as water shining in the sun, and in fact is not described at all (for the water is invisible in the distance, and the sun is in the sky) but is identified, and by one word, as a child would look and say, “the shining.” Phenomenologically, such touches are beautifully accurate.

“The noiseless points of little rain were drizzling endlessly on roofs and hats.” “The sherry had stored in it the weather of an old year and a distant country; and it had burning in it many a better thought, not second thoughts but thoughts that were not even the first thought.” “They lay by the fire, the branches crackled and the rising stars continually died upward into the night.”

These are sentences from The Empire City. And of course it is absurd to isolate sentences like this; nevertheless, they display the characteristic effects which are the literary equivalent of some of those childlike paintings of Picasso’s, paintings in which we sense everywhere the same radically unconfined source of imagery that we see briefly in the paintings of many children, exploited by the artist with enormous knowledge and sophistication. In Paul’s poetry and fiction there is much of this very thing, learning and enormous skill at the disposal of a spirit which in some part is still childlike and naïve.

Paul’s poetry is much distinguished by its immediacy of feeling and meaning, its daylight actuality, over a wide range of experience. His learning appears unabashedly as the way he looks at things (not as a map of culture), and he suffers no convention of “the poetic,” but every significant turn of thought, emotion, and event seems to have shaped a poem. The classic themes of love and death recur often, and recur in their classic form, that is, not as themes but as persons and emotions. There are somber prayers, and poems of an elevated nature, and poems of humor, sometimes of hilarity. At all periods there are simple lyrics beautifully realized: the early “A Cyclist,” and “The flashing pigeons as they wheel”; and the late haiku, of which he wrote many:

   In crashing waters
of the same falls, falling leaves of the same forest the leaping voyage
home at last the red salmon spawn and faint and fade

He wrote ballades, and ballads, sonnets, narrative poems like the stern and strong “The Well of Bethlehem”; and analytic odes like “The Character of Washington,” and the early “The Death of Leon Trotsky.”

Like D.H. Lawrence, Paul is a poet “without a mask.” The voice of the poetry is persuasively the man himself…and he is in his real city of New York. In our present extravagantly metaphoric conventions, with their elaborate personae, and multiple (finally rather dim) refractions of experience, I find the brilliant actuality of his poems infinitely refreshing.

Paul’s is “occasional poetry” (and he was fond of quoting Goethe: “the highest kind”). Technically, he is often brilliant. The prevailing effect, however, is of spare accuracy capturing experience already deeply felt and thought. Poem by poem his aim is modest. The poems accumulate to an oeuvre of striking presence and magnitude; the more so in that the life embodied here was itself a rare venture in our time.

Until well into middle age, Paul’s work was produced in poverty and against a blank of appalling neglect—and it poured out of him: poems, stories, plays, novels, literary criticism, works of psychology, community planning, social criticism, educational theory. He even composed some music. In his forty-ninth year Growing Up Absurd made him famous.

One might say of Paul, truly, that he was revealed by events. Certainly he was not thrust forward by publishers. His first small books of poetry (after almost twenty years in little magazines) were published by himself, as was The Dead of Spring. The Empire City for several years was rejected everywhere. I remember seeing letters from four of the large publishers. Two said it was possibly a great book, the others said it was extremely impressive. All four had reasons for not printing it. These letters, needless to say, were more dismaying than the flat rejections of other publishers. Growing Up Absurd was rejected by the publisher who commissioned it, and then was rejected by a dozen more.

As a social critic Paul is a figure of international fame. But when one writes of his fiction one is dealing again with an avant-garde artist whose works are largely unknown. His collected stories, Adam and His Works, appeared in 1968, and was not reviewed. The Empire City, which was finally published in 1959, was widely praised—and nothing has been said since, partly, I believe, because the avant-garde from which it emerged had by then given way to the hucksters’ avant-garde of pop art; and partly because our literary quarterlies in the Sixties became on the one hand extravagantly factional, and on the other increasingly academic, while the livelier magazines turned more and more to politics.

The Empire City was composed over a period of more than fifteen years. It is an educational romance, and a picaresque, but is so unlike the familiar works in these genres that one almost despairs of the terms. Among a handful of poets and writers (of whom I am one) it is revered as a modern classic. Perhaps its larger audience is not far away in time, especially if the book should receive such sympathetic exegeses as have accompanied the now familiar landmarks of modernism. Unfortunately there is not space here even for the scantiest description of so large a work. Yet perhaps there is some point in making one or two remarks.

The overriding subject of The Empire City is the conflict that Schiller called “the only significant drama,” that is, the conflict between what man is, and what he ought to be. Pursued under the canons of Realism, this subject would tend inevitably toward didacticism. But the characters of The Empire City are not realistic. They do not demonstrate a personal psychology. Rather, they are grand archetypes, are like the “inhuman” distortions of Picasso in Guernica and in such myth-making works as the Minotaur series. They are simpler than men really are, and they are larger. They are more like ideas than men could possibly be, and more like dreams and nightmares. And, alas, I cannot be clearer than this without recourse to quotation and long description.

I have mentioned Picasso twice. He was important to Paul. The closest formal parallel to The Empire City is actually the cubism of Picasso. I mean by this that Picasso’s attitude toward tradition (he uses it exactly as a second nature), his overt lyric play with properties abstracted from the history (the storehouse) of art, his fascination with idea, his symbolic use of anecdote—all can be found in The Empire City. Where Picasso deals with shapes and colors, and with allusions to various styles, Paul transforms the insights and meanings of a distinctive (in good part holistic) tradition into dramatic and narrative episodes. The thoughts of Marx, Kant, Aristotle, Kropotkin, Cocteau, Freud, Gide, Buber, and many others appear here, but appear as incidents, action, lyricism, situation. That is to say, they have been transformed into precisely such modes as they do actually—outside the universities—finally assume in our lives. The book moves along on a rare sort of energy: the affect of meaning, or what Nietzsche called “raptures of understanding.”

Paul wrote of The Empire City: “I undertook the task of not giving up any claim of culture and humanity….”

Just this is the triumph of the book. It displays a spirit of extraordinary pride, delight, and freedom—in my opinion quite unmatched in recent American decades.

Paul’s powers as an artist are not merely striking, or praiseworthy. As powers, they are powers of greatness. They were the endowment and the triumphs of a man who, like Coleridge, was also beset by ills and was injured by his own age. Both powers and failings are broadly visible in his art. Some of Paul’s stories and poems, and the late novel Making Do, are very seriously flawed. The best of his short work, however, has already been compared—justly, I believe—with that of Melville and Hawthorne. And in the span from Chaucer until now, The Empire City must be counted one of our grand eccentric books.

The death of a writer sets his work adrift in time. Rather—as Rank puts it—it enters the “public space” in which we construct our ongoing human immortality. We judge rather differently now, are comparative on a different scale, and affirm the very inertia we formerly disowned: only a considerable force can move us. In as much as no serious study has yet been made of Paul’s fiction, the foregoing remarks are the barest sort of assertion. Yet they may have the point of personal testimony. Our estimation of all works in the public space of history begins with just this. It is the first identification of the force capable of moving us.

When I met him, Paul was writing The Dead of Spring, Book Three of The Empire City. During the same period he became acquainted with Frederick and Lore Perls, the founders of Gestalt therapy. He agreed to help Fritz with a manuscript, became interested, and entered didactic therapy himself. “Excitement and Growth”—part two of Gestalt Therapy (Perls, Hefferline, Goodman)—is entirely his own. Whatever its flaws of tone (at times it is messianic) one finds again the brilliant structural analysis of Kafka’s Prayer, Art and Social Nature, Communitas (with Percival Goodman), and The Structure of Literature. One finds, too, the acute awareness of the loci of change, the sensitive boundaries of self-and-world, that figures so importantly in the method of The Empire City. Gestalt Therapy was published more than twenty years ago—and it offered full-blown the holistic vision of man-in-his-environment (political/historical/social, etc.) which is the tendency at present of the humanistic psychologists. An epigrammatic formula of the overriding dilemma is spoken by one of the characters of The Empire City: “If we conformed to the mad society, we became mad; but if we did not conform to the only society that there is, we became mad.” (“The solution was to stand in love….”)

It was while writing Gestalt Therapy that Paul commenced his own practice. When he told me of this decision, I asked him what his rates would be. He mused for a while before answering. Certainly he was conscious that whatever his theoretical brilliance, he was in the position of an intern. But more than this was on his mind. He was consulting the examples of his masters, perhaps, especially here, Kropotkin, whom he admired above Tolstoy. For what he finally said was, “What do electricians get?”

I became his patient, soon his apprentice, and attended his and others’ workshops at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy. That period of my own life, of being much in Paul’s orbit and seeing him frequently, ended around 1960, when I stopped my own work with severely disturbed children. We remained friends, however, until his death.

Paul’s last years were somber. The rotting away of New York affected him deeply. The war was a profound sorrow, a nausea of soul. The death of his twenty-year-old son was a more grievous blow than might be described. His sense of solitude, of exile among men, which—as he revealed in Five Years—had assailed him even in times of great public activity, became a more settled state. Where he had once written, in a poem of mixed bitterness and love,

Only you
Adam, my red lover made of earth,

I am in love with in this world

he now came to write

I have come to hate, it is appalling,
Adam I used to love.
In this war between mankind
and the beauty of the world
I am a traitor, my loyalty
does not lie with mankind.

He wrote Speaking and Language: Defence of Poetry, and Little Prayers and Finite Experience, mixed poetry and prose. He had finished with social criticism, and spoke of wanting to write an epic narrative poem. He had wanted also to write an ethics.

He continued to write short poems, especially of the New Hampshire countryside, “this pretty land of my exile,” poems in which an almost wistful love of the world is mixed with the pain of solitude and the foreboding of death.

Heart aching for the North Country
ill as I am is my will to live
until at least again the spring.

The view is heavy wherever I look
with those who were and will not be
on the meadows along the river

five lovers who have drifted
to other country and my own
flesh and blood that is dead.

Today I buried as I promised
Alice’s ashes next to her nephew
in the village graveyard up the hill.

She liked it here. My son had plans
how he would farm it when it was his.
Here is a red leaf on the lawn

I am obsessed by the plain facts:
writing them literally down
is all the poetry I can.

The solitude he speaks of is the residual, unassimilable solitude of a man who has already confronted the identifiable problems of life and has labored by many means to solve them. It is the source of Paul’s many Prayers, and of the strangely vital poems of desperation which appear often as outer limits both of his art and his religious yearning.

Every gain has its loss, not every loss its gain but sinks into the waste
the primal pain unplastic the chaos without a future the astounding past

O monument of agony! if I could carve you a few hacking strokes
unfinished, you’d be worthy to be stood in Florence among the other rocks.

Paul died August 2, 1972, shortly before his sixty-first birthday, and was buried in New Hampshire beside his son and the ashes of his sister.

Copyright © 1973 by the Estate of Paul Goodman

This Issue

December 13, 1973