Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

is a superb, profound, and disturbing short story by Ursula LeGuin. You can read it here.

Here in Omelas, the days go by
and each is like the last, a cloudless sky
above a city filled with people, fair
and healthy, prosperous, without a care.
But now and then, one hears a muffled cry

from cellar rooms where childhood goes to die
behind a door whose keyhole frames an eye
in mute appeal. We’re queasily aware
here in Omelas,

of sacrifice that underpins our high
philosophy, the very kites that fly
artistic strokes of color on the air
above us. Is it courage or despair
to walk away, rather than live a lie
here in Omelas?

Collection available! Knocking from Inside


Stan Ski said...

In every dream-house, a heartache.

Gemma Wiseman said...

Perhaps most disturbing, I notice Omelas spelt in reverse is Salem ~o! What extra dark, insidious images that adds!


Andy Sewina said...

Amazing story, I think they can't go back into the city once they've seen the truth because of guilt.

Tumblewords: said...

Life has so many shades and shadows - a facade.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Powerful and haunting poem. I love LeGuin.

Anonymous said...

What a heart-breaking story and so haunting. But I have to say that your poem is a wonderful reflection of this story. Both remind me of Rene Girard's theory of redemptive violence.

Dan Gambiera said...

GT, in her original introduction to the story Ms. Le Guin said that she got the inspiration for the story from seeing the marker for "Salem, Oregon" in her rear view mirror and that she gets a lot of mileage from "forgetting Dostoyevsky and reading road signs backwards."

Mary Lee said...

Hmmm...citizens who stubbornly avoid looking the truth in the eye...that sounds familiar somehow...