n “To the Oracle at Delphi,” Ferlinghetti addresses the mythological figure of the Oracle of Delphi, whom he calls the Sybil. He asks the Sybil to bring about a new age of wisdom and enlightenment that will eliminate inequality from modern American society. He addresses her not only as a poet but as America itself, which suggests he is speaking for the downtrodden and ignored people of the United States:
And speak to us in the poet’s voice
the voice of the fourth person singular
the voice of the inscrutable future
the voice of the people mixed
with a wild soft laughter—
Ferlinghetti invokes Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing” to connect the idea that American society has lost its way. In “I Hear America Singing,” Whitman describes the joy of ordinary Americans as they go about their daily work. By invoking Whitman’s picture of the common people, Ferlinghetti conveys that it is this America that needs to be rescued and reestablished.
And tell us how to save us from ourselves
and how to survive our own rulers
who would make a plutocracy of our democracy
in the Great Divide
between the rich and the poor
in whom Walt Whitman heard America singing
Ferlinghetti invokes the imagery of Whitman’s poem to show what is at stake if Sybil does not guide and save Americans.