Friday, June 10, 2016

Two Poems by William Carlos Williams

Spring and All


By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind.  Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines-

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter.  All about them
the cold, familiar wind-

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wild carrot leaf
One by one objects are defined-
It quickens:  clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance-Still, the profound change
has come upon them:  rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken

Queen-Anne’s Lace

Her body is not so white as
anemony petals nor so smooth—nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
the field by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
white as can be, with a purple mole
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand’s span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blemish. Each part
is a blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
until the whole field is a
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over—
or nothing.

William Carlos Williams had published numerous books of poetry, among them are The Tempers, Elkin Matthews, 1913; Al Que Quiere!, Four Seas, 1917; Kora in Hell: Improvisations, Four Seas, 1920, reprinted, Kraus Reprint, 1973; Sour Grapes, Four Seas, 1921; Go Go, Monroe Wheeler, 1923; Spring and All, Contact Publishing, 1923, reprinted, Frontier Press, 1970; Collected Poems, 1921-1931, Objectivist Press, 1934; The Complete Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, 1906-1938, New Directions, 1938; The Broken Span, New Directions, 1941; Paterson, New Directions, Book I, 1946, Book II, 1948, Book III, 1949, Book IV, 1951, Book V, 1958, Books I-V published in one volume, 1963; Selected Poems, New Directions, 1949, revised edition, 1968; The Pink Church, Golden Goose Press, 1949; The Collected Later Poems, New Directions, 1950, revised edition, 1963; Collected Earlier Poems, New Directions, 1951, revised edition, 1966; The Desert Music and Other Poems, Random House, 1954; The Lost Poems of William Carlos Williams; or, The Past Recaptured, collected by John C. Thirlwall, published in New Directions 16, New Directions, 1957; Pictures From Brueghel and Other Poems, New Directions, 1962; Selected Poems, Penguin, 1976; Collected Poems: Volume 1, 1909-1939, Carcanet, 1988, Volume 2, 1939-1962, edited by MacGowan, 1989; Early Poems, Dover Publications, 1997; William Carlos Williams, Creative Education, 2003.

His poems have been published in such periodicals as Poetry, The Dial, Origin, Blast, Pagany, Little Review, New Masses, Partisan Review, and Glebe. Contributing editor of literary magazines and journals, including Contact I, 1920-23, and Contact II, 1932 (Poetry Foundation).

William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 - March 4, 1963)

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