William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams is one of the great masters of observation. He has a distinct, intentional style that slows the step between reading the words and processing the emotions within them.

His focus is always vividly fixed on the simple beauty and madness of the world right before our eyes. As he wrote: “Anything is good material for poetry. Anything. I’ve said it time and time again.”

____________________________________

To a Solitary Disciple

 
Rather notice, mon cher,
that the moon is
titled above
the point of the steeple
than that its color
is shell-pink.
 
Rather observe
that it is early morning
than that the sky
is smooth
as a turquoise.
 
Rather grasp
how the dark
converging lines
of the steeple
meet at a pinnacle —
perceive how
its little ornament
tries to stop them-
 
See how it fails!
See how the converging lines
of the hexagonal spire
escape upward—
receding, dividing!
— petals
that guard and contain
the flower!
 
Observe
how motionless
the eaten moon
lies in the protective lines.
It is true:
in the light colors
of the morning
 
brown-stone and slate
shine orange and dark blue
 
But observe
the oppressive weight
of the squat edifice!
Observe
the jasmine lightness
of the moon.
 

 
____________________________________

Winter Trees

 
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.
 

 
____________________________________

The Widow’s Lament in Springtime

 
Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before, but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirty-five years
I lived with my husband.
The plum tree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red,
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they,
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.
 

 
____________________________________

The Farmer

 
The farmer in deep thought
is pacing through the rain
among his blank fields,
with
hands in pockets,
in his head
a harvest already planted.
A cold wind ruffles the water
among the browned weeds.
On all sides
the world rolls coldly away:
black orchards
darkened by the March clouds-
leaving room for thought.
Down past the brushwood
bristling by
the rainsluiced wagonroad
looms the artist figure of
the farmer- composing
– antagonist
 

 
____________________________________

The Descent of Winter

9/30

There are no perfect waves—
Your writings are a sea
full of misspellings and
faulty sentences. Level. Troubled
A center distant from the land
touched by the wings
of nearly silent birds
that never seen to rest—
This is the sadness of the sea—
waves like words, all broken—
a sameness of lifting and falling mood.
I lean watching the detail
of brittle crest, the delicate
imperfect foam, yellow weed
one piece like another—
There is no hope— if not a coral
island slowly forming
to wait for birds to drop
the seeds will make it habitable
 

 
____________________________________

To a Poor Old Woman

 
munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand
 
They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her
 
You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand
 
Comforted
a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

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