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Nathalie's William Carlos Williams Page

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Some Examples of Williams' Later Poetry
 
William Carlos Williams' later poetry includes the poems he wrote from 1950 to 1963.

Every Day
(from The Collected Later Poems)
(1950)
 
Every day that I go out to my car
I walk through a garden
and wish often that Aristotle
had gone on
to a consideration of the dithyrambic
poem--or that his notes had survived
 
Coarse grass mars the fine lawn
as I look about right and left
tic toc--
And right and left the leaves
upon the yearling peach grow along
the slender stem
 
No rose is sure.  Each is one rose
and this, unlike another,
opens flat, almost as a saucer without
a cup.  But it is a rose, rose
pink.  One can feel it turning slowly
upon its thorny stem
 
 
 
The Sound of Waves
(from The Collected Later Poems)
(1950)
 
A quatrain?  Is that
the end I envision?
Rather the pace
which travel chooses.
 
Female?  Rather the end
of giving and receiving
--of love: love surmounted
is the incentive.
 
Hardly.  The incentive
is nothing surmounted,
the challenge lying
            elsewhere.
 
No end but among words
looking to the past,
Plaintive and unschooled,
wanting a discipline
 
But wanting
more than discipline
a rock to blow upon
as a mist blows
 
Or rain is driven
against some
headland jutting into
a sea--with small boats
 
perhaps riding under it
while the men fish
there, words blowing in
taking the shape of stone
 
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 
 
Past that, past the image:
a voice!
out of the mist
above the waves and
 
the sound of waves, a
voice         .         speaking!
 
 
 
Song
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
beauty is a shell
from the sea
where she rules triumphant
till loe has had its way with her
 
scallops and
lion's paws
sculptured to the
tune of retreating waves
 
undying accents
repeated till
the ear and the eye lie
down together in the same bed
 
 
 
The Polar Bear
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
his coat resembles the snow
deep snow
the male snow
which attacks and kills
 
silently as it falls muffling
the world
to sleep that
the interrupted quiet return
 
to lie down with us
its arms
about our necks
murderously a little while
 
 
 
The Lady Speaks
(from Journey to Love)
(1955)
 
A storm raged among the live oaks
               while my husband and I
                              sat in the semi-dark
listening!
               We watched from the windows,
                               the lights off,
saw the moss
                whipped upright
                                by the wind's force.
Two candles we had lit
                 side by side
                                 before us
so solidly had our house been built
                  kept their tall flames
                                  unmoved.
May it be so
                  when a storm sends the moss
                                   whipping
back and forth
                   upright
                                    above my head
like flames in the final
                    fury.

The Children
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
Once in a while
we'd find a patch
of yellow violets
 
not many
but blue big blue
ones in
 
the cemetery woods
we'd pick
bunches of them
 
there was a family
named Foltette
a big family
 
with lots of children's graves
so we'd take
 
bunches of violets
and place one
on each headstone
 
 
 
The Painting
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
Starting from black or
finishing
with it
 
her defeat stands
a delicate
lock
 
of blonde hair dictated
by the
Sorbonne
 
this was her last
clear
act
 
a portrait of a
child
to which
 
she was indifferent
beautifully
drawn
 
then she married and
moved to
another country
 
 
 
The Snow Begins
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
A rain of bombs, well placed,
is no less lovely
but this comes gently over all
 
all crevices are covered
the stalks of
fallen flowers vanish before
 
this benefice all the garden's
wounds are healed
white, white, white as death
 
fallen which dignifies it as
no violece ever can
gently and silently in the night
 
 
 
The Fruit
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
Waking
I was eating pears!
she said
 
I sat beside her on the bed
thinking
of Picasso
 
a portrait of
a sensitive young boy
gathered
 
into himself
Waking
I was eating pears!
 
she said
when separate jointly
we embraced
 
 
 
To Flossie
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
who showed me
              a bunch of garden roses
she was keeping
              on ice
 
against an appointment
             with friends
for supper
              day after tomorrow
 
aren't they beautiful
              you can't
smell them
              because they're so cold
 
but aren't they
              in wax
paper for the
              moment beautiful
 
 
 
To My Friend Ezra Pound
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
or he were a Jew or a
Welshman
I hope they do give you the Nobel Prize
it would serve you right
            --in perpetuity
with such a name
 
If I were a dog
I'd sit down on a cold pavement
in the rain
to wait for a friend (and so would you)
if it so pleased me
even if it were January or Zukofsky
 
Your English
is not specific enough
As a writer of poems
you show yourself to be inept not to say
unsurious

The Artist
(from Pictures from Brueghel)
(1962)
 
Mr. T.
             bareheaded
                             in a soiled undershirt
his hair standing out
             on all sides
                             stood on his toes
heels together
             arms gracefully
                             for the moment
curled above his head.
             Then he whirled about
                             bounded
into the air
             and with an entrechat
                             perfectly acheved
completed the figure.
             My mother
                             Taken by surprise
where she sat
             in her invalid's chair
                             was left speechless.
Bravo! she cried at last
             and clapped her hands.
                             The Man's wife
came from the kitchen:
             What goes on here? she said.
                              But the show was over.
 
 
 
The Orchestra
(from The Desert Music and Other Poems)
(1954)
 
The precise counterpart
               of a cacophony of bird calls
                               lifting the sun almighty
into his sphere: wood-winds
               clarinet and violins
                               sound a prolonged A!
Ah! the sun, the sun! is about to rise
               and shed his beams
                                as he has always done
upon us all,
               drudges and those
                                who live at ease,
women and men,
               upon the old,
                                upon the children and the sick
who are about to die and are indeed
                dead in their beds,
                                 to whom his light
is forever lost.  The cello
                 raises the bass note
                                 manfully in the treble din:
Ah, ah and ah!
                 together, unattuned
                                 seeking a common tone.
Love is that common tone
                 shall raise his fiery head
                                  and sound his note.
 
athe purpose of an orchestra
                 is to organize those sounds
                                   and hold them
to an assembled order         .
                 in spite of the
                                    "wrong note."  Well, shall we
think or listen?  Is there a sound addressed
                 not wholly to the ear?
                                     We half close
our eyes.  We do not
                 hear it through our eyes.
                                    It is not
a flute note either, it is the relation
                 of a flute note
                                   to a drum.  I am wide
awake.  The mind
                 is listening.  The ear
                                  is alerted.  But the ear
in a half-reluctant mood
                 stretches
                   
                               .      .          and yawns.
 
 
 
And so the banked violind
                in three tiers
                              enliven the scene,
pizzicato.  For a short
                memory or to
                              make the listener listen
the theme is repeated
                stressing a variant:
                              it is a principle of music
to repeat the theme.  Repeat
                and repeat again,
                              as the pace mounts.  The
theme is difficult      .
                 but no more difficult
                              than the facts to be
resolved.  Repeat
                 and repeat the theme
                              and all it develops to be
until thought is dissolved
                 in tears.
                              Our dreams
have been assaulted
                by a memry that will not
                               sleep.  The
French horns
                interpose
                               .      .      their voices:
I love you.  My heart
                is innocent.  And this
                               the first day of the world!
 
Say to them:
"Man has survived hitherto because he was too ignorant
to know how to realize his wishes.  Now that he can realize
them, he must either change them or perish."
 
Now is the time       .
               in spite of the "wrong note"
                               I love you.  My heart is
innocent.
               And this is the first
                              (and last) day of the world
 
The birds twitter now anew
               but a design
                               surmounts their twittering.
It is a design of a man
               that makes them twitter.
                               It is a design.