Poems Of William Carlos Williams

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*Sarlaa*

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"Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad!"
You sullen pig of a man
you force me into the mud
with your stinking ash-cart!
Brother!
--if we were rich
we'd stick our chests out
and hold our heads high!
It is dreams that have destroyed us.
There is no more pride
in horses or in rein holding.
We sit hunched together brooding
our fate.
Well--
all things turn bitter in the end
whether you choose the right or
the left way
and--
dreams are not a bad thing.
William Carlos Williams​
 

*Sarlaa*

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A Celebration

A middle-northern March, now as always--
gusts from the South broken against cold winds--
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide,
it moves--not into April--into a second March,

the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere.

So we will put on our pink felt hat--new last year!
--newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back
the seasons--and let us walk to the orchid-house,
see the flowers will take the prize tomorrow
at the Palace.
Stop here, these are our oleanders.
When they are in bloom--
You would waste words
It is clearer to me than if the pink
were on the branch. It would be a searching in
a colored cloud to reveal that which now, huskless,
shows the very reason for their being.

And these the orange-trees, in blossom--no need
to tell with this weight of perfume in the air.
If it were not so dark in this shed one could better
see the white.
It is that very perfume
has drawn the darkness down among the leaves.
Do I speak clearly enough?
It is this darkness reveals that which darkness alone
loosens and sets spinning on waxen wings--
not the touch of a finger-tip, not the motion
of a sigh. A too heavy sweetness proves
its own caretaker.
And here are the orchids!
Never having seen
such gaiety I will read these flowers for you:
This is an odd January, died--in Villon's time.
Snow, this is and this the stain of a violet
grew in that place the spring that foresaw its own doom.

And this, a certain July from Iceland:
a young woman of that place
breathed it toward the South. It took root there.
The color ran true but the plant is small.

This falling spray of snow-flakes is
a handful of dead Februaries
prayed into flower by Rafael Arevalo Martinez
of Guatemala.
Here's that old friend who
went by my side so many years: this full, fragile
head of veined lavender. Oh that April
that we first went with our stiff lusts
leaving the city behind, out to the green hill--
May, they said she was. A hand for all of us:
this branch of blue butterflies tied to this stem.

June is a yellow cup I'll not name; August
the over-heavy one. And here are--
russet and shiny, all but March. And March?
Ah, March--
Flowers are a tiresome pastime.
One has a wish to shake them from their pots
root and stem, for the sun to gnaw.

Walk out again into the cold and saunter home
to the fire. This day has blossomed long enough.
I have wiped out the red night and lit a blaze
instead which will at least warm our hands
and stir up the talk.
I think we have kept fair time.
Time is a green orchard.
William Carlos Williams
 

*Sarlaa*

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A Goodnight
Go to sleep--though of course you will not--
to tideless waves thundering slantwise against
strong embankments, rattle and swish of spray
dashed thirty feet high, caught by the lake wind,
scattered and strewn broadcast in over the steady
car rails! Sleep, sleep! Gulls' cries in a wind-gust
broken by the wind; calculating wings set above
the field of waves breaking.
Go to sleep to the lunge between foam-crests,
refuse churned in the recoil. Food! Food!
Offal! Offal! that holds them in the air, wave-white
for the one purpose, feather upon feather, the wild
chill in their eyes, the hoarseness in their voices--
sleep, sleep . . .
Gentlefooted crowds are treading out your lullaby.
Their arms nudge, they brush shoulders,
hitch this way then that, mass and surge at the crossings--
lullaby, lullaby! The wild-fowl police whistles,
the enraged roar of the traffic, machine shrieks:
it is all to put you to sleep,
to soften your limbs in relaxed postures,
and that your head slip sidewise, and your hair loosen
and fall over your eyes and over your mouth,
brushing your lips wistfully that you may dream,
sleep and dream--
A black fungus springs out about the lonely church doors--
sleep, sleep. The Night, coming down upon
the wet boulevard, would start you awake with his
message, to have in at your window. Pay no
heed to him. He storms at your sill with
cooings, with gesticulations, curses!
You will not let him in. He would keep you from sleeping.
He would have you sit under your desk lamp
brooding, pondering; he would have you
slide out the drawer, take up the ornamented dagger
and handle it. It is late, it is nineteen-nineteen--
go to sleep, his cries are a lullaby;
his jabbering is a sleep-well-my-baby; he is
a crackbrained messenger.
The maid waking you in the morning
when you are up and dressing,
the rustle of your clothes as you raise them--
it is the same tune.
At table the cold, greeninsh, split grapefruit, its juice
on the tongue, the clink of the spoon in
your coffee, the toast odors say it over and over.
The open street-door lets in the breath of
the morning wind from over the lake.
The bus coming to a halt grinds from its sullen brakes--
lullaby, lullaby. The crackle of a newspaper,
the movement of the troubled coat beside you--
sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep . . .
It is the sting of snow, the burning liquor of
the moonlight, the rush of rain in the gutters packed
with dead leaves: go to sleep, go to sleep.
And the night passes--and never passes--
 

*Sarlaa*

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Loss Of...

Loss it seems is the worst kind of sorrow
Loss of dreams, the dreams of tomorrow

Loss of the moments you two should have shared
Loss of opportunities to show her you cared

Loss of the memories you both could have created
Loss of the romance once intense as you dated

Loss of a kiss, caress, or embrace
Loss of that special feeling no one else can replace

Loss of a look, the twinkle in her eye
Loss of the touch as you pass each other by

Loss of a future, from a past of regret
Loss of a last chance, how many do you get

Loss of a promise you never meant to break
Loss of two hearts that forever will ache
 

*Sarlaa*

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Apology
Why do I write today?
The beauty of
the terrible faces
of our nonentites
stirs me to it:
colored women
day workers—
old and experienced—
returning home at dusk
in cast off clothing
faces like
old Florentine oak.
Also
the set pieces
of your faces stir me—
leading citizens—
but not
in the same way.
William Carlos Williams
 
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