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Title: The Collected Later Poems of William Carlos Williams

Date of first publication: 1944

Author: William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Date first posted: Sep. 21, 2019

Date last updated: Sep. 21, 2019

Faded Page eBook #20190953

This eBook was produced by: Al Haines, Jen Haines & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net

The Collected Later Poems of





Copyright 1944, 1948, and 1950 by William Carlos Williams

Manufactured in the United States of America by

The Haddon Craftsmen, Inc., Scranton, Pa.

New Directions Books are published by James Laughlin

at Norfolk, Connecticut. New York Office: 333 Sixth Avenue (14)

Designed by Maurice Serle Kaplan

To James Laughlin


The Wedge1
The Clouds63
Ballad of Faith129
All That Is Perfect in Woman137
The Rat143
Choral: The Pink Church157
The Birth of Venus187
14 New Poems (1950)193
Two Pendants: for the Ears211


Some of the poems in this volume were first printed in the following magazines: Arizona Quarterly, Botteghe Oscure, Briarcliff Quarterly, Calendar, Contemporary Poetry, Fantasy, Furioso, General Magazine (U. of P.), Harper’s Bazaar, Harvard Wake, Hemispheres, Kenyon Review, The Nation, New Directions, The New Leader, New Poems 1940, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Palisade, Partisan Review, The Poet of the Year, Poetry, a Magazine of Verse, Poets at Work, The Quarterly Review of Literature, The Tiger’s Eye, View, VVV, Yale Poetry Review, and Zero.

The Wedge

Author’s Introduction (1944)

The war is the first and only thing in the world today.

The arts generally are not, nor is this writing a diversion from that for relief, a turning away. It is the war or part of it, merely a different sector of the field.

Critics of rather better than average standing have said in recent years that after socialism has been achieved it’s likely there will be no further use for poetry, that it will disappear. This comes from nothing else than a faulty definition of poetry—and the arts generally. I don’t hear anyone say that mathematics is likely to be outmoded, to disappear shortly. Then why poetry?

It is an error attributable to the Freudian concept of the thing, that the arts are a resort from frustration, a misconception still entertained in many minds.

They speak as though action itself in all its phases were not compatible with frustration. All action the same. But Richard Coeur de Lion wrote at least one of the finest lyrics of his day. Take Don Juan for instance. Who isn’t frustrated and does not prove it by his actions—if you want to say so?

But through art the psychologically maimed may become the most distinguished man of his age. Take Freud for instance.

The making of poetry is no more an evidence of frustration than is the work of Henry Kaiser or Timoshenko. It’s the war, the driving forward of desire to a complex end. And when that shall have been achieved, mathematics and the arts will turn elsewhere—beyond the atom if necessary for their reward and let’s all be frustrated together.

A man isn’t a block that remains stationary though the psychologists treat him so—and most take an insane pride in believing it. Consistency! He varies; Hamlet today, Caesar tomorrow; here, there, somewhere—if he is to retain his sanity, and why not?

The arts have a complex relation to society. The poet isn’t a fixed phenomenon, no more is his work. That might be a note on current affairs, a diagnosis, a plan for procedure, a retrospect—all in its own peculiarly enduring form. There need be nothing limited or frustrated about that. It may be a throw-off from the most violent and successful action or run parallel to it, a saga. It may be the picking out of an essential detail for memory, something to be set aside for further study, a sort of shorthand of emotional significances for later reference.

Let the metaphysical take care of itself, the arts have nothing to do with it. They will concern themselves with it if they please, among other things.

To make two bald statements: There’s nothing sentimental about a machine, and: A poem is a small (or large) machine made of words. When I say there’s nothing sentimental about a poem I mean that there can be no part, as in any other machine, that is redundant.

Prose may carry a load of ill-defined matters like a ship. But poetry is the machine which drives it, pruned to a perfect economy. As in all machines its movement is intrinsic, undulant, a physical more than a literary character. In a poem this movement is distinguished in each case by the character of the speech from which it arises.

Therefore each speech having its own character the poetry it engenders will be peculiar to that speech also in its own intrinsic form. The effect is beauty, what in a single object resolves our complex feelings of propriety. One doesn’t seek beauty. All that an artist or a Sperry can do is to drive toward his purpose, in the nature of his materials; not to take gold where Babbitt metal is called for; to make: make clear the complexity of his perceptions in the medium given to him by inheritance, chance, accident or whatever it may be to work with according to his talents and the will that drives them. Don’t talk about frustration fathering the arts. The bastardization of words is too widespread for that today.

My own interest in the arts has been extracurricular. Up from the gutter, so to speak. Of necessity. Each age and place to its own. But in the U. S. the necessity for recognizing this intrinsic character has been largely ignored by the various English Departments of the academies.

When a man makes a poem, makes it, mind you, he takes words as he finds them interrelated about him and composes them—without distortion which would mar their exact significances—into an intense expression of his perceptions and ardors that they may constitute a revelation in the speech that he uses. It isn’t what he says that counts as a work of art, it’s what he makes, with such intensity of perception that it lives with an intrinsic movement of its own to verify its authenticity. Your attention is called now and then to some beautiful line or sonnet-sequence because of what is said there. So be it. To me all sonnets say the same thing of no importance. What does it matter what the line “says”?

There is no poetry of distinction without formal invention, for it is in the intimate form that works of art achieve their exact meaning, in which they most resemble the machine, to give language its highest dignity, its illumination in the environment to which it is native. Such war, as the arts live and breathe by, is continuous.

It may be that my interests as expressed here are pre-art. If so I look for a development along these lines and will be satisfied with nothing else.

A Sort of a Song

Let the snake wait under

his weed

and the writing

be of words, slow and quick, sharp

to strike, quiet to wait,



—through metaphor to reconcile

the people and the stones.

Compose. (No ideas

but in things) Invent!

Saxifrage is my flower that splits

the rocks.

Catastrophic Birth

Fury and counter fury! The volcano!

Stand firm, unbending. The chemistry

shifts. The retort does not fracture.

The change reveals—change.

The revelation is compact—

compact of regathered fury


By violence lost, recaptured by violence

violence alone opens the shell of the nut.

The best is hard to say—unless

near the break. Unless the shell hold

the kernel is not sweet.

Under violence the meat lies regained


Each age brings new calls upon violence

for new rewards, variants of the old.

Unless each hold firm

Unless each remain flexible

there can be no new. The new opens

new ways beyond all known ways.


Shut up! laughs the big she-Wop.

Wait till you have six like a me.

Every year one. Come on! Push! Sure,

you said it! Maybe I have one next year.

Sweating like a volcano. It cleans you up,

makes you feel good inside. Come on! Push!


The impasse becomes a door when the wall

is levelled. The cone lifts, lifts

and settles back. Life goes on. The cone

blocks the crater and lifts half its height.

Life goes on. The orange trees bloom.

The old women talk tirelessly.


The laboratory announces officially

that there is no need to worry. The

cone is subsiding, smoke rises as

a funnel into the blue unnatural sky—

The change impends! A change stutters

in the rocks. We believe nothing can change.


The fracture will come, the death dealing

chemistry cannot be long held back.

The dreaded eruption blocks out the valley,

the careful prognosticator as well as

the idlers. The revelation is complete.

Peace is reborn above the cinders


Only one man is left, the drunkard

who had been confined underground to

rot with the rats and lizards.

The old woman who had been combing out

the child’s hair is also intact

but at a touch she falls into a heap of ashes


Only he who had been confined

in disgrace underground is rescued alive

and he knows nothing more of it

than to stand and curse the authorities

who left him there so long without food

and liquor while they were digging him out


Rain will fall. The wind and the birds

will bring seeds, the river changes

its channel and fish re-enter it.

The seawind will come in from the east.

The broken cone breathes softly on

the edge of the sky, violence revives and regathers.

Paterson: the Falls

What common language to unravel?

The Falls, combed into straight lines

from that rafter of a rock’s

lip. Strike in! the middle of


some trenchant phrase, some

well packed clause. Then . . .

This is my plan. 4 sections: First,

the archaic persons of the drama.


An eternity of bird and bush,

resolved. An unraveling:

the confused streams aligned, side

by side, speaking! Sound


married to strength, a strength

of falling—from a height! The wild

voice of the shirt-sleeved

Evangelist rivaling, Hear


me! I am the Resurrection

and the Life! echoing

among the bass and pickerel, slim

eels from Barbados, Sargasso


Sea, working up the coast to that

bounty, ponds and wild streams—

Third, the old town: Alexander Hamilton

working up from St. Croix,


from that sea! and a deeper, whence

he came! stopped cold

by that unmoving roar, fastened

there: the rocks silent


but the water, married to the stone,

voluble, though frozen; the water

even when and though frozen

still whispers and moans—


And in the brittle air

a factory bell clangs, at dawn, and

snow whines under their feet. Fourth,

the modern town, a


disembodied roar! the cataract and

its clamor broken apart—and from

all learning, the empty

ear struck from within, roaring . . .

The Dance

In Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess,

the dancers go round, they go round and

around, the squeal and the blare and the

tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles

tipping their bellies (round as the thick-

sided glasses whose wash they impound)

their hips and their bellies off balance

to turn them. Kicking and rolling about

the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those

shanks must be sound to bear up under such

rollicking measures, prance as they dance

in Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess.

Writer’s Prologue to a Play in Verse

In your minds you jump from doors

to sad departings, pigeons, dreams

of terror, to cathedrals; bowed,

repelled, knees quaking, to the-closed-

without-a-key or through an arch

an ocean that races full of sound

and foam to lay a carpet for

your pleasure or a wood that waves

releasing hawks and crows or

crowds that elbow and fight for

a place or anything. You see it

in your minds and the mind at once

jostles it, turns it about, examines

and arranges it to suit its fancy.

Or rather changes it after a pattern

which is the mind itself, turning

and twisting the theme until it gets

a meaning or finds no meaning and

is dropped. By such composition,

without code, the scenes we see move

and, as it may happen, make

a music, a poetry

which the poor poet copies if

and only if he is able—to astonish

and amuse, for your delights,

in public, face to face with you

individually and secretly addressed.


We are not here, you understand,

but in the mind, that circumstance

of which the speech is poetry.

Then look, I beg of you, try and

look within yourselves rather than

at me for what I shall discover.

Yourselves! Within yourselves. Tell

me if you do not see there, alive!

a creature unlike the others, something

extraordinary in its vulgarity,

something strange, unnatural to

the world, that suffers the world poorly,

is tripped at home, disciplined at

the office, greedily eats money—

for a purpose: to escape the tyranny

of lies. And is all they can think

of to amuse you, a ball game? Or

skiing in Van Diemen’s land in August

—to amuse you! Do you not come here

to escape that? For you are merely

distracted, not relieved in the blood,

deadened, defeated, stultified.

But this! is new. Believe it, to be

proved presently by your patience.

Run through the public appearance

of it, to come out—not stripped

but, if you’ll pardon me, something

which in the mind you are and would

be yet have always been, unrecognized,

tragic and foolish, without a tongue.

That’s it. Yourself the thing

you are, speechless—because there is

no language for it, shockingly revealed.


Would it disturb you if I said

you have no other speech than poetry?

You, yourself, I mean. There is

no other language for it than the poem

—falsified by the critics until

you think it’s something else, fight

it off, as idle, a kind of lie,

smelling of corpses, that the practical

world rejects. How could it be you?

Never! without invention. It is, if

you’ll have patience, the undiscovered

language of yourself, which you avoid,

rich and poor, killed and killers,

a language to be coaxed out of poets—

possibly, an intolerable language

that will frighten—to which

you are not used. We must make it

easy for you, feed it to you slowly

until you let down the barriers,

relax before it. But it’s easy

if you will allow me to proceed, it

can make transformations, give it

leave to do its work in you.


Accept the convention as you would

opera, provisionally; let me go ahead.

Wait to see if the revelation

happen. It may not.

Or it may come and go, small bits

at a time. But even the chips of it

are invaluable. Wait to learn

the hang of its persuasions as it makes

its transformations from the common

to the undisclosed and lays that open

where—you will see a frightened face!


But believe! that poetry will be

in the terms you know, insist on that

and can and must break through everything,

all the outward forms, to re-dress

itself humbly in that which you

yourself will say is the truth, the

exceptional truth of ordinary people,

the extraordinary truth. You shall see.


It isn’t masculine more than it is

feminine, it’s not a book more than

it is speech; inside the mind, natural

to the mind as metals are to rock,

a gist, puppets which if they present

distinction it is from that hidden

dignity which they, by your leave,

reflect from you who are the play.


This is a play of a husband and a wife.

As you love your husband or your wife

or if you hate him or if you hate

her, watch the language! see if you

think that it expresses something of

the things, to your knowledge, that

take place in the mind and in the world

but seldom on the lips. This play

is of a woman and her lover, all

mixed up, of life and death and all

the secret language that runs through

those curious transactions, seldom

heard but in the deadest presentations

now respectfully unnaturalized.


For pleasure! pleasure, not for

cruelty but to make you laugh, until

you cry like General Washington

at the river. Seeing the travellers

bathing there who had had their clothes

stolen, how he laughed! And how

you shall laugh to see yourselves

all naked, on the stage!

Burning the Christmas Greens

Their time past, pulled down

cracked and flung to the fire

—go up in a roar


All recognition lost, burnt clean

clean in the flame, the green

dispersed, a living red,

flame red, red as blood wakes

on the ash—


and ebbs to a steady burning

the rekindled bed become

a landscape of flame


At the winter’s midnight

we went to the trees, the coarse

holly, the balsam and

the hemlock for their green


At the thick of the dark

the moment of the cold’s

deepest plunge we brought branches

cut from the green trees


to fill our need, and over

doorways, about paper Christmas

bells covered with tinfoil

and fastened by red ribbons


we stuck the green prongs

in the windows hung

woven wreaths and above pictures

the living green. On the


mantle we built a green forest

and among those hemlock

sprays put a herd of small

white deer as if they


were walking there. All this!

and it seemed gentle and good

to us. Their time past,

relief! The room bare. We


stuffed the dead grate

with them upon the half burnt out

log’s smoldering eye, opening

red and closing under them


and we stood there looking down.

Green is a solace

a promise of peace, a fort

against the cold (though we


did not say so) a challenge

above the snow’s

hard shell. Green (we might

have said) that, where


small birds hide and dodge

and lift their plaintive

rallying cries, blocks for them

and knocks down


the unseeing bullets of

the storm. Green spruce boughs

pulled down by a weight of



Violence leaped and appeared.

Recreant! roared to life

as the flame rose through and

our eyes recoiled from it.


In the jagged flames green

to red, instant and alive. Green!

those sure abutments . . . Gone!

lost to mind


and quick in the contracting

tunnel of the grate

appeared a world! Black

mountains, black and red—as


yet uncolored—and ash white,

an infant landscape of shimmering

ash and flame and we, in

that instant, lost,


breathless to be witnesses,

as if we stood

ourselves refreshed among

the shining fauna of that fire.

In Chains

When blackguards and murderers

under cover of their offices

accuse the world of those villainies

which they themselves invent to

torture it—we have no choice

but to bend to their designs,

buck them or be trampled while

our thoughts gnaw, snap and bite

within us helplessly—unless

we learn from that to avoid

being as they are, how love

will rise out of its ashes if

we water it, tie up the slender

stem and keep the image of its

lively flower chiseled upon our minds.

In Sisterly Fashion

The ugly woman clutched

her lover round the neck

her skin was white as snow

as she wept softly to herself

knowing her lack of beauty

like the sting of death—

by which she praised in

sisterly fashion your fitted

limbs your honied breath

The World Narrowed to a Point

Liquor and love

when the mind is dull

focus the wit

on a world of form


The eye awakes

perfumes are defined


ride the quick ear


Liquor and love

rescue the cloudy sense

banish its despair

give it a home.

The Observer

What a scurvy mind

whose constant death

still simulates

the forms of breath—

unable or unwilling

to own the common

things which we must

do to live again

and be in love and

all its quickening

pleasures prove—

A Flowing River

You are lovely as a river

under tranquil skies—

There are imperfections

but a music overlays them—


telling by how dark a bed

the current moves

to what sea that shines

and ripples in my thought

The Hounded Lovers

Where shall we go?

Where shall we go

      who are in love?


Juliet went

to Friar Laurence’s cell

      but we have no rest—


Rainwater lies on

the hard ground reflecting

      the morning sky


But where shall we go?

We cannot resolve ourselves

      into a dew


nor sink into the earth.

Shall we postpone it

      to Eternity?


The dry heads of the


      turned to stiff ghosts


jerk at their stalks

signaling grave warning.

      Where shall we go?


The movement of benediction

does not turn back

      the cold wind.

The Cure

Sometimes I envy others, fear them

a little too, if they write well.

For when I cannot write I’m a sick man

and want to die. The cause is plain.


But they have no access to my sources.

Let them write then as they may and

perfect it as they can they will never

come to the secret off that form


interknit with the unfathomable ground

where we walk daily and from which

among the rest you have sprung

and opened flower-like to my hand.

To All Gentleness

Like a cylindrical tank fresh silvered

upended on the sidewalk to advertise

some plumber’s shop, a profusion

of pink roses bending ragged in the rain—

speaks to me of all gentleness and its



        Secure in the enclosing rain,

a column of tears borne up by the heavy

flowers: the new and the unlikely, bound

indissolubly together in one mastery.


Out of fear lest the flower be broken

the rose puts out its thorns. That

is the natural way.


                  We witless, wistful

of the flower, unable still by heavy

emphasis to praise enough its silence,

inventors of opera as national background;

the classic tradition, bellowing

masks, long since decayed, in our time

also perishes.


              And they speak,

euphemistically, of the anti-poetic!

Garbage. Half the world ignored . . .


Is this praise of gentleness?


                            The lion

according to old paintings will

lie down with the lamb. But what is meant

has not been precisely enough stated:

missed or—postponed.

The arrow! That the arrow fly!


Forthwith she holds it to the string, the

hygienic arrow! that, crescent, she

may achieve poise, win perhaps a prize

later at the meet or making a profession

of it grow to be a teacher of the art


—and the innocent shaft, released,

plunges forward . . .


                    The courts are

overcrowded, fear obsesses all intimacies

unless legalized—and money,

articulated to government mounts still

as wonder in the minds of the speculators,


to buy

      (the ferment wedging their skulls

ever wider)


            to buy, shall we say, the

grass, or a small cloud perhaps (in

whose shadow a lifting wind whirls) or

if Queen Blanche, a pond

of waterlilies or the rain itself.


The natural way, to buy!


                        —to buy off.


But if the wing of a plane in combat,

coming down, an uncertain landing, if

by the shattering prop of a plane he

is knocked into the sea,


gives himself up injured for lost and then—

his wound eased by the seawater—goes

on out of habit, swims alone among

the enquiring waves twelve hours, fourteen

hours. . . . picked up and

returned to this life.


                      That too is

the natural way, by claw and law—


                                  To which

we are opposed!


                For most

fear gentleness and misinterpret it,

which if by chance they meet the

longer arc, upgrade or downgrade, the

wash and swing, they are discomfited—


A matter of indifference—


                          the wave

rising or the wave curving to the hollow:


Swam hour after hour, the healthy

life he’d lead formerly at Seattle holding

him . . .


        Or was it? Who

can tell? come back for all that a

month later when they’d released him held

incommunicado at the hospital, to say,

Here I am, as I promised!



Shostakowitch. Is it the occasion

or the man? Take an apple and split it

between the thumbs. Which is which?


Caught in the shuffling of the wider

undulations one is brought down, another

lifted by the wash; a rush of algae

proliferant or a mammoth caught in the ice

hair and all for dogs later to dig

and devour . . .


                the phase, is supreme!



for gentleness that joins our lives

in one.


        But shoot! shoot straight,

they say. The arrow flies! the barb

is driven home and . . . strength

thrust upon weakness, the convulsive ecstasy


achieved, in the moment of impact

we are left deafened and blinded, blind to

the sun and moon, the brilliant

moonlight leaves, to fish and fowl:



bird in white above the swimming bird

and from the depths of the wood

the song that is the bird, unseen.


The bomb-sight adjusted destruction hangs

by a hair over the cities. Bombs away!

and the packed word descends—and

rightly so.


            The arrow! the arrow!


Only . . . that is . . .


the moment is lost! without us, the

completion, the learned moment. The gates

opened, it also falls away,



It is, yes Jakus, the prize, the prize!

in which that which has been held from you,

my perky lad, is hid.


                      The flower is our sign.


Milkweed, a single stalk on the bare

embankment (and where

does the imagination begin?


                            Violence and

gentleness, which is the core? Is

gentleness the core?)


                    Slender green

reaching up from sand and rubble (the

anti-poetic they say ignorantly, a



              premising the flower,

without which, no flower.


                          She was

forewoman to a gang at the ship foundry,

cleared the finished parts to

the loading platform; had three misses,

all boys, by the man she lives with—

and may the fourth be a boy also for which

he married her.


                Tough, huh?


                      Never had a backache.


Not the girth of thigh, but

that gentleness that harbors all violence,

the valid juxtaposition, one

by the other, alternates, the cosine, the

cylinder and the rose.

Three Sonnets


As the eye lifts, the field

is moving—the river,

slowly between the stones

steadily under the bare

branches, heavy slabs close

packed with jagged rim-cupped

edges, seaward—


what was the mudbank

crowded, sparkling

with diamonds big as fists,

unbelievable to witness


The silent and snowy mountains

do not change their

poise—the broken line,

the mass whose darkness

meets the rising sun, waken

uncompromised above the gulls

upon the ice-strewn



      You cannot succor me,

you cannot change. I will

open my eyes at morning even though

their lids be sealed

faster by ice than stone!


My adored wife, this—in spite

of Dr. Kennedy’s remark

that the story of the repeated

injury would sound bad in a divorce

court—the bastard:


In the one woman

I find all the rest—or nothing

and raise them thence and celebrate

them there and close their eyes

and bury them in her and

decorate their graves. Upon her

their memory clings, each one

distinct, enriching her

while I yet live to enjoy, perhaps.

St. Valentine

A woman’s breasts

for beauty

A man’s delights

for charm


The rod and cups

of duty

to stave us

from harm!


A woman’s eyes

a woman’s

thighs and a man’s

straight look:


Cities rotted to


will stand up by

that book!

The Young Cat and the Chrysanthemums

You mince, you start

advancing indirectly—

your tail upright

knocking about among the

frail, heavily flowered



Yes, you are lovely

with your ingratiating

manners, sleek sides and

small white paws but

I wish you had not come


The Poem

It’s all in

the sound. A song.

Seldom a song. It should


be a song—made of

particulars, wasps,

a gentian—something

immediate, open


scissors, a lady’s


centrifugal, centripetal

Rumba! Rumba!

No, not the downfall

of the Western World

but the wish for its


in an idiot mind—

Dance, Baby, dance!


thence springs the conflict,

that it may crash


not submit and end in

a burst of laughter—

Cha cha, chacha, cha!


to hide the defect—

the difficultly held

burden, to perfect!

melted in a wish to die.

Dance, Baby, dance

      the Cuban Rumba!

A Plea for Mercy

Who hasn’t been frustrated

with the eternal virgin

shining before him and he

cold as a stone?

Figueras Castle

Nine truckloads of jewels

while the people starved

Nine truckloads

in the mud


And the people’s enemies

coming fast. Stick ’em

in your pockets

the General said,


They’re yours, by God and

check them in for the

people at the Consulate

in Perpignan.


But some of them didn’t

bother—like those who had

stolen them first

and were not


arrested for it as these were

in their need, not held

for it as these were

in their dire need.


She had come, like the river

from up country and had work now

in town—


When? Tonight. The street was

dark, she late. Two

young rips


had cavorted down the hill in

the silence, jabbering. Then

he heard


the click of her heels—at his

age! and the darkness

grew milky


away above him and seemed to

move, coming down. She



bare headed, in pearl earrings

and a cloak. Where shall

we go?


The boy friend was expecting me

it was hard to

get away.


Where are you supposed to be?

Night, greater than

the cataract


surged in the cisterns of Noah’s

chest, enormous night

that makes


of light a fruit, everywhere

active in the dark.



would be expecting him, he swam

from her zig-zag through

the dark—


half things bulging and rotted

out, hanging, standing at

false angles,


abandoned! drove thence close

to two hundred miles



the tank once near midnight, To

the left, at the second

car tracks,


brother. And the stars performed

their stated miracles.

The wind


rose and howled toward 3 A.M.

with a dash of rain turning

warm. Swift


or slow from capsule to capsule

of the light he saw between

the stars


the sky! velvet, like a leaf,

in detail and counting at

random there,


continued, later halting under a

street lamp to make

some notes.


Olympia, her face drawn but relieved

said nothing. Breakfast

at seven.

The Hard Listener

The powerless emperor

makes himself dull

writing poems in a garden

while his armies

kill and burn. But we,

in poverty lacking love,

keep some relation

to the truth of man’s

infelicity: say

the late flowers, unspoiled

by insects and waiting

only for the cold.

The Controversy

What do you know about it? the Architect said.

The Executive asked me, What the hell

do you know about business?


Is it so arcane? I can read, I said. Isn’t it

just to put 4 and take away 5? From whom?

Isn’t that all there is to


it? Whom can you best belabor? And do I have

to read the whole Apologia

to make up my mind touching


Newman’s undecorated place in the world?


they both said,—the situation

and its effects? It’s because


of unrelated statements such as that that I

have come to have no respect for

what you say, one of them


looked at me and said. The Jews. Oh the

Jews, the Jews! Is Stinkeroo

Mormun a Jew? If not


then the world is safe (from the Jews!) I can

still read and collate experiences

you never dreamed, I


answered them. Nuts! they said. Very well. Nuts!

and decorated nuts and nuts again,

I said, to you, gentlemen.


          O lovely apple!

beautifully and completely


hardly a contour marred—


          perhaps a little

shrivelled at the top but that

          aside perfect

in every detail! O lovely


          apple! what a

deep and suffusing brown

          mantles that

unspoiled surface! No one


          has moved you

since I placed you on the porch

          rail a month ago

to ripen.


          No one. No one!

These Purists

Lovely! all the essential parts,

like an oyster without a shell

fresh and sweet tasting, to be

swallowed, chewed and swallowed.


Or better, a brain without a

skull. I remember once a guy in

our anatomy class dropped one

from the third floor window on

an organ grinder in Pine street.


You are a typical American woman

you think men grow on trees—


You want love, only love! rarest

of male fruit! Break it open and


in the white of the crisp flesh

find the symmetrical brown seeds.

A Vision of Labor: 1931

In my head the juxtapositions

impossible otherwise to accomplish:

two young rubber-booted ditchdiggers

beside the bed of the dying bishop—

cracking obscene jokes

at the expense of the flabby woman in

the white bathing suit, the weak breaths

of the old man masquerading under

the double suck of the mule-pump


—by the edge of the sea! the shore

exploded away, constructively,

the sewer going down six feet inside

the seawall along the front of

the cottages—not through them

unfortunately—a cloaca maxima like

the one under the Roman Forum

which alone made that possible in

that place . . .


              That’s it! There, there!

That’s the answer. The thing to be

done: Alone made that

possible (before the rest stands)

there in that place.


              The girl lying there

supine in the old rowboat reading an

adventure magazine and the two guys

—six foot three each of them

if they were an inch—washing their

hip-boots off in the stream jerking

from the pump at the finished manhole,

washing their hands, their heads

and faces, cupping their hands to drink

the stuff. Geezus! What the hell

kind of water is that to drink? But

they probably know what they’re doing

—and looking down the bank at her

lying flat out there in the heat with

her five-and-ten dark glasses on

to protect her eyes from the sun’s

glare—looking down and smiling over

her like insane men.


              When you’ve been broke

and damned near starving for

five years you get to look that way,

said my cousin who had had a taste

of it. You can’t help it. That’s

poverty. Both your mind and your body

are affected. But they’re just mechanics

damn good ones most of them, like

anybody else.


              —the white suit

pulled up tight into her crotch the

way she was lying there facing them

—till they called it off, threw

the switch and the pump

stopped and the bishop died

and—they turned their backs on it,

flung their boots over their shoulders

and went home.

The Last Turn

Then see it! in distressing

detail—from behind a red light

at 53d and 8th

of a November evening, the jazz

of the cross lights echoing the

crazy weave of the breaking mind:

splash of a half purple, half

naked woman’s body whose jeweled

guts the cars drag up and down—

No house but has its brains

blown off by the dark!

Nothing recognizable, the whole one

jittering direction made of all

directions spelling the inexplicable:

pigment upon flesh and flesh

the pigment the genius of a world,

against which rages the fury of

our concepts, artless but supreme.

The End of the Parade

The sentence undulates

raising no song—

It is too old, the

words of it are falling

apart. Only percussion

strokes continue

with weakening

emphasis what was once

cadenced melody

full of sweet breath.

The A, B & C of It

a. Love’s very fleas are mine. Enter

    me, worms and all till I crumble

    and steam with it, pullulate

    to be sucked into an orchid.


b. But the fleas were too shy

    didn’t want to offend

    recoiled from the odors

    and couldn’t unbend.


c. Take me then, Spirit of Loneliness

    insatiable Spirit of Love

    and let be—for Time without

    odor is Time without me.

The Thoughtful Lover

Deny yourself all

half things. Have it

or leave it.


But it will keep—or

it is not worth

the having.


Never start

anything you can’t



However do not lose

faith because you

are starved!


She loves you

she says. Believe it



But today

the particulars

of poetry


that difficult art


your whole attention.

The Aftermath

The Winnah! pure as snow

courageous as the wind

strong as a tree

deceptive as the moon


All that is the country

fitted into you

for you were born there.

Now it is rewarding you


for the unswerving mind

curious as a fox

which fox-like escaped

breathless to its hole.


They say you have grown

thinner and that

there is a girl now to

add to the blue eyed boy.


Good! the air of the

uplands is stimulating.

The Storm

A perfect rainbow! a wide

arc low in the northern sky

spans the black lake


troubled by little waves

over which the sun

south of the city shines in


coldly from the bare hill

supine to the wind which

cannot waken anything


but drives the smoke from

a few lean chimneys streaming

violently southward

The Forgotten City

When with my mother I was coming down

from the country the day of the hurricane,

trees were across the road and small branches

kept rattling on the roof of the car

There was ten feet or more of water

making the parkways impassible with wind

bringing more rain in sheets. Brown torrents

gushed up through new sluices in the

valley floor so that I had to take what road

I could find bearing to the south and west,

to get back to the city. I passed through

extraordinary places, as vivid as any

I ever saw where the storm had broken

the barrier and let through

a strange commonplace: Long, deserted avenues

with unrecognized names at the corners and

drunken looking people with completely

foreign manners. Monuments, institutions

and in one place a large body of water

startled me with an acre or more of hot

jets spouting up symmetrically over it. Parks.

I had no idea where I was and promised myself

I would some day go back to study this

curious and industrious people who lived

in these apartments, at these sharp

corners and turns of intersecting avenues

with so little apparent communication

with an outside world. How did they get

cut off this way from representation in our

newspapers and other means of publicity

when so near the metropolis, so closely

surrounded by the familiar and the famous?

The Yellow Chimney

There is a plume

of fleshpale

smoke upon the blue


sky. The silver

rings that

strap the yellow


brick stack at

wide intervals shine

in this amber



of the sun not of

the pale sun but


his born brother


declining season

The Bare Tree

The bare cherry tree

higher than the roof

last year produced

abundant fruit. But how

speak of fruit confronted

by that skeleton?

Though live it may be

there is no fruit on it.

Therefore chop it down

and use the wood

against this biting cold.

Raleigh Was Right

We cannot go to the country

for the country will bring us

    no peace

What can the small violets tell us

that grow on furry stems in

the long grass among lance shaped



Though you praise us

and call to mind the poets

who sung of our loveliness

it was long ago!

long ago! when country people

would plow and sow with

flowering minds and pockets

    at ease—

if ever this were true.


Not now. Love itself a flower

with roots in a parched ground.

Empty pockets make empty heads.

Cure it if you can but

do not believe that we can live

today in the country

for the country will bring us

    no peace.

The Monstrous Marriage

She who with innocent and tender hands

reached up to take the wounded

pigeon from the branch, found it turn


into a fury as it bled. Maddened she clung

to it stabbed by its pain and the blood

of her hands and the bird’s blood


mingled while she stilled it for the moment

and wrapped it in her thought’s

clean white handkerchief. After that


she adopted a hawk’s life as her own.

For it looked up and said, You are

my wife for this. Then she released him.


But he came back shortly. Certainly,

since we are married, she said to him, no

one will accept it. Time passed.


I try to imitate you, he said while she

cried a little in smiling. Mostly,

he confided, my head is clouded


except for hunting. But for parts of

a day it’s clear as any man’s—by

your love. No, she would


answer him pitifully, what clearer than

a hawk’s eye and reasonably the

mind also must be so. He turned his


head and seeing his profile in her

mirror ruffled his feathers and gave

a hawk’s cry, desolately.


Nestling upon her as was his wont he

hid his talons from her soft flesh

fluttering his wings against her sides


until her mind, always astonished at

his assumptions, agonized, heard

footsteps and hurried him to


the open window whence he made off.

After that she had a leather belt made

upon which he perched to enjoy her.

Sometimes It Turns Dry and the
Leaves Fall before They Are Beautiful

This crystal sphere

upon whose edge I drive

turns brilliantly—

The level river shines!


My love! My love!

how sadly do we thrive:

thistle-caps and

sumac or a tree whose


sharpened leaves

perfect as they are

look no farther than—

into the grass.

Sparrows Among Dry leaves

The sparrows by the iron fence post—

hardly seen for the dry leaves

that half cover them—

stirring up the leaves, fight

and chirp stridently, search and

peck the sharp gravel to

good digestion and love’s

obscure and insatiable appetite.

Prelude to Winter

The moth under the eaves

with wings like

the bark of a tree, lies

symmetrically still—


And love is a curious

soft-winged thing

unmoving under the eaves

when the leaves fall.


Under a low sky—

this quiet morning

of red and

yellow leaves—


a bird disturbs

no more than one twig

of the green leaved

peach tree

Another Year

In the rose garden in the park

let us learn how little there is

        to fear

from the competition of conflicting


and avoid comparisons,

alone in that still place.

The slender quietness of the old


is of a virtue all its own . . .

A Cold Front

This woman with a dead face

has seven foster children

and a new baby of her own in

spite of that. She wants pills


for an abortion and says,

Uh hum, in reply to me while

her blanketed infant makes

unrelated grunts of salutation.


She looks at me with her mouth

open and blinks her expressionless

carved eyes, like a cat

on a limb too tired to go higher


from its tormentors. And still

the baby chortles in its spit

and there is a dull flush

almost of beauty to the woman’s face


as she says, looking at me

quietly, I won’t have any more.

In a case like this I know

quick action is the main thing.

Against the Sky

Let me not forget at least,

after the three day rain,

beaks raised aface, the two starlings

at and near the top twig


of the white-oak, dwarfing

the barn, completing the minute

green of the sculptured foliage, their

bullet heads bent back, their horny


lips chattering to the morning

sun! Praise! while the

wraithlike warblers, all but unseen

in looping flight dart from


pine to spruce, spruce to pine

southward. Southward! where

new mating warms the wit and cold

does not strike, for respite.

An Address

Walk softly on my grave

for I desired you,


a matter for sorrow

for decay;


flowers without odor



about the sad legend:

Live in this


whom green youth denied.

The Gentle Rejoinder

These are the days I want to

give up my job and join

the old men I once saw

on the wharf at Villefranche

fishing for sea-snails,

with a split stick,

in the shallow water—


                  I know

something else you could catch,

she said, in the spring

as easily, if you

wanted to. But you probably

don’t want to, do you?

To Ford Madox Ford in Heaven

Is it any better in Heaven, my friend Ford,

      than you found it in Provençe?


A heavenly man you seem to me now, never

      having been for me a saintly one.

It lived about you, a certain grossness that

      was not like the world.

The world is cleanly, polished and well

      made but heavenly man

is filthy with his flesh and corrupt that

      loves to eat and drink and whore—

to laugh at himself and not be afraid of

      himself knowing well he has

no possessions and opinions that are worth

      caring a broker’s word about

and that all he is, but one thing, he feeds

      as one will feed a pet dog.


So roust and love and dredge the belly full

      In Heaven’s name!

I laugh to think of you wheezing in Heaven.

      Where is Heaven? But why

do I ask that, since you showed the way?

      I don’t care a damn for it

other than for that better part lives beside

      me here so long as I

live and remember you. Thank God you

      were not delicate, you let the world in

and lied! damn it you lied grossly

      sometimes. But it was all, I

see now, a carelessness, the part of a man

      that is homeless here on earth.


Provençe, the fat assed Ford will never

      again strain the chairs of your cafés

pull and pare for his dish your sacred garlic,

      grunt and sweat and lick

his lips. Gross as the world he has left to

      us he has become

a part of that of which you were the known

      part, Provençe, he loved so well.

The Clouds


In the bare trees old husks make new designs

Love moves the crows before the dawn

The cherry-sun ushers in the new phase


The radiant mind

addressed by tufts of flocking pear blossoms

proposes new profundities to the soul


Deftness stirs in the cells

of Aigeltinger’s brain which flares

like ribbons round an electric fan


This is impressive, he will soon proclaim



And round and round, the winds

and underfoot, the grass

the rose-cane leaves and blackberries

and Jim will read the encyclopedia to his

new bride—gradually


Aigeltinger you have stuck in my conk

illuminating, for nearly half a century I

could never beat you at your specialty


Nothing has ever beaten a mathematician

but yeast


The cloudless sky takes the sun in its periphery

and slides its disc across the blue


They say I’m not profound


But where is profundity, Aigeltinger

mathematical genius

dragged drunk from some cheap bar to serve

their petty purposes?


Aigeltinger, you were profound

Franklin Square

Instead of

the flower of the hawthorn

the spine:


The tree is in bloom

the flowers

and the leaves together



the noisy sparrows

that give


by their intimate


the squirrels and pigeons


on the sharp-

edged lawns—the figure

of a park:


A city, a decadence

of bounty—

a tall negress approaching


the bench

pursing her old mouth

for what coin?


How clean these shallows

how firm these rocks stand

about which wash

the waters of the world


It is ice to this body

that unclothes its pallors

to thoughts

of an immeasurable sea,


unmarred, that as it lifts

encloses this

straining mind, these

limbs in a single gesture.

The Apparition

My greetings to you, sir, whose memory,

the striped coat and colors— What is one man?

a man remembered still in the jacket

of his success? of the winning club?

in himself—successful? one man, alone?

This is that he who slights his fellows—

or else, as he is, plunges

to the wind-whipped swirl, hat, coat, shoes

and—as you did—drags in the body

to the grapples defying death and the sea.

Not once but—again!

Is this the war—that spawned you? Or

did you make the war? Whichever, there you are.

The Light Shall Not Enter

It is in the minds

of the righteous

that death crows loudest.


Death! the cry is. Death!

in the teeth

of the sky, as though


fire is not to blast

and the copper of desire

burnish under it. Oh


we choose our words

too carefully

to fit a calcined skeleton


of meaning, in which

lives! lives only resent-

ment. We the flame


and furnace talk, embittered

as though ours were

some other


destiny whose entrails

are not to burn—shall

escape the heat. Pah!

A Woman in Front of a Bank

The bank is a matter of columns,

like . convention,

unlike invention; but the pediments

sit there in the sun


to convince the doubting of

investments “solid

as rock”—upon which the world

stands, the world of finance,


the only world: Just there,

talking with another woman while

rocking a baby carriage

back and forth stands a woman in


a pink cotton dress, bare legged

and headed whose legs

are two columns to hold up

her face, like Lenin’s (her loosely


arranged hair profusely blond) or

Darwin’s and there you

have it:

a woman in front of a bank.

The Night Rider

Scoured like a conch

or the moon’s shell

I ride from my love

through the damp night.


there are lights

through the trees,

falling leaves,

the air and the blood


an even mood

warm with summer dwindling,

relic of heat:

Ruin dearly bought


smoothed to a round

carved by the sand

the pulse a remembered pulse

of full-tide gone


This woman! how shall I describe her

who is wealthly in the riches

of her sex? No counterfeit, no mere

metal to be sure—


yet, a treasury, a sort of lien upon

all property we list and transfer.

This woman has no need to play the market

or to do anything more than watch


the moon. For to her, thoughts are not

like those of the philosopher

or scientist, or clever playwright.

Her thoughts are to her


like fruit to the tree, the apple, pear.

She thinks and thinks well, but

to different purpose than a man, and I

discover there a novel territory.


It is a world to make the world

little worth travelling by ship or air.

Moscow, Zanzibar, the Ægean

Islands, the Crimea she surpasses


by that which by her very being she

would infer, a New World

welcome as to a sailor and habitable

so that I am willing to stay there.

The Birdsong

Disturb the balance, broken bird

the distress of the song

cuts through an ample silence

sweeping the trees.


It is the trouble

of the brook that makes it loud,

the current broke to give

out a burbling


breaks the arched stillness,

ripples the tall grass

gone to heady seed, bows the heads

of goldenrod


that bear a vulgar happiness,

the bay-berry,


break also your happiness for me.

To a Lovely Old Bitch

Sappho, Sappho, Sappho! initiate,

handmaiden, to Astarte,

you praised delicate flowers


and likened them

to virgins of your acquaintance.

Let them grow, thank God!

outside the cemetery barrier:


—burials for cash,

the shares ample security



The butterfly,

The Painted Admiral,

on a milkweed cluster,


keep you company and pale

blue chickory, frilled




lady’s-slipper, close beside

the rust of the dump-heap

—rust, broken fruit-baskets

and bits of plaster,

painted on one side,


from dismantled bedrooms.

The Bitter World of Spring

On a wet pavement the white sky recedes

mottled black by the inverted

pillars of the red elms,

in perspective, that lift the tangled


net of their desires hard into

the falling rain. And brown smoke

is driven down, running like

water over the roof of the bridge-


keeper’s cubicle. And, as usual,

the fight as to the nature of poetry

—Shall the philosophers capture it?—

is on. And, casting an eye


down into the water, there, announced

by the silence of a white

bush in flower, close

under the bridge, the shad ascend,


midway between the surface and the mud,

and you can see their bodies

red-finned in the dark

water headed, unrelenting, upstream.


What face, in the water,


yet washed by an obscurity?


The willow supplants its own

struggling rafters

(of winter branches)


by a green radiance. Is it

old or young?

But what this face


reflected beyond the bare structures

of a face

shining from the creaseless


water? A face

overlaid with evil, brown water;

the good insecure, the evil


sure beyond the buried sun. Lift

it. Turn away.

There was beside you


but now another face,

with long nose and clear blue eyes,

secure . . .

A History of Love


And would you gather turds

for your grandmother’s garden?

Out with you then, dustpan and broom;

she has seen the horse passing!


Out you go, bold again

as you promise always to be.

Stick your tongue out at the neighbors

that her flowers may grow.


Let me stress your


and its gravity


its counter-hell: Reading

finds you on the page


where sight enlarges

to confound the mind

          and only


a child is frightened

by its father’s headgear


while a bird jigs and ol’ Bunk

Johnson blows his horn.


With the mind and with the hand,

by moral turn and prestidigitation

fan the smouldering flame of love

which in the dull coals is all but gone.


Between one and the other transpose

wrong and rouse

the banished smile that used to spring

at once at meeting!


Rewaken love, again, again! to warm

the chilly heart and bring fresh flowers.

For flowers are not, as we are not

of that stuff whence we both are got.

When Structure Fails
Rhyme Attempts to Come to the Rescue

The old horse dies slow.

By gradual degrees

the fervor of his veins

matches the leaves’


stretch, day by day. But

the pace that his

mind keeps is the pace

of his dreams. He


does what he can, with

unabated phlegm,

ahem! but the pace that

his flesh keeps—


leaning, leaning upon

the bars—beggars

by far all pace and every

refuge of his dreams.

Education a Failure

The minor stupidities

of my world

dominate that world—

as when


with two bridges across

the river and one

closed for repairs

the other also


will be closed by

the authorities

for painting! But then

there is heaven


and the ideal state

closed also

before the aspiring soul.

I had rather


watch a cat threading

a hedge with

another sitting by

while the bird


screams overhead


in the cover of the

low branches.

The Banner Bearer

In the rain, the lonesome

dog idiosyn-

cratically, with each

quadribeat, throws


out the left fore-

foot beyond

the right intent, in

his stride,


on some obscure

insistence—from bridge-

ward going

into new territory.

The Goat

Having in the mind thought

to have died,

to that celebrant

among trees, aging (with the season)

foreign to sight—


in a field a goat, befouled,

shagbellied, indifferent to

the mind’s ecstasies,

flutters its blunt tail


and turns a vacant face

lop-eared, sleepy-eyed to stare,

unblinking, meditant—


in its assured sanctity.

Two Deliberate Exercises

(for Agnes)

In a fourfold silence the music

struggles for mastery and the mind

from its silence, fatefully assured,

wakens to the music: Unnamed,

without age, sex or pretence of

accomplishment—their faces

blank, they rise and move

to the platform unannounced and

the music leads them—the racially

stigmaed, the gross bodied, all

feet—cleansing from each

his awkwardness for him to blossom

thence a sound pleading,

pleading for pleasure, pleasure!

at the tunnel of the ear. And love,

who hides from public places,

moves in his bed of air, of flowers,

of ducks, of sheep and locust

trees in bloom—the white, sweet

locust—to fade again

at the sounds into

impossibilities and thunderstorms.

        There remains the good teacher

blinking from his dream before

the hand-shakes of his constituents.


In the center, above the basin,

the mirror. To the left of

it the Maxfield Parrish, Ulysses

at Sea, his small ship coming

fog-threatened from between

Scylla and Charybdis. And

to the right the girl of nine,

play-pail in hand, bareheaded upon

a dune-crest facing the shining

waters. There you have it,

unexcelled as feeling. What

of it? Well, we live among

the birds and bees in vain unless

there result—now or then—

a presentation to which

these two presentations serve

as humble stopgaps—to invoke

for us a whole realm, compact of

inverted nature, straining

within the imprisoned mind to

free us. Well, to free us.

        At which, seeing in the pasture

horses among the brambles,

hearing the wind sigh,

we broach the chaos—unless

Valéry be mistaken—of

the technical where stand waiting

for us or nowhere the tree-

lined avenues of our desires.

The Mirrors

Is Germany’s bestiality, in detail

like certain racial traits,

any more than a reflection of the world’s


evil? Take a negative, take Ezra Pound

for example, and see

how the world has impressed itself


there. It is as when with infra-red

searching a landscape obscured

to the unaided eye one discloses


the sea. The world is at its worst the

positive to these foils,

imaged there as on the eyes of a fly.

His Daughter

Her jaw wagging

her left hand pointing

stiff armed

behind her, I noticed:


her youth, her

receding chin and

fair hair;

her legs, bare


The sun was on her

as she came

to the step’s edge,

the fat man,


caught in his stride,


turned sweating

toward her.

Design for November

Let confusion be the design

and all my thoughts go,

swallowed by desire: recess

from promises in

the November of your arms.

Release from the rose: broken

reeds, strawpale,

through which, from easy

branches that mock the blood

a few leaves fall. There

the mind is cradled,

stripped also and returned

to the ground, a trivial

and momentary clatter. Sleep

and be brought down and so

condone the world, eased of

the jagged sky and all

its petty imageries, flying

birds, its fogs and windy

phalanxes . . .

The Manoeuvre

I saw the two starlings

coming in toward the wires.

But at the last,

just before alighting, they


turned in the air together

and landed backwards!

that’s what got me—to

face into the wind’s teeth.

The Horse

The horse moves


without reference

to his load


He has eyes

like a woman and

turns them

about, throws


back his ears

and is generally

conscious of

the world. Yet


he pulls when

he must and

pulls well, blowing

fog from


his nostrils

like fumes from

the twin

exhausts of a car.

Hard Times

Stone steps, a solid

block too tough

to be pried out, from

which the house,


rather, has been

avulsed leaving

a pedestal, on which

a fat boy in


an old overcoat, a

butt between

his thick lips, the

coat pushed back,


stands kidding,

Parking Space! three

steps up from his

less lucky fellows.

The Dish of Fruit

The table describes

nothing: four legs, by which

it becomes a table. Four lines

by which it becomes a quatrain,


the poem that lifts the dish

of fruit, if we say it is like

a table—how will it describe

the contents of the poem?

The Motor-Barge

The motor-barge is

at the bridge the

air lead

the broken ice


unmoving. A gull,

the eternal

gull, flies as

always, eyes alert


beak pointing

to the life-giving

water. Time

falters but for


the broad river-

craft which

low in the water

moves grad-


ually, edging

between the smeared


churning a mild


wake, laboring

to push past

the constriction

with its heavy load


The Williams Avenue Zionist Church


a thing to hold in the palm of the hand,

your big hand—

the dwarf campanile piled up, improvised

of blue cinder-blocks, badly aligned

(except for the incentive)



the cross at the top slapped together

(in this lumber shortage) of sticks from

an old barrel top, I think


                              —painted white


Russia, idiot of the world, blind idiot

—do you understand me?


                              This also

I place in your hands . . .


I dream! and my dream is folly. While

armies rush to the encounter

I, alone, dream before the impending

onslaught. And the power in me,

to be crushed out: this paper, forgotten

—not even known ever to have existed,

proclaims the power of my dream . . .


Folly! I call upon folly to save us—

and scandal and disapproval, the restless

angels of the mind—


                              (I omit

the silly word exile. For from what and

to what land shall I be exiled and talk of

the cardinal bird and the starling

as though they were strange?)


                              I am

at home in my dream, Russia; and only there,

before the obliterating blow

                      that shall flatten everything

and its crazy masonry,

                        am I at home.


Inspired by my dream I do not call upon

a party to save me, nor a government

of whatever sort.


                        Rather I descend into

my dream as into a quiet lake

and there, already there, I find

my kinships, Thence I rise by my own

propulsions into a world beyond the moon.


O Russia, Russia! must we begin to call

you idiot of the world? When

you were a dream the world lived in you



O Russia! Russians! come with me into

my dream and let us be lovers,

connoisseurs, idlers—Come with me

in the sprit of Walt Whitman’s earliest

poem, let us loaf at our ease—a moment

at the edge of destruction



Look through my eyes a moment. I am

a poet, uninfluential, with no skill

in polemics—my friends tell me I lack

the intellect. Look,

I once met Mayakovsky. Remember

Mayakovsky? I have a little paper-bound

volume of his in my attic, inscribed by him

in his scrawling hand to our mutual

friendship. He put one foot up

on the table that night at 14th St. when

he read to us—and his voice came

like the outpourings of the Odyssey.



let Mayakovsky be my sponsor—he

and his Willie, the Havana street-cleaner—

Mayakovsky was a good guy and killed

himself, I suppose, not to embarrass you.


And so I go about.


And now I want to call your attention—

that you may know what keen eyes

I have in my dream—

to Leonardo’s Last Supper! a small print

I saw today in a poor kitchen.



for the first time in my life, I noticed

this famous picture not because

of the subject matter but because

of the severity and simplicity

of the background! Oh there was

the passion of the scene, of course,

generally. But particularly,

ignoring the subject, I fell upon

the perpendiculars of the paneled

woodwork standing there, submissive,

in exaggerated perspective.


There you have it. It’s that background

from which my dreams have sprung. These

I dedicate now to you, now when I am

about to die. I hold back nothing. I lay

my spirit at your feet and say to you:

Here I am, a dreamer. I do not

resist you. Among many others, undistinguished,

of no moment—I am the background

upon which you will build your empire.

The Act

There were the roses, in the rain.

Don’t cut them, I pleaded.

          They won’t last, she said

But they’re so beautiful

          where they are.

Agh, we were all beautiful once, she


and cut them and gave them to me

          in my hand.

The Savage Beast

As I leaned to retrieve

my property

he leaped with all his weight

so that I felt


the wind of his jaws

as his teeth gnashed

before my mouth.

Isn’t he awful! said


the woman, his collar

straining under her clutch.

Yes, I replied drily

wanting to eviscerate


the thing there, scoop

out his brains

and eat them—and hers

too! Until it flashed


on me, How many, like

this dog, could I not wish

had been here in my

place, only a little closer!

The Well Disciplined Bargeman

The shadow does not move. It is the water moves,

running out. A monolith of sand on a passing barge,

riding the swift water, makes that its fellow.


Standing upon the load the well disciplined bargeman

rakes it carefully, smooth on top with nicely squared

edges to conform to the barge outlines—ritually: sand.


All about him the silver water, fish-swift, races

under the Presence. Whatever there is else is moving.

The restless gulls, unlike companionable pigeons,


taking their cue from the ruffled water, dip and circle

avidly into the gale. Only the bargeman raking

upon his barge remains, like the shadow, sleeping

Raindrops on a Briar

I, a writer, at one time hipped on

painting, did not consider

the effects, painting,

for that reason, static, on


the contrary the stillness of

the objects—the flowers, the gloves—

freed them precisely by that

from a necessity merely to move


in space as if they had been—

not children! but the thinking male

or the charged and deliver-

ing female frantic with ecstasies;


served rather to present, for me,

a more pregnant motion: a

series of varying leaves

clinging still, let us say, to


the cat-briar after last night’s

storm, its waterdrops

ranged upon the arching stems

irregularly as an accompaniment.


Brother Paul! look!

—but he rushes to a different


The moon!


I heard shrieks and thought:

What’s that?


That’s just Suzanne

talking to the moon!

Pounding on the window

with both fists:


    Paul! Paul!


—and talking to the moon.


and pounding the glass

with both fists!


Brother Paul! the moon!


Red woman,

    (Keep Christ out

    of this—and

    his mountains:

    Sangre de Cristo

    red rocks that make

    the water run


squaw in red

red woman

walking the desert

I suspected

I should remember

you this way:

    walking the brain

    eyes cast down

    to escape ME!

    with fixed sight


    the grey brush


    the highway . . .

    —head mobbled

    red, red

    to the ground—

    sweeping the


    the blood walking

    erect, the

    desert animating

    the blood to walk

    erect by choice


    the pale green

    of the starveling



There was another, too

a half-breed Cherokee

tried to thumb a ride

out of Tulsa, standing there

with a bunch of wildflowers

in her left hand

pressed close

just below the belly

The Testament of Perpetual Change

Mortal Prudence, handmaid of divine Providence

    Walgreen carries Culture to the West:

hath inscrutable reckoning with Fate and Fortune:

    At Cortez, Colorado the Indian prices

We sail a changeful sea through halcyon days and storm,

    a bottle of cheap perfume, furtively—

and when the ship laboreth, our stedfast purpose

    but doesn’t buy, while under my hotel window

trembles like as a compass in a binnacle.

    a Radiance Rose spreads its shell—thin

Our stability is but balance, and wisdom lies

    petals above the non-irrigated garden

in masterful administration of the unforeseen

    among the unprotected desert foliage.


’Twas late in my long journey when I had clomb to where

    Having returned from Mesa Verde, the ruins

the path was narrowing and the company few

    of the Cliff Dwellers’ palaces still in possession

                                        of my mind

The Flower

This too I love

Flossie sitting in the sun

on its cane

the first rose


yellow as an egg the pet


in his cage

beside her carolling

For a Low Voice

If you ignore the possibilities of art,

huh, huh, huh, huh, huh, &c.

you are likely to become involved,

huh! in extreme, huh, huh, huh, huh, huh


&c. difficulties. For instance, when

they started to make a park

at the site of the old Dutch, huh, huh, huh!

cemetery, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, &c.


they could not, digging down

upon the hoary, heh, heh! graves,

find so much as a thighbone, huh, huh, huh!

or in fact anything! wha, ha,


ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, &c.

to remove! This,

according to the requirements of the case,

created a huh, huh, huh, huh


shall we say, dilemma? So that,

to make a gesture, for old time’s sake,

heh, heh! of filling

the one vault retained as communal repository


huh, huh! and monument, they

had to throw in SOMETHING! presumed

to be bones but observed by those nearest,

heh, heh, heh! more to resemble


rotten tree roots than ossa!

a low sort of dissembling, ha, ha, ha, &c.

on the part of the officials

were it not excusable, oh, ho, ho, ho, ho, &c.


under the head of . . . Yes, yes, of course!

wha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Whoh, ho,

hee, hee! Rather a triumph of

a sort! Whoop la! Whee hee!—don’t you think?

The Words Lying Idle

The fields parched, the leaves

drying on the maples, the birds’ beaks

gaping! if it would rain,

if it would only rain! Clouds come up,

move from the west and from the south

but they bring no rain. Heat and dry winds

—the grass is curled and brittle underfoot,

the foot leaves it broken. The roads are dust.


But the mind is dust also

and the eyes burn from it. They burn more

from restless nights, from the full moon shining

on a dry earth than from lack of rain.

The rain, if it fell, would ease the mind

more than the grass, the mind would

be somewhat, at least, appeased against

this dryness and the death implied.

Picture of a Nude in a Machine Shop

and foundry,

            (that’s art)

    a red ostrich plume

in her hair:


Sweat and muddy water,

coiled fuse-strips

            surround her

poised sitting—

(between red, parted



the right leg



    beside the point—

at ease.


Light as a glove, light

as her black gloves!

Modeled as a shoe, a woman’s

high heeled shoe!


—the other leg stretched



            (toward the top—

and upward)


the smeared hide under

shirt and pants

stiff with grease and dirt

is bare—



the centrum



the metal to be devalued!


            —bare as

a blow-torch flame,


The Hurricane

The tree lay down

on the garage roof

and stretched, You

have your heaven,

it said, go to it.

The Mind’s Games

If a man can say of his life or

any moment of his life, There is

nothing more to be desired! his state

becomes like that told in the famous

double sonnet—but without the

sonnet’s restrictions. Let him go look

at the river flowing or the bank

of late flowers, there will be one

small fly still among the petals

in whose gauzy wings raised above

its back a rainbow shines. The world

to him is radiant and even the fact

of poverty is wholly without despair.


So it seems until there rouse

to him pictures of the systematically

starved—for a purpose, at the mind’s

proposal. What good then the

light winged fly, the flower or

the river—too foul to drink of or

even to bathe in? The 90 storey building

beyond the ocean that a rocket

will span for destruction in a matter

of minutes but will not

bring him, in a century, food or

relief of any sort from his suffering.


The world too much with us? Rot!

the world is not half enough with us—

the rot of a potato with

a healthy skin, a rot that is

never revealed till we are about to

eat—and it revolts us. Beauty?


Beauty should make us paupers,

should blind us, rob us—for it

does not feed the sufferer but makes

his suffering a fly-blown putrescence

and ourselves decay—unless

the ecstasy be general.

The Stylist

Long time no see.

      —a flash as

from polished steel,



      I’ve been too

damned poor to get out

of the woods. I was

expecting you

to come up and bring

me into town.


          No answer.

Note to Music:
Brahms 1st Piano Concerto

Of music, in a cavernous house,

we enjoy our humanity the more

being by machine, since it is lost,

survives, is rekindled only

ad interim, pending a willed

refusal: the Demuths, the Sheelers,

the Hartleys, green and grey;

black (the meaning crimson)

are moved likewise in us thereby.


We falter to assurance in despair

hearing the piano pant to

the horns’ uncertain blow that

octaves sidelong from the deafened

windows crescendo, rallentando,

diminuendo in wave-like dogmas

we no longer will. Let us sob

and sonnet our dreams, breathing

upon our nails before the savage

snow . . .

The Red-Wing Blackbird

The wild red-wing black

bird croaks frog

like though more shrill

as the beads of


his eyes blaze over the

swamp and the o-

dors of the swamp vodka

to his nostrils

A Place (Any Place) to Transcend All Places

In New York, it is said,

they do meet (if that is

what is wanted) talk but

nothing is exchanged

unless that guff

can be retranslated: as

to say, that is not

the end, there are channels

above that, draining

places from which New York

is dignified, created (the

deaf are not tuned in).


A church in New Hampshire

built by its pastor

from his own wood lot. One

black (of course, red)

rose; a fat old woman backing

through a screen door. Two,

from the armpits

down, contrasting in bed,

breathless; a letter from

a ship; leaves filling,

making, a tree (but

wait) not just leaves,

leaves of one design that

make a certain design,

no two alike, not like

the locust either, next in line,

nor the Rose of Sharon, in

the pod-stage, near it—a

tree! Imagine it! Pears

philosophically hard. Nor

thought that is from

branches on a root, from

an acid soil, with scant

grass about the bole

where it breaks through.


New York is built of

such grass and weeds; a


tuberculin-tested herd

white-faced behind a

white fence, patient and

uniform; a museum of looks

across a breakfast

table; subways of dreams;

towers of divisions

from thin pay envelopes.

What else is it? And what

else can it be? Sweatshops

and railroad yards at dusk

(puffed up by fantasy

to seem real) what else

can they be budded on

to live a little longer?

The eyes by this

far quicker than the mind.


              —and we have

: Southern writers, foreign

writers, hugging a dis-

tinction, while perspectived

behind them following

the crisis (at home)

peasant loyalties inspire

the avant-garde. Abstractly?

No: That was for something

else. “Le futur!” grimly.

New York? That hodge-


The international city

(from the Bosphorus). Poor

Hoboken. Poor sad

Eliot. Poor memory.

              —and we have

: the memory of Elsa

von Freytag Loringhofen,

a fixation from the street

door of a Berlin

playhouse; all who “wear

their manner too obviously,”

the adopted English (white)

and many others.


              —and we have

: the script writer advising

“every line to be like

a ten word telegram” but

neglecting to add, “to a

child of twelve”—obscene

beyond belief.


                Obscene and

abstract as excrement—

that no one wants to own

except the coolie

with a garden of which

the lettuce particularly

depends on it—if you

like lettuce, but

very, very specially, heaped

about the roots for nourish-


The Old House

Rescued! new-white


                  (from Time’s

dragon: neglect-tastelessness—

the down-beat)


            But why?

why the descent into ugliness that

intervened, how

could it have come about,

                  (the essence—

cluttered with weeds, broken gear

—in a shoddy neighborhood)

            something so sound?


—that there should have befallen

such decay, such decay of the senses—

the redundant and expensive,

the useless, the useless rhyme?



        a balance of . . .

vacuities, seeking . . . to

achieve . . . by emphasis!

the full sonorities of . . . an

evasion! !


            —lack of

“virtue,” the fake castellation, the

sham tower—upon a hidden

weakness of trusses, a whole period

shot to hell out of disrelatedness

to mind, to object association:

            the years following

the Civil War—


            But four

balanced gables, in a good old style,

four symmetrical waves,

                      well anchored,

turning about the roof’s pivot,

simple and direct,

                  how could they not

have apprehended it? They could not—

Bitter reminder.


            And then!

out of the air, out of decay, out of

desire, necessity, through

economic press—aftermath of “the bomb”—

a Perseus! rescue comes:


                      —the luminous

from “sea wrack,” sets it, for itself,

a house almost gone, shining again.

The Thing

Each time it rings

I think it is for

me but it is

not for me nor for


anyone it merely

rings and we

serve it bitterly

together, they and I

The Mind Hesitant

Sometimes the river

becomes a river in the mind

or of the mind

or in and of the mind


Its banks snow

the tide falling a dark

rim lies between

the water and the shore


And the mind hesitant

regarding the stream


a likeness which it


will find—a complex

image: something

of white brows

bound by a ribbon


of sooty thought

beyond, yes well beyond

the mobile features

of swiftly


flowing waters, before

the tide will


and rise again, maybe

Tragic Detail

The day before I died

I noticed the maple tree

how its bark curled

against the November blaze


There was some work

to do and three birds

stepped awkwardly abreast

upon the bare lawn


Only the country-woman’s

lip soft with down

black as her hair was black

against the white skin


comforted me but the twins

and their sister

excluded me dragging

insistent upon the loose gown.

Philomena Andronico

With the boys busy

at ball

in the worn lot



She stands in

the short street

reflectively bouncing

the red ball




a little awkwardly

throwing one leg over


(Not as she had done


screaming and



But slowly

surely) then

pausing throws

the ball


With a full slow

very slow

and easy motion

following through


With a slow

half turn—

as the ball flies

and rolls gently


At the child’s feet


and yet he misses

it and turns


And runs while she


regains her former



Then shoves her fingers

up through

her loose short hair



Draws one stocking

tight and




Her hips and

in the warm still

air lets

her arms






at her sides

The Woodpecker

Innocence! Innocence is the condition of heaven.

Only in that which we do not yet know shall we

be fêted, fed. That is to say, with ceremony. The

unknown is our refuge toward which we hurtle. For

even tho’, lacking parachute, we be flattened

upon the earth it will not be the same earth we left

to fly upward. To seek what? There is nothing

there. It is not even the unknown for us now. But

we never knew the earth so solidly as when we were

crushed upon it. From a height we fall, innocent,

to our deaths.


                    I’d rather in the November

be a woodpecker of the woods. A cry, a movement,

red dabbled, among the bare branches. A light, a

destination where destinations are endless and

the beetle the end of flight. Fed and the ceremony

unwitnessed other than by the lichened rocks, the

dry leaves and the upright bodies of the trees.

It is innocence flings the black and white body

through the air, innocence guides him. Flight

means only desire and desire the end of flight,

stabbing there with a barbed tongue which succeeds!

The Girl

with big breasts

under a blue sweater



crossing the street


reading a newspaper

stops, turns


and looks down

as though


she had seen a dime

on the pavement

The Clouds


Filling the mind

upon the rim of the overarching sky, the horses of

the dawn charge from south to north, gigantic beasts

rearing flame-edged above the pit,

a rank confusion of the imagination still uncured

a rule, piebald under the streetlamps, reluctant

to be torn from its hold.


                          Their flanks still

caught among low, blocking forms their fore-parts

rise lucid beyond this smell of a swamp, a mud

livid with decay and life! turtles

that burrowing among the white roots lift their green

red-striped faces startled before the dawn.


A black flag, writhing and whipping at the staff-head

mounts the sepulcher of the empty bank, fights

to be free . . .

            South to north! the direction

unmistakable, they move, distinct beyond the unclear

edge of the world, clouds! like statues

before which we are drawn—in darkness,

      thinking of

our dead, unable, knowing no place

where else rightly to lodge them.


                            Tragic outlines

and the bodies of horses, mindfilling—but

visible! against the invisible; actual against

the imagined and the concocted; unspoiled by hands

and unshaped also by them but caressed by sight only,

moving among them, not that that propels

the eyes from under, while it blinds:


—upon whose backs the dead ride, high!

undirtied by the putridity we fasten upon them—

South to north, for this moment distinct and undeformed,

into the no-knowledge of their nameless destiny.


Where are the good minds of past days, the unshorn?

Villon, to be sure, with his

saw-toothed will and testament? Erasmus

who praised folly and


Shakespeare who wrote so that

no school man or churchman could sanction him without

revealing his own imbecility? Aristotle,

shrewd and alone, a onetime herb peddler?


They all, like Aristophanes, knew the clouds and

said next to nothing of the soul’s flight

but kept their heads and died—

like Socrates, Plato’s better self, unmoved.


Where? They live today in their old state because

of the pace they kept that keeps

them now fresh in our thoughts, their

relics, ourselves: Toulouse-Lautrec, the


deformed who lived in a brothel and painted

the beauty of whores. These were

the truth-tellers of whom we are the sole heirs

beneath the clouds that bring


shadow and darkness full of thought deepened

by rain against the clatter

of an empty sky. But anything to escape humanity!

Now it’s spiritualism—again,


as if the certainty of a future life

were any solution to our dilemma: how to get

published not what we write but what we would write were

it not for the laws against libelous truth.


The poor brain unwilling to own the obtrusive body

would crawl from it like a crab and

because it succeeds, at times, in doffing that,

by its wiles of drugs or other “ecstasies,” thinks


at last that it is quite free—exulted, scurrying to

some slightly larger shell some snail

has lost (where it will live). And so, thinking,

pretends a mystery! an unbodied


thing that would still be a brain—but no body,

something that does not eat but flies by the propulsions

of pure—what? into the sun itself, illimitedly

and exists so forever, blest, washed, purged


and at ease in non-representational bursts

of shapeless flame, sentient (naturally!)—and keeps

touch with the earth (by former works) at least.

The intellect leads, leads still! Beyond the clouds.




I came upon a priest once at St. Andrew’s

in Amalfi in crimson and gold brocade riding

the clouds of his belief.


It happened that we tourists had intervened

at some mid-moment of the ritual—

tipped the sacristan or whatever it was.


No one else was there—porphyry and alabaster,

the light flooding in scented

with sandalwood—but this holy man


jiggling upon his buttocks to the litany

chanted, in response, by two kneeling altar boys!

I was amazed and stared in such manner


that he, caught half off the earth

in his ecstasy—though without losing a beat—

turned and grinned at me from his cloud.


With each, dies a piece of the old life, which he carries,

a precious burden, beyond! Thus each

is valued by what he carries and that is his soul—

diminishing the bins by that much

unless replenished.


                  It is that which is the brotherhood:

the old life, treasured. But if they live?

What then?


              The clouds remain

—the disordered heavens, ragged, ripped by winds

or dormant, a caligraphy of scaly dragons and bright moths,

of straining thought, bulbous or smooth,

ornate, the flesh itself (in which

the poet foretells his own death); convoluted, lunging upon

a pismire, a conflagration, a . . . . . . .

Ballad of Faith

Ballad of Faith

No dignity without chromium

No truth but a glossy finish

If she purrs she’s virtuous

If she hits ninety she’s pure



Step on the gas, brother

(the horn sounds hoarsely)

And Who Do You Think “They” Are?

The day when the under-cover writings

of the Russians are in, that day

we’ll have an anthology, all around,

to knock their heads off.


War will grow sick, puke its guts

and if, dog-like, it wants to lick up

that, let it (after we have

put poison in it) for good and all.

The Non-Entity

The rusty-gold green trees

cone-shaped, animadvertent

cissiform, cramped


—a maple solitary

upon the wood’s face. Behind

it an ocean roars, rocks


the mind, janistically

pours autumn, shaking nerves

of color over it

Childe Harold to the Round Tower Came

Obviously, in a plutocracy

the natural hero

is the man who robs a bank


Look at him, the direct eyes,

the forehead! Clearly

he is intelligent—but


with humor. Half suppressed

it leaps from his eyes

crinkling the skin under them.


His face has two sides,

brows that bespeak courage—

directed by research, that


purple word of the elite!

And love! bulbous (in

the lower lip) with desire


as in all full blooded

creatures at their best, affec-

tionate but alas, guarded to


survive. To survive is

the crown of virtue in this

world of finance. He will be


groined like a manager,

but more humane, the eyes

bluer, he will have


a more piercing look, greater

dash, be more freehanded

—the face deeper lined.


What must he be who is

their master? makes them shake,

steel themselves against


him at great cost, a whole

fleet of armored trucks, in

which, snails, oh what


poverty of means lies encased

there to insure

against his bounty . . .

Io Baccho!

    God created alcohol

and it wasn’t privately for the Russians

    God created alcohol

and it wasn’t for Dr. Goldsmith


    It was for Mrs. Reiter

who is bored with having children

    though she loves them.

God created alcohol to release

    and engulf us. Shall I

say it is the only evidence of God

    in this environment?


    Mrs. R. doesn’t drink

but I drink and I told the angel,

    God created alcohol!

—if it weren’t for that I’d say

    there wasn’t Any—

thinking of Mrs. R. who is

    one eighth American Indian

and what with the pain in her guts

    stands like an Indian

    “If I had the strength”

Why should I bother to tell you?


    God created alcohol

Shall I swoon like Mr. Keats?

    and not from looking

at a Grecian urn. God created alcohol

    to allay us

The Centenarian

I don’t think we shall

any of us live as long as

has she, we haven’t the

steady mind and strong heart—


Wush a deen a daddy O

There’s whisky in the jar!


I wish you could have seen

her yesterday

with her red cheeks and

snow-white hair

so cheerful and contented—

she was a picture—


We sang hymns for her.


She couldn’t join us but

when we had done she raised

her hands and clapped them

softly together.


Then when I brought her

her whisky and water I said

to her as we always do—


Wush a deen a daddy O

There’s whisky in the jar!


She couldn’t say the first

part but she managed to

repeat at the end—


There’s whisky in the jar!

All That Is Perfect in Woman

All That Is Perfect in Woman

The symbol of war, a war

fast accomplished

flares in all our faces

an alcoholic flame—


Miami sunlight:

the pattern of waves

mottled with foam

against a blond day!


The fish scream

in soundless agony

trapped by its

sulphuric acid—


a blow-torch flame

at exorbitant cost


longing for snow and


a quiet life

that will (rightly)

blossom as

a mangled corpse:


Our own Joppolo Schmidt

the G.I. Joe

acted by himself,

a pathetic scene laid


upon thin slices

of sympathy, a snack

between halves

to rouse a smile.


And in our mouths!

a foot minus three toes—

In our embraces


a head partly scorched,

hairless and with

no nose! Between


the thighs a delicious

lung with entrails

and a tongue or gorget!


Blithe spirit! Monody

with feces—you

must sing of her and


behold the overpowering

foetor of her

girlish breasts and breath:


tumbled seas,

washing waves, the grave’s



Let us praise! praise

the dreadful symbol of

carnivorous sex—


The gods live!

severally amongst us—

This is their familiar!


—whose blue eyes

and laughing mouth affirm

the habeas corpus

of our resignation


Oh Lorca, Lorca—

shining singer if you

could have been

alive for this!


At five in the afternoon.


—fecund and jocund

are familiar to the sea

and what dangles, lacerant,

under the belly of

the Portuguese Man O’War is also

familiar to the sea, familiar

to the sea, the sea.

The Rat

The Rat

The rat sits up and works his

    moustaches, the ontologic

phenomenon of cheese rifting his

    blood to orgiastic rule.


The tail, epicene in its application,

    the round-file tail,

that fearsome appendage which man

    for all his zest


cannot match—other than conceptu-

    ally, of which his

most thought latterly consists.

    How like this man


the rat is in the ubiquity of his

    deformity: plague

infected fleas come, through

    the connivance of


the San Frigando Chamber of

    Commerce, to infest the very

gophers of Nevada. His wise

    eyes mewing in his


spindle head the rat thrives, well

    suited to a world

conditioned to such human “tropism

    for order” at all cost.


There ought to be a wedding

a wedding, a wedding!

There ought to be a wedding

between Russia and the United States


There’d be some pretty children

some children, some children

There’d be some pretty children

to cheer the world along


The classes liquidated

liquidated, liquidated

the rich would be supplanted

by the meek enriched by love


And we’d vote the tyrant under

tyrant under, tyrant under

by a landslide, by a landslide

when we would. We would, we would!

Every Day

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 Unfrocked Priest


When a man had gone


in Russia from a small


to the University


returned a hero—


bowed down to him—


ego, nourished by this,


ed to notable works.



in the streets the kids


Hello Pete! to me—


can one be or


Nothing is reverenced


looked up to. What


come of that sort of


respect for the under-


For G.B.S., Old

As the mind burns

the external is swallowed

nor can cold

censor it when it launches

its attack


Sever man

into his parts of bird and fish

Wake him

to the plausibilities

of those changes

he contemplates but does not dare


And by such acceptance

he forfeits

the green perspectives

which frightened him off

to his own destruction—


the mirage

the shape of a shape

become the shape he feared

his Tempest frozen

into a pattern

of ice.

The Words, the Words, the Words

The perfume of the iris, sweet citron,

is enhanced by money, the

odor of buckwheat, the woman’s odor.

Sand does not chafe, with money.

Sheep fold, horse neigh but money

mollifies it.

Leap or swim

sleep or be drunk in whatever arms

or none

money is the crown


Your eyes, thighs, breasts—rose pointed,

money is their couch, their room,

the light from between lattices . . .


Lady behind the hedge, behind the


silken limbs, white brow,

money filters in through the shelving

leaves over you


Rise and shake your skirts

to the buttercups, yellow as polished



Vienna the Volk iss very lustig,

she makes no sorry for anything!

    She likes to dance and sing!


Vienna is a brave city, the girls

have sturdy legs. Yeah!

    She likes to dance and sing!


Death conquered Vienna but his men

had to be called off because

given the meanest break she’d lead

them hellbent to chuck the racket

for there’s not a soul in Vienna

    but likes to dance and sing!


—drop their guns, dump the boss

grab a girl and join the rest

    who like to dance and sing!


Vienna the Volk iss very lustig,

she makes no sorry for anything!

    She likes to dance and sing!

April Is the Saddest Month

There they were


dog and bitch

halving the compass


Then when

with his yip

they parted

oh how frolicsome


she grew before him


dancing and

how disconsolate


he retreated


she following

through the shrubbery

To Be Hungry Is to Be Great

The small, yellow grass-onion,

spring’s first green, precursor

to Manhattan’s pavements, when

plucked as it comes, in bunches,

washed, split and fried in

a pan, though inclined to be

a little slimy, if well cooked

and served hot on rye bread

is to beer a perfect appetizer—

and the best part

of it is they grow everywhere.

The Complexity

Strange that their dog

should look like the woman:

the eyes close together

the jowls prominent. But

the man loves the dog too,

an area curious in its

resemblance to that other,

a pleasant change

from the woman. Volpe

the man’s name is. Wolf he

calls himself, a kindly

fellow who sells Italian

goat cheese . . .

A Note

When the cataract dries up, my dear

all minds attend it.

There is nothing left. Neither sticks

nor stones can build it up again

nor old women with their rites of green twigs


Bending over the remains, a body

struck through the breast bone

with a sharp spear—they have borne him

to an ingle at the wood’s edge

from which all maidenhood is shent


—though he roared

once the cataract is dried up and done.

What rites can do to keep alive

the memory of that flood they will do

then bury it, old women that they are,

secretly where all male flesh is buried.

Drugstore Library

That’s the kind of books

they read.

They love their filth.

Knee boots

and they want to hear

it suck

when they pull ’em out

The R R Bums

Their most prized possession—

their liberty—

              Hands behind a coat

shiny green. Tall, the eyes


      Sunlight through a clutter of

wet clouds, lush weeds—

                        The oriole!

Hungry as an oriole.

Choral: the Pink Church

Choral: the Pink Church

Pink as a dawn in Galilee

whose stabbing fingers routed

Aeschylus and murder blinked . . .


—and tho’ I remember little

    as names go,

the thrust of that first light

    was to me

    as through a heart

    of jade—

as Chinese as you please

but not by that—remote



    the Pink Church


to the light (of dawn) again,

    rigors of more

    than sh’d wisely

    be said at one stroke,






transparent to the light

    through which the light

shines, through the stone,


the stone-light glows,

    pink jade

—that is the light and is

    a stone

and is a church—if the image

    hold . . .


as at a breath a face glows

    and fades!

Come all ye aberrant,

    drunks, prostitutes,


    Gide and—

Proust’s memory (in a cork

    diving suit

looking under the sea

            of silence)

to bear witness:


Man is not sinful . . . unless

    he sin!

—Poe, Whitman, Baudelaire

    the saints

          of this calendar.


Oh ladies whose beds


husbands defile! man, man

    is the bringer

    of pure delights

    to you!


Who else?


    And there stand


    in the name of

    the Philosophy Dep’ts


wondering at the nature


    of the stuff

    poured into

    the urinals

            of custom . . .


O Dewey! (John)

    O James! (William)

        O Whitehead!

            teach well!

—above and beyond

    your teaching stands

the Pink Church:

            the nipples of

a woman who never

    bore a

        child . . .


Oh what new vows shall

we swear to make all swearing


    the fool

    the mentally deranged

    the suicide?


—suckled of its pink delight


And beyond them all whine

the slaughtered, the famished

and the lonely—

    the holy church of

their minds singing madly

    in tune, its stones

sibilant and roaring—


            Soft voiced . . .


To which, double bass:


A torch to a heap

    of new branches

    under the tied feet of

    Michael Servitus:


            Be ye therefore perfect

            even as your

            Father in Heaven

            is perfect


And all you liveried bastards,

    all (tho’ pardon me

    all you who come

    rightly under that holy





—perfect as the pink and

    rounded breasts of a virgin!

Scream it in

            their stupid ears—

plugged by wads of



            Joy! Joy!

            —out of Elysium!


—chanted loud as a chorus from

    the Agonistes—


Milton, the unrhymer,

            singing among

                the rest . . .


like a Communist.



I want to be where Fordie is

(Bury my face in the dirt

—like a Maori, those


who slash their faces

with knives, carving new lips,

a nose dismembered


the cheeks scar-coils,

the forehead seamed—to

live (for such a face is


incognito, the man gone)

like Fordie, no man now but

an art for Cherubim


and Seraphim to reface

with words, intaglio. There

Fordie sings to the harp, sighing.

3 A.M.
The Girl with the Honey Colored Hair

Everyone looked and, passing, revealed


by the light of her hair heavy

upon her shoulders


—the haggard drunk

holding onto the backs of the seats,

face tense of a fixed purpose

toward the toilet


—the savage-looking female wearing

a picture hat and

mascara, hard eyes. And the two

colored women:


an older in a small beret and a younger

in slicked glossy hair


for protection and with side-


long looks, close to her friend—all

were affected as she

turned frightened to address

me, pitifully alone.

A Crystal Maze


Hard, hard to learn—

that love, through bars and against

back strokes, is to make mine

each by his own gesture—the toss

of a cigarette—

giving, laying himself bare,

offering, watching

for its flash of certainty in

the confused onslaught—


—that any one is not one

but twenty—twelve men, two women

a hidden positive and a visible



Take it, black curls clustered in

the hollow of the neck, unwilling

to be released for less—

laying desperately with impeccable

composure an unnecessary

body clean to the eye—


And emerge curiously changed—

amazement in that loveliness

about the perfect breasts

Venus, her way, close sister to

the martyr—each his own way


One avidly sheathing the flesh—

one denying it. One loosed through

the gone brain of an old man—


Pity has no part in it—


Loosed to take its course, love

is the master—and the variable

certainty in the crosses of


              the flesh, therewith,

a quietness—

and quieted—standing asserted


Hard, hard to learn—

that love, against bars and

counter strokes is mine,

each by his own gesture—

the toss of a cigarette—

laying himself bare

offering, watching

for a flash of certainty

in the confused onslaught—


That one is not one

but—twelve, two women,

a hidden positive and

a visible deception—


Take it! black curls clustered

in the hollow of the neck

laying desperately with

impeccable composure

an uncalled for body clean

to the eye—


          and emerging

curiously changed—

amazement in that loveliness

about the perfect breasts—

the flesh thereto

a quietness and

quieted, standing asserted

New Mexico

Anger can be transformed

to a kitten—as love

may become a mountain in

the disturbed mind, the

mind that prances like

a horse or nibbles, starts

and stares in the parched

sage of the triple

world—of stone, stone

layered and beaten under

the confessed brilliance

of this desert noon.


The sea will wash in

but the rocks—jagged ribs

riding the cloth of foam

or a knob or pinnacles

      with gannets—

are the stubborn man.


He invites the storm, he

lives by it! instinct

with fears that are not fears

but prickles of ecstasy,

a secret liquor, a fire

that inflames his blood to

coldness so that the rocks

seem rather to leap

at the sea than the sea

to envelope them. They strain

forward to grasp ships

or even the sky itself that

bends down to be torn

upon them. To which he says,

It is I! I who am the rocks!

Without me nothing laughs.

The Sound of Waves

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



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!

Venus over the Desert

If I do not sin, she said, you shall not

walk in long gowns down stone corridors.

There is no reprieve where there is no fall-

ing off. I lie in your beds all night, from

me you wake and go about your tasks. My flesh

clings to your bones. What use is holiness

unless it affirm my perfections, my breasts,

my thighs which you part, shaking, and my lips

the door to my pleasures? Sin, you call it,

but there cannot be cold unless the heat

has bred it, how can you know otherwise? Love

comfort me in the face of my defeats! Poor

monks, you think you are gentle but I tell you

you kill as sure as shot kills a bird flying.

Mists over the River

The river-mirror mirrors the cold sky

through mists that tangle sunlight,

the sunlight of early morning,

in their veils veiling


the dark outlines of the shores. But

the necessity, you say, cries

aloud for the adjusting—greater than

song greater perhaps than all song


While the song, self committed, the river

a mirror swathed in sunlight

the river in its own body cries out

also, silently


from its obscuring veils. You

insist on my unqualified endorsement.

Many years, I see, many years

of reading have not made you wise.

“I Would Not Change for Thine”

Shall I stroke your thighs,

having eaten?

Shall I kiss you,

having drunk?


Or drink to you only


—leaving the poor soul

who lives with her husband

(the truck driver)

three months, to spend

the next six

where she can find it,

dropping the kid

of that abandon in whatever

hospital about the country

will take her?


        (both have T.B.)


What course has she

to offer at her academy

that he returns to her

each year to listen,

repeated, to the lectures

of her adventures?

And having drunk avidly

and eaten of the philosophies

of their reunion

—tells her his own . ?


Happy, happy married pair


I should come to you

fasting, my sweet—you

to whom I would send

a rosy wreath not so much

honoring thee as lending it

a hope that there

I might remembered be.

The Pause

Values are split, summer, the fierce

jet an axe would not sever, spreads out

at length, of its own weight, a rainbow

over the lake of memory—the hard

stem of pure speed broken. Autumn

comes, fruit of many contours, that

glistening tegument painters love hiding

the soft pulp of the insidious reason,

dormant, for worm to nibble or for woman.

But there, within the seed, shaken by

fear as by a sea, it wakes again! to

drive upward, presently, from that soft

belly such a stem as will crack quartz.


Kitten! Kitten! grown woman!

you curl into the pillows

to make a man clamp his jaws

for tenderness over you .


stroking, stroking, the nerves

taut, alert for the swift

counter-slap will make him (you

shall see) bear down hard.

The Love Charm

Take this, the nexus

of unreality,

my head, I detach

it for you. Take it


in your hands, metal

to eat out

the heart, if held

to the heart. Hold it


to your heart

and wait, only wait

the while

its fissions curdle.

Approach to a City

Getting through with the world—

I never tire of the mystery

of these streets: the three baskets

of dried flowers in the high


bar-room window, the gulls wheeling

above the factory, the dirty

snow—the humility of the snow that

silvers everything and is


trampled and lined with use—yet

falls again, the silent birds

on the still wires of the sky, the blur

of wings as they take off


together. The flags in the heavy

air move against a leaden

ground—the snow

pencilled with the stubble of old


weeds: I never tire of these sights

but refresh myself there

always for there is small holiness

to be found in braver things.


If I

could count the silence

I could sleep, sleep.


But it

is one, one. No head even

to gnaw. Spinning.


If I

could halt the glazed

spinning, surface of glass,


my mind

could shove in its fingers

and break apart


the smooth

singleness of the night—

until sleep dropped as rain


upon me.

A Rosebush in an Unlikely Garden

The flowers are yours

the full blown

the half awakened



who fished heads

and arms on D day in a net

from the bloody



The stillness

of this squalid corner this

veined achievement is


The Lion


Traffic, the lion, the sophisticate,

facing the primitive, alabaster,

the new fallen snow

stains its chastity the new shade


Use defames! the attack disturbs our sleep


This is the color of the road, the color

of the lion, sand color


—to follow the lion, of use or usage,

even to church! the bells achime

above the fallen snow!


—all follow the same road, space.


Winter, the churned snow, the lion

flings the woman, taking her

by the throat upon his gullied

shoulders—shaking the weight fast

and unmolested plunges with her

among the trees—where the whiteness

sparkles—to devour her there:

transit to uses: where the traffic

mounts, a chastity packed with lewdness,

a rule, dormant, against the loosely

fallen snow—the thick muscles

working under the skin, the head

like a tree-stump, gnawing: chastity

to employment, lying down bloodied

to bed together for the last time.

An Eternity

Come back, Mother, come back from

the dead—not to “Syria,” not there

but hither—to this place.


You are old, Mother, old

and almost cold, come back from

the dead—where I cannot yet join you.

Wait awhile, wait a little while.

Like Todhunter

let us give up rhyme. This

winter moonlight is a bitter thing,

I like it no better than you do.

Let us wait

for some darker moment of the moon.


At ninety the strangeness of death

is upon you. I have been to all

corners of the mind. What gift

can I bring you but luxury and that

you have taught me to despise. I

turn my face to the wall,

revert to my beginnings and turn

my face also to the wall.


And yet, Mother, that isn’t true.

—the night, the night we face

is black but of no more weight than

the day—the day we faced and were

defeated and yet lived

to face the night in which

the fair moon shines—its continents

visible to the naked eye! Naked

is a good word in that context

—makes the night light! light as

a feather (in the night!)


The soul, my dear, is paramount,

the soul of things

that makes the dead moon shine.


Frankly, I do not love you.


All I can see (by the moon’s flame)

whatever answer

there may be otherwise, that we know,

is abandoned


I remember how at eighty-five

you battled through the crisis and



I suppose, in fact I know,

you’ve never heard of Shapley—

an astronomer. Now there’s a man—

the best . .


            Not like Flamarion,

your old favorite, who wanted

to popularize astronomy, Shapley’s

not like Flamarion


          You preceded him.


It is the loveless soul, the soul

of things that has surpassed

our loves. In this—you live,

Mother, live in me .


The Three Graces

We have the picture of you in mind,

when you were young, posturing

(for a photographer) in scarves

(if you could have done it) but now,

for none of you is immortal, ninety-

three, the three, ninety and three,

Mary, Ellen and Emily, what

beauty is it clings still about you?

Undying? Magical? For there is still

no answer, why we live or why

you will not live longer than I

or that there should be an answer why

any should live and whatever other

should die. Yet you live. You live

and all that can be said is that

you live, time cannot alter it—

and as I write this Mary has died.

The Horse Show

Constantly near you, I never in my entire

sixty-four years knew you so well as yesterday

or half so well. We talked. You were never

so lucid, so disengaged from all exigencies

of place and time. We talked of ourselves,

intimately, a thing never heard of between us.

How long have we waited? almost a hundred years.


You said, Unless there is some spark, some

spirit we keep within ourselves, life, a

continuing life’s impossible—and it is all

we have. There is no other life, only the one.

The world of the spirits that comes afterward

is the same as our own, just like you sitting

there they come and talk to me, just the same.


They come to bother us. Why? I said. I don’t

know. Perhaps to find out what we are doing.

Jealous, do you think? I don’t know. I

don’t know why they should want to come back.

I was reading about some men who had been

buried under a mountain, I said to her, and

one of them came back after two months,


digging himself out. It was in Switzerland,

you remember? Of course I remember. The

villagers tho’t it was a ghost coming down

to complain. They were frightened. They

do come, she said, what you call

my “visions.” I talk to them just as I

am talking to you. I see them plainly.


Oh if I could only read! You don’t know

what adjustments I have made. All

I can do is to try to live over again

what I knew when your brother and you

were children—but I can’t always succeed.

Tell me about the horse show. I have

been waiting all week to hear about it.


Mother darling, I wasn’t able to get away.

Oh that’s too bad. It was just a show;

they make the horses walk up and down

to judge them by their form. Oh is that

all? I tho’t it was something else. Oh

they jump and run too. I wish you had been

there, I was so interested to hear about it.

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus

Today small waves are rippling, crystal clear, upon the pebbles

at Villefranche whence from the wall, at the Parade Grounds of

the Chasseurs Alpins, we stood and watched them; or passing along

the cliff on the ledge between the sea and the old fortress, heard

the long swell stir without cost among the rock’s teeth. But we


are not there!—as in the Crimea the Black Sea is blue with waves

under a smiling sky, or be it the Labrador North Shore, or wherever

else in the world you will, the world of indolence and April; as,

November next, spring will enliven the African coast southward

and we not there, not there, not there!


Why not believe that we shall be young again? Surely nothing

could be more to our desire, more pebble-plain under a hand’s breath

wavelet, a jeweled thing, a Sapphic bracelet, than this. Murder

staining the small waves crimson is not more moving—though we strain

in our minds to make it so, and stare.


Cordite, heavy shells falling on the fortifications of Sebastopol,

fired by the Germans first, then by the Russians, are indifferent to

our agony—as are small waves in the sunlight. But we need not elect

what we do not desire. Torment, in the daisied fields before Troy

or at Amiens or the Manchurian plain is not


of itself the dearest desired of our world. We do not have to die,

in bitterness and the most excruciating torture, to feel! We can

lean on the wall and experience an ecstasy of pain, if pain it must

be, but a pain of love, of dismemberment if you will, but a pain

of almond blossoms, an agony of mimosa trees in bloom, a


scented cloud! Even, as old Ford would say, an exquisite sense of

viands. Would there be no sculpture, no painting, no Pinturicchio, no

Botticelli—or frescos on the jungle temples of Burma (that the jungles

have reclaimed) or Picasso at Cannes but for war? Would there be

no voyages starting from the dunes at Huelva


over the windy harbor? No Seville cathedral? Possibly so. Even

the quietness of flowers is perhaps deceptive. But why must we suffer

ourselves to be so torn to sense our world? Or believe we must so

suffer to be born again? Let the homosexuals seduce whom they will

under what bushes along the coasts of the Middle Sea


rather than have us insist on murder. Governments are defeats, distor-

tions. I wish (and so I fail). Notwithstanding, I wish we might

learn of an April of small waves—deadly as all slaughter, that we

shall die soon enough, to dream of April, not knowing why we have been

struck down, heedless of what greater violence.

14 New Poems (1950)

May 1st Tomorrow

The mind’s a queer sponge

                  squeeze it and out come bird songs

small leaves highly enameled

                  and . moments of good reading

(rapidly) Tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck!

                  —the mind remembering .

Not, not in flux (that diarrhoea)

                  but nesting. Chee woo! Tuck!

the male mind, nesting: glancing up

                  from a letter from a friend

asking . the mind

                  to be . squeezed and let

him be the liquor which, when

                  we release it, he shall be sopped

up, all his weight, and

                  released again . by squeezing.


Full, it moulds itself . . .

                  like a brown breast, full

not of milk but of what breasts are

                  to the eye, hemispherical

(2 would make a sphere)

                  to the mind; a view of the mind

that, in a way, gives milk:

                  that liquor that minds

feed upon. To feed, to feed now!

                  Chuck, chuck, chuck. Toe whee. Chuck!

—burdensome as twin stones

                  that the mind alone can milk

and give again .

                  Chee woo! etcetera

Après le Bain

I gotta

buy me a new



(I’ll buy

you one) O.K.

(I wish


you’d wig-

gle that way

for me,


I’d be

a happy man)




gle for this.

(You pig)

Spring Is Here Again, Sir.

Goffle brook of a May day

(Mon cher Cocteau

qui déjeune des fois

avec Picasso) blossoms

in the manner of antiquity


Which is an obliquity

for the movement

and the sheen of ripples

bridging the gap for

age-old winnowing decay—


from then to now. Which

leaves very little

but the sun and air

unless one should prefer

a pool of human spittle


over which to grieve.

Rhyme it regularly if you

will. I say the night

is not always gay for

an old man who has sinned.


But the brook! is mine

and I must still prefer it

to the summits of Thibet

from which to take off:

—of spring, to the air


for relief! smell of clover,

cherries are ripening.

We lay, Floss and I, on

the grass together, in

the warm air: a bird flew


into a bush, dipped our

hands in the running water—

cold, too cold; but found

it, to our satisfaction,

as in the past, still wet.

The Hard Core of Beauty

The most marvellous is not

                  the beauty, deep as that is,

but the classic attempt

                  at beauty,

at the swamp’s center: the

                  dead-end highway, abandoned

when the new bridge went in finally.

                  There, either side an entry

from which, burned by the sun,

                  the paint is peeling—

two potted geraniums .

                  Step inside: on a wall, a

painted plaque showing

                  ripe pomegranates .

—and, leaving, note

                  down the road—on a thumbnail,

you could sketch it on a thumbnail—

                  stone steps climbing

full up the front to

                  a second floor



peaked like the palate

                  of a child! God give us again

such assurance.

          There are

                  rose bushes either side

this entrance and plum trees

                  (one dead) surrounded

at the base by worn-out auto-tire

                  casings! for what purpose

but the glory of the Godhead

                  that poked

her twin shoulders, supporting

                  the draggled blondness

of her tresses, from beneath

                  the patient waves.

And we? the whole great world abandoned

                  for nothing at all, intact,

the lost world of symmetry

                  and grace: bags of charcoal

piled deftly under

                  the shed at the rear, the

ditch at the very rear a passageway

                  through the mud,

triumphant! to pleasure,

                  pleasure; pleasure by boat,

a by-way of a Sunday

                  to the smooth river.


That art is evil (stale

art, he might have said)

was to his mind as weevil

to the cotton-head


Stale art, like stale fish

stinks (I might have said)

You are ageing, Master

Commit yourself to Heaven


I had been his fool

      not a dog

      not his murderer


To court war which I


      —he suffered


To force him backward

      into the sea

      blood of his blood


Blood of my blood in




—his fool, shrewd witted

      to protect

      and beguile him


To read rather

      that which I



Not a morose pig

      his doom

      to escape only


My fate—take

      upon myself

      the kindler, the


Match-man, the mind

      miner, the very



His life lived in

      me warmed

      at his fires


A power in the night.

      Madman, clown—


Twelve Line Poem

Pitiful lovers broken by your loves

the head of a man

the parts disjointed of a woman

unshaved pushing forward


And you? Withdrawn caressive

the thighs limp eyes

filling with tears the lower lip

trembling, why do you try


so hard to be a man? You are

a lover! Why adopt

the reprehensible absurdities of

an inferior attitude?

Nun’s Song

For the wrongs that women do

we dedicate ourselves, O God, to You

and beg You to believe

that we truly grieve.


Our defects, not fear,

drive us to seek to be so very near

Your loving tenderness

that You may bless


us everlastingly; not dread,

but risen from the sorry dead

that each may be, at Your side

a very bride!

Turkey in the Straw

I’ll put this in my diary:


On my 65th birthday

I kissed her while she pissed


(Your thighs are apple trees

whose blossoms touch the sky!)


On my 65th birthday

I tussled her breasts.

She didn’t even turn away

      but smiled!


It’s your 65th birthday!


(I kissed her while she pissed)

Another Old Woman

If I could keep her

here, near me

I’d fill her mind

with my thoughts


She would get

their complexion

and live again. But

I could not live


along with her

she would drain me

as sand drains

water. Visions pos-


sess her. Dreams

unblooded walk

her mind. Her mind

does not faint.


Throngs visit her:

We are at war

with Mexico—to

please her fancy—


A cavalry column

is deploying

over a lifeless terrain

—to impress us!


She describes it

her face bemused—

alert to details. They

ride without saddles


tho’ she is ig-

norant of the word

“bareback,” but knows

accurately that I


am not her son, now,

but a stranger

listening. She

breaks off, her looks


intent, bent

inward, with a curious

glint to her eyes:

They say that


when the fish comes!

(gesture of getting

a strike) it

is a great joy!

Wide Awake, Full of Love

Being in this stage

I look to the last,

see myself returning:

the seamed face

as of a tired rider

upon a tired horse

coming up . . .


What of your dish-eyes

that have seduced

me? Your voice

whose cello notes

upon the theme have led

me to the music?


I see your neck scrawny

your thighs worn

your hair thinning,

whose round brow

pushes it aside, and

turn again upon

the thought: To migrate


to that South to hop

again upon the shining

grass there

half ill with love

and mope and

will not startle for

the grinning worm


Pluck the florets from

      a clover head

and suck the honey, sweet.

      The world

will realign itself—ex-

      cluding Russia

and the U.S.A. and planes

      run soon

by atomic power defying


Pluck the florets from

      a clover head

and suck the honey, sweet.


Russia! Russia! you might say

      and furrow the brow

but I say: There are flowers upon

      the R.R. embankment

woven by growing in and out among

      the rusted guard cables

lying there in the grass, flowers

      daisy shaped, pink

and white in this September glare.

      Count upon it there

will be soon a further revolution.


We forget sometimes that no matter what

our quarrels we are the same brotherhood:

the rain falling or the rain withheld,

—berated by women, barroom smells

or breath of Persian roses! our wealth

is words. And when we go down to defeat,

before the words, it is still within and

the concern of, first, the brotherhood.

Which should quiet us, warm and arm us

besides to attack, always attack—but to

reserve our worst blows for the enemy, those

who despise the word, flout it, stem,

leaves and root; the liars who decree laws

with no purpose other than to make a screen

of them for larceny, murder—for our

murder, we who salute the word and would

have it clean, full of sharp movement.

Two Pendants: for the Ears

The Lesson

The hydrangea

pink cheeked nods its head

a paper brain

without a skull


a brain intestined

to the invisible root


beside the rose and acorn


thought lies communal


the brooding worm

True but the air



the wanton the dancing


holding enfolds it


a flower


Flagrant as a flag

it shakes that seamy head



snaps it drily

from the anchored stem

and sets it rolling

Two Pendants: for the Ears


The particulars of morning are more to be desired

             than night’s vague images.


I dreamed of a tiger, wounded,

lying broken

upon a low parapet

                at least they said

it was a tiger though I never

saw it—more than a shadow—

for the night:


             an open plaza

before the post-office

—but very obscure


            When I arrived

the people were underground

huddled into a group and terrified

from the recent happenings:


a terrific fight, apparently—

between the beast and

a man, its trainer, lying

he also, out there now

horribly wounded—perhaps dead

or exhausted

—during a lull of the encounter,

having defended himself well

                —and bleeding.


No one knew or exactly knew

how the immediate

situation lay.


            Thoughtlessly or at least

without thought, my instinct

took me toward the man. I walked

into the darkness

toward the scene of the fight.


Somewhat to the right

apparently unable to lift itself

and hanging upon

the stone wall, I seemed

to make out the beast and could

hear it panting, heavily


       At the same moment,

to the left, on the ground under

the wall, I saw, or

rather heard, the man—or

what I took to be the man. He was

mewing softly, a spasmodic

high pitched sighing—probably



                 As I got half way out

from the people huddled back of me

to the scene of the conflict

the breathing of the beast stopped

as though the better

for him to listen and I could feel

him watching me.


                I paused.


                       I could

make out nothing clearly and then

did the logical thing: unarmed

I saw that I was helpless and so

turned and walked back to the others.


Has no one notified the police?

I said.


That was the end of the dream.


          The yard

          from the bathroom window

          is another matter:


          Here everything

          is clear. The wind

          sounds, I can make out


          the yellow of the flowers—

          For half an hour

          I do not move.


          It is Easter Sunday


The short and brilliantly stabbing grass

(my son went out during the night

            and has not returned—later

I found that he had returned and had

fallen asleep on the couch downstairs—

his bed was empty)

—marked (plotted) by the squares

and oblongs of the flower beds

            (beds! beds for the flowers)

the sticks of roses that will later show

brilliant blooms stand out


                    in rows, irregularly


A cloud

unclassic, a white unnamed cloud of

small tufts of white flowers

          light as wishes

(later to give place to red berries

          called service berries)

—a cloud through which the east sun

shines, anonymous

                (a tree marked

by the practical sense of my countrymen

the shad bush . to say

fish are in the river)




There are no girls here

                  not above

                      virtual infancy


—small white flowers


                      profusely together


Thousands of glittering small leaves

that no church bell calls to Mass

—but there will be a mass soon

on the weighted branches


      —their smiles vanish

at the age of four. Later they

sob and throw their arms about my

waist, babies I have myself delivered

from their agonized mothers. They

sob and cling to me, their breasts heavy


with milk, pressing my coat and refuse

to let go until their sobs

quiet. Then they smile (at me) through

their tears. But it is only

for a moment—they soon become

women again.


        The wind howled still at my

bedroom window but here, overlooking the

garden, I no longer hear its howls

nor see it moving .


                        My thoughts

are like the distant smile of a child

who will (never) be a beautiful woman



the distant smile of a woman who

will say:

         —only to keep you a moment

longer. Oh I know I’m a stinker—




only to keep you, it’s only

to keep you . a few moments


                  Let me have a cigarette.


The little flowers

got the names we might bestow now

upon drugs for headaches and obesity.

It is periwinkle time now.


How can you, my countrymen

                 (what bathos

hangs about that title, unwarranted

in good measure but there: a fault

of art)

       how can you permit yourselves

to be so cheated—your incomes

taken away and you, chromium

in your guts (rat poison)

             until you are swollen

beyond all recognition


It is not in a return to the ideals

preserved for us

by primitive peoples that our society

will heal itself of its maladies


We read, after breakfast, Flossie,

our son and I—or rather I read to

them from a friendly poet’s translations,

Plato’s Inscription for a Statue

of Pan (I know no Greek) He said:


Be still O green cliffs of the Dryads

Still O springs bubbling from the rocks

                    and be still

Many voiced crying of the ewes:

                          It is Pan

Pan with his sweet pipe:

                    the clever lips run

Over the withed reeds

                    while all about him

Rise from the ground to dance

                    with joyous tread

The nymphs of the water

                    nymphs of the oaken forest


—forgot (baby)

                  but it seems less

out of place than the present, all the

present for all that it is present



The two or three young fruit trees,

even the old and battered watering can

of characteristic shape

                  (made to pour from the bottom)

are looking up at us . I

say “us” but I mean, alas, only me.


You lean the head forward

and wave the hand,

with a smile,

twinkling the fingers

      I say to myself

      Now it is spring

      Elena is dying


What snows, what snow

enchained her—

she of the tropics

is melted

      now she is dying


The mango, the guava

long forgot for

apple and cherry

wave good-bye

      now it is spring

      Elena is dying



You think she’s going to die?

said the old boy.

She’s not going to die—not now.

In two days she’ll be

all right again. When she dies

she’ll .


      If only she wouldn’t

exhaust herself, broke in

the sturdy woman, his wife. She

fights so. You can’t quieten her.


When she dies she’ll go out

like a light. She’s done it now

two or three times when

the wife’s had her up, absolutely

out. But so far she’s always

come out of it.

      Why just an hour ago

she sat up straight on that bed, as

straight as ever I saw her

in the last ten years, straight

as a ram-rod. You wouldn’t believe

that would you? She’s not

going to die . she’ll be

raising Cain, looking for her grub

as per usual in the next two

or three days, you wait and see


Listen, I said, I met a man

last night told me what he’d brought

home from the market:

          2 partridges

          2 Mallard ducks

          a Dungeness crab

          24 hours out

          of the Pacific

          and 2 live-frozen


          from Denmark


What about that?


Elena is dying (I wonder)

willows and pear trees

whose encrusted branches

blossom all a mass

attend her on her way—


a guerdon

        (a garden)

        and cries of children


Holy, holy, holy


              (no ritual

but fact . in fact)



the end of time (which is now)


How can you weep for her? I

cannot, I her son—though

I could weep for her without

compromising the covenant


          She will go alone.


—or pat to the times: go wept

by a clay statuette

          (if there be miracles)

a broken head of a small

St. Anne who wept at a kiss

from a child:

          She was so lonely


And Magazine #1 sues Magazine

#2, no less guilty—for libel

or infringement or dereliction

or confinement


Elena is dying (but perhaps

not yet)


Pis-en-lit attend her (I see

the children have been here)


Said Jowles, from under the

Ionian sea: What do you think

about that miracle, Doc?—that

little girl kissing

the head of that statue and making

it cry?


                      I hadn’t

seen it.

              It’s in the papers,

tears came out of the eyes.

I hope it doesn’t turn

out to be something funny.


Let’s see now: St. Anne

is the grandmother of Jesus. So

that makes St. Anne the mother

of the Virgin Mary


          M’s a great letter, I confided.


What’s that? So now it gets

to be Easter—you never know.


        Never. No, never.


The river, throwing off sparks

in a cold world


        Is this a private foight

                or kin I get into it?


This is a private fight.


          Elena is dying.

In her delirium she said

a terrible thing:


Who are you? NOW!

I, I, I, I stammered. I

am your son.


Don’t go. I am unhappy.


About what? I said


About what is what.


The woman (who was watching)


She thinks I’m her father.


Swallow it now: she wants

to do it herself.


    Let her spit.


At last! she said two days later

coming to herself and seeing me:


        —but I’ve been here

every day, Mother.


                        Well why don’t

they put you where I can see you



    She was crying this morning,

said the woman, I’m glad you came.


              Let me clean your



        They put them on my nose!

They’re trying to make a monkey

out of me.


        Were you thinking

of La Fontaine?


              Can’t you give me

something to make me disappear

completely, said she sobbing—but



            No I can’t do that

Sweetheart (You God damned belittling

fool, said I to myself)


There’s a little Spanish wine,



But pure Spanish! I don’t suppose

they have it any more.


(The woman started to move her)


But I have to see my chil


Let me straighten you


I don’t want the hand (my hand)

there (on her forehead)

—digging the nail of

her left thumb hard into my flesh,

the back of my own thumb

holding her hand . .


“If I had a dog ate meat

on Good Friday I’d kill him.”

said someone off to the left


Then after three days:

I’m glad to see you up and doing,

said she to me brightly.


I told you she wasn’t going to

die, that was just a remission,

I think you call it, said

the 3 day beard in a soiled



I’m afraid I’m not much use

to you, Mother, said I feebly.

I brought you a bottle of wine

—a little late for Easter


Did you? What kind of wine?

A light wine?






Jeres. You know, jerez. Here

            (giving it to her)


So big! That will be my baby


    (cuddling it in her arms)

Ave Maria Purissime! It is heavy!

I wonder if I could take

a little glass of it now?



she eaten anything yet?



she eaten anything yet!


Six oysters—she said

she wanted some fish and that’s

all we had. A round

of bread and butter and a



                      My God!


—two cups of tea and some



      Now she wants the wine.


Will it hurt her?


                No, I think

nothing will hurt her.



one of the wonders of the world

I think, said his wife.


                    (To make the language

record it, facet to facet

not bored out—

                with an auger.


—to give also the unshaven,

              the rumblings of a

catastrophic past, a delicate

defeat—vivid simulations of

the mystery . )


We had leeks for supper, I said



    Leeks! Hulda

gave them to me, they were going

to seed, the rabbits had

eaten everything else. I never

tasted better—from Pop’s old

garden .


      Pop’s old what?


I’ll have to clean out her ears


So my year is ended. Tomorrow

it will be April, the glory gone

the hard-edged light elapsed. Were

it not for the March within me,

the intensity of the cold sun, I

could not endure the drag

of the hours opposed to that weight,

the profusion to come later, that

comes too late. I have already

swum among the bars, the angular

contours, I have already lived

the year through


                Elena is dying


The canary, I said, comes and sits

on our table in the morning

at breakfast, I mean walks about

on the table with us there

and pecks at the table-cloth


                      He must

be a smart little bird



To Close

Will you please rush down and see

ma baby. You know, the one I talked

to you about last night


What was that?


Is this the baby specialist?


Yes, but perhaps you mean my son,

can’t you wait until . ?


I, I, I don’t think it’s brEAthin’

The Rose

Publisher’s Note

The poems of the section “The Rose” were omitted from the first printing of “The Collected Later Poems” through an oversight on the part of a typist.

There was also an unfortunate omission from the list of Acknowledgments on page xl. Dr. Williams’ poems “Choral: The Pink Church,” “The Words, The Words, The Words,” “Venus Over the Desert,” “Mists Over the River,” “I Would Not Change for Thine,” “The Love Charm,” “Song,” “A Rosebush in an Unlikely Garden,” “The Lion,” “New Mexico,” and “Mama” were published in a chap book entitled “The Pink Church,” by The Golden Goose Press of Columbus, Ohio, to whose editor, Mr. Richard Wirtz Emerson, the author and publisher now express their apologies and recognition. Certain of the poems in this volume were also first published in the magazine Cronos, which was published by The Golden Goose Press.

The Rose

The stillness of the rose

in time of war

reminds me of

the long sleep just begun

of that sparrow

his head pillowed unroughed

and unalarmed upon

the polished pavement or

of voluptuous hours

with some

breathless book when

stillness was an eternity

long since begun

The Visit

I have committed many errors

but I warn—the interplay

is not the tossed body. Though

the mind is subtler than the sea,

advancing at three speeds,

the fast, the medium and the slow,

recapitulating at every ninth

wave what was not at first directly

stated, that is still only

on the one level.


                  There are the fish

and at the bottom, the ground,

no matter whether at five feet

or five miles, the ground, revealing,

when bared by the tides, living

barnacles, hungry on the rocks

as the mind is, that hiss as often

loudly when the sun bites them.


And I acknowledge, the mind is

still (though rarely) more than

its play. I can see also

the dagger in the left hand when

the right strikes. It does

not alter the case.


Let us resume. The

naive may be like a sunny day


and is not to be despised

because it is so amusing to see

the zigzag and slender gulls


into the featureless surface.

It is fish they are after,

fish—and get them.


                  Still I

acknowledge the sea is there and

I admire its profundity only

what does that amount to?

Love also may be deep, deep

as thought, deeper than thought

and as sequential—



full of detail, let us say, as

the courts are full of law

and the sea, weeds and

as murmurous: that does not

alter the case either. Yet you

are right in the end: law

often decides cases. Well?

I prefer to go back to my cases

at the hospital.


Say I am less an artist

than a spadeworker but one

who has no aversion to taking

his spade to the head

of any who would derrogate

his performance in the craft.


You were kind to be at such

pains with me and—thanks

for the view.

Ol’ Bunk’s Band

These are men! the gaunt, unfore-

      sold, the vocal,

blatant, Stand up, stand up! the

      slap of a bass-string.

Pick, ping! The horn, the

      hollow horn

long drawn out, a hound deep


Choking, choking! while the

      treble reed

races—alone, ripples, screams

      slow to fast—

to second to first! These are men!


Drum, drum, drum, drum, drum

      drum, drum! the

ancient cry, escaping crapulence

      eats through

transcendent—torn, tears, term

      town, tense,

turns and back off whole, leaps

      up, stomps down,

rips through! These are men


whose force the melody limps—


proclaim, proclaims—Run and

      lie down,

in slow measures, to rest and

      not never

need no more! These are men!



When the world takes over for us

and the storm in the trees

replaces our brittle consciences

(like ships, female to all seas)

when the few last yellow leaves

stand out like flags on tossed ships

at anchor—our minds are rested


Yesterday we sweated and dreamed

or sweated in our dreams walking

at a loss through the bulk of figures

that appeared solid, men or women,

but as we approached down the paved

corridor melted—Was it I?—like

smoke from bonfires blowing away


Today the storm, inescapable, has

taken the scene and we return

our hearts to it, however made, made

wives by it and though we secure

ourselves for a dry skin from the drench

of its passionate approaches we

yield and are made quiet by its fury


Pitiful Lear, not even you could

out-shout the storm—to make a fool

cry! Wife to its power might you not

better have yielded earlier? as on ships

facing the seas were carried once

the figures of women at repose to

signify the strength of the waves’ lash.

A Unison

The grass is very green, my friend,

and tousled, like the head of—

your grandson, yes? And the mountain,

the mountain we climbed

twenty years since for the last

time (I write this thinking

of you) is saw-horned as then

upon the sky’s edge—an old barn

is peaked there also, fatefully,

against the sky. And there it is

and we can’t shift it or change

it or parse it or alter it

in any way. Listen! Do you not hear

them? the singing? There it is and

we’d better acknowledge it and

write it down, not otherwise.

Not twist the words to mean

what we should have said but to mean

—what cannot be escaped: the

mountain riding the afternoon as

it does, the grass matted green,

green underfoot and the air—

rotten wood. Hear! Hear them!

the Undying. The hill slopes away,

then rises in the middleground,

you remember, with a grove of gnarled

maples centering the bare pasture,

sacred, surely—for what reason?

I cannot say? Idyllic!

a shrine cinctured there by

the trees, a certainty of music!

a unison and a dance, joined

at this death’s festival: Something

of a shed snake’s skin, the beginning

goldenrod. Or, best, a white stone,

you have seen it: Mathilda Maria

Fox—and near the ground’s lip,

all but undecipherable, Aet Suae

Anno 9—still there, the grass

dripping of last night’s rain—and

welcome! The thin air, the near,

clear brook water!—and could not,

and died, unable; to escape

what the air and the wet grass—

through which, tomorrow, bejeweled,

the great sun will rise—the

unchanging mountains, forced on them—

and they received, willingly!

Stones, stones of a difference

joining the others, at pace. Hear!

Hear the unison of their voices. . . .

The Quality of Heaven

Without other cost than breath

and the poor soul,

carried in the cage of the ribs,

chirping shrilly


I walked in the garden. The

garden smelled of roses.

The lilies’ green throats opened

to yellow trumpets


that craved no sound and the rain

was fresh in my face,

the air a sweet breath.



the heat was oppressive


dust clogged the leaves’ green

and bees from

the near hive, parched, drank,

overeager, at


the birdbath and were drowned there.

Others replaced them

from which the birds were


          —the fleece-light air!

The Province

The figure

of tall

white grass

by the cinder-bank

keeps its alignment



in the brilliant


of the wind



its polished


and feathered


ensconced there


beyond all feeling


This is

the principle

of the godly,

fluted, a


tall and pale



save only in


the kernel

of all seeking,

the eternal

The Injury

From this hospital bed

I can hear an engine


      in the night:


—Soft coal, soft coal,

      soft coal!


And I know it is men


shoveling, resting—


—Go about it

the slow way, if you can

find any way—


who’s a bastard?


and quit shoveling.


A man breathing

      and it quiets and

the puff of steady

work begins

          slowly: Chug.

Chug. Chug. Chug. . . .

          fading off.

Enough coal at least

      for this small job


      Soft! Soft!

—enough for one small

engine, enough for that.


A man shoveling

working and not lying here

      in this

hospital bed—powerless

—with the white-throat

      calling in the

poplars before dawn, his

faint flute-call,

triple tongued, piercing

the shingled curtain

of the new leaves;

      drowned out by

      car wheels

singing now on the rails,

taking the curve,


          a long wail,

high pitched:


         the curve—

—the slow way because

(if you can find any way) that is

the only way left now

                    for you.

The Brilliance

Oh sock, sock, sock!

brief but persistent.

Emulate the gnat

or a tree’s leaves

that are not the tree

but mass to shape it.

Finis! Finish

and get out of this.

The Semblables

The red brick monastery in

the suburbs over against the dust-

hung acreage of the unfinished

and all but subterranean


munitions plant: those high

brick walls behind which at Easter

the little orphans and bastards

in white gowns sing their Latin


responses to the hoary ritual

while frankincense and myrrh

round out the dark chapel making

an enclosed sphere of it


of which they are the worm:

that cell outside the city beside

the polluted stream and dump

heap, uncomplaining, and the field


of upended stones with a photo

under glass fastened here and there

to one of them near the deeply

carved name to distinguish it:


that trinity of slate gables

the unembellished windows piling

up, the chapel with its round

window between the dormitories


peaked by the bronze belfry

peaked in turn by the cross,

verdegris—faces all silent

that miracle that has burst sexless


from between the carrot rows.

Leafless white birches, their

empty tendrils swaying in

the all but no breeze guard


behind the spiked monastery fence

the sacred statuary. But ranks

of brilliant car-tops row on row

give back in all his glory the


late November sun and hushed

attend, before that tumbled

ground, those sightless walls

and shovelled entrances where no


one but a lonesome cop swinging

his club gives sign, that agony

within where the wrapt machines

are praying. . . .

Index of Poems by Titles

Index of Poems by Titles

A Cold Front57
A Crystal Maze167
A Flowing River21
Against the Sky58
A History of Love77
All That Is Perfect in Woman139
An Address59
And Who Do You Think “They” Are?131
An Eternity182
A Note154
Another Old Woman205
Another Year56
A Place (Any Place) to Transcend All Places113
A Plea for Mercy34
Approach to a City177
Après le Bain196
April Is the Saddest Month152
A Rosebush in an Unlikely Garden179
A Sort of a Song7
A Vision of Labor: 193142
A Woman in Front of a Bank70
Ballad of Faith131
Burning the Christmas Greens16
Catastrophic Birth8
Childe Harold to the Round Tower Came133
Choral: The Pink Church159
Design for November87
Drugstore Library155
Education a Failure80
Every Day147
Figueras Castle35
For a Low Voice105
For G.B.S., Old149
Franklin Square67
Hard Times90
His Daughter86
In Chains19
In Sisterly Fashion19
Io Baccho!135
“I Would Not Change for Thine”174
May 1st Tomorrow195
Mists over the River173
New Mexico169
Note to Music: Brahms 1st Piano Concerto111
Nun’s Song203
Paterson: the Falls10
Philomena Andronico120
Picture of a Nude in a Machine Shop107
Prelude to Winter55
Raindrops on a Briar99
Raleigh Was Right52
Rumba! Rumba!34
Sometimes It Turns Dry and the Leaves Fall before They Are Beautiful54
Sparrows Among Dry Leaves55
Spring Is Here Again,Sir197
St. Valentine32
The A, B & C of It45
The Act96
The Aftermath47
The Apparition68
The Banner Bearer81
The Bare Tree51
The Birdsong73
The Birth of Venus189
The Bitter World of Spring75
The Centenarian136
The Clouds124
The Complexity153
The Controversy39
The Cure23
The Dance11
The Dish of Fruit91
The End of the Parade45
The Flower104
The Forgotten City49
The Gentle Rejoinder59
The Girl123
The Goat82
The Hard Core of Beauty199
The Hard Listener38
The Horse89
The Horse Show185
The Hounded Lovers22
The Hurricane108
The Last Turn44
The Lesson213
The Light Shall Not Enter69
The Lion180
The Love Charm176
The Manoeuvre88
The Mind’s Games109
The Mind Hesitant118
The Mirrors85
The Monstrous Marriage53
The Motor-Barge92
The Night Rider71
The Non-Entity132
The Observer20
The Old House116
The Pause175
The Poem33
The Rat145
The Red-Wing Blackbird112
The R R Bums155
The Savage Beast97
The Sound of Waves171
The Storm48
The Stylist110
The Testament of Perpetual Change103
The Thing117
The Thoughtful Lover46
The Three Graces184
The Unfrocked Priest148
The Well Disciplined Bargeman98
The Woodpecker122
The Words Lying Idle106
The Words, the Words, the Words150
The World Narrowed to a Point20
The Yellow Chimney50
The Young Cat and the Chrysanthemums33
These Purists41
3 A.M. The Girl with the Honey Colored Hair166
Three Sonnets30
To a Lovely Old Bitch74
To All Gentleness24
To Be Hungry Is to Be Great153
To Close230
To Ford Madox Ford in Heaven60
Tragic Detail119
Turkey in the Straw204
Twelve Line Poem202
Two Deliberate Exercises83
Two Pendants: for the Ears214
Venus over the Desert172
When Structure Fails Rhyme Attempts to Come to the Rescue79
Wide Awake, Full of Love207
Writer’s Prologue to a Play in Verse12




Punctuation and layout has been maintained as in the printed version.

Book name and author have been added to the original book cover.

[The end of The Collected Later Poems of William Carlos Williams by William Carlos Williams]