Friday, March 11, 2005

Spouts

Sour Grapes (1921)
by
William Carlos Williams

Spouts

    In this world of
    as fine a pair of breasts
    as ever I saw
    the fountain in
    Madison Square
    spouts up of water
    a white tree
    that dies and lives
    as the rocking water
    in the basin
    turns from the stonerim
    back upon the jet
    and rising there
    reflectively drops down again.

William Carlos Williams was an original and truly American voice and he was familiar with the works of Picasso, Gris, Picabia, Braque, and Cezanne. He strived to do in his poems what these artists were doing with their paintings and sculpture, to lift "to the imagination those things that lie under the direct scrutiny of the senses, close to the nose."

By using theories that originated from painting he isolated words to transform them into art objects. Marjorie Perloff a foremost critic of twentieth-century poetry relates:

    "Here was a man who had a kind of energy, sexual energy, that he didn't know quite how to channel. One of the main tensions that I see in Williams' work is between that sexual energy and desire and fear and safety......Williams' great taste for the new, almost the cult of the new some would say, is intimately bound up with his feeling about America as the New World and with his feeling that the poet's mission is to celebrate the New World and with his feeling about birth and with his being a pediatrician and bringing babies into the world so that he's always dealing with the new. When you are a pediatrician and you're constantly dealing with birth, it cannot be a coincidence that that's what Williams did professionally and that is what is so much the subject of his poetry."
The beauty of ordinary things is what William Carlos Williams made every effort to convey with his images of words. Spouts is from his collection Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems (1921). At 24 years old Williams was an intern at the Nursery and Children's Hospital in New York's Hell's Kitchen, a neighborhood best known for its dangerous criminals and drug addicts. Perhaps an artistically sculptured water fountain of Madison Square was a refreshing and embracing sight at the end of a long day of delivering babies. No doubt he had observed time and again the earthly and sensual nurturing of a mother suckling her child; here Williams has likened a water fountain perched upon the comforting bosom of a thriving city known as New york as he explores the sensual experience of the female body with a deep desire for maternal sanctuary and nourishment.

Sources:

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Nightingales

Sour Grapes (1921)
by
William Carlos Williams

The Nightingales


This is another poem from William Carlos Williams Sour Grapes (1921) collection. It's a tiny love poem; certainly he has written some of the best love poems of the twentieth century. Always something with him, a sly hint or clever innuendo one can well imagine that he is standing upon a flowered rug with marvelous shadows of his fingers as nightingales, amusingly engaged as paramours dancing over his shoes as he loosens them. A nightingale of course is noted for his sweet nocturnal song. Nimble, in a hurry to unlace his surely high-tops, he's adept, witty and full of play, noticing things. What a charming lover!

Sources:

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Birds

Sour Grapes (1921)
by
William Carlos Williams

The Birds

    The world begins again!
    Not wholly insufflated
    the blackbirds in the rain
    upon the dead topbranches
    of the living tree,
    stuck fast to the low clouds,
    notate the dawn.
    Their shrill cries sound
    announcing appetite
    and drop among the bending roses
    and the dripping grass.

Sources:

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Tulip Bed

Sour Grapes (1921)
by
William Carlos Williams

The Tulip Bed

    The May sun--whom
    all things imitate--
    that glues small leaves to
    the wooden trees
    shone from the sky
    through bluegauze clouds
    upon the ground.
    Under the leafy trees
    where the suburban streets
    lay crossed,
    with houses on each corner,
    tangled shadows had begun
    to join
    the roadway and the lawns.
    With excellent precision
    the tulip bed
    inside the iron fence
    upreared its gaudy
    yellow, white and red,
    rimmed round with grass,
    reposedly.

Sources:

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Disputants

Sour Grapes (1921)
by
William Carlos Williams

The Disputants

Upon the table in their bowl
in violent disarray
of yellow sprays, green spikes
of leaves, red pointed petals
and curled heads of blue
and white among the litter
of the forks and crumbs and plates
the flowers remain composed.
Coolly their colloquy continues
above the coffee and loud talk
grown frail as vaudeville.

Sources:

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner