Thursday, February 03, 2005


Sour Grapes (1921)
William Carlos Williams


Again I reply to the triple winds

running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my window:
Play louder.
You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.
And the wind,
as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.

A very satisfying poem things haven't changed much since William Carlos Williams wrote this in the early part of the last century where he describes the howling winds that blow cold and icy between tall buildings. I've always found the sound to be quite comforting and sleep inducing, a lot like being snuggled under blankets on a stormy night.

But in this instance the poet has employed a music phrase "Chromatic fifths. A fifth is the intermission sandwiched between C and G, D and A, and so on. By itself a fifth has a pleasurable sound. "Chromatic" refers to movement up or down a scale; when you move chromatically, you move by half-steps: C to C#, C# to D, and so on. The effect of chromatic fifths is at once grating and disconcerting.


Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

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