Poetry Sundays: Late Night Edition

One of my favorite poets is William Carlos Williams. His poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” is often used to illustrate the poetic notion that every word counts. Over the years, I’ve taken great pleasure in reading his collected works.

The poetry foundation says,

William Carlos Williams has always been known as an experimenter, an innovator, a revolutionary figure in American poetry. Yet in comparison to artists of his own time who sought a new environment for creativity as expatriates in Europe, Williams lived a remarkably conventional life. A doctor for more than forty years serving the New Jersey town of Rutherford, he relied on his patients, the America around him, and his own ebullient imagination to create a distinctively American verse. Often domestic in focus and “remarkable for its empathy, sympathy, its muscular and emotional identification with its subjects,” Williams’s poetry is also characteristically honest: “There is no optimistic blindness in Williams,” wrote Randall Jarrell, “though there is a fresh gaiety, a stubborn or invincible joyousness.”

If you’ve read any WCW, you’d know that his poems often experiment in style, length, complexity, and rhyme. I’ve picked a few of my favorite to shares with you today:

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


The Widow’s Lament in Springtime

Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirtyfive years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.


Complete Destruction

It was an icy day.
We buried the cat,
then took her box
and set fire to it
in the back yard.
Those fleas that escaped
earth and fire
died by the cold.


The Spring Storm

The sky has given over
its bitterness.
Out of the dark change
all day long
rain falls and falls
as if it would never end.
Still the snow keeps
its hold on the ground.
But water, water
from a thousand runnels!
It collects swiftly,
dappled with black
cuts a way for itself
through green ice in the gutters.
Drop after drop it falls
from the withered grass-stems
of the overhanging embankment.


I hope you enjoyed those poems. Make the rest of the day truly poetic.

Until next time!

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9 comments on “Poetry Sundays: Late Night Edition

  1. Rebecca Rasmussen on said:

    Oh honey I LOVE WCW! Amazing poetry :) I am smiling!

  2. bookspersonally on said:


  3. Beautiful. The Widow’s Lament in Springtime broke my heart.

  4. I am actually going to google him when I leave. You are so right, though, about the importance of words. My mom used to tell me I had to chose my words well, because once out, they are even harder to take back.

    Great post,

  5. Pingback: April is National Poetry Month |

  6. SoapBird on said:

    Ooo! Nice!

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