Saturday, May 8, 2010

William Carlos Williams

I’ve been watching a thrush on the lawn. It appears to have so much more elegance and dignity than a blackbird. It’s shyer and gentler but is a superb songster. The day has been the better for its appearance.

I’m also observing the falling autumn leaves. Our neightbours’ oaks, weeping elm and cooper beech have lost most of theirs but the lower down trees, crabapple, medlar and snowball tree still have most of theirs. The view reminded me of American William Carlos Willams’ poem

The Approach of Winter

the half-stripped trees
struck by a wind together,
bending all,
the leaves flutter drily
and refuse to let go
or driven like hail
stream bitterly out to one side
and fall
where the salvias, hard carmine –
like no leaf that ever was –
edge the bare garden.

Williams argued, especially in his early days that poetry should be about the local, about what is. He wanted to cut out foreign phases and classical allusions. A line sums up his viewpoint. ‘No ideas but in things’ His most famous poem is ‘The Red Wheel Barrow’. Here it is.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

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