William Carlos Williams

I first discovered William Carlos Williams in January this year after reading the 2009 Caldecott Honor-winning book, A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. According to that book, his “most important contribution to American poetry was his focus on everyday objects and the lives of common people, ” and I enjoyed the poems that were included with the biography picture book. Born from an English father and a Puerto Rican mother, Williams proposed to his wife after her older sister rejected his proposal. Williams was a pediatrician who published his first collection of poems in 1909. According to this article,

“He published not only poetry, but short stories, poems, plays, novels, critical essays, an autobiography, translations and correspondence. He wrote at night and spent weekends in New York City with friends, such as Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. It was through these friends that he got to know the Dadaist movement, which may explain the influence on his earlier poems of Dadaist and Surrealist principles. In May 1963, he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems (1962). “

According to the blog of the National Portrait Gallery, “Williams was one of the Imagist poets, who wrote from about 1909 to 1917. A circle that also included Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and Hilda Doolittle, the Imagists avoided the romanticism of nineteenth-century poetry. They aimed for precision in their work, writing poems that feature clear and concrete images. Williams’s writing greatly influenced the Beat Generation poets, particularly Allen Ginsberg.”

A Love Song
by William Carlos Williams

What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
I lie here thinking of you.

The stain of love
Is upon the world.
Yellow, yellow, yellow,
It eats into the leaves,
Smears with saffron
The horned branches that lean
Against a smooth purple sky.

There is no light—
Only a honey-thick stain
That drips from leaf to leaf
And limb to limb
Spoiling the colours
Of the whole world.

I am alone.
The weight of love
Has buoyed me up
Till my head
Knocks against the sky.See me!
My hair is dripping with nectar—
Starlings carry it
On their black wings.
See, at last
My arms and my hands
Are lying idle.How can I tell
If I shall ever love you again
As I do now?