August 16 William Carlos Williams: Spring and All

Today, I’m going to take a break from the textbook. I’m certain you’re tired of it too. Rhyming isn’t all that interesting (and I’m not going to go into meter at all). Even I was getting kind of bored. (Still I’ll probably do one last “rhyme” post to wrap it up and kick out the door – ’cause I’m me  – and I wanted to at least finish it up.)

I lost my job today. But as you can tell from yesterday’s post, the world of work has not been so kind to me as of late. So, it’s a mixed blessing. I was starting to feel all cut up like the Dorothy Parker poem implied.

It was at a hospital, at the gift shop to be more precise which was really not my world to begin with. It was too syrupy sweet there, which felt wrong amid all of that pain and despair and it felt wrong to be among it and pretend that it was syrupy sweet business as usual.

My crime? I bought a kid a cookie and then got mad at my boss for getting mad at me. It was this small desperate act to make me feel human, to make me feel as if there was something I could do for someone – even if it was something small. But as a representative of the entity known as the Gift Shop, it was unprofessional. And I just couldn’t separate myself from that desire to be real, instead of the image that they wanted me to be (sweet but unobtainable, like a carrot being dangled in front of the all ready needy customer). I get why the policy was in place, but we both knew that neither the policy nor the place was for me.

I didn’t really feel like explaining any poetry today, or go into what it’s all about, or the various technical aspects of it, so William Carlos Williams was a perfect fit for that sort of thing. His poems really speak for themselves.

I actually picked it simply because the first line has a hospital in it, but it is looking outside of the hospital, moving away from it, sort of like I am doing now. But as I read more, I realized how perfectly it encapsulated that awkward, raw, freed feeling I’m feeling right now. I too feel “lifeless in appearance, sluggish/dazed…” I feel also like I’m entering a new world naked, cold and uncertain of all. I also feel a profound change as if this cold slap to the face was what I needed to pay attention to, why I’d been feeling like a visitor to my own life lately, why I looked in the mirror and saw a stranger, why I’d go home every night and cry myself to sleep.  “Oh, yeah, that’s why,” I said today on a bus on the way home as if the clouds had parted and the light had finally reached my eyes.

“The stark dignity of/ entrance” speaks volumes to me, something old has crashed and burned and in that patch of burnt ground a small weed has popped up, something new and green, something that has look of hope on its small leaves. I don’t know why I felt so trapped by a job that didn’t want me. Perhaps I’d created my own cage without realizing that those walls weren’t securing the grounds, they were pinning me in. But this wonderful connection to me in my life at this moment, this feeling of ah ha!, this seeing of the light when I read through the lines, this is what poetry is really all about. That poem that sings not just a beautiful song, but speaks in way that reaches into the core of you and says something that you thought only you were thinking.

Spring and All

by William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast – a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy

stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines –

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches –

They anter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind –

Now the grass, tommorow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined –
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance – Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken


About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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