¡Feliz cumpleaño, William Carlos Williams!

Rescate de Terreno
Originally uploaded by Rigglord

To celebrate the good Doctor’s birthday, Minnesota Public Radio has a great show, A man of science and letters, with clips of Wiliiams himself (thanks to the Penn Archives), poet/historian Neil Baldwin, and poet Bill Zavatsky.

It’s great to hear such a great breakdown on Williams’ work and legacy. I was especially interested on the discussion regarding pastoral since urban images are the be all and end all for me. Where someone might say, “A sip from the stream,” and I can taste the cool metallic water flowing from an open fire hydrant. Another might say, “The crowing of the dawn,” and I hear the #6 train speeding up from local to express so commuters can reach downtown faster. And if one was to try to evoke a shepherd, all I can picture is a crossing guard (maybe the kind elderly lady or the broad as a bus cold cop) guiding pedestrians and vehicles through the tight right angles of a crowded intersection. That’s the place my pastoral lives. Glad to know that the good Doctor’s pastoral is not too far from there, too.


When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel-staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best
of all colors.

No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation.

© William Carlos Williams (from Al Que Quiere!)

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