Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Aimless Reading: Part 26.4 (William Carlos Williams)

Paterson
Williams, William Carlos
Paterson


Purchased at Rust Belt Books. I read some of this in college, but never owned a copy of my own until I started working on my oral exam lists in graduate school.

This was another of those books my undergraduate professors deemed too difficult or even "failures," whatever that might mean. They tagged The Cantos with the same label as a way of writing them off and not having to teach them -- that way we could get onto really significant work like "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "In a Station of the Metro." (I jest, of course, about these two, both of which I love. It's just that as an undergraduate I really wanted to dig into the longer poems, failures or not, and felt my professors too often chose the easily digested over the supposedly half-baked).

This copy is not in the best shape. The cover and the pages have begun to yellow and the pages fly open and lay flat on the desk, leading me to suspect that the binding doesn't have much life left in it. It probably wouldn't survive another close reading, at least not without shedding a few pages along the way.

from Paterson

These terrible things they reflect:
the snow falling into water,
part upon the rock, part in the dry weeds
and part into the water where it
vanishes–its form no longer what it was:

the bird alighting, that pushes
its feet forward to take up the impetus
and falls forward nevertheless
among the twigs. The weak-necked daisy
bending to the wind           .     .       .

                                                       The sun
winding the yellow bindweed about a
bush; worms and gnats, life under a stone.
The pitiful snake with its mosaic skin
and frantic tongue. The horse, the bull
the whole din of fracturing thought
as it fall tinnily to nothing upon the streets
and the absurd dignity of a locomotive
hauling freight–

                          Pithy philosophies of
daily exits and entrances, with books
propping up one end of the shaky table–
The vague accuracies of events dancing two
and two with language which they
forever surpass–

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