Thursday, December 13, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 26.5 (William Carlos Williams)

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams
Williams, William Carlos
The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams
Volume 1, 1909-1939


I think I bought this at Talking Leaves...Books. At some point, I got tired of not being to access all of the poems when I needed them, so I splurged. I haven't used this volume much, but it's nice to know it's there when I need it. I guess that's the purpose of a collected poems: reference. They are certainly not very useful for reading. They are always too bulky in the hands to enjoy, and then follows the question of how to read what's in them. Almost all include hundreds of poems that the poet his or herself probably would have left out, given the chance.

Knowing that, where does one begin reading? At the beginning? In the middle? At random? If one only intends to read the "greatest hits," as it were, then the selected poems should probably do just fine (although in Williams Case, this is not true, given what he/they did to Spring and All in that volume). The ideal collected poems would be a box set including all of the individual collections that make up the collected poems, each re-printed separately. That way you could pick up the individual books to read them as you wanted, without having to shell out a ton of money collecting rarities. I'd imagine this would be prohibitively expensive for a publisher, but hey, we can dream, can't we?

from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams 

Wild Orchard
It is a broken country,
the rugged land is
green from end to end;
the autumn has not come.

Embanked above the orchard         
the hillside is a wall
of motionless green trees,
the grass is green and red.

Five days the bare sky
has stood there day and night.       
No bird, no sound.
Between the trees

stillness
and the early morning light.
The apple trees        
are laden down with fruit.

Among blue leaves
the apples green and red
upon one tree stand out
most enshrined.        

Still, ripe, heavy,
spherical and close,
they mark the hillside.
It is a formal grandeur,

a stateliness,        
a signal of finality
and perfect ease.
Among the savage

aristocracy of rocks
one, risen as a tree,        
has turned
from his repose.

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