March 08, 2009

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

Now the grass, tomorrow
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

Walking today, this poem refrained in my mind over and over . . . not in its entirety, I struggle to remember some of its wonderful imagery, but in its essence, its sense of sound. Or, perhaps more, in its "concentrated mind."

Here, in the beginning of March, with winds on the bayou, already signs of sluggish, dazed spring approaching..." The signs of spring are not now flamboyant as they shortly will be, but all the same, the news of this new dawning is as certain as any clarion call from past years.

Cross-posted from Poetry Patter.

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