Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Spring and All" A Reflection on William Carlos Williams' Poem

It's a glorious poem* for today, this piece from William Carlos Williams. (Thank you Writer's Almanac!) Stark imagery, cold imagery, shifting-from -a-dank- and-dark -death imagery: Spring!

My favorite lines, phrases, words:

They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter.

wildcarrot leaf

stark dignity of

profound change

I think of my friend Sr. Rafael. I think of picking carrots in her garden, the Franciscan's garden at Assisi Heights. I think of the Sugar Maple outside my front door, with it's varigated leaves. I think of the courage it takes to break through frozen soil, and then wonder whether it's really anything like courage, or rather simple necessity, life force to enter this realm? I think of what each one of us experienced in our own births. Through the canal or lifted from a cut open belly.

"We are here!"

Are we rooted? Are we awake?

I wonder what William Carlos Williams' birth was like? Who was his mother? How many springs did he observe? How many births did he know?
Does he have a favorite tree?
I wonder if he ever spent time in that contagious hospital? What might a person catch there?
Is hope contagious?
What kind of dignified entrances are made in love? In creation?
How do we dig down? When do we let go or release?
What all is certain this Spring?

Enjoy the poem! Happy contemplating and questioning. I invite you all to respond in your own spirit, sphere of being.


Poem: "Spring and All" by William Carlos Williams, from Collected Poems Vol. 1. © New Directions. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Spring and All

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 a leaf

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

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