William Carlos Williams

Here you will find the Long Poem A Celebration of poet William Carlos Williams

A Celebration

A middle-northern March, now as always-- 
gusts from the South broken against cold winds-- 
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide, 
it moves--not into April--into a second March, 

the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping 
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree 
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere. 

So we will put on our pink felt hat--new last year! 
--newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back 
the seasons--and let us walk to the orchid-house, 
see the flowers will take the prize tomorrow 
at the Palace. 
Stop here, these are our oleanders. 
When they are in bloom-- 
You would waste words 
It is clearer to me than if the pink 
were on the branch. It would be a searching in 
a colored cloud to reveal that which now, huskless, 
shows the very reason for their being. 

And these the orange-trees, in blossom--no need 
to tell with this weight of perfume in the air. 
If it were not so dark in this shed one could better 
see the white. 
It is that very perfume 
has drawn the darkness down among the leaves. 
Do I speak clearly enough? 
It is this darkness reveals that which darkness alone 
loosens and sets spinning on waxen wings-- 
not the touch of a finger-tip, not the motion 
of a sigh. A too heavy sweetness proves 
its own caretaker. 
And here are the orchids! 
Never having seen 
such gaiety I will read these flowers for you: 
This is an odd January, died--in Villon's time. 
Snow, this is and this the stain of a violet 
grew in that place the spring that foresaw its own doom. 

And this, a certain July from Iceland: 
a young woman of that place 
breathed it toward the South. It took root there. 
The color ran true but the plant is small. 

This falling spray of snow-flakes is 
a handful of dead Februaries 
prayed into flower by Rafael Arevalo Martinez 
of Guatemala. 
Here's that old friend who 
went by my side so many years: this full, fragile 
head of veined lavender. Oh that April 
that we first went with our stiff lusts 
leaving the city behind, out to the green hill-- 
May, they said she was. A hand for all of us: 
this branch of blue butterflies tied to this stem. 

June is a yellow cup I'll not name; August 
the over-heavy one. And here are-- 
russet and shiny, all but March. And March? 
Ah, March-- 
Flowers are a tiresome pastime. 
One has a wish to shake them from their pots 
root and stem, for the sun to gnaw. 

Walk out again into the cold and saunter home 
to the fire. This day has blossomed long enough. 
I have wiped out the red night and lit a blaze 
instead which will at least warm our hands 
and stir up the talk. 
I think we have kept fair time. 
Time is a green orchard.