William Carlos Williams

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



Winter is long in this climate 
and spring--a matter of a few days 
only,--a flower or two picked 
from mud or from among wet leaves 
or at best against treacherous 
bitterness of wind, and sky shining 
teasingly, then closing in black 
and sudden, with fierce jaws.


you reminded me of 
the pyramids, our pyramids-- 
stript of the polished stone 
that used to guard them! 
you are like Fra Angelico 
at Fiesole, painting on plaster! 

you are like a band of 
young poets that have not learned 
the blessedness of warmth 
(or have forgotten it). 
At any rate-- 
I am moved to write poetry 
for the warmth there is in it 
and for the loneliness-- 
a poem that shall have you 
in it March.


the archer king, on horse-back, 
in blue and yellow enamel! 
with drawn bow--facing lions 
standing on their hind legs, 
fangs bared! his shafts 
bristling in their necks! 

Sacred bulls--dragons 
in embossed brickwork 
marching--in four tiers-- 
along the sacred way to 
Nebuchadnezzar's throne hall! 
They shine in the sun, 
they that have been marching-- 
marching under the dust of 
ten thousand dirt years. 

they are coming into bloom again! 
See them! 
marching still, bared by 
the storms from my calender 
--winds that blow back the sand! 
winds that enfilade dirt! 
winds that by strange craft 
have whipt up a black army 
that by pick and shovel 
bare a procession to 
the god, Marduk! 

Natives cursing and digging 
for pay unearth dragons with 
upright tails and sacred bulls 
in four tiers-- 
lining the way to an old altar! 
Natives digging at old walls-- 
digging me warmth--digging me sweet loneliness 
high enamelled walls.


My second spring-- 
passed in a monastery 
with plaster walls--in Fiesole 
on the hill above 'Florence. 
My second spring--painted 
a virgin--in a blue aureole 
sitting on a three-legged stool, 
arms crossed-- 
she is intently serious, 
and still 
watching an angel 
with colored wings 
half kneeling before her-- 
and smiling--the angel's eyes 
holding the eyes of Mary 
as a snake's hold a bird's. 
On the ground there are flowers, 
trees are in leaf.


But! now for the battle! 
Now for murder--now for the real thing! 
My third springtime is approaching! 
lean, serious as a virgin, 
seeking, seeking the flowers of March. 

flowers nowhere to be found, 
they twine among the bare branches 
in insatiable eagerness-- 
they whirl up the snow 
seeking under it-- 
they--the winds--snakelike 
roar among yellow reeds 
seeking flowers--flowers. 

I spring among them 
seeking one flower 
in which to warm myself! 

I deride with all the ridicule 
of misery-- 
my own starved misery. 

Counter-cutting winds 
strike against me 
refreshing their fury! 

Come, good, cold fellows! 
Have we no flowers? 
Defy then with even more 
desperation than ever--being 
lean and frozen! 

But though you are lean and frozen-- 
think of the blue bulls of Babylon. 

Fling yourselves upon 
their empty roses-- 
cut savagely! 

think of the painted monastery 
at Fiesole.