Listen to Genius: free audiobook downoads
PUBLISHED BY REDWOOD AUDIOBOOKS  |  WORLD LITERATURE  |  FAMOUS AUTHORS  |  AWARD-WINNING NARRATORS
Home/Authors  |  Titles  |  Categories  |  Fables & Tales  |  Baseball Lessons  |  Narrators
university press audiobooks

William Carlos Williams

American Poet

1883-1963


SELECTED POEMS

Narrated by Jeff Riggenbach

Download mp3 file: Selected Poems

This file is 5.5 MB; running time is 12 minutes
alternate download link


Love Song

SWEEP the house clean,
hang fresh curtains
in the windows
put on a new dress
and come with me!
The elm is scattering
its little loaves
of sweet smells
from a white sky!

Who shall hear of us
in the time to come?
Let him say there was
a burst of fragrance
from black branches.

Dawn

ECSTATIC bird songs pound
the hollow vastness of the sky
with metallic clinkings—
beating color up into it
at a far edge,—beating it, beating it
with rising, triumphant ardor,—
stirring it into warmth,
quickening in it a spreading change,—
bursting wildly against it as
dividing the horizon, a heavy sun
lifts himself—is lifted—
bit by bit above the edge
of things,—runs free at last
out into the open—!lumbering
glorified in full release upward—
                              songs cease.

January Morning

Suite:

I HAVE discovered that most of
the beauties of travel are due to
the strange hours we keep to see them:

the domes of the Church of
the Paulist Fathers in Weehawken
against a smoky dawn — the heart stirred —
are beautiful as Saint Peters
approached after years of anticipation.

Though the operation was postponed
I saw the tall probationers
in their tan uniforms
              hurrying to breakfast!

— and from basement entries
neatly coiffed, middle aged gentlemen
with orderly moustaches and
well-brushed coats

— and the sun, dipping into the avenues
streaking the tops of
the irregular red houselets,
             and
the gay shadows drooping and drooping.

— and a young horse with a green bed-quilt
on his withers shaking his head:
bared teeth and nozzle high in the air!

—and a semicircle of dirt-colored men
about a fire bursting from an old
ash can,

— and the worn,
blue car rails (like the sky!)
gleaming among the cobbles!

— and the rickety ferry-boat "Arden"!
What an object to be called "Arden"
among the great piers, — on the
ever new river!
     "Put me a Touchstone
at the wheel, white gulls, and we'll
follow the ghost of the Half Moon
to the North West Passage — and through!
(at Albany!) for all that!"

Exquisite brown waves — long
circlets of silver moving over you!
enough with crumbling ice crusts among you!
The sky has come down to you,
lighter than tiny bubbles, face to
face with you!
    His spirit is
a white gull with delicate pink feet
and a snowy breast for you to
hold to your lips delicately!

The young doctor is dancing with happiness
in the sparkling wind, alone
at the prow of the ferry! He notices
the curdy barnacles and broken ice crusts
left at the slip's base by the low tide
and thinks of summer and green
shell-crusted ledges among
        the emerald eel-grass!

Who knows the Palisades as I do
knows the river breaks east from them
above the city — but they continue south
— under the sky — to bear a crest of
little peering houses that brighten
with dawn behind the moody
water-loving giants of Manhattan.

Long yellow rushes bending
above the white snow patches;
purple and gold ribbon
of the distant wood:
   what an angle
you make with each other as
you lie there in contemplation.

Work hard all your young days
and they'll find you too, some morning
staring up under
your chiffonier at its warped
bass-wood bottom and your soul —
out!
— among the little sparrows
behind the shutter.

— and the flapping flags are at
half-mast for the dead admiral.

All this —
was for you, old woman.
I wanted to write a poem
that you would understand.
For what good is it to me
if you can't understand it?
   But you got to try hard —
But —
      Well, you know how
the young girls run giggling
on Park Avenue after dark
when they ought to be home in bed?
Well,
that's the way it is with me somehow.

The Young Housewife

AT ten A.M. the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband's house.
I pass solitary in my car.

Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.

The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.

Portrait of a Lady

YOUR thighs are appletrees
whose blossoms touch the sky.
Which sky? The sky
where Watteau hung a lady's
slipper. Your knees
are a southern breeze—or
a gust of snow. Agh! what
sort of man was Fragonard?
—as if that answered
anything. Ah, yes—below
the knees, since the tune
drops that way, it is
one of those white summer days,
the tall grass of your ankles
flickers upon the shore—
Which shore?—
the sand clings to my lips—
Which shore?
Agh, petals maybe. How
should I know?
Which shore? Which shore?
I said petals from an appletree.

Danse Russe

IF when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

To Waken an Old Lady

OLD age is
a flight of small
cheeping birds
skimming
bare trees above a snow glaze.
Gaining and failing
they are buffeted
by a dark wind—
But what?
On harsh weedstalks
the flock has rested,
the snow
is covered with broken
seedhusks
and the wind tempered
by a shrill
piping of plenty.

The Widow's Lament in Springtime

SORROW is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirtyfive years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.

Queen Anne's Lace

HER body is not so white as
anemone petals nor so smooth—nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
thefield by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
white as can be, with a purple mole
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand's span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
until the whole field is a
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over—
or nothing.

Pastoral

WHEN I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best of all colors.

No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation.

Dedication For a Plot of Ground

THIS plot of ground
facing the waters of this inlet
is dedicated to the living presence of
Emily Dickinson Wellcome
who was born in England; married;
lost her husband and with
her five year old son
sailed for New York in a two-master;
was driven to the Azores;
ran adrift on Fire Island shoal,
met her second husband
in a Brooklyn boarding house,
went with him to Puerto Rico
bore three more children, lost
her second husband, lived hard
for eight years in St. Thomas,
Puerto Rico, San Domingo, followed
the oldest son to New York,
lost her daughter, lost her "baby,"
seized the two boys of
the oldest son by the second marriage
mothered them — they being
motherless — fought for them
against the other grandmother
and the aunts, brought them here
summer after summer, defended
herself here against thieves,
storms, sun, fire,
against flies, against girls
that came smelling about, against
drought, against weeds, storm-tides,
neighbors, weasels that stole her chickens,
against the weakness of her own hands,
against the growing strength of
the boys, against wind, against
the stones, against trespassers,
against rents, against her own mind.

She grubbed this earth with her own hands,
domineered over this grass plot,
blackguarded her oldest son
into buying it, lived here fifteen years,
attained a final loneliness and —

If you can bring nothing to this place
but your carcass, keep out.

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
firetruck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

More information about William Carlos Williams from Wikipedia

More selections from American Poets:




More selections (48) in this category: Poetry

More selections (163) in the iTunes category: Arts/Literature

university press audiobooks
A Short History of Film



Barbecue The History of an American Institution



Patton's Pawns The 94th US Infantry Division at the Siegfried Line



More Than They Bargained For Scott Walker, Unions, and the Fight for Wisconsin



The Taste for Civilization Food, Politics, and Civil Society



Brothels, Bordellos, and Bad Girls Prostitution in Colorado, 1860-1930



Journey into Darkness Genocide in Rwanda



Shyness How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness



Cyber Blockades



Paleontology A Brief History of Life



The Worst of Evils The Fight Against Pain



Early Humans A Chelsea House Title



Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial The Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder



Creating Capabilities The Human Development Approach



Discourse and Defiance under Nazi Occupation Guernsey, Channel Islands, 1940-1945



My Father's War Fighting with the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II



Forever Mame The Life of Rosalind Russell



Timberline, U.S.A. High-Country Encounters from California to Maine



Hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico



After Eden  The Evolution of Human Domination



The Struggle for America's Promise Equal Opportunity at the Dawn of Corporate Capital



One Dog Happy



Torture and Impunity The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation



American Christianity The Continuing Revolution



Executing Democracy  Volume One: Capital Punishment & the Making of America, 1683-1807



Leonard Bernstein The Political Life of an American Musician



Deep Brain Stimulation A New Treatment Shows Promise in the Most Difficult Cases



Labor's Time Shorter Hours, the UAW, and the Struggle for American Unionism



The Jet Sex Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon



The X-15 Rocket Plane Flying the First Wings into Space



Analyzing Intelligence Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations



To the Limit of Endurance A Battalion of Marines in the Great War



The Civil Rights Movement



One of Us A Family’s Life with Autism



Aesthetics   |   Baseball Lessons   |   Business & Economics   |   Drama   |   Fables & Tales   |   History/Society/Politics   |   Human Sciences   |   Medicine   |   Novels   |   Philosophy   |   Poetry   |   Science   |   Short Stories   |   Travel/Adventure   |   iTunes Categories   |   Links