Queen-Anne’s Lace

By William Carlos Williams 1883–1963
Her body is not so white as
anemony petals nor so smooth—nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
the field 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 blemish. Each part
is a 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.

William Carlos Williams, “Queen-Anne’s Lace” from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I, 1909-1939, edited by Christopher MacGowan. Copyright 1938, 1944, 1945 by William Carlos Williams. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Collected Poems: Volume I 1909-1939 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1938)

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Poet William Carlos Williams 1883–1963

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Subjects Trees & Flowers, Relationships, Nature, Love, Landscapes & Pastorals, The Body, Classic Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse