Kora in Hell: Improvisations XI

By William Carlos Williams 1883–1963

XI
 
1
 
     Why pretend to remember the weather two years back? Why not? Listen close then repeat after others what they have just said and win a reputation for vivacity. Oh feed upon petals of edelweiss! one dew drop, if it be from the right flower, is five years’ drink!

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     Having once taken the plunge the situation that preceded it becomes obsolete  which a moment before was alive with malignant rigidities.
 
2
 
     When beldams dig clams their fat hams (it’s always beldams) balanced near Tellus’s hide, this rhinoceros pelt, these lumped stone—buffoonery of midges on a bull’s thigh—invoke,—what you will: birth’s glut, awe at God’s craft, youth’s poverty, evolution of a child’s caper, man’s poor inconsequence. Eclipse of all things; sun’s self turned hen’s rump.
 
     Cross a knife and fork and listen to the church bells! It is the harvest moon’s made wine of our blood. Up over the dark factory into the blue glare start the young poplars. They whisper: It is Sunday! It is Sunday! But the laws of the country have been stripped bare of leaves. Out over the marshes flickers our laughter. A lewd anecdote’s the chase. On through the vapory heather! And there at banter’s edge the city looks at us sidelong with great eyes—lifts to its lips heavenly milk! Lucina, O Lucina! beneficent cow, how have we offended thee?
 
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     Hilariously happy because of some obscure wine of the fancy which they have drunk four rollicking companions take delight in the thought that they have thus evaded the stringent laws of the county. Seeing the distant city bathed in moonlight and staring seriously at them they liken the moon to a cow and its light to milk.

Source: Imaginations (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1970)

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Poet William Carlos Williams 1883–1963

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Weather, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 William Carlos Williams

Biography

William Carlos Williams has always been known as an experimenter, an innovator, a revolutionary figure in American poetry. Yet in comparison to artists of his own time who sought a new environment for creativity as expatriates in Europe, Williams lived a remarkably conventional life. A doctor for more than forty years serving the New Jersey town of Rutherford, he relied on his patients, the America around him, and his own . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Weather, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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