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His Carpets Flowered

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William Morris

I
—how we’re carpet-making
by the river
a long dream to unroll
and somehow time to pole
a boat
 
I designed a carpet today—
dogtooth violets
and spoke to a full hall
now that the gall
of our society’s
 
corruption stains throughout
Dear Janey I am tossed
by many things
If the change would bring
better art
 
but if it would not?
O to be home to sail the flood
I’m possessed
and do possess
Employer
 
of labor, true—
to get done
the work of the hand…
I’d be a rich man
had I yielded
 
on a few points of principle
Item sabots
blouse—
I work in the dye-house
myself
 
Good sport dyeing
tapestry wool
I like the indigo vats
I’m drawing patterns so fast
Last night
 
in sleep I drew a sausage—
somehow I had to eat it first
Colorful shores—mouse ear...
horse-mint... The Strawberry Thief
our new chintz
 
 
II
Yeats saw the betterment of the workers
by religion—slow in any case
as the drying of the moon
He was not understood—
I rang the bell
 
for him to sit down
Yeats left the lecture circuit
yet he could say: no one
so well loved
as Morris
 
 
III
Entered new waters
Studied Icelandic
At home last minute signs
to post:
Vetch
 
grows here—Please do not mow
We saw it—Iceland—the end
of the world rising out of the sea—
cliffs, caves like 13th century
illuminations
 
of hell-mouths
Rain squalls through moonlight
Cold wet
is so damned wet
Iceland’s
 
black sand
Stone buntings’
fly-up-dispersion
Sea-pink and campion a Persian
carpet

Lorine Niedecker, "His Carpets Flowered" from Collected Works. Copyright © 2004 by Lorine Niedecker.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.
Source: Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works (University of California Press, 2004)
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His Carpets Flowered

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