Sour Grapes (1921)
William Carlos Williams
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.
Reality is encountered reaching a decisive point. The persona here is a widow and the reader can plainly gather she has lost her husband of thirty five years. She experiences an overwhelming of whiteness in the blossoming trees. The flaming "cold fire" predicates as paradox against the new green grass and foreshadows a life gone drab against the bright yellows and reds in her courtyard. The whiteness smothers the flame physically and emotionally and words progress; "formerly"
to "this year"
" all bring into focus the immediacy of her loss. Emotional and descriptive, Williams positions metaphors with the care of an artist where the discerning can readily watch the sacramental
white flowerings parallel the blankness of her sorrow and a foundering death wish.
Simple and poignant scholars have regarded The Widow's Lament in Springtime as:
- "A white that rouses the desire to merge with it and get lost in it is experienced as an extreme: Oppositions fuse, ecstasy leads to oblivion and annihilation, the color of joy turns - as in China - into the color of mourning."
- "'(c)rowds are white,' the sea is dark: immersion in either gives relief, a union with One, but halts the cyclic process of renewal."
James E. Breslin
- "White is a symbol of a world from which all colors as material attributes have disappeared. The world is too far above us for its structure to touch our souls. There comes a great silence which materially represented is like a cold, indestructible wall going on into the infinite. White, therefore, acts upon our psyche as a great, absolute silence, like the pauses in music that temporarily break the melody.... White has the appeal of nothingness that is before birth"
A noder whispered: Thanks for noding the "Sour Grapes" stuff. I sometimes wonder what a life without tears would be like but it only makes me sad....curses to WCW for making me sob with the widow.
On "The Widow's Lament in Springtime":
Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner: