Return to To a Friend Concerning Several Ladies (idea)

[Sour Grapes] (1921)
[William Carlos Williams]

To a Friend Concerning Several Ladies

You know there is not much
that I desire, a few [what's perfect about fall|chrysanthemums]
half lying on the grass, yellow
and brown and white, the
talk of a few people, the trees,
an expanse of dried leaves perhaps
with ditches among them.

But there comes
between me and these things
a [letter]
or even a look--well placed,
you [I am confused by many things...|understand],
so that I am confused, twisted
four ways and--left flat,
unable to lift the food to
my own mouth:
Here is what they say: Come!
and come! and come! And if
I do not [go] I remain stale to
myself and if I go--
I have watched
the city from a distance at night
and wondered why I wrote no poem.
Come! yes,
the city is ablaze for you
and you stand and look at it.

And they are [right]. There is
no good in the world except out of
a woman and certain women alone
for certain. But what if
I arrive like a [turtle],
with my house on my back or
a fish ogling from under water?
It will not do. I must be
steaming with love, colored
like a flamingo. For what?
To have legs and a silly head
and to smell, [pah!] like a flamingo
that soils its own feathers behind.
Must I go home filled
with a bad poem?
And they say:
[What do pawns remember? |Who] can answer these things
till he has tried? Your eyes
are half closed, you are a child,
oh, a sweet one, ready to play
but I will make a man of you and
with love on his shoulder--!

And in the marshes
the crickets [run]
on the sunny dike's top and
make burrows there, the water
reflects the [reeds] and the reeds
move on their stalks and [rattle] drily.


Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner: