Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Selected Poems” as Want to Read:
Selected Poems
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Selected Poems

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  10,186 ratings  ·  117 reviews
For his Selected Poems, C. K. Williams has chosen from three decades of his work - ranging from his early poems to a group of new poems - to produce a volume that represents every aspect of his remarkable career. The book opens with poems from Lies (1969) and I Am the Bitter Name (1971), which introduced Williams as one of the most gifted poets of his generation, and moves ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published September 17th 1985 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published 1949)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
74th out of 1,504 books — 1,670 voters
The Iliad/The Odyssey by HomerInferno by Dante AlighieriShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareJohn Donne's Poetry by John DonneSongs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake
The Well Educated Mind Poetry Genre
18th out of 39 books — 2 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
William Carlos Williams frustrates me. I just don't get him, and that makes me mad.

He writes stuff like this:

"so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

and I don't know what the hell he's talking about. In my poetry class we spent at least 45 minutes discussing those four stanzas and we still have no idea what the damn poem is even trying to be about.

*shakes fist at sky* WILLIAMS!

Read for: Modern Poetry
Analysis of "Young Woman at a window"

As it happened with Ezra Pound's poem "In a Station of the Metro", which was at first a thirty lines poem reduced finally to two verses, we are confronted by two versions of the same poem by Williams. In both cases, the second versions were reduced and condensed into something clear and straightforward as an image. And that is exactly what defines the Imagism Movement, to use language employing the exact, not nearly-exact, but THE EXACT word, without
This Is Just to Say

I have finished
the book
by William
Carlos Williams

and which
was edited by
a Robert

I am sorry
for it was lovely
and now
it's done
i dont think ill ever be a
fan of william carlos williams what kind of
dude does the

red wheelbarrow
the kind with a lastname first name the
same as his last

name anyway
he didnt only write in

adverbscostextra but also
jagged modern or
neoclassic paint

excised of canvas in his
a real formalist


"Queen Anne's Lace" (view spoiler)
Shawn Sorensen
This is what poetry should be - unabashed, symbolic, conversational, creative and reflective of a view mainly outside of oneself in the sense that is has something to cause others to 'go outside', too. Stylistically, Williams is hard to beat - layers of subtle rhymes, repeats in the right places, the confidence to lay off the punctuation (except for the exclamation mark!) and very economical with word choice. The substance can be weighty, yet Williams is gracious enough to leave most interpretat ...more
Apr 11, 2009 Laura added it
From the Introduction by Randall Jarrell:

"When you have read Paterson you know for the rest of your life what it is like to be a waterfall; and what other poet has turned so many of his readers into trees?"

I like "Dedication for a Plot of Ground," a tribute to Emily Dickinson, which ends with "If you can bring nothing to this place / but your carcass, keep out."

And of course this from the beginning of "Love Song":
"I lie here thinking of you:-- / the stain of love / is upon the world!"

Not just
I have known that cat (p70) and I thrill in the knowledge that you have given in to the need for plums.. (p74). I cannot resist a quiet visit with WCW every once in a while, to celebrate the simply elaborate human condition.
Dec 16, 2009 Meg marked it as to-read
I've always wanted to read Williams... mostly because it cracks me up to no end--imagining his parents sitting there over their cute newborn baby, shaking their heads to each other. In my creative scenario, his dad says, "Nope... no, sir... can't think of a better name..." And the mom offers, "Aww, shucks, just go with William Williams. Nobody'll ever see the kid's name in print, anyway."

Poetry stripped of its wreaths and laurels, made sharp, laconic, and painful. At one point, Williams notes how the remains of a shattered cathedral window strewn out on the ground is of greater value than its original form. He is perpetually angry at a static world, complacent in its old age. So he goes out, writes, and smashes everything he sees. My kind of man.
Apr 05, 2008 Rich rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Basically, if anybody wants to understand contemporary free verse in America, they should read Whitman first, and Williams second. Williams pioneered the simple, seemingly effortless looking poem that relied on vivid imagery and line breaks as organizational principals.
There is a bond between the poet and reader expressed by William Carlos Williams:

I wanted to write a poem
that you would understand.
For what good is it to me
if you can't understand it?
But you got to try hard --
from "January Morning" (XV)


Simply, this is a wonderful collection. Williams’ poems are joyful, sad, mocking, serious, sensual, etc. But, most of all, they are dense.

Although not strict in form in some sense, many and most are strict in form in another sense—with regard to rhythm, meter, and imagery.

The favorites are here, too: “This is just to say,” “The Red Wheelbarrow,” etc.

Also collected here are various poems throughout his writing career; and, they are arranged that way—in chronological order, (with the exception of
another read i can skip this one from page 67:

to a poor old woman
munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

they taste good to her
they taste good
to her. they taste
good to her

you can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
they taste good to her

and there's my title...or one of many...i like the one i've got though...that one...looks good, a solace of ripe plums

The poems were good, more style than substance though (for me), not that that's necessarily a bad thing. I enjoy poets that speak to me, though, that move me (like Langston Hughes, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Blake, Rimbaud), and Williams didn't really move me. Williams is certainly a "vivid" poet, as Octavio Paz described him -- his verse draws clear images in my mind of the America in which he lived -- but not a deeply passionate one, like, say, Hughes or Ferlinghetti. I enjoyed his later collecti ...more
Eric Phetteplace
I like the raw, Americanness of the book, the sometimes proletarian focus, the restrained yet often brilliant usage of form. In the end though, too much nature poetry. There's nothing I'm more wary of than poetry that romanticizes nature, except maybe love poems that romanticize love and women and men etc...
though it is difficult to say, i think he is my favorite poet. full of scenes from moments of life, straight to the kernal of the thing, sexual at times, american in rhythm and syntax and subject. everday subjects perhaps but not everday in style and philosophy.
solid. obscure at times-- i tend to favor his more accessible, simply worded poetry, i.e., The Red Wheelbarrow, et al. Those poems are included in this collection as well. Interesting to read his extended poem "Paterson" on the town of Paterson, NJ. Paterson is nothing like that, imho. Give me a pen: i'll write volumes on that place and it won't be too pretty, but it'll be true. He was just communicating his reality, though, which is probably different from a modern perspective on the town. Agai ...more
Lucas Miller
Purchased years and years ago. I'd never really taken the time to move past the familiar poems from the 1920s, but this reading really opened my eyes, not just to the diversity of William's work, but to its lasting significance. Again and again while reading I found myself reverse engineering allusions to Williams and his far flung influence on poems and prose I've been reading all along. It's a commonplace to say that Williams is a cornerstone of American poetry in the 20th century, and I suppo ...more
This guy knew what poetry was about and almost every one of these poems is like a moment captured in amber. Read it!
Oct 06, 2008 Tye rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: beautiful things
Recommended to Tye by: intuition
Shelves: favorites
best book of poetry. not even close. WCW destroys me.
cras culture
these poems happen to be brimming with trees, bushes, but also the suburbs and the city, as well as a constant and puzzling love, both of simplified objects and (i presume) his wife.
lets examine;...

how about williams' form itself?; which is what got williams such a marvelous reputation as he currently enjoys...
well, i think there are a couple great ways to take full advantage of free verse...long breathless unadulterated lines with a million images an hour jammed into them, such as ginsberg
Oct 18, 2013 Dawn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
"He's dead
the dog won't have to
sleep on his potatoes
any more to keep them
from freezing

he's dead
the old bastard—
He's a bastard because

there's nothing
legitimate in him any
he's dead
He's sick-dead

a godforsaken curio
any breath in it

He's nothing at all
he's dead
shrunken up to skin

Put his head on
one chair and his
feet on another and
he'll lie there
like an acrobat—

Love's beaten. He
beat it. That's why
he's insufferable—

he's here needing a
shave and making love
an inside howl
of anguis
"He's dead
the dog won't have to
sleep on his potatoes
any more to keep them
from freezing

he's dead
the old bastard—
He's a bastard because

there's nothing
legitimate in him any
he's dead
He's sick-dead

a godforsaken curio
any breath in it

He's nothing at all
he's dead
shrunken up to skin

Put his head on
one chair and his
feet on another and
he'll lie there
like an acrobat—

Love's beaten. He
beat it. That's why
he's insufferable—

he's here needing a
shave and making love
an inside howl
of anguis
آه ، ای گربه سیاه ایرانی
آیا زندگی ی تو
نفرین نگشته با فرزندانی ؟
ما تو را برای استراحت
بردیم به آن مزرعه قدیمی ی
آمریکایی ، چقدر تنها
با آن همه موش های صحرایی
در میان علف های بلند
و تو بازگشتی به سوی ما
با این حال

آه ، گربه سیاه ایرانی

ترجمه ی این گزیده از اشعار کوتاه ویلیامز چندان شاعرانه و ظریف نیست اما شعر او زنده است و رنگ دارد حتی اگر از اسطوره های ساخته ازرا پاند گله مند باشد و خود را در برابر شعر او سگ لنگ سه پایی بداند:


munching a plum on
the street a p
Beautiful Poetry!

And yet one arrives somehow,
finds himself loosening the hooks of
her dress
in a strange bedroom--
feels the autumn
dropping its silk and linen leaves
about her ankles.
The tawdry veined body emerges
twisted upon itself
like a winter wind . . . !
Andrew Reynolds
Okay stuff. Some is hard to read, some makes no sense, some is very good. If I were a better poet, I would have written a review in verse.
Kevin Brown
I hate to give such an author a mediocre rating, but it's a large collection of poems. Thus, it's going to be rather inconsistent, as it was. However, it really did broaden my view of WCW, as I really knew him for the short poems that are often anthologized ("The Red Wheelbarrow" and "This is Just to Say," especially). However, he has much longer poems (not even counting Paterson, a very long poem), and he has many more narrative poems than I would have guessed. It was an interesting read, and I ...more
Melissa Kapow
I wanted to love this, and worry for my apparently less-than-poetic soul. Maybe there was too much buildup of "this is the most important poet you will read, this is "the image" guy"! Maybe it's that he was a doctor and I've worked with too many doctors who are in love with the sound of their own voice and I'm jaded. Some of the poems were delicate and felt perfect, some made me frustrated. Not nearly enough of them made me feel anything at all. So am I disappointed in the poems themselves? Or i ...more
Karen Jean Matsko Hood
I love the poems of Carlos Williams and will be reading more of his books . Karen jean Matsko Hood
Jan 24, 2010 H added it
Shelves: poetry-americas
"The Poor"

It's the anarchy of poverty
delights me, the old
yellow wooden house indented
among the new brick tenements

Or a cast-iron balcony
with panels showing oak branches
in full leaf. It fits
the dress of the children

reflecting every stage and
custom of necessity--
Chimneys, roofs, fences of
wood and metal in an unfenced

age and enclosing next to
nothing at all: the old man
in a sweater and soft black
hat who sweeps the sidewalk--

his own ten feet of it
in a wind that fitfully
turning his corner has
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Collected Poems
  • Complete Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
  • The Collected Poems, 1945-1975
  • Selected Poems
  • Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
  • Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
  • The Dream Songs: Poems
  • Collected Poems, 1912-1944
  • The Collected Poems
  • Diving Into the Wreck
  • The Maximus Poems
  • W. H. Auden: Selected Poems
  • A Coney Island of the Mind
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy
  • Collected Poems
William Carlos Williams was an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. He was also a pediatrician and general practitioner of medicine. Williams "worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician," wrote biographer Linda Wagner-Martin. During his long lifetime, Williams excelled both as a poet and a physician.

Although his primary occupation was as a doctor, Will
More about William Carlos Williams...
The Collected Poems, Vol. 1: 1909-1939 The Collected Poems, Vol. 2: 1939-1962 Paterson Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems: Collected Poems, 1950-1962 Spring and All

Share This Book

The Last Words of My English Grandmother

There were some dirty plates
and a glass of milk
beside her on a small table
near the rank, disheveled bed--

Wrinkled and nearly blind
she lay and snored
rousing with anger in her tones
to cry for food,

Gimme something to eat--
They're starving me--
I'm all right--I won't go
to the hospital. No, no, no

Give me something to eat!
Let me take you
to the hospital, I said
and after you are well

you can do as you please.
She smiled, Yes
you do what you please first
then I can do what I please--

Oh, oh, oh! she cried
as the ambulance men lifted
her to the stretcher--
Is this what you call

making me comfortable?
By now her mind was clear--
Oh you think you're smart
you young people,

she said, but I'll tell you
you don't know anything.
Then we started.
On the way

we passed a long row
of elms. She looked at them
awhile out of
the ambulance window and said,

What are all those
fuzzy looking things out there?
Trees? Well, I'm tired
of them and rolled her head away.”
“they are mystified by certain instances.” 1 likes
More quotes…