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Selected Poems

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  11,975 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
Opening with Professor Tomlinson's superbly clear and helpful introduction this selection reflects the most up-to-date Williams scholarship. In addition to including many more pieces, Tomlinson has organized the whole in chronological order.

It isn't what he [the poet] says that counts as a work of art," Williams maintained, "it's what he makes, with such intensity of purpo
Paperback, 302 pages
Published September 17th 1985 by New Directions (first published 1949)
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sweet jane
Feb 14, 2017 sweet jane rated it really liked it
"The Mind Hesitant"

Sometimes the river
becomes a river in the mind
or of the mind
or in and of the mind

Its banks snow
the tide falling a dark
rim lies between
the water and the shore

And the mind hesitant
regarding the stream
a likeness which it

will find—a complex
image: something
of white brows
bound by a ribbon

of sooty thought
beyond, yes well beyond
the mobile features
of swiftly

flowing waters, before
the tide will
and rise again, maybe

Άκουσα για πρώτη φορά τον William Carlos Williams στο Paters
Dec 28, 2015 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetshere
the faces are raised
as toward the light
there is no detail extraneous

You know, I credit Mike Puma with this turn, oh and Robert Zimmerman and maybe Ezra Pound. All these loose associations led a curious thrust into verse these last days of 2015. It might prove habit forming. There is something remarkable to wake from a deep slumber and find traction into verse. My initial encounters were ill defined. Form was found as I progressed.

Without other cost than breath
and the poor soul,
carried in the c
Apr 28, 2010 Madeline rated it it was ok
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
Dec 02, 2010 Melee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Mar 21, 2013 Dolors rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 29, 2012 Myles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Khashayar Mohammadi
Can't say its the best poetry collection of his
Shawn Sorensen
Oct 04, 2008 Shawn Sorensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Nov 28, 2012 Kaion rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, reviewed
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)
Jul 17, 2007 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
May 16, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
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."

Apr 05, 2008 Rich rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 30, 2013 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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)

Antonio Delgado
Mar 28, 2017 Antonio Delgado rated it it was amazing
These poems teach us how to perceive the complexity of reality with wordy eyes.
Jul 14, 2013 wally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

May 17, 2012 Ben rated it liked it
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
Jan 21, 2013 R.a. rated it really liked it

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
Eric Phetteplace
Aug 01, 2007 Eric Phetteplace rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
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...
Nov 30, 2007 Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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.
Martin Bihl
Mar 02, 2008 Martin Bihl rated it really liked it
This guy knew what poetry was about and almost every one of these poems is like a moment captured in amber. Read it!
Oct 05, 2008 Tye rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: beautiful things
Recommended to Tye by: intuition
Shelves: favorites
best book of poetry. not even close. WCW destroys me.
Feb 24, 2017 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
- Danse Russe, pg. 9

Dec 13, 2016 Paula rated it it was amazing
The words in this book flow like a powerful river with wide and slow parts where you can spend prolonged moments of sight seeing of beautiful views spreading peace into your heart, and with deep and narrow ones which might give you the feeling of crossing through rapids bringing cascade of emotions and stirring up thoughts. Such an awesome journey in a world of undisguised beauty! I felt flames coming out of the poems some of them gentle which warmed up my day, and others very strong, which deep ...more
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees

Странно ми се стори колко силно въздействие оказват върху мен Езра Паунд и е.е. къмингс, и същевременно колко бездушна ме остави Уилямс. Е, има бисерчета тук- там, но определено бе разочароващо изживяване. Много надежда и очаквания имах за него. В общи линии, ако трябва да цитирам него самия, Уилямс за мен се оказа "поет когото уважавам/ но/ не споделям възгледите му/ относно/ поетическата техника".

/#notetoself Прочетох си все п
Jan 10, 2017 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect you have to want to like it
Michael Arnold
Oct 03, 2015 Michael Arnold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poetry
This is a very interesting collection, one I enjoyed very much. I think at times Williams was a victim of his own ideas - the constant imagist drive to be new and simple in language but complex in interpretation has lead to some of his poems being frankly aestheticlally uninteresting but famous, like 'Red Wheelbarrow' and 'Just to Say'. They aren't 'beautiful', actually they were simple observations (NOT simplistic) that stand for universal truths.

This finding the universal in the particular is
Sean A.
Nov 22, 2012 Sean A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Ian Mathers
Jul 30, 2015 Ian Mathers rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2015
Really, this and the Larkin were both more like 3.5 stars, but this towards the higher and that towards the lower, so... as contrasted to Larkin, though, here I found the most famous works ("This Is Just to Say" and "The Red Wheelbarrow") among the best or most resonant work. If anything, this has done a better job than many Selected Poems-type works of making me want to investigate further; the excerpt from Two Pendants: For the Ears is excellent, and the selections from Paterson, while not ear ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Dawn rated it it was amazing
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
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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...

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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.” 3 likes
More quotes…