KR OnlinePoetry


First Published in The Kenyon Review, Summer 1948, Vol. X, No. 3

In the center, above the basin,
the mirror. To the left of
it the Maxfield Parrish, Ulysses
at Sea his small ship coming
fog threatened from between
Scylla and Charybdis. And
to the right the girl of nine,
play-pail in hand, bareheaded upon
a dune-crest facing the shining
waters. There you have it,
unexcelled as feeling. What
of it? Well, we live among
the birds and bees in vain unless
there result—now or then—
a presentation to which
these two presentations serve
as humble stop-gaps—to invoke
for us a whole realm, compact of
inverted nature, straining
within the imprisoned mind to
free us . . . Well, to free us.
At which, seeing in the pasture
horses among the brambles,
hearing the wind sigh,
we broach the chaos—unless
Valéry be mistaken—of
the technical where stand waiting
for us or nowhere the tree-lined
avenues of our desires.

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) was a major writer in the modernist movement. His works include Kora in Hell (1920), Spring and All (1923), and Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems (1962). Williams was a highly acclaimed writer, winning the National Book Award in 1950 and the Pulitzer Prize in 1963.