Treasure Island

William Carlos Williams

(17 September 1883 – 4 March 1963 / New Jersey)

A Celebration


A middle-northern March, now as always--
gusts from the South broken against cold winds--
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide,
it moves--not into April--into a second March,

the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere.

So we will put on our pink felt hat--new last year!
--newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back
the seasons--and let us walk to the orchid-house,
see the flowers will take the prize tomorrow
at the Palace.
Stop here, these are our oleanders.
When they are in bloom--
You would waste words
It is clearer to me than if the pink
were on the branch. It would be a searching in
a colored cloud to reveal that which now, huskless,
shows the very reason for their being.

And these the orange-trees, in blossom--no need
to tell with this weight of perfume in the air.
If it were not so dark in this shed one could better
see the white.
It is that very perfume
has drawn the darkness down among the leaves.
Do I speak clearly enough?
It is this darkness reveals that which darkness alone
loosens and sets spinning on waxen wings--
not the touch of a finger-tip, not the motion
of a sigh. A too heavy sweetness proves
its own caretaker.
And here are the orchids!
Never having seen
such gaiety I will read these flowers for you:
This is an odd January, died--in Villon's time.
Snow, this is and this the stain of a violet
grew in that place the spring that foresaw its own doom.

And this, a certain July from Iceland:
a young woman of that place
breathed it toward the South. It took root there.
The color ran true but the plant is small.

This falling spray of snow-flakes is
a handful of dead Februaries
prayed into flower by Rafael Arevalo Martinez
of Guatemala.
Here's that old friend who
went by my side so many years: this full, fragile
head of veined lavender. Oh that April
that we first went with our stiff lusts
leaving the city behind, out to the green hill--
May, they said she was. A hand for all of us:
this branch of blue butterflies tied to this stem.

June is a yellow cup I'll not name; August
the over-heavy one. And here are--
russet and shiny, all but March. And March?
Ah, March--
Flowers are a tiresome pastime.
One has a wish to shake them from their pots
root and stem, for the sun to gnaw.

Walk out again into the cold and saunter home
to the fire. This day has blossomed long enough.
I have wiped out the red night and lit a blaze
instead which will at least warm our hands
and stir up the talk.
I think we have kept fair time.
Time is a green orchard.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: april, pink, july, january, august, snow, june, green, city, flower, sun, woman, spring, house, tree, friend, red, fire, home, wind

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  • Christopher Manuel Garc�a Vega (12/31/2009 12:11:00 AM)

    yet, the poet, situated in the middle of March, marches back and forth every month and season of the year. the celebration goes beyond being only a fantasy, since the voice gives its own importance to each and every one. it is true that the imagery its beautiful - colourful and beautiful -, but, that the poem lacks substance? i'm not sure whether i do agree on this, for the poet knows very well how to grasp the essence of things, rather i would say it is a good reverie, which brings back memories that, perhaps, we never had... (Report) Reply

  • Sim So (4/20/2005 5:44:00 AM)

    I like this poem very much, the imagery is beautiful and it is enjoyable to read but in the end it is no more than a fantasy with little substance. The poet seems to acknowledge this himself in the lines:
    Flowers are a tiresome pastime.
    One has a wish to shake them from their pots
    root and stem, for the sun to gnaw.
    He seems to return to the winter only as an apology for dwelling too long upon the decorativeness of spring. (Report) Reply

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