William Carlos Williams

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

To Waken An Old Lady


Old age is
a flight of small
cheeping birds
skimming
bare trees
above a snow glaze.
Gaining and failing
they are buffeted
by a dark wind --
But what?
On harsh weedstalks
the flock has rested --
the snow
is covered with broken
seed husks
and the wind tempered
with a shrill
piping of plenty.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (To Waken An Old Lady by William Carlos Williams )

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  • Stanton Hager (4/1/2012 6:47:00 AM)

    WC Williams wrote this poem when he was 37 years young, which accounts for the poem's piping plenty ending. I, at 65 years OLD, dare to re-write Williams' poem, thereby making it a truer definition of old age:

    Old age is
    a flight of gray
    whispery crows
    skimming
    bare trees
    above a snow glaze.
    Gaining and failing
    they are buffeted
    by a dark wind
    until, wearied, they
    dropp from the sky
    onto broken weedstalks:
    spiked bent
    blotches
    on a white blank field
    no longer
    by the shrill wind
    disquieted.

    -Stanton Hager, March 2012 (Report) Reply

  • Yacov Mitchenko (3/15/2010 1:58:00 AM)

    Zen-like concision and beautiful flow. One of the few poems by the author that I can appreciate. (Report) Reply

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