Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Love Song

What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
I lie here thinking of you.

The stain of love
Is upon the world.
Yellow, yellow, yellow,
It eats into the leaves,
Smears with saffron
The horned branches that lean
Against a smooth purple sky.

There is no light—
Only a honey-thick stain
That drips from leaf to leaf
And limb to limb
Spoiling the colours
Of the whole world.

I am alone.
The weight of love
Has buoyed me up
Till my head
Knocks against the sky.

See me!
My hair is dripping with nectar—
Starlings carry it
On their black wings.
See, at last
My arms and my hands
Are lying idle.

How can I tell
If I shall ever love you again
As I do now?

-- William Carlos Williams

1 comment:

Katherine C. James said...

Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite WCW poems at this dark time. Did you know there is more than one version of this poem? The one you have posted here is on The Academy of American Poets site. The Poetry Foundation site has this one on reproduced pages of the November 1916 edition of its Poetry magazine, but in its listed WCW poems there is a shorter version ending with the lines, "you far off there under/the wine-red selvage of the west!" I prefer the version you posted, but I appreciate the introduction of yet another color, "wine-red," in the shorter version. In both cases, WCW speaks of the importance of love, as he does almost forty years later in his 1955 poem, Of Asphodel, where he is writing about the new world containing the atomic bomb, and says, "There is no power/So great as love/which is a sea,/which is a garden." These days, I think in particular of his lines from, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, "It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there."