Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Poems for the Day

The other day I commented on how at first blush (and for some time after) Stevens' poems didn't do much for me. I've been thinking of the poems and poets from that survey (which also happened to be contemporaneous with the time that I began really trying to write poetry) that really seemed to matter to me at that time. I was more taken by the Imagists than anything. So here are a few golden oldies that I'm sure you know. I've been thinking about why they mattered so much then and why I don't think more about them.

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In a Station of the Metro
Ezra Pound

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.


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All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre as of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees, unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.

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Queen Anne's Lace
William Carlos Williams

Her body is not so white as
anemone petals nor so smooth - nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
the field by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
white as can be, with a purple mole
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand's span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blemish. Each part
is a blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
until the whole field is a
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over--
or nothing.

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