- I HAVE discovered that most of
- the beauties of travel are due to
- the strange hours we keep to see them:
- the domes of the Church of
- the Paulist Fathers in Weehawken
- against a smoky dawn -- the heart stirred --
- are beautiful as Saint Peters
- approached after years of anticipation.
- Though the operation was postponed
- I saw the tall probationers
- in their tan uniforms
- hurrying to breakfast!
- -- and from basement entries
- neatly coiffed, middle aged gentlemen
- with orderly moustaches and
- well-brushed coats
- -- and the sun, dipping into the avenues
- streaking the tops of
- the irregular red houselets,
- the gay shadows drooping and drooping.
- -- and a young horse with a green bed-quilt
- on his withers shaking his head:
- bared teeth and nozzle high in the air!
- --and a semicircle of dirt-colored men
- about a fire bursting from an old
- ash can,
- -- and the worn,
- blue car rails (like the sky!)
- gleaming among the cobbles!
- -- and the rickety ferry-boat "Arden"!
- What an object to be called "Arden"
- among the great piers, -- on the
- ever new river!
- "Put me a Touchstone
- at the wheel, white gulls, and we'll
- follow the ghost of the Half Moon
- to the North West Passage -- and through!
- (at Albany!) for all that!"
- Exquisite brown waves -- long
- circlets of silver moving over you!
- enough with crumbling ice crusts among you!
- The sky has come down to you,
- lighter than tiny bubbles, face to
- face with you!
- His spirit is
- a white gull with delicate pink feet
- and a snowy breast for you to
- hold to your lips delicately!
- The young doctor is dancing with happiness
- in the sparkling wind, alone
- at the prow of the ferry! He notices
- the curdy barnacles and broken ice crusts
- left at the slip's base by the low tide
- and thinks of summer and green
- shell-crusted ledges among
- the emerald eel-grass!
- Who knows the Palisades as I do
- knows the river breaks east from them
- above the city -- but they continue south
- -- under the sky -- to bear a crest of
- little peering houses that brighten
- with dawn behind the moody
- water-loving giants of Manhattan.
- Long yellow rushes bending
- above the white snow patches;
- purple and gold ribbon
- of the distant wood:
- what an angle
- you make with each other as
- you lie there in contemplation.
- Work hard all your young days
- and they'll find you too, some morning
- staring up under
- your chiffonier at its warped
- bass-wood bottom and your soul --
- -- among the little sparrows
- behind the shutter.
- -- and the flapping flags are at
- half-mast for the dead admiral.
- All this --
- was for you, old woman.
- I wanted to write a poem
- that you would understand.
- For what good is it to me
- if you can't understand it?
- But you got to try hard --
- But --
- Well, you know how
- the young girls run giggling
- on Park Avenue after dark
- when they ought to be home in bed?
- that's the way it is with me somehow.
- William Carlos Williams
Index to poems in the collection by William Carlos Williams