William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
1The pure products of America
2go crazy --
3mountain folk from Kentucky
4or the ribbed north end of
6with its isolate lakes and
7valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
9and promiscuity between
10devil-may-care men who have taken
12out of sheer lust of adventure --
13and young slatterns, bathed
15from Monday to Saturday
16to be tricked out that night
18from imaginations which have no
19peasant traditions to give them
21but flutter and flaunt
22sheer rags -- succumbing without
24save numbed terror
25under some hedge of choke-cherry
27which they cannot express --
28Unless it be that marriage
30with a dash of Indian blood
31will throw up a girl so desolate
32so hemmed round
33with disease or murder
34that she'll be rescued by an
36reared by the state and
37sent out at fifteen to work in
38some hard pressed
39house in the suburbs --
40some doctor's family, some Elsie --
42expressing with broken
43brain the truth about us --
45ungainly hips and flopping breasts
46addressed to cheap
48and rich young men with fine eyes
49as if the earth under our feet
51an excrement of some sky
52and we degraded prisoners
54to hunger until we eat filth
55while the imagination strains
57going by fields of goldenrod in
58the stifling heat of September
60it seems to destroy us
61It is only in isolate flecks that
63is given off
66and adjust, no one to drive the car
1] Elsie was the retarded nanny who came from a state orphanage to work for Williams (Litz and MacGowan, 504).
13] slatterns: slovenly women.
25] choke-cherry: wild cherry shrub.
26] viburnum: honeysuckle shrub.
57] goldenrod: plant with long stems topped by small yellow flowers.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: William Carlos Williams, Spring and All ([Paris]: Contact, 1923): 67-70. PS 3545 .I544S7 1970 Victoria College Library
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/20
Other poems by William Carlos Williams