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Poem by William Carlos Williams


March


I

  Winter is long in this climate
  and spring--a matter of a few days
  only,--a flower or two picked
  from mud or from among wet leaves
  or at best against treacherous
  bitterness of wind, and sky shining
  teasingly, then closing in black
  and sudden, with fierce jaws.

II

  March,
        you remind me of
  the pyramids, our pyramids--
  stript of the polished stone
  that used to guard them!
                           March,
  you are like Fra Angelico
  at Fiesole, painting on plaster!

  March,
        you are like a band of
  young poets that have not learned
  the blessedness of warmth
  (or have forgotten it).

  At any rate--
  I am moved to write poetry
  for the warmth there is in it
  and for the loneliness--
  a poem that shall have you
          in it March.

III

  See!
       Ashur-ban-i-pal,
  the archer king, on horse-back,
  in blue and yellow enamel!
  with drawn bow--facing lions
  standing on their hind legs,
  fangs bared! his shafts
  bristling in their necks!

  Sacred bulls--dragons
  in embossed brickwork
  marching--in four tiers--
  along the sacred way to
  Nebuchadnezzar's throne hall!
  They shine in the sun,
  they that have been marching--
  marching under the dust of
  ten thousand dirt years.

  Now--
  they are coming into bloom again!
  See them!
  marching still, bared by
  the storms from my calendar
  --winds that blow back the sand!
  winds that enfilade dirt!
  winds that by strange craft
  have whipt up a black army
  that by pick and shovel
  bare a procession to
                      the god, Marduk!

  Natives cursing and digging
  for pay unearth dragons with
  upright tails and sacred bulls
  alternately--
               in four tiers--
  lining the way to an old altar!
  Natives digging at old walls--
  digging me warmth--digging me
        sweet loneliness--
  high enamelled walls.

IV

  My second spring--
  passed in a monastery
  with plaster walls--in Fiesole
  on the hill above Florence.

  My second spring--painted
  a virgin--in a blue aureole
  sitting on a three-legged stool,
  arms crossed--
  she is intently serious,
                          and still
  watching an angel
  with coloured wings
  half kneeling before her--
  and smiling--the angel's eyes
  holding the eyes of Mary
  as a snake's holds a bird's.
  On the ground there are flowers,
  trees are in leaf.

V

  But! now for the battle!
  Now for murder--now for the real thing!
  My third springtime is approaching!
  Winds!
  lean, serious as a virgin,
  seeking, seeking the flowers of March.

  Seeking
  flowers nowhere to be found,
  they twine among the bare branches
  in insatiable eagerness--
  they whirl up the snow
  seeking under it--
  they--the winds--snakelike
  roar among yellow reeds
  seeking flowers--flowers.

  I spring among them
  seeking one flower
  in which to warm myself!

  I deride with all the ridicule
  of misery--
  my own starved misery.

  Counter-cutting winds
        strike against me
  refreshing their fury!

  Come, good, cold fellows!
        Have we no flowers?
  Defy then with even more
  desperation than ever--being
        lean and frozen!

  But though you are lean and frozen--
  think of the blue bulls of Babylon.

  Fling yourselves upon
         their empty roses--
                cut savagely!

  But--
  think of the painted monastery
         at Fiesole.



William Carlos Williams


William Carlos Williams's other poems:
  1. Berket and the Stars
  2. A Celebration
  3. The Late Singer
  4. Apology
  5. Spring and All


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Edward Thomas March ("Now I know that Spring will come again")
  • William Morris March ("Slayer of the winter, art thou here again?")
  • Thomas Tusser March ("In March sow thy barley, thy land not too cold")
  • William Bryant March ("The stormy March is come at last")
  • Isabella Crawford March ("Shall Thor with his hammer")
  • Madison Cawein March ("This is the tomboy month of all the year")
  • John Payne March ("MARCH comes at last, the labouring lands to free")

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