Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

Another of my favorite modern poets we've been looking at more or less regularly over the past few weeks is William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). A friend of Ezra Pound's and others of that era, Williams lived not at all like them. He decided that the life of a starving artist wasn't for him and he became a doctor. While other artists were prancing around Europe, Williams lived almost all of his life in New Jersey. The discipline of his life gave wings to his words and he was as creative and talented as any artist.

The poem we look at today came from late in his life; in fact, the book it is from, Pictures from Brueghel, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry shortly after he died. The poem "The Wedding Dance in the Open Air" is after Brueghel's painting of the same name. Whether you view the painting or not, you can't help but picture these people in their bright clothing, dancing with abandon. I often use paintings as inspiration for some of my own poems and I love these ten poems for their ability to bring out aspects of the paintings that you might otherwise overlook. Here is number 8 from the collection.

The Wedding Dance in the Open Air

Disciplined by the artist
to go round
& round

in holiday gear
a riotously gay rabble of
peasants and their

ample-bottomed doxies
the market square

featured by the women in
their starched
white headgear

they prance or go openly
toward the wood's

round and around in
rough shoes and
farm breeches

mouths agape
kicking up their heels

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