Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PASTORAL 2, by WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS



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PASTORAL 2, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: If I talk to things
Last Line: Before given.


If I talk to things
Do not flatter yourself
That I am mad
Rather realize yourself
To be deaf and that
Of two evils, the plants
Being deaf likewise,
I choose that
Which proves by other
Attributes worthier
Of the distinction.

Hear me
You who listen without malice.
Hear me
You crusts of blue moss,
And black earth
In the twisted roots
Of the white tree!

Hear me, black trees
The wind
Howling in your branches!
Hear me
Long red-grass
Matted down
And standing in the wind!
Hear me
Driven leaves!
Hear me
Though you never tell
The cause of this terror
That strikes me back
Feverishly upon petty business:
Saving the sick,
Getting shelter, food
And delights for my dear family --
I long
To fling aside clothes
And crawl in naked
There among you
Cold as it is!

Hear me
For I am wise,
Wiser than you --
Though you have virtues
Greater than mine.
I will give you
A counsel for it further on
When I have said my fill.
-- wiser than you
Though you have virtues
Greater than mine:
You do not drive yourselves,
It is the wind's knives
That battle at you
From the outside --
You do not generate
Your own poisons.

See!
(Take note of this
You who have eyes.)
See these futile colors
That keep me from the wind.

Do not think
It is fear of these
That holds me
From you likewise --
I would fling them by in a moment
And the roof menders there,
Peacefully hammering,
Would rush down
And carry me away --
Even so it would be
A wise thing to have done
Were it not
That this hide
I have drawn about myself
To shield me
Has bound me more subtly
Than you have imagined.

It is no good
To strip the bark
From the old tree
It will not be young again --
I have bound myself
Better than that!

Kiss the wind when it kills you
Lean your surfaces
Against the frost
With your whole heart --

You have taken the counsel
Before given.





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