William Carlos Williams, a celebrated American poet and physician, brought a distinctive voice to modernist poetry through his vivid imagery, concise language, and focus on the ordinary moments of life. His verses reflect a keen observation of the world and a commitment to capturing the essence of human experience. In this article, we present a compilation of the top 10 quotes by William Carlos Williams that showcase his poetic brilliance, his emphasis on everyday life, and his enduring influence on literature.
Top 10 William Carlos Williams Quotes
It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.
From “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” Williams highlights the profound impact that poetry and art can have on human understanding and empathy.
No ideas but in things.
This iconic phrase from Williams’ poetic manifesto captures his commitment to representing concrete, tangible experiences in his poetry.
It is not what you say / that matters but the manner in which you say it; / there lies the secret of the ages.
In “Introduction to Kora in Hell,” Williams explores the significance of expression and communication.
It is a privilege to have been in the same century as you.
From a letter to Ezra Pound, Williams expresses admiration and respect for his contemporaries.
The pure products of America / go crazy— / mountain folk from Kentucky / or the ribbed north end of / Jersey / with its isolate lakes and / valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves / old names / and promiscuity between / devil-may-care men who have / taken to railroading / out of sheer lust of adventure— / and young slatterns, bathed / in filth / from Monday to Saturday / to be tricked out that night / with gauds / from imaginations which have / no peasant traditions to give / them character / but flutter and flaunt / sheer rags-succumbing without / emotion / save numbed terror / under some hedge of choke-cherry / or viburnum— / which they cannot express— / Unless it be that marriage / perhaps / with a dash of Indian blood.
From “Spring and All,” this lengthy excerpt showcases Williams’ distinctive style and his ability to capture complex scenes and emotions.
The descent beckons / as the ascent beckoned. / Memory is a kind / of accomplishment.
From “The Descent,” Williams explores the cyclical nature of life and memory.
What power has love but forgiveness? / In other words / by its intervention / what has been done / can be undone.
In “These,” Williams delves into the transformative power of love and forgiveness.
No one / to witness / and adjust, / no one to drive the car.
Williams’ lines from “Pastoral” evoke a sense of solitude and reflection.
To me it is like the old man / asleep in the mill / to whom the children / come / when he is in his deepest / sleep / and say, shaking him / and crying: / ‘The dam is broken / and water’s at the top of / the stairs.’ / The old man / snorts / on / and draws / his hands across his face / and sleepily / lifts himself / out of the bed / and steps into his trousers / and his old coat / and takes the lantern and goes / down / to / the mill / door / and there / it is / the water’s at the top of the stairs.
In “The Last Words of My English Grandmother,” Williams’ lines convey a sense of urgency and everyday responsibility.
I see nothing to it / but the beauty of nakedness.
From “The Sycamore,” Williams’ lines capture his ability to find beauty in simplicity.
In conclusion, William Carlos Williams’ quotes reveal his unique perspective on life, language, and the human experience. Through his commitment to vivid imagery and the use of everyday language, he transformed the landscape of modern poetry. Williams’ legacy as a poet endures, reminding us of the beauty and significance found in the seemingly mundane moments of life. His verses continue to inspire readers to see the world with fresh eyes and to appreciate the richness of the human journey.