Perpetuum Mobile: The City | William Carlos Williams, 1936

R.B. Kitaj, Melancholie after Vincent, 1977 - etching 


—a dream
we dreamed
each
separately
     we two

of love
     and of
desire—

that fused
in the night—

in the distance
     over
the meadows
     by day
impossible—
     The city
disappeared
     when
we arrived—

     A dream
a little false
toward which
     now
we stand
     and stare
transfixed—

All at once
     in the east
rising!

     All white!
     small
as a flower—

a locust cluster
a shad bush
     blossoming

Over the swamps
     a wild
magnolia bud—
     greenish
white
a northern
flower—

And so
     we live
     looking—

At night
     it wakes
On the black
     sky—

a dream
     toward which
we love—
at night
     more
than a little
     false—

We have bred
we have dug
we have figured up
our costs
we have bought
an old rug—

We batter at our
unsatisfactory
     brilliance—

There is no end
     to desire—

Let us break
     through
and go there

in
     vain!

—delectable
     amusement:

City

whose stars
of matchless
     splendor—
     and
in bright—edged
     clouds
the moon—

     bring

silence

     breathlessly—

Tearful city
     on a summer's day
the hard grey
     dwindling
in a wall of
     rain—

     farewell!


William Carlos Williams, Perpetuum Mobile: The City, 1936


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