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July 2, 2008 Paoli, Pennsylvania From the Academy Audio Archive
About this Poem 

Of the poem, Williams said, "I was thinking of Demuth's picture of the sky over the horizon." Despite its simple beginnings, "A Love Song" went through multiple revisions—to the point that Williams sent a second draft to the literary journal Poetry after Ezra Pound had already forwarded an earlier one to the editor.

A Love Song

William Carlos Williams, 1883 - 1963

What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
I lie here thinking of you.

The stain of love
Is upon the world.
Yellow, yellow, yellow,
It eats into the leaves,
Smears with saffron
The horned branches that lean
Against a smooth purple sky.

There is no light—
Only a honey-thick stain
That drips from leaf to leaf
And limb to limb
Spoiling the colours
Of the whole world.

I am alone.
The weight of love
Has buoyed me up
Till my head
Knocks against the sky.

See me!
My hair is dripping with nectar—
Starlings carry it
On their black wings.
See, at last
My arms and my hands
Are lying idle.

How can I tell
If I shall ever love you again
As I do now?

First published in Poems 1916.

First published in Poems 1916.

William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams

Poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright William Carlos Williams is often said to have been one of the principal poets of the Imagist movement.

by this poet

The sky has given over 
its bitterness. 
Out of the dark change 
all day long 
rain falls and falls 
as if it would never end. 
Still the snow keeps 
its hold on the ground. 
But water, water 
from a thousand runnels! 
It collects swiftly, 
dappled with black 
cuts a way for itself 
through green ice in the
My townspeople, beyond in the great world,
are many with whom it were far more
profitable for me to live than here with you.
These whirr about me calling, calling!
and for my own part I answer them, loud as I can,
but they, being free, pass!
I remain! Therefore, listen!
For you will not soon have another singer
It was an icy day.
We buried the cat,
then took her box
and set fire to it

in the back yard.
Those fleas that escaped
earth and fire
died by the cold.