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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

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
on getting a card
long delayed
from a poet whom I love

with whom I differ
the modern poetic

I was much moved 
to hear
from him if
as yet he does not

concede the point
nor is he
indeed conscious of it
no matter

his style 
has other outstanding
which delight me
I will teach you my townspeople
how to perform a funeral--
for you have it over a troop
of artists--
unless one should scour the world--
you have the ground sense necessary.

See! the hearse leads.
I begin with a design for a hearse.
For Christ's sake not black--
nor white either--and not polished!
Let it be