Birthdays, Nate and William Carlos Williams


It is the 18th birthday of my son Nate. A shelf full of books couldn’t contain what I think about him. I remember the day he was born, just up the road in Concord.  Happy birthday to my Natey. He is a bright light in his world and in my heart.

Speaking of babies, it’s the 130th anniversary of the birth of William Carlos Williams, obstetrician and New Jersey poet. He gave his life to delivering babies and to developing an American literary tradition. He tried to capture an idiom of life before his eyes as he served the working class families of Rutherford as their doctor. He fascinates me as a person. I think of him making house calls and jotting down notes for poems on napkins.  He and his poems along with the lives and work of a few of his contemporaries, such as Hartford insurance executive, Wallace Stevens, are bright lights in the literary night sky for me. Here’s a bit of a long poem by Dr. Williams which contains one of his most quoted passages


Of asphodel, that greeny flower,
I come, my sweet,
to sing to you!
My heart rouses
thinking to bring you news
of something
that concerns you
and concerns many men.  Look at
what passes for the new.
You will not find it there but in
despised poems.
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

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