PUIs- 20th century poets under the influence


This Is Just to Say
William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

To the shade of Po Chu-I
William Carlos Williams

The work is heavy. I see
bare branches laden with snow.
I try to comfort myself
with thought of your old age.
A girl passes, in a red tam,
the coat above her quick ankles
snow smeared from running and falling –
Of what shall I think now
save of death the bright dancer?

To Lu Chi (excerpt)
Howard Nemerov

Through many centuries of dust, to which
We both belong, your quiet voice is clear
About the difficulties and delights
Of writing well, which are, it seems, always
The same and generally unfashionable.
In all the many times I have read your poem,
Or treatise, where the art of letters turns
To the inspection of itself—the theme
(I take your phrase) of how to hold the axe
To make its handle—your words have not failed
To move me with their justice and their strength,
Their manner gentle as their substance is
Fastidious and severe. You frighten me
When you describe the dangers of our course,
And then you bring, by precept and example,
Assurance that a reach of mastery,
Some still, reed-hidden and reflective stream
Where the heron fishes in his own image,
Always exists.

Regarding Wave
Gary Snyder

The voice of the Dharma
the voice

A shimmering bell
through all.

Every hill,    still.
Every tree alive. Every leaf.
All the slopes  flow.
old woods, new seedlings,
tall grasses plumes.

Dark hollows;  peaks of light.
wind stirs    the cool side
Each leaf living.
All the hills.

The Voice
is a wife

him still

After Work
Gary Snyder

The shack and a few trees
float in the blowing fog

I pull out your blouse,
warm my cold hands
on your breasts.
you laugh and shudder
peeling garlic by the
hot iron stove.
bring in the axe, the rake,
the wood

we’ll lean on the wall
against each other
stew simmering on the fire
as it grows dark
drinking wine.

Pine tree tops
Gary Snyder

In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
what do we know.

The Orchid Flower
Sam Hamill

Just as I wonder
whether it’s going to die,
the orchid blossoms

and I can’t explain why it
moves my heart, why such pleasure

comes from one small bud
on a long spindly stem, one
blood red gold flower

opening at mid-summer,
tiny, perfect in its hour.

Even to a white-
haired craggy poet, it’s
purely erotic,

pistil and stamen, pollen,
dew of the world, a spoonful

of earth, and water.
Erotic because there’s death
at the heart of birth,

drama in those old sunrise
prisms in wet cedar boughs,

deepest mystery
in washing evening dishes
or teasing my wife,

who grows, yes, more beautiful
because one of us will die.