- PATERSON--THE STRIKE
- (from "The Wanderer:
A Rococo Study")
by: William Carlos Williams
MORE POEMS BY WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
- T the first peep of dawn she roused
- Trembling at those changes the night saw,
- For brooding wretchedly in a corner
- Of the room to which she had taken me--
- Her old eyes glittering fiercely--
- Go! she said and I hurried shivering
- Out into the deserted streets of Paterson.
- That night she came again, hovering
- In rags within the filmy ceiling--
- Great Queen, bless me with your tatters!
- You are blest! Go on!
- Hot for savagery,
- I went sucking the air! Into the city,
- Out again, baffled, on to the mountain!
- Back into the city!
- The subtle! Everywhere the electric!
- A short bread-line before a hitherto empty tea shop:
- No questions--all stood patiently,
- Dominated by one idea: something
- That carried them as they are always wanting to be carried,
- But what is it, I asked those nearest me,
- This thing heretofore unobtainable
- That they seem so clever to have put on now?
- Why since I have failed them can it be anything
- But their own brood? Can it be anything but brutality?
- On that at least they're united! That at least
- Is their bean soup, their calm bread and a few luxuries!
- But in me more sensitive, marvelous old queen,
- It sank deep into the blood, that I rose upon
- The tense air enjoying the dusty fight!
- Heavy wrought drink were the low foreheads,
- The flat heads with the unkempt black or blond hair!
- Below the skirt the ugly legs of the young girls
- Pistons too powerful for delicacy!
- The women's wrists, the men's arms, red,
- Used to heat and cold, to toss quartered beeves
- And barrels and milk cans and crates of fruit!
- Faces all knotted up like burls on oaks,
- Grasping, fox snouted, thick lipped,
- Sagging breasts and protruding stomachs,
- Rasping voices, filthy habits with the hands.
- Nowhere you! Everywhere the electric!
- Ugly, venomous, gigantic!
- Tossing me as a great father his helpless
- Infant till it shriek with ecstasy
- And its eyes roll and its tongue hangs out--!
- I am at peace again, old queen, I listen clearer now.