William Carlos Williams


William Carlos Williams was born the first of two sons of an English father and a Puerto Rican mother of French, Dutch, Spanish, and Jewish ancestry, and he grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey. He was a medical doctor, poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. With Ezra Pound and H.D., Williams was a leading poet of the Imagist movement and often wrote of American subjects and themes. Though his career was initially overshadowed by other poets, he became an inspiration to the Beat generation in the 1950s and 60s.  He was known as an experimenter, an innovator, a revolutionary figure in American poetry. Yet in comparison to artists of his own time who sought a new environment for creativity as expatriates in Europe, Williams lived a remarkably conventional life. A doctor for more than 40 years serving the citizens of Rutherford, he relied on his patients, the America around him, and his own ebullient imagination to create a distinctively American verse. Often domestic in focus and "remarkable for its empathy, sympathy, its muscular and emotional identification with its subjects," Williams's poetry is also characteristically honest.  Source


The little sparrows

Hop ingenuously

About the pavement


With sharp voices

Over those things

That interest them.

But we who are wiser

Shut ourselves in

On either hand

And no one knows

Whether we think good

Or evil.

                  Then again,

The old man who goes about

Gathering dog lime

Walks in the gutter

Without looking up

And his tread

Is more majestic than

That of the Episcopal minister

Approaching the pulpit

Of a Sunday.

These things

Astonish me beyond words.




Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Poems of Place

Poems of the Everyday

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing