Machine Made of Words
A poem is a small (or large) machine made of words. When I say there’s
nothing sentimental about a poem I mean that there can be no part, as in
any other machine, that is redundant.
(Selected Essays 256)
THE LOCAL IS THE ONLY UNIVERSAL: In proportion
as a man has bestirred himself to his own locality he will perceive more
and more of what is disclosed and find himself in a position to make the
(Selected Essays 28)
GO BACK TO THE PEOPLE: They are the origin of every
bit of life of conceivable human interest... if we don’t cling to the warmth
which breathes into a house or a poem alike from human need ... the whole
matter has nothing to hold it together and becomes structurally weak.
(Selected Essays 178)
The dialect is the mobile phase, the changing phase, the productive
phase—as their languages were to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, Rabelais
in their day..., it is there, in the mouths of the living, that the language
is changing and giving new means for expanded possibilities in literary
expression and basic structure.
(Selected Essays 291)
We must invent new modes to take the place of those which are worn out.
. . no verse can be free, it must be governed by some measure, but not
by the old measure. We have to return to a measure consonant with our time...
a purely intuitive one which we feel but do not name. . . a relative stable
foot, not a rigid one.
(Selected Essays 339-40)
[William Carlos Williams. In Selected Essays. Random House, 1954.]