William Carlos Williams

Two Deliberate Exercises

1. Lesson From A Pupil Recital
                  (For Agnes)

In a fourfold silence the music
struggles for mastery and the mind
from its silence, fatefully assured,
wakens to the music: Unnamed,
without age, sex or pretense of
accomplishment — their faces
blank, they rise and move
to the platform unannounced and
the music leads them —- the racially
stigmaed, the gross bodied, all
feet — cleansing from each
his awkwardness for him to blossom
thence a sound pleading,
pleading for pleasure, pleasure!
at the tunnel of the ear. And love,
who hides from public places,
moves in his bed of air, of flowers,
of ducks of sheep and locust
trees in bloom — the white, sweet
locust — to fade again 
at the sounds into 
impossibilities and thunderstorms.
             There remains the good teacher
blinking from his dream before
the hand-shakes of his constituents.

2. Voyages

In the center, above the basin,
the mirror. To the left of
it the Maxfield Parrish, Ulysses
at Sea, his small ship coming
fog-threatened from between
Scylla Charybidis. And 
to the right the girl of nine,
play-pail in hand, bareheaded upon
a dune-crest facing the shining
waters. There you have it,
unexcelled as feeling. What
of it? Well, we live among
the birds and bees in vain unless
there result — now or then —
a presentation to which
these two presentations serve
as humble stopgaps — to invoke
for us a whole realm, compact of
inverted nature, straining
within the imprisoned mind to
free us. Well, to free us.
            At which, seeing in the pasture
horses among the brambles,
hearing the wind sigh,
we broach the chaos — unless
Valéry be mistaken — of
the technical where stand waiting
for us or nowhere the tree-
lined avenues of our desires.

spoken = Leon Branton