The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 2

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 2

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 2

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 2


So that readers could more fully understand the extent of Williams' radical simplicity, all of his published poetry, excluding Paterson, was reissued in two definite volumes, of which this is the first.


This volume is the second of a two-volume edition collecting all of William Carlos Williams’ published poetry with the exception of his long poem Pater son (which will be edited as a separate volume). Volume II covers the years from 1939 to 1962—when the cumulative effect of a series of strokes forced Williams to stop writing in the months before his death in March 1963.

Continuing the aim of presenting Williams’ development and achievement in as clear a way as possible, this volume follows Volume I in rejecting Williams’ own arrangement of his collected poems—in this case his Collected Later Poems of 1950. Instead, the poems Williams published in individual volumes are printed in their original order in those volumes, while poems that remained uncollected or were only collected in the 1950 collection are printed chronologically according to date of first publication. The poems first published in Collected Later Poems appear in their chronological place in 1950. Volume II begins with uncollected poems from the years 1939–1944, and concludes with the Pulitzer prize-winning Pictures from Brueghel (1962).

Williams organized The Collected Later Poems around a framework somewhat more chronological than the thematic arrangement of Collected Earlier Poems, although the sections representing The Wedge (1944) and The Clouds (1948) do not exactly correspond to the poems in those two volumes. However, Williams’ design for the volume was frustrated by his overlooking a number of his 1940s poems (some found their way into The Collected Earlier Poems), and particularly by his failing to catch the absence of a section containing ten poems that had been mislaid by his typist. The section was hastily added to the back of the book in the middle of the print run. The later printing history of the book further obscured his original intentions. In a 1963 revision John Thirlwall added a further section, “The Lost Poems (1944–1950),” and in 1972 New Directions tacked a poem written in 1960, “Tribute to Neruda, the Poet Collector of Seashells,” onto the end of this section. Those readers interested in Williams’ arrangement of Collected Later Poems, and a list of the later additions, will find a table of contents in Appendix C.

The opening poems of Volume II reflect Williams’ continuing uncertainty and experimentation as he sought a solution to the stylistic and . . .

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