The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 1

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 1

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 1

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams - Vol. 1

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

This is the first volume of a two-volume edition of all of William Carlos
Williams’ published poetry excluding Paterson. We have followed Wil
liams in recognizing 1939 as the turning point in his poetic life, and
the volume ends in that year. Looking back from the perspective of the
1950s, Williams saw his Complete Collected Poems of late 1938 as the
“whole picture” of his early career, “all I had gone through technically
to learn about the making of a poem.” After this volume appeared he
shifted his attention to the experiments that would lead to Paterson.
When The Collected Later Poems containing his work of the last dozen
years was published in 1950 the dust jacket announced that the 1938
collection would “be re-issued in a revised and enlarged edition in 1951
as [a] companion volume,” and this is roughly true. However, in pre
paring The Collected Earlier Poems (1951) Williams included a number
of post-1938 poems that he had unintentionally omitted from Collected
Later Poems
and radically rearranged the sequence of the 1938 volume.
In February 1938 he had told his publisher James Laughlin of New Di
rections that he wanted the poems “to come out in subdivisions of the
original books as they appeared, chronologically,” and The Complete
Collected Poems
(1938) follows this pattern for all but the longer poems,
which are grouped together at the end. At first Williams intended to or
ganize Collected Earlier Poems in the same way, but in February 1950 he
reported “a hell of a good idea for the Collected,” and by the end of
November he could tell James Laughlin that the “revised and corrected
and enlarged Earlier Collected Poems is ready for you for next year—
you’ll be surprised how much it is an improvement on the 1938 edi
tion—in content, that is and arrangement.” and in March 1951 he
bragged to Laughlin that “you would hardly know the old gal in her
new dress as of 1938. It’ll be a different and a far better book than that
one, good as that one was.”

Williams’ “good idea” for Collected Earlier Poems resembles some of
his later schemes for organizing his complete works under thematic and
stylistic headings, or “modes of attack,” while preserving some sense
of chronology. One of his chief aims was obviously to spread the longer
poems throughout the volume. Unfortunately, in arranging Collected
Earlier Poems
Williams greatly obscured the order of publication and . . .

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