The Widow’s Lament in Springtime by William Carlos Williams

This is probably my favorite poem. William Carlos Williams is certainly not a minor poet and this one is included in most of his collections, but the absolute precision of its language, the intensity of its imagery, and the deep sense of loss it evokes are so powerful that I feel like it is still, somehow, under-appreciated.


Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before, but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirty-five years
I lived with my husband.
The plum tree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red,
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they,
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.