Monday, September 20, 2010

Raleigh Was Right (1944)
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

We cannot go to the country
for the country will bring us
no peace
What can the small violets tell us
that grow on the furry stems in
the long grass among the lance shaped

Though you praise us
and call to mind the poets
who sung of our loveliness
it was long ago!
long ago! when country people
would plow and sow with
flowering minds and pockets
at ease –
if ever this were true.

Not now. Love itself a flower
with roots in a parched ground.
Empty pockets make empty heads.
Cure it if you can but
do not believe that we can live
today in the country
for the country will bring us
no peace.


  1. (MAURICE) I noticed that there was a repetition of "the country will bring us no peace;" it said it in the beginning and the end.

  2. Yes! The country is so often idealized. In Marlowe's poem the shepherd makes the country sound very alluring, but then he has ulterior motives for doing so. In the second stanza of William's poem an interesting historical perspective is given to the reader. How does this rebuttal differ from Raleigh's?

  3. (Ivy Hu, Period 3)
    What were we supposed to do after we read this poem? Post a comment, correct? I guess this proves I checked the site and read it... Haha..

  4. I noticed that he does not use the same format as the other two poets. His rhyme scheme is completely different and it's hard to pick up a pattern.

  5. I agree with yennifer the structure is different, but I believe there are some feminine ryhmes in this poem like the others. For example the first stanza, both peace and leaves ryhme with one another, but there in a different structure.

  6. I agree with Brittany and Yenifer, this poem is not like the other poems that we have read within the class Period. I liked this poem because it was very descriptive and had a lot of imagery. Personally I would prefer one of Shakespeare's Piece than this.

  7. I believe this poem relates "the country" to the world, as which the flowers in the country relate to each chance a person has for love. I agree with Raymond because while reading this i saw images of people having choice of falling in love.

  8. So Wrong Williams

    On your rocks are green and furry coatings,
    on your women are crispy age sounds,
    an indecipherable alphabet of twigs,
    dead sparrows, many "ifs" of leaves pretending
    to be alive, entering the world naked
    and mysterious as lacy wild flowers in the rocks.
    What comes from these objects that
    ancient bards would recognize?

    Their sheep flocks have become your ditch weeds,
    their posies your carrot stalks.
    One man, like a city, prone among the grasses
    can crush the fragile leaf spears;
    the ground below you, smothered, itches.
    Even in the gritty cities,
    like sewer rats, some dig for filth below.

    As the oak ages, branches, leaves,
    each leaf is smaller, weaker, specialized
    while the wind conducts a whispered fugue.
    You of the chickens and glazing
    and windswept places in the pre-spring
    the clarity of water knew and used them selfishly.
    Of course we can go to the country,
    but nothing on it depends.

    (Note: A rebuttal of William Carlos Williams' "Raleigh Was Right" which is itself a response to Raleigh's "Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" which was in turn a rebuttal to Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love".)

    Don A. Hoyt
    Louisiana Delta Community College