Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Poetry from Oblivion: The Widow's Lament in Springtime

The poem below is one of many I'm incorporating into the libretto of Oblivion. With the exception of my own writing and one stellar poem for which I've gotten text-setting permission, this entire libretto is in the Public Domain!

This lament appears near the end of the opera, as a wife quietly mourns the loss of her husband. I marvel at how Williams uses such plain, succint language to drive to the heart of the subject.

"The Widow’s Lament in Springtime"
by William Carlos Williams
from Sour Grapes (1921)

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.
Thirtyfive years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree 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.

(Also read Williams' famous and tiny gem "The Red Wheelbarrow.")


  1. Kyle, this poetry is beautiful. I agree: it's simplicity lends it power. Very evocative. Thank you for sharing. I'm going to check out "The Red Wheelbarrow" next.

  2. You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it. "The Red Wheelbarrow" is only 4 tiny lines long, but a real beauty - probably Williams' most famous poem.