Poetry Sunday: Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams was an American poet who lived from 1883 until 1963. He was a practicing physician. That's how he made his living. But poetry was his second job and his joy. Here is one of his poems.

Spring and All

by William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines—

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken


  1. The poem resonates with everyone I would imagine. The first line strikes me where it seems to imply that the hospital is contagious!

    1. Funny, that hadn't really struck me. I guess writing "hospital for the contagious" wouldn't have been very poetic!

  2. He really knows how to paint a picture with his words! The only poem of his we studied in high school was his icebox one about the plums. It's very short and sweet and one of my favs. :D

    1. Yes, that's probably one of his better known ones.

  3. Williams captures the feeling of early spring for both us and perhaps those plants along the roadside. "They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain.." Do they? Or do their instincts whisper instructions to them? Perhaps we'll never know.

    1. I lean toward the "instincts whisper instructions" explanation!

  4. Oh I like this poet. What an interesting view of spring coming.

    1. Unique even. Maybe that's the job description of "poet."

  5. William Carlos Williams is one of my favorite poets. I like this poem. Some of my other favorite WCW poems are "The Red Wheelbarrow," "Pastoral," "Danse Russe," "The Great Figure," "The Last Words of My English Grandmother," "This is Just to Say," and "Poem (as the Cat)."

    1. He's a favorite of mine, too. (You know what they say about great minds thinking alike!)


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