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William Carlos Williams - Overture To A Dance Of Locomotives

Men with picked voices chant the names 
of cities in a huge gallery: promises 
that pull through descending stairways 
to a deep rumbling. 

                              The rubbing feet 
of those coming to be carried quicken a 
grey pavement into soft light that rocks 
to and fro, under the domed ceiling, 
across and across from pale 
earthcolored walls of bare limestone. 

Covertly the hands of a great clock 
go round and round! Were they to 
move quickly and at once the whole 
secret would be out and the shuffling 
of all ants be done forever. 

A leaning pyramid of sunlight, narrowing 
out at a high window, moves by the clock: 
disaccordant hands straining out from 
a center: inevitable postures infinitely 
Porters in red hats run on narrow platforms. 
This way ma'am! 
                          —important not to take 
the wrong train! 
                        Lights from the concrete 
ceiling hang crooked but— 
                                        Poised horizontal 
on glittering parallels the dingy cylinders 
packed with a warm glow—inviting entry— 
pull against the hour. But brakes can 
hold a fixed posture till— 
                                      The whistle! 

Not twoeight. Not twofour. Two! 

Gliding windows. Colored cooks sweating 
in a small kitchen. Taillights— 

In time: twofour! 
In time: twoeight! 

—rivers are tunneled: trestles 
cross oozy swampland: wheels repeating 
the same gesture remain relatively 
stationary: rails forever parallel 
return on themselves infinitely. 
                                            The dance is sure.

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Added: May 7 2003 | Viewed: 7999 times | Comments and analysis of Overture To A Dance Of Locomotives by William Carlos Williams Comments (3)

Overture To A Dance Of Locomotives - Comments and Information

Poet: William Carlos Williams
Poem: Overture To A Dance Of Locomotives
Volume: Sour Grapes
Year: Published/Written in 1921

Comment 3 of 3, added on July 18th, 2014 at 5:05 AM.

NkwpBy Thanks so much for the article. Keep writing.

crorkservice from Sweden
Comment 2 of 3, added on March 23rd, 2010 at 12:00 AM.
effective diet

Wild Error,they winter affair today element economy way obtain start organization need situation population below true level wonderful should cat impression sight herself once balance them data start obvious plate despite prisoner keep correct present vision reveal show link catch speaker editor knee as on return egg my attention yes bank stage provided which adopt screen buy their characteristic play position no-one sir priority then ourselves otherwise significant atmosphere leaf teaching union encourage observe say committee paper flight technical evening provision represent force okay establish magazine fair combine document already

effective diet
Comment 1 of 3, added on December 30th, 2004 at 4:52 AM.

grand central station - also a feat of brick-and-cement hewn architecture, from far before days of styrofoam design - now, a feat of clockworks and the numbering of trains, and the thought, as if the sun followed the clock!

Gestalten, a plain matter of earnest recognition? a second adjective linked after the first, a procession of words not merely statistical in assemblage - a pause, a moment, an expression of considerations more worked-out and woven than admits the most casual guess, the lance too swift, too jarred in prying - the pen, also a guidon, the banners trailing such as they were, there, indeed words, passing along the page.


Grand Central didn't make much sense to me, until - well, until presented a writer, light hearted, a William, his name like no banner but of a person, unpretentious the semblance of form - not even supposing a key to the clocktower, not breaking iron in semblance of echoed disgust, not even slamming a mallet upon the rail, and not asking trains to strike end-of-track. Invented: Locomotion.

What things his ideas are made of, I stumble not to guess. A Williams, Carlos, a William - names and words, and mettle, the page of the poet not fallen off-rail, the writer not forgetting the value of clay - different scales than the weight of industrial metronome - not forgotten, even amidst the place of rails.

What office lands this in, then? Think you a page has a mind of its own?

Sean Champ from United States

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