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Nantucket on My Mind

posted Feb 15, 2012, 9:46 AM by Michael Dylan Welch   [ updated Feb 15, 2012, 9:49 AM ]
New to the Poems by Others page is “Nantucket” by William Carlos Williams. In his essay “William Carlos Williams and the Visual” (in Breakfast Served All Day: Essays on Poetry New and Selected, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003, 2004), Donald Hall says of this 1934 poem that “In ‘Nantucket’ and in many other poems, WCW enacts a joy—unpretentious, accomplished in action not in reflection.” He also notes that the poem “does not begin by saying ‘so much depends / upon’ but such insistence is implicit: An intense, even ecstatic value is placed upon the act of total attention, stasis become ecstasis, and the soul flies out of the body in astonished acute notation of experience.” This, to me, is exactly the transcendence, the attention, and the same joy, of haiku poetry.