The Injury The Injury
June 22, 1946 From this hospital bed I can hear an engine breathing—somewhere in the night: —Soft coal, soft coal, soft coal! And I know it is men breathing shoveling, resting— —Go about it the slow way, if you can find any way— Christ! who’s a bastard? —quit and quit shoveling. A man beathing and it quiets and the puff of steady work begins slowly: Chug. Chug. Chug. Chug . . . fading off. Enough coal at least for this small job Soft! Soft! —enough for one small engine, enough for that. A man shoveling, working and not lying here in this hospital bed—powerless —with the white-throat calling in the poplars before dawn, his faint flute-call, triple tongued, piercing the shingled curtain of the new leaves; drowned out by car wheels singing now on the rails, taking the curve, slowly, a long wail, high pitched: rounding the curve— —the slow way because (if you can find any way) that is the only way left now for you. This article is part of The Nation’s 150th Anniversary Special Issue. Download a free PDF of the issue, with articles by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn and many more, here. William Carlos Williams (1883–1963) published several essays and poems in The Nation between 1937 and 1961; his work has been reviewed in these pages by Philip Rahv, Robert Lowell, Delmore Schwartz, Isaac Rosenfeld, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov and James Longenbach.
Lyric Nation: Three Poems by William Carlos Williams Lyric Nation: Three Poems by William Carlos Williams
"Labrador," "A Vision of Labor," "A Unison"
Mar 5, 2012 / William Carlos Williams