Monday, March 19, 2018

The Practice

William Carlos Williams with his sons, Paul and William, and his mother, circa 1918 - Beinecke Library, Yale, Special Collections

"And it is the actual words, as we hear them spoken under all circumstances, which contain it.  It is actually there, in the life before us, every minute that we are listening, a rarest element - not in our imaginations but there, there in fact.  It is that essence which is hidden in the very words which are going in at our ears and from which we must recover underlying meaning as realistically as we recover metal out of ore ...

... The poem springs from the half-spoken words of such patients as the physician sees from day-to-day. He observes it in the peculiar, actual conformations in which life is hid.  Humbly, he presents himself before it and by long practice he strives as best as he can to to interpret the manner of its speech.  In that the secret lies.  This, in the end, comes perhaps to be the occupation of the physician after a lifetime of careful listening."

                                                            from The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams

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