Paterson is both a place--the New Jersey city in whom the person (the poet's own life) and the public (the history of the region) are combined. Originally four books (published individually between 1946 and 1951), the structure ofPaterson (in Dr. Williams' words) "follows the course of teh Passaic River" from above the great falls to its entrance into the sea. The unexpected Book Five, published in 1958, affirms the triumphant life of the imagination, in spite of age and death. This revised edition has been meticulously re-edited by Christopher MacGowan, who has supplied a wealth of notes and explanatory material.
"I never told you to read it.
let erlone REread it. I didn't
say it wuz ! ! henjoyable readin."
Although, much of it is, in truth, quite henjoyable. Hell, now I'm doing it. What was it with some of the modernists--Pound and Williams especially, I think--and puttin on the dialect?
but the dance, to dance to a measure
Satyrically, the tragic foot.
Listen to me as an Everyman. Humble, belabored with a smile and some snark amidst the hopeless. I rise eager each morning, maybe a little fuzzy but poised. I truly lack ambition beyond my wife, my books and my job. Please shield me, my flabby exterior.
A man is indeed a city, and for the poet there are no ideas but in things
I have lived in a smallish river town most of my life. Louisville is just across the bridge. Our falls though mentioned in Paterson are empty of laurels. I can't strive to the Eternal in the night, the labor of the day keeps me weedy---and thirsty. This was a triumph, unexpected to a degree. Paterson is an admixture of form, a blurring of geology, human folly and the gleam of the moment. Consider me enriched.