Tuesday, September 23, 2008

William Carlos Williams

A bit of A&P people trivia . . .

As a man of many diverse interests, it is fascinating for me to hear stories of folks who are accomplished in several very different fields, especially one of them in human anatomy and physiology.

Take the case of William Carlos Williams, whose birthday in 1883 was celebrated last week. (You did get the invitation to the party, right?)

He is most well known around the world as a poet who won the 1963 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry (alas, just after he died) for a collection of poems he wrote late in his career. His novels, plays, essays, short stories, and other works are also acclaimed. But did you know that he practiced medicine for more than four decades? Yes, as a New Jersey pediatrician he applied the principles of human A&P every day!

Of course he had a few poems fully informed and inspired by his knowledge and love of human structure and function! Take his poem Smell from the book Al Que Quiere! A Book of Poems (1917) . . .


    OH strong-ridged and deeply hollowed
    nose of mine! what will you not be smelling?
    What tactless asses we are, you and I, boney nose,
    always indiscriminate, always unashamed,
    and now it is the souring flowers of the bedreggled
    poplars: a festering pulp on the wet earth
    beneath them. With what deep thirst
    we quicken our desires
    to that rank odor of a passing springtime!
    Can you not be decent? Can you not reserve your ardors
    for something less unlovely? What girl will care
    for us, do you think, if we continue in these ways?
    Must you taste everything? Must you know everything?
    Must you have a part in everything?

    William Carlos Williams
    (this poem is in the public domain)
So why not add little poetry to your olfaction discussion?

Do YOU have any poems inspired by A&P to share? Click the Comments blog link to share your own! Or email them to me (along with your permission) at info@theapprofessor.org and I'll publish them here and/or at The A&P Professor website!

1 comment:

Kevin Patton said...

My friend Jacqueline sent along a favorite snippet from WCW . . .

"My favorite is 'Asphodel, that Greeny Flower,' which includes these lines--
It is difficult to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably each day/ for lack of what is found there."

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