“Iris”-A poem by William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams

Cover of William Carlos Williams

A burst of Iris so that
come down for

we searched through the
rooms for

sweetest odor and at
first could not
find its

source then a blue as
of the sea


Irises (Photo credit: dottieg2007)

startling us from among
those trumpeting

I like the enjambments and the doing away with the syntax. Word after word builds up the expectation of the burst of Iris , its fragrance taking the reader through the rooms,(from the upstairs:come down for breakfast), trying to trace its source.The lines have no break and spill into the next, throwing grammar and punctuation to the winds. Iris is a blue flower between the color of blue and violet, of sword-shaped leaves.It has energy that bursts on your conscious like the blue sea that suddenly emerges from behind the trees, startling the wayfarer who is not prepared for its emerging.

The deliberate syntactical awkwardness mystifies the existence of the flower, which is first felt only through the odor and by the time we come to the last but one stanza we come upon the flower visually:

1) We began with the expectation of a “burst” of Iris, an explosion of color and energy, a violence associated with the color between purple and blue
2) We come down for breakfast and search through the rooms for the source ,tracing the sweetest odor to its source
3)Then, a blue as of the sea “struck”.Notice the violence of the words ‘struck”,”startling”,”trumpeting“(associated with war)
4)The “trumpeting” petals are a visual metaphor invoking the likeness of the petals to the shape of a trumpet.At the same time the trumpet is an auditory experience from a war scene ,in which the victor trumpets his glory.

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