Two years ago, I bought every William Carlos Williams book they had at some store. I have been slowly reading through this first volume of "The Collected Poems" since then, reading most of it while living in Lakeview in 2009-10. Today I finished it. The book contains 6 previously published long works/collections plus the uncollected poems from each time period, all presented chronologically.
My favorites sections of the book were "Spring and All" and "The Descent of Winter," both of which mix prose with poetry, and both of which present Williams' philosophical ideas re poetry and art in general. If I had to summarize Williams' position, I'd say he believes that art relies upon the imagination, and that by renewing language one can recreate the world, as opposed to merely describing the world.
I tended to like his later works more than this earlier ones. Many of my favorite individual poems were love poems. I felt dissatisfied or bored re many of his "nature imagery" poems, although there were exceptions, such as "Birds and Flowers" ("Nothing is lost! [...] Though the eye turns inward, the mind / has spread its embrace---in / a wind that / roughs the stiff petals--- / More! the particular flower is / blossoming..."). There were long stretches in the book where I didn't care for any of the poems.
I am interested in reading more of his later work at some point. Paterson and a book containing Pictures from Brueghel, The Desert Music, and Journey to Love are on my bookshelf.
"Good Christ what is
a poet---if any
whose words will
having the form