The Turtle


Not because of his eyes,
                  the eyes of a bird,
                                    but because he is beaked,
birdlike, to do an injury,
                  has the turtle attracted you.
                                    He is your only pet.


When we are together
                  you talk of nothing else
                                    ascribing all sorts
of murderous motives
                  to his least action.
                                    You ask me
to write a poem,
                  should I have poems to write,
                                    about a turtle.

The turtle lives in the mud
                  but is not mud-like,
                                    you can tell it by his eyes
which are clear.
                  When he shall escape
                                    his present confinement
he will stride about the world
                  destroying all
                                    with his sharp beak.
Whatever opposes him
                  in the streets of the city
                                    shall go down.
Cars will be overturned.
                  And upon his back
                                    shall ride,
to his conquests,
                  my Lord,
                                    you!

You shall be master!
                  In the beginning
                                    there was a great tortoise
who supported the world.
                  Upon him
                                    all ultimately
rests.
                  Without him
                                    nothing will stand.
He is all wise
                  and can outrun the hare.
                                    In the night
his eyes carry him
                  to unknown places.
                                    He is your friend.


William Carlos Williams, The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, New Directions Publishing, 1938.