Sigh-sound of lament for C. K. Williams

C.K. Williams has died at 78.

I heard Williams read at Newcastle University in 2008, and his presence as much as his poetry evoked contained force, passion, love for the world. He was an intellectual; he asked questions about what it is to live. And he was a true poet; he pitched his being into words.

Here is my favourite Williams poem in full:

I hate how this unsummoned sigh-sound, sob-sound,
not sound really, feeling, sigh-feeling, sob-feeling,
keeps rising in me, rasping in me, not in its old disguise
as nostalgia, sweet crazed call of the blackbird;
not as remembrance, grief for so many gone,
nor either that other tangle of recall, regret
for unredeemed wrongs, errors, omissions,
petrified roots too deep to ever excise;
a mingling rather, a melding, inextricable mesh
of delight in astonishing being, of being in being,
with a fear of and fear for I can barely think what,
not non-existence, of self, loved ones, love;
not even war, fuck war, sighing for war,
sobbing for war, for no war, peace, surcease;
more than all that, some ground-sound, ground-note,
sown in us now, that swells in us, all of us,
echo of love we had, have, for world, for our world,
on which we seem finally mere swarm, mere deluge,
mere matter self-altered to tumult, to noise,
cacophonous blitz of destruction, despoilment,
din from which every emotion henceforth emerges,
and into which falters, slides, sinks, and subsides:
sigh-sound of lament, of remorse; sob-sound of rue,
of, still, always, ever sadder and sadder sad joy.
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