William Carlos Williams's “Spring and All,” first published in his 1923 collection of the same title, reflects on the season of spring as a time of renewal. Spring’s arrival, in this poem, is not sudden or glorious: instead, new life emerges slowly but surely from winter’s death and decay. Using spring as a symbol of hope, the poem suggests that renewal may be invisibly underway even in the bleakest times.
By the road ...
... standing and fallen
patches of standing ...
... leafless vines—
Lifeless in appearance, ...
... dazed spring approaches—
They enter the ...
... cold, familiar wind—
Now the grass, ...
... outline of leaf
But now the ...
... begin to awaken
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
The Poem Aloud — Listen to former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky reading "Spring and All" aloud.
A Short Biography — Learn about Williams's life and work through the Poetry Foundation.
A Reflection on the Poem — Read the President of the Library of America's response to the poem.
Spring and All — Check out the rest of the book in which the poem first appeared.
1By the road to the contagious hospital
2under the surge of the blue
3mottled clouds driven from the
4northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the
5waste of broad, muddy fields
6brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
7patches of standing water
8the scattering of tall trees
9All along the road the reddish
10purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
11stuff of bushes and small trees
12with dead, brown leaves under them
14Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
15dazed spring approaches—
16They enter the new world naked,
17cold, uncertain of all
18save that they enter. All about them
19the cold, familiar wind—
20Now the grass, tomorrow
21the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
22One by one objects are defined—
23It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf
24But now the stark dignity of
25entrance—Still, the profound change
26has come upon them: rooted, they
27grip down and begin to awaken