Directed by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and featuring actors Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani, “Paterson” is a quiet lyrical movie about day-to-day life and work and poetry and art. There is in the film, between the characters, some discussion concerning the New Jersey poet, William Carlos Williams, who wrote the poem entitled “Paterson.” This poem “Paterson” was initially published as an 85 line poem in 1927, and Williams later expanded it into a five volume work.
“Poet, artist, and practicing physician of Rutherford, New Jersey, William Carlos Williams wrote poetry that was experimental in form, ranging from imagism to objectivism, with great originality of idiom and human vitality. Credited with changing and directing American poetry toward a new metric and language, he also wrote a large number of short stories and novels. Paterson (1946–58), about the New Jersey city of that name, was his epic and places him with Ezra Pound (his friend) of the Cantos as one of the great shapers of the long poem in this century.”
(from “About the Author,” two Google “Books” webpages – years cited as 1969 and 2004)
In the flashes and black shadows
the days, locked in each other’s arms,
so that squirrels and colored birds
go about at ease over
the branches and through the air.
Where will a shoulder split or
a forehead open and victory be?
Both sides grow older.
And you may be sure
not one leaf will lift itself
from the ground
and become fast to a twig again.
–William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) from Collected Earlier Poems, pub. 1938
The Great Figure
Among the rain
I saw the figure 5
on a red
to gong clangs
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.
–William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) from Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems, pub. 1921
“I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold,” painting by Charles Demuth, 1928
(owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC)