I will teach you my townspeople how to perform a funeral-- for you have it over a troop of artists-- unless one should scour the world-- you have the ground sense necessary. See! the hearse leads. I begin with a design for a hearse. For Christ's sake not black-- nor white either--and not polished! Let it be weathered--like a farm wagon-- with gilt wheels (this could be applied fresh at small expense) or no wheels at all: a rough dray to drag over the ground. Knock the glass out! My God--glass, my townspeople! For what purpose? Is it for the dead to look out or for us to see how well he is housed or to see the flowers or the lack of them-- or what? To keep the rain and snow from him? He will have a heavier rain soon: pebbles and dirt and what not. Let there be no glass-- and no upholstery, phew! and no little brass rollers and small easy wheels on the bottom-- my townspeople what are you thinking of? A rough plain hearse then with gilt wheels and no top at all. On this the coffin lies by its own weight. No wreaths please-- especially no hot house flowers. Some common memento is better, something he prized and is known by: his old clothes--a few books perhaps-- God knows what! You realize how we are about these things my townspeople-- something will be found--anything even flowers if he had come to that. So much for the hearse. For heaven's sake though see to the driver! Take off the silk hat! In fact that's no place at all for him-- up there unceremoniously dragging our friend out to his own dignity! Bring him down--bring him down! Low and inconspicuous! I'd not have him ride on the wagon at all--damn him-- the undertaker's understrapper! Let him hold the reins and walk at the side and inconspicuously too! Then briefly as to yourselves: Walk behind--as they do in France, seventh class, or if you ride Hell take curtains! Go with some show of inconvenience; sit openly-- to the weather as to grief. Or do you think you can shut grief in? What--from us? We who have perhaps nothing to lose? Share with us share with us--it will be money in your pockets. Go now I think you are ready.
William Carlos Williams - 1883-1963
The pure products of America go crazy— mountain folk from Kentucky or the ribbed north end of Jersey with its isolate lakes and valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves old names and promiscuity between devil-may-care men who have taken to railroading out of sheer lust of adventure— and young slatterns, bathed in filth from Monday to Saturday to be tricked out that night with gauds from imaginations which have no peasant traditions to give them character but flutter and flaunt sheer rags-succumbing without emotion save numbed terror under some hedge of choke-cherry or viburnum- which they cannot express— Unless it be that marriage perhaps with a dash of Indian blood will throw up a girl so desolate so hemmed round with disease or murder that she'll be rescued by an agent— reared by the state and sent out at fifteen to work in some hard-pressed house in the suburbs— some doctor's family, some Elsie— voluptuous water expressing with broken brain the truth about us— her great ungainly hips and flopping breasts addressed to cheap jewelry and rich young men with fine eyes as if the earth under our feet were an excrement of some sky and we degraded prisoners destined to hunger until we eat filth while the imagination strains after deer going by fields of goldenrod in the stifling heat of September Somehow it seems to destroy us It is only in isolate flecks that something is given off No one to witness and adjust, no one to drive the car