Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Wine-Drinkers

The wine-drinkers sit on the porte cochère in the sun. 
Their lack of success in love has made them torpid. 
They move their fans with a motion that stirs no feather, 
the glare of the sun has darkened their complexions.

Let us commend them on their conversations. 
One says "oh" and the other says "indeed."

The afternoon must be prolonged forever, because the night 
will be impossible for them.
They know that the bright and very delicate needles 
inserted beneath the surfaces of their skins 
will work after dark--at present are drugged, are dormant.

Nobody dares to make any sudden disturbance.

One says "no," the other one murmurs "why?"
The cousins pause: tumescent.
What do they dream of? Murder?
They dream of lust and they long for violent action
but none occurs.
Their quarrels perpetually die from a lack of momentum
The light is empty: the sun forestalls reflection.


From Collected Poems by Tennessee Williams, published by New Directions. Copyright © 2002 by the University of the South. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams, III on March 26, 1911, in Columbus, Mississippi. He received a BA from the University of Iowa in 1938. He is the author of three collections of poetry including, Androgyne, Mon Amour (New Directions Publishing, 1977).

Williams is best known as one of the most influential American playwrights of the 20th century. He received the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1948 for his play “A Streetcar Named Desire” and in 1955 for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” His more than twenty other full-length plays include “The Glass Menagerie” and “The Night of the Iguana.”

Hilton Als, writing in the New Yorker, said of Williams, “His work spoke to those who could not fit within the parameters of all those neat lawns and white picket fences and solid heterosexual values.”

Williams died on February 25, 1983, in New York City.


In the Winter of Cities (New Directions Publishing,1956)
Androgyne, Mon Amour (New Directions Publishing, 1977)
The Collected Poems of Tennessee Williams (New Directions Publishing, 2002)

Date Published: 2002-01-01

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