National Poetry Month: Tennessee Williams

This month I treated myself to a collection of Tennessee Williams’s poetry. I’ve never read much of his poetry despite him being such a big muse of mine.  I haven’t had time to dig into it much, but I opened it today to a random page and found this little gem. Enjoy!


I once looked on a young green tree
that shattered darkness where it stood.
The name of it was tenderness
and where it grew was Shadow Wood.

The leaves of it were little hands
that scattered gold that had no weight,
and never dimmed to lesser gold:
it would have held me could I wait.

Somewhere it stays in grace of light
but I’ve forgotten where it stood,
and once abandoned, never twice
can it be found in Shadow Wood.

For tenderness I would lay down
the weapon that holds death away,
but little words of tenderness
are hard for shadow man to say.

At first glance, when you read this you might think it’s a nature poem about a tree. But give it a bit of thought. I think it’s about a young lover and the “tenderness” Williams felt for him, maybe a dark and mysterious one. Or maybe the narrator is the “shadow man”. I could be completely wrong, but that’s the joy of poems. They can be left completely up to interpretation.

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