The Woman
The Great Railsplitter's, "All I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother;" the walking up and down in Springfield on the narrow walk between the two houses, day after day, with a neighbor's baby, borrowed for the occasion, sleeping inside his cape upon his shoulder to give him stability while thinking and composing his coming speeches; and apart from its cowardice, the blinding stupidity of his murderer's sic semper tyrannis, after he had shot him in the back --- in his trinity is reflected the brutalizing desolation of life in America up to that time; yet perversely flowering.

Mengelberg, a great broad hipped one, conducts an orchestra in the same vein. It is a woman. He babies them. He leans over and floods them with his insistences. It is a woman drawing to herself with insatiable passion the myriad points of sound, conferring upon each the dignity of a successful approach, relieving each of his swelling burden (but particularly, by himself), in the overtowering symphony --- It is the balm of command. The violins, surrounded, yet feel that they have come alone, in silence and in secret, singly to be heard.

It is Lincoln pardoning the fellow who slept on sentry duty. It is the grace of the Bixby letter. The least private would find a woman to caress him, a woman in an old shawl --- with a great bearded face and a towering black hat above it, to give unearthly reality.

Brancusi should make his statue --- of wood --- after the manner of his Socrates, with the big hole in the enormous mass of the head, save that this would be a woman ---

The age-old torture reached a disastrous climax in Lincoln. Failing of relief or expression, the place tormented itself into a convulsion of bewilderment and pain --- with a woman, born somehow, aching over it, holding all fearfully together. It was the end of THAT period.

--- From In the American Grain
William Carlos Williams
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