His Carpets Flowered

William Morris


—how we’re carpet-making

by the river

a long dream to unroll

and somehow time to pole

a boat


I designed a carpet today—

dogtooth violets

and spoke to a full hall

now that the gall

of our society’s


corruption stains throughout

Dear Janey I am tossed

by many things

If the change would bring

better art


but if it would not?

O to be home to sail the flood

I’m possessed

and do possess



of labor, true—

to get done

the work of the hand…

I’d be a rich man

had I yielded


on a few points of principle

Item sabots


I work in the dye-house



Good sport dyeing

tapestry wool

I like the indigo vats

I’m drawing patterns so fast

Last night


in sleep I drew a sausage—

somehow I had to eat it first

Colorful shores—mouse ear...

horse-mint... The Strawberry Thief

our new chintz




Yeats saw the betterment of the workers

by religion—slow in any case

as the drying of the moon

He was not understood—

I rang the bell


for him to sit down

Yeats left the lecture circuit

yet he could say: no one

so well loved

as Morris




Entered new waters

Studied Icelandic

At home last minute signs

to post:



grows here—Please do not mow

We saw it—Iceland—the end

of the world rising out of the sea—

cliffs, caves like 13th century



of hell-mouths

Rain squalls through moonlight

Cold wet

is so damned wet



black sand

Stone buntings’


Sea-pink and campion a Persian



Lorine Niedecker, "His Carpets Flowered" from Collected Works, edited by Jenny Penberthy, Copyright © 2002 Regents of the University of California. Published by University of California Press. Audio courtesy of PennSound, an ongoing project of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania. PennSound is committed to producing new audio recordings and preserving existing audio archives.