Skip to main content

The Pattern More Complicated

New and Selected Poems

Alan Williamson artfully joins social and literary history with personal experience in The Pattern More Complicated, a collection of his very best poems over the last twenty years. A powerful section of new poems draws the whole work together in a kind of autobiographical novel, as—in Eliot’s phrase, from which the title is taken—"the pattern of dead and living" grows "more complicated" with the years.  Williamson’s verse is a refreshing examples of how delicately the personal can intersect with the public in a love for the considered life.

The Pattern More Complicated assembles Williamson’s most important, representative poems, marking the trajectory of poetic development and the recurrence of themes across the span of four previous collections to present a survey of a major American poet in a single volume.

Read an excerpt.

264 pages | 6 1/8 x 8 1/2 | © 2004

Phoenix Poets



"A human and spiritual journey suffused with passion and wisdom, Alan Williamson’s masterful lyrics in The Pattern More Complicated travel into the delicate territory of the psyche and the intricate world landscape, creating a stunning kaleidoscope of the lived life with its innumerable depths and edges-its despairs and its riches." -Susan Hahn

Susan Hahn

"Williamson walks with Psyche, if Psyche were the Muse. . . . He has a sense for landscape, the Midwestern and Western states-foot-loose, car-loose-an underlying taste for large space or even emptiness. . . . A world we all know, but said better, with more gentle irony."

Gary Snyder

"Alan Williamson is a contemporary American master at illustrating the aura of place."

Robert Pinsky | The Washington Post

“Williamson’s genius, for all its refinement, is strikingly tough and even defiant.”

Richard Tillinghast

“He can compare a single life to an epoch of civilization....In doing what he does with so much emotion and learning, Williamson ranks as the first American poet capable of            equaling the lyric authority of Rilke, who made a career out of the scrupulous transformation of his own breath-by-breath life into an aesthetic history of the world.”

William Harmon

“If there were such a school as maximalism in poetry, Alan Williamson would be on the board of directors.  His poems aim at a high sublimity, and his aim is usually good. But though his ambitions are Orphic, his building materials are contemporary, the curriculum vitae of an American childhood that finds ineffable significances in industrial and suburban landscapes.”

Thomas Disch

Table of Contents



Fallings from Us, Vanishings

The City

The Chair

Mr. Brown

The Muse of Distance

Small College: All Male: Early 1960s

From an Airplane

The Light’s Reading

East Arlington



The Prayer of the Cathars

Art Roman

Recitation for the Dismantling of a Hydrogen Bomb



Love and the Soul

Requited Love

Fragments: Traveling in Marriage

Domestic Architecture

Wide-Angle Shot: Return to SnowyRiver

Deb’s Dream about Pavese

Your Forest-Moonlight Picture

Toward the New Year

The Ambivalent Man

Forest Street

Rilke’s Argument with Don Giovanni

The Author Reconsiders

Unanticipated Mirrors


Highway Restaurant

For My Daughter, Leaving


From RES PUBLICA (1998)

A Childhood Around 1950

Dreams of Sacrifice

Paint It Black

Listening to Leonard Cohen

After the Election, 1984

Speakers from the Ice

La Pastorela

Mansard Dreams

Linda Does My Horoscope

Puccini Dying

In Paradiso, speriamo bene

Caitlin: A Biography


After “Death of a Porn Queen”: Traveling the Great Basin

Red Cloud

From PRESENCE (1983)

Friends Who Have Failed

For Robinson Jeffers

House-Moving from Tournon to Besançon

A Progress of the Soul

For My Grandfather

Trois Gymnopédies

If, on Your First Love’s Wedding Day

Dream Without End

Bernini’s Proserpine

Aubade, Reconstructed in Tranquility

C., Again

Spring Trains

Customs of the Barbarians

Last Autumn in Charlottesville


Childless Couple

Van Gogh’s Asylum

Old Toys Come Back


Theory of Evil


The Factory

Where the Hills Come Down Like a Lion’s Paw on Summer

The Cure of Longing

Martin Sloan

The Fever of Brother Barnabas

A Place

Letter to a Dead Poet

At the Villa Serbelloni: 1998

MLA Notes (1988)

MLA Notes II (1998)

The Cost

Moving Back to Charlottesville

Villanelle: For Anne

Autumn Reparations

The Pattern More Complicated

Fantasia on some sentences from Combray

Primrose Hill



Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press