National Poetry Month Part ii

a little imagist for today…

go ahead—debate meaning, analyze importance, note jarring breaks from tradition.

But so much comes from this poem.

The Red Wheelbarrow

–William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

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10 thoughts on “National Poetry Month Part ii

  1. Let me just show how ignorant I am. (You know that open your mouth and remove all doubt, but sense you want a discussion) I’ve always liked the form, but I never saw any deeper meaning. So would you like to enlighten me.

  2. LOVE this poem. And the one where he’s eaten all the plums in the icebox. Know why? Because they are poems about wet garden tools and fruit that was purloined. And that is ALL. Anyone who writes pages about those poems is…..well, needing something else to do. Can’t offend the entire population (though I am willing), but I think he’s keeping it simple, “stupid”, and I actually don’t mind this guy. Remember the poem he wrote about city living and having to let the water in the tap run for a while before you drank it because it was coppery and rusty? My grandma lived in Chicago and we had to do that, and as a child, I was fascinated. How can water go from rust to pinkish to clear and only then we can drink it?

    Give me “The Red Wheelbarrow” any day over Wallace Stevens “Anecdote of (or is it on?) a Jar” any day. Please tell me what the heck, why the heck….

  3. @dbj: me, too. it’s one of my absolute favoritests
    @faemom: you need someone much more educated than me to tell you much of anything. It’s important historically because Williams was one of the first imagists to talk like a normal person, about normal things. There’s even a mocking of poetry’s excesses in “upon” instead of “on”. Poetry professors have tried to explain to me how each stanza has a line that makes you think something so-called important is coming, then startles with something allegedly common. (example: “beside the white” allegedly sets the reader up to think of all poetry tropes that come with white: purity, women, Jesus, etc. and then pays off with “chickens.” I will not pretend to think like that. I love the rhythm of this, the images, and that the lines fall like raindrops. I have no idea why I’m supposed to like it, or what it “means” but it feels, to me, authentic and Depression-era real, cuts through the us-vs.-them high art low art nonsense, and makes the poetic device of “find the meaning” more along the lines of “real human doing real work find the uses for a real tool in real circumstances.” And that, to me, is beautiful.
    Aaaaaaah! Reader response! No, no, say it ain’t so!
    Well it is, but I’m not submitting it to a journal or anything…for that, ask our more erudite readers.

  4. Thanks for the response. And I always like “This Is Just To Say.” It felt like reading such a personal note to his mom or his wife. It felt so authentic and sweet.

    • neither of you ladies get pissed that he is so rude, and revels so much in the plums that someone else wanted? maybe I’m all wrapped up in the selfishness of a three year old, but the world-revolves-around-me masculinity of this makes me a little sore at anyone who leaves me this note.

  5. It goes to show you the perception is everything. I find it nice that he wrote a note to apologize. Though I do agree that he revels in those saved plums a bit much. If this happened in my house:
    *lots of searching through the fridge taking things out*
    muttering: Where are those damn plums? They were right here. *more shuffling of stuff* They were right here last night. Hey! C?! C?! C! Do you know where the plums are? I had them right here.
    C: Oh. The plums? Those plums? Um, I ate them last night.
    Me: What?! I told you I was saving them for today! What am I going to do now?
    C: Um, I don’t know.

    Hence why I like the poem; it’s much sweeter than what my husband would do.

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