The Life of William Carlos Williams
“Nothing whips my blood like verse.” These are the famous words of the great poet, William Carlos Williams. Williams was born on September 17, 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey. He spent most of his life in Rutherford, so today he is a local hero. Williams’ mother was Puerto Rican and almost had pure Spanish blood. His father was American. As a child, Williams’ dad was a salesman and was often away from home. Thus, they didn’t see each other very much. When Williams was four, he attended school in Switzerland and France for three years. Then his family moved back to Rutherford. Williams started writing poetry at Horace Mann High School, in New York City. His parents loved literature and the visual arts, so Williams had a large vocabulary and a gift for writing poetry. Even though Williams’ parents were all for literature, they wanted him to become a doctor. So in high school, Williams decided he would go to medical school but continue to write poetry. Williams soon was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and went off to college.
At the University of Pennsylvania, he stuck to his word, practicing medicine and writing poetry. His parents really influenced him to study to become a doctor so Williams worked extremely hard. In college, Williams was befriended by poet Ezra Pound. He was the main person who encouraged him to continue writing poetry. Williams would come to his dormitory every night and Ezra would help him. Slowly, Ezra developed him into a great poet. After Williams completed his studies, he had his heart set on both writing poetry and a medical career. Three years later (in 1909) Williams’ first poems were published. A year after that Williams began a private medical practice in Rutherford, something which lasted for over 40 years. Every day he’d practice medicine, and then come home around one o’clock in the morning and write poetry. By 1912, his medical practice had given Williams the financial freedom to write what he wished. Williams started writing poetry all day. Many of these poems got published, and during the 1920’s-1950’s, he was venerated by other poets because he rejected formalism. Over this period of time Williams received many awards and published many other poems. Williams also married Florence Herman in 1912. Sadly, Williams Carlos Williams died on March 4, 1963. He may be gone, but his poetry still lives.
William Carlos Williams was a very established poet back in his day. But do you think Williams had no help making himself better at poetry? Actually, Williams had two other poets help develop him as a writer. One was Ezra Pound. When Williams was in college, Ezra helped develop Williams’s “aesthetic imagism.” This approach to poetry emphasized concrete ideas over abstractions. This is one of the key qualities that make William Carlos Williams different from most other poets. Another way Ezra helped Williams become a great poet is that he brought him to...