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The Red Wheelbarrow Essay

889 words - 4 pages

William Carlos Williams was one of the most influential poets in the 1900s. His most famous work, "The Red Wheelbarrow", consists of a mere sixteen words, divided noticeably into eight lines. The poem is typical Williams' style: brief, particular, and containing observations without comment. He is a member of the Imagist movement, one which believes in total focus on the poem's subjects. He additionally names himself an Objectivist, a type of Imagist who uses no symbolism. The purpose of "The Red Wheelbarrow" is to force the reader to examine the objects and the poem itself, not for what they represent, but for what they are in themselves.Williams is considered to be a follower of the Imagist movement, one which called for precise focus on the objects described. The movement was found in the 1910s and was led by T.E. Hulme and Ezra Pound, a close friend of Williams. Pound defined the principles of Imagism in 1913 as being: "Direct treatment of the thing: whether subjective or objective, using absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation, and as regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome" (Sutton 33). Imagists were to portray their objects without superfluous words, and to write with 'free verse', without a predefined form.In examining Williams' style it appears as though he fits the Imagist description, his poems portray simple objects in a particular and concise way. By additionally considering himself an Objectivist, a specific type of Imagist, Williams sets one additional standard; in his poetry "no symbolism is acceptable" and each object means itself (Miller 3). He opposes other poets of his time, T.S. Eliot in particular, whose "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" uses mermaids to represent a joyful fantasy world. Williams believes that symbolic images like these falsify the poetic experience. Instead Williams prefers to describe ordinary objects and through poetry, recreates them, putting aside any previous associations, and offering them as themselves.Through "The Red Wheelbarrow" Williams encourages the reader to appreciate the simple objects and words for what they are. His short poem describes a red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater beside the white chickens, painting an image of a typical outdoor sight. Each object represents a physical commodity: the wheelbarrow represents machines, the rain "" nature, and the chicken "" animal life (Sutton 121). While Williams does not disregard their physical value, it is not his main focus. He hopes to give the reader a new perspective on the objects, to stop looking for ideas and to focus on the things that surround us. The words barrow, rain and...

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