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Milly Pnotporn Jantarakolica

Mr. Matthew Bishop

English 12
October 2, 2017

Equality within Williams Poetry

William Carlos Williams, a poet that devoted his career to breaking poetic traditions,

decided to invent a new type of poem that excluded European traditions. As a modernist and

an imagist, Williams refuses to believe in traditional ideas, and instead he goes by simplicity.

Throughout his career as a poet, he accentuated the importance of concrete objects. Not only

was he a poet, but as a doctor, he displays the struggle of being in this occupation via words.

An assumption could be made that as he gets to view others life, it strengthens his perspective

of equality. Poems such as The Red Wheelbarrow, Nantucket, To a Poor Old Woman,

and Complaint emphasizes equality: on elevating the ordinary in concrete objects and

economic class.

In Nantucket and The Red Wheelbarrow, Williams elevates the simplicity in

typical objects. In Nantucket, he describes several objects located in a hotel. In the same

manner, he emphasizes the concept No ideas but in things. in The Red Wheelbarrow

where he states that truth depends on a red wheelbarrow, rain water, and white

chickens. He states in Nantucket that, Flowers through the window/ lavender and yellow/

changed by white curtains , (1-3) detailing how the objects are arranged in the room. Not

only this, but he also sees a glass pitcher, the tumbler/ turned down, by which/ a key is lying

And the/ immaculate white bed (8-11). Williams uses three passive verbs, changed by,

turned down, and is lying which are inactive. These verbs are motionless, connecting the

poem together as a whole. Along with the verbs, the word choice that Williams chooses are

also captivating. The tumbler in the poem can be interpreted in two different meanings.

One as a glass in a room and the other as a lock. The phrase a key is lying could also mean

that the key is literally lying down, or as the room is locked. As well as The Red

Wheelbarrow, Williams quotes so much depends/ upon (1-2), unifying and making
connections among things to highlight the importance of equality. Another essential point

that could be seen on both of the poems are that they contain no punctuation and despite the

fact that the objects are stated separately or in a fragmented way, all of the main ideas are still

connected. Interestingly, these poems are not related to humans in any ways, but is able to

become meaningful by simply just stating various objects. On top of that, Williamss word

choices, using synonyms that could be interpreted differently allows the reader to reconsiders

the objects, adding values to these objects. Moreover, all of these poems have equal stanzas

strengthening the ideal of equality. Overall, Williams enhances the importance of equality by

elevating the simplicity in ordinary objects.

Williams displays the ideal of economic inequality in his poems To a Poor Old

Woman and Complaint. In To a Poor Old Woman, he sets an image of a poor old

woman eating a plum on the streets. She is very happy and believes that the plum tasted very

good. Similarly, Complaint reveals a poor woman giving birth to a child during winter.

Both of these poems points out the struggle of people in the lower class and displays an

unpleasant setting. In the first poem mentioned, Williams writes munching a plum on/ the

street a paper bag/ of them in her hand (1-3), by stating that the plum is in a paper bag and is

eaten in the streets enables a prediction that the old woman is poor. Despite this, he quotes

You can see [that] it [tastes good to her] by/ the way she gives herself/ to the one half/

sucked out in her hand (8-11), detailing that she enjoys it so much that she gives herself to

the plum. This creates a stereotype that she has not eaten anything this good for a long period

of time. Likewise, in the second poem it says They call me and I go. / It is a frozen road/

past midnight, a dust/ of snow caught/ in the rigid wheeltracks (1-5), which demonstrates

that the narrator, a doctor, has to travel difficultly at night in a frozen road to help this

pregnant woman. After arriving, it says She is sick, / perhaps vomiting, / perhaps laboring/

to give birth to/ a tenth child (11-15), presenting a discomfort of a mother struggling to give
parturition. Complementary, these poems show radical departure. For instance, other poems

such as To a Young Lady by William Cowper demonstrates a pure beautiful, virgin woman

which contradicts to an extreme change in both of William poems with an image of a poor

old woman and a woman lying with pain, suffering and vomiting in order to give birth to a

child. Taken together, these two poems illustrate the issue of economic inequality and the

unfairness of the society judging people from their external beauty.

To conclude, William Carlos Williamss poems emphasizes on equality relating to

enhancing the importance of simple objects and economic inequality. The four poems The

Red Wheelbarrow, Nantucket, To a Poor Old Woman, and Complaint demonstrates

this idea by using various literary devices. Williamss poems showing equality encourages

the society as a whole to reconsider what it values in terms of external beauty and economic



People say that once you get into a university,

the sun will shine bright yellow
just like me walking at the same path
with what the society decides is best

What I see is
a doctor working in a business field
an engineer not getting enough sleep
an ungraduated person having an enormous company

books are lying all over the places

pens are scattered around
what I like
is still a doubt

The intention of this poem is to mimic William Carlos Williams poem, demonstrating

the knowledge that I was able to acquire during this first quarter of being in English class.

The reason that I have chosen this topic University is because this year is our last moment

in high school and everyone are now stress out about university entrances. Similarly, to

Williams, I doubt whether the society should have a huge impact among each individual.

Children in the modern days are lost by what others judge them and university are their first

priority. I believe that this poem demonstrates Williams concept in breaking poetic traditions,

containing free verses and having no real rhymes.

By writing this poem, I have used Williams idea No ideas but in things where I

used objects to interpret meanings. The phrase the sun will shine bright yellow mimics the

poem The Desolate Field where Williams describes the sky/ is a simulacrum (1-2),

showing that he is sad. In this case, the sun shining bright reveals the fact that perhaps these

children will have a wonderful career or future if they attend in a university. Furthermore,

two of the lines books are lying all over the places and pens are scattered around uses

objects to display that the children are bewildered and frustrated on what university they

would apply or enter. Another interesting theme that I have used is the irony or contradicting

tone that Williams have implemented on Complete Destruction, where he had two stanzas

with the first one describing a scenario and the second stanza exhibiting an irony. In my first

stanza, I have created a stereo type where university seems to be a very good place that

everyone should be aiming to achieve. However, I presented another view of these graduated

people who did not seem to be enjoying what they are going through or have studied in the

past 4 or 6 years. Furthermore, in the phrase what I like is taken from but who am I?

(9) in The Desolate Field with the in order to accentuate the question for the reader to

rethink about. In addition, I have use equal stanzas to also emphasize the ideology of
equality. To me, these small details makes Williams different from other poets and stands out

from other. Therefore, including these small elements are essential in order to mimic

Williams poem.

Having William Carlos Williams as a mentor, is very interesting to me. Since he is a

doctor, a career that I am interested to enter, it makes me want to get to know more about

him. After learning more about him, I feel that his unique thoughts are very motivating and

modern. What surprised me about him was the poem Danse Russe where it seemed as if he

has problems with his family, especially his wife. It contradicts to his biography of having a

good and happy family. In this unit, I enjoy writing poems and analyzing different

components of the poem that I have never viewed before. I think that studying in this class

allows me to reconsider the poems many times and in many perspective. To write my poem, I

believe that the concept of breaking traditional poetic devices is a must. In all of Williams

poem, his ideas stand out against the modern society which I totally agree with. I believe that

writing a poem that mimics Williams would need a strong idea that is different from others

and shows society concerns. Throughout this quarter, I have read poem in a way which I had

never did before. For example, in The Red Wheelbarrow I had just recognized that wheel

barrow is made out of a wheel and a barrow and same goes towards rain water and white

chickens. Also, in To a Poor Old Woman, Williams uses the phrase They taste good to

her (4) three times, but it has different meanings due to the enjambment that he used which I

had never seen this type of technique before. Besides this, I have just understood the concept

of elevating the simplicity in concrete objects. To conclude, Williams has influenced me to

become a simple person and to go against the society if they are doing things that are not

correct or in a conservative way. He had taught me to view objects differently and that simple

things might meant more than what it seems to mean.

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