Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 19 March 2010

William Carlos Williams: The Term


File:Destitute man vacant store.gif

A rumpled sheet

of brown paper

about the length

and apparent bulk

of a man was

rolling with the

wind slowly over

and over in

the street as

a car drove down

upon it and

crushed it to

the ground. Unlike

a man it rose

again rolling

with the wind over

and over to be as

it was before.

File:Down and out on New York pier.gif

The Term: William Carlos Williams, 1937 (from Poems 1936-1939)

Great Depression: unemployed, destitute man leaning against vacant store, San Francisco: Dorothea Lange, 1935 (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)

Great Depression: man dressed in worn coat lying down on pier, New York City docks: photo by Lewis W. Hine, 1935 (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)


gamefaced said...

words so light they're heavy.

TC said...

stones in all my pockets.

u.v.ray. said...

William Carlos Williams, one of my favourites, perfectly captured the aesthetics of the world that surrounded him. And so effortlessly.

Along the line of what we were saying recently, Tom: literary photographs.

Williams' poems capture America in the same way Robert Frank did with his camera.

J said...

Powerful photos, at least

Anonymous said...

As intense as it is concise.

Elmo St. Rose said...

yes the great depression looms
without a manufacturing base

Walmart nightmare:
Buy stuff they do not need
that they can't afford
because they're entitled
to have it

and then
the money
runs out

TC said...

One or two thoughts on this poem.

I have always read it as what it obviously is: a loop. As with Weldon Kees' Back. The element of return-to-go in poetry always recalls to me the sources of verse and its turnings in the round-dance.

Greek: terma=a turning.

And speaking of turning points, I have long thought of this period in Williams' work as pivotal in several respects. Obviously a poet so bound into the observation of reality in the practice of his art was not going to be missing the social reality. My speculation has been that the issues of the time, so bleakly immediate, challenged the poet with procedural questions as to the use (or refusal) of allegory, a mode often present, if subtly, if well beneath the surface, in his work up to this time. And perhaps not so much, in the phases that ensued.

Does this poem stand for anything besides itself, or is it entirely self-referential?

u.v.ray. said...

>> Does this poem stand for anything besides itself, or is it entirely self-referential? <<

I would say it's like symbolism.

Williams solidified his observations of the world around him through use of aesthetics.

As all great art does - it becomes a chronicle of its time.