Friday, October 23, 2009

Poem Analysis #2

First off, thanks for those courageous souls who shared your thoughts about last week's poem. You can read their ideas here.

Because my time is short this week, I will go with one of my favorite poems, partly because it is so amazingly simple that I can usually recall it correctly from memory.

The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

In case you're wondering, I did actually type that correctly from memory this time. I loved sharing this one with my high school students because many of them would be amazed that it is considered a poem. It is full of very simple language yet creates a startlingly clear image. I also like to point out that each stanza looks like a little wheelbarrow. I think Williams probably did that on purpose. 

So what do you think?

10 comments:

Mimi said...

This is a perfect word picture, especially for one who grew up in the country!

estall said...

I can recite this one from memory, too, because we studied it freshman year of high school. I will forever associate the student teacher we had that year with this poem; he really seemed to like it.

Anonymous said...

But why does so much depend on a red wheelbarrow?

cicely

Minerva said...

Cicely--I was hoping someone would ask this! Why do you all think so much depends on the wheelbarrow? I'll post my answer next week. :)

Mimi said...

Literalist that I am, the wheelbarrow is a staple of farm life. Without it how could you feed those chickens, or muck out their coop without terrific back strain? I realize there are those among you who will put an entirely different interpretation on the one wheeled wonder. :-)

Anonymous said...

In keeping with the Halloween season, I offer an alternative interpretation for the desperate urgency the writer feels concerning the wheelbarrow.

You've all heard the one(s) about the City Slicker and the Farmer's Daughter, yes? Well, the Farmer went into the barn, hayfork in hand, intending to pitch some hay out of the loft for the animals, and found out what the CS was doing in that barn with his little girl. Something snapped, and when the red haze cleared from his vision...well...bodies are heavy and so awkward to carry....

They say that he buried them both, hayfork and wheelbarrow and all, but sometimes, in the night, when he looks out into the yard, he sees that red wheelbarrow...sitting there...and he can't sleep for hearing it creaking across the fields....

/flashlight under chin

cicely

Christina said...

Love how the stanzas look like a wheelbarrow. Interesting that he broke the word into two. Vividly captures an accessbile image for all.

Alicia said...

A lot of interesting ideas about this poem here! I hadn't even noticed that the stanzas were shaped like a wheelbarrow until Christina mentioned it. I love Cicely's question though. It's an interesting one and I can't wait to hear your response. I tend to agree with Mimi's answer that in farm life, you can't get far without the wheelbarrow and perhaps that's what this is about. It makes me think of an old man whiddling wood in his rocker while looking out upon his farm. Such a sweet scene.

Minerva said...

As much as I am intrigued by Cicely's interpretation, I tend to lean more toward Mimi's. I see it as both the farmer and the chickens depend on the wheelbarrow. Also, because it is streaked with rainwater, it could be interpreted as there being a lot depending on sufficient rain for the crops. That's pretty much the rest of my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Oh, well, if you're going for a serious interpretation! :D

cicely