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"The Red Wheelbarrow" poetry project

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John Berger

on 17 October 2013

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Transcript of "The Red Wheelbarrow" poetry project

The Figures of Speech
"Like many imagistic poems, 'The Red Wheelbarrow' concentrates on a single image. Williams here, though, is more interested in the importance of perspective on that image than the actual image itself. Thus, he subtly forces readers to switch perspectives as an exercise to illustrate the importance of point of view." (Blythe & Sweet, 1)
"The Red Wheelbarrow" helps us see and reflect on what we experience each day in the form of language...The wheelbarrow itself is a tool, and in this sense can be read as a metaphor for poetry. To the extent that poetry helps us see reality more vividly, much depends on it. (Monte, 2)
The Structure
This poem is setup in free verse with unusual stanza breaks. The breaks help form images and give meaning to the poem. They help give the reader pace along with making up for any wrong punctuation.
Assonance is used "to empathize the tone of poem" (Breslin, 4)
"Williams did not want to enslave his experience to a set poetic patter, he was open to accepting a rhythm if one arose naturally from a situation. In this case, the structure is not strict as can be seen by the inconsistency of the number of syllables on the odd-numbered lines: four, three and four." (Breslin, 3)
William Carlos Williams
Born on September 17, 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey.
Raised by middle class parents who wished for him to become a doctor
Attended University of Pennsylvania's medical school
"By the time Williams completed his studies, he was committed to his writing; yet he still pursued a medical career and maintained a private practice in Rutherford for over forty years." (Broslin, 2)
"He consistently advocated and wrote literature that took its themes from ordinary life and its voice from the patterns of common speech." (Breslin, 2)
Became friends with Erza Pound who helped him develop aesthetic of imagism
He supposidly wrote the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" in 2 minutes
Received a Pulitzer Prize (An award for an achievement in American journalism, literature, or music.)
Died on March 4th, 1963
The Sound Device
There is Assonance is used on line 5 in 'glazed' and 'rain'. The sound between these two words help contribute to the tone of the poem
"The redness of the wheelbarrow is necessary to evoke a pared-down vision of the world: the stark contrast of red and white, of wheelbarrow and chickens is the sort of thing we might find in a children's book" (Monte, 1)
The Meaning
There are three items - wheelbarrow, water and chickens - mentioned in this poem, but everything depends on the man-made tool. When using the word "depends" raises the poems greatest mystery. "Objects of nature are mysterious because they have an existence independent of human thought." (Breslin, 4). In the "The Red Wheelbarrow" the reader wonders what is meant by the natural items "depending" on the wheelbarrow.
"The spirit of this poem lies in the concept that even such random objects as those mentioned are not as randomly situated as they might appear to the casual observer." (Breslin, 3)
"The second two (objects) are defined in terms of their relationship to the first, as the water glazes the wheelbarrow and the chickens stand beside it. In life, we know, chickns move about more or less randomly, and rain glazes everything it falls on. It is by leaving out all other things that this poem makes the wheelarrow the center of this story" (Breslin, 3)
My Personal Anaylsis
I liked how the poem was straight forward. That William Carlos Williams did not intend on giving any hidden meaning to the objects in the poem. Most poems put the reader in that situation and have you think extremely hard, making the poem confusing.

When reading this poem I visualized in my head of a red wheelbarrow drenched in rain with two white chickens pecking the ground beside it.
Presented by: John Berger
"The Red Wheelbarrow"
By: William Carlos Williams

"The Red Wheelbarrow"
So much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The first line "so much depends" has the reader feel that the poem has more to it. A hidden pun on the word "depends" the Latin root of which means "hang from". This pun makes sense given that individual words hang down from the lines consisting of three words...(sounds, and letters as opposed to meanings) (Monte, 2)
In short this poem is centered upon the red wheelbarrow, that has natural objects (rain and chickens) being dependent on it.
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