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Williams’ poetry is distinctive in several ways – its “American” voice, its unrhymed short line broken into phrases, and especially in the way he uses metaphors, never obvious or clichéd, but always unique. Here in eighteen lines, he captures the essence of an old person by reminding us that we are all a product of our environment, especially our early experiences that form us. The flock of birds, resting from the Winter winds on weedstalks, is much like old age itself: resting after a lifetime of struggles against the forces of Nature, their presence and their passage noted by the seed husks they leave behind, the sound of the wind like the fulfillment of a life well spent – all drawing a portrait of the mind and body of an old woman, once fruitful and young, now old and satisfied, fulfilled, understanding the songs and rhythms of life without needing to articulate them. Williams’ poems, because of their compact efficiency, are impossible to paraphrase, and yet the core of what he is expressing, the description of the scene he saw, is vivid and unique.
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