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Explain the similarities and dissimilarities in the stylistic and thematic...

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abdulghani | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM via web

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Explain the similarities and dissimilarities in the stylistic and thematic charecteristics of William Carlos Williams' poems "The Red Wheel Barrow",  "This is Just to Say" and "Sort of a Song." 

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 17, 2013 at 5:53 PM (Answer #1)

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These poems all share Williams’ short-line, unrhymed cadenced, almost shorthand imagery.  “Wheelbarrow,” the most often anthologized of these three poems, suggests the typical farmyard setting but enigmatically hints at a more philosophical discussion (“So much” what?); it implies a conversation, or at least a listener, with whom the poet (implied first-person) is sharing a thought.  The “Plum” poem, again a one-sided conversation (a note left to a live-in partner on the refrigerator door or on the kitchen table?), performs the speech-act of apology, the most “intimate” of these poems, at its base is, like the Wheelbarrow poem, an encapsulation of a vividly “emblematic” moment, here incorporating taste and even texture and temperature, as well as sight.   The final poem, a “Sort of Song”, is different in several respects.  First, its subject is the act of verbal creation, with the snake not so much a natural object as a symbol for handwriting or for the invention of “metaphor.”  Second, it is more personal and internal, more a conversation with himself, in his head (a "song" he sings to himself?), than a listener.  The three poems taken together, clarify his poetic temperament – a quiet, close observer of the everyday, giving his existence a larger-than-reality importance by seeing and hearing the universal rhythms in the everyday events of his life.

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