William Carlos Williams American Literature Analysis
Williams’s writing is one of the major achievements in twentieth century American literature. As a significant representation of the modern American consciousness, it must be placed with that of four other poets born between 1874 and 1888: Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot. Williams’s work complements theirs in important ways. He was less ready than they to maintain traditional techniques or assimilate the discoveries made in other literatures, but he was more genuinely open and responsive to both the fullness and the emptiness of contemporary life in the United States.
He listened more keenly to the dance rhythms and the flat cadences of American speech, observed more accurately the degradation and the unexpected beauties of its cities and countrysides, and explored more intensely the immediate historical ground on which Americans stood. He did all this, moreover, without slighting the spiritual emptiness that has haunted twentieth century writing. Williams may well be, of those five poets, the most important influence on the development of the American idiom in poetry during the last years of the twentieth century.
His work in both poetry and prose combines great technical ability with a passionate humanity. The major beauty of Williams’s art is perhaps that of a hard-won honesty, achieved through his attempt to isolate individual experience, to make the distinctions necessary to its proper perception, yet to...
(The entire section is 5512 words.)
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