"The Red Wheelbarrow" and This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams. Describe the poems and type of style used by the poet. If you had to describe these poems to your students...

"The Red Wheelbarrow" and This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams. Describe the poems and type of style used by the poet.

If you had to describe these poems to your students what would you point out?

Expert Answers
Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In these two examples, Williams writes in the sparse style of the Modernist, conveying an image and leaving the interpretation open to his readers. 

In "The Red Wheelbarrow," point out to your students that Williams asserted that "a poem should be shaped like an object."  If you turn the poem sideways, you will see both literally and symbolically, the "handle" of the wheelbarrow and the "dip" of the bin.  Ask them to consider color, shape and juxtaposition of objects, and why Williams might choose to elevate the everyday to the poetic. 

In regard to "This is Just to Say," Williams once said that poems must consider "those things which lie under the direct scrutiny of the senses, close to the nose."  Thinking of that statement, encourage students to examine the relationship of the speaker and his unnamed mate.  What do the senses have to say about their relationship?  What inferences can be made?  In another telling comment, Williams remarked:  "To refine, to clarify, to intensify, that eternal moment in which we alone live there is but a single force -- the imagination."  Here the speaker is overtaken by his senses, acts without the other knowing his motives, and turns the moment of confession into poetry. 

In both poems, although the lines seem fragmented, like a haiku, each is dependant upon the other to complete the idea.   

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