The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Desert Music” is a relatively lengthy open-form poem. The title refers to the topic of the poem, a desert journey, as well as to the musical imagery present throughout the work. The poem is written primarily in the first person and appears to be drawn from the personal experiences of the author. The poet functions as a speaker of the poem as well as an observer within the poem. In describing his purpose, the speaker states that his goal is, when describing his desert journey, “—to tell/ what subsequently I saw and what heard.” When functioning as an observer, the speaker identifies himself by name (William Carlos Williams). He also mentions that the group with which he is traveling includes a total of seven members, and he specifically describes an incident involving one of his friends in particular (identified by the initial H.). In addition, as speaker, Williams refers to the actions of his wife, giving her name as Floss.

The journey described in the poem is likened to a dance that begins and ends with the speaker’s observation of a figure located on the international bridge between the United States and Mexico:

—the dance begins: to end abouta form propped motionless—on the bridgebetween Juarez and El Paso—unrecognizablein the semi-dark.

Here the speaker...

(The entire section is 503 words.)