The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Wind Increases” is a short lyric poem in free verse composed of twenty-eight lines. All the lines of the poem are arranged in such a way as to suggest the motion of wind. In this sense, the poem could be said to be a shaped verse, a type of poem in which the typographical shape of the words on the page represents some part of the subject. Because the overall structural pattern of the poem is so loosely arranged, the poem has no set stanzaic form. In fact, Thomas R. Whitaker, in William Carlos Williams (1968), states that the way that the lines are organized encourages the reader to “not think of line-ends”; rather, the set of lines as a whole “dissolve and reconstitute the poetic line as they seek immediacy.” Based upon its content, however, the poem can be divided into five parts. In the first seven lines, the poet describes an approaching storm and tells about the “harried earth,” the trees, and “the tulip’s bright/ tips” being tossed around by the increasing wind. The second part of the poem changes abruptly from this rather literal description of the coming storm to an admonition to the reader: “Loose your love/ to flow.” This sudden shift is made all the more emphatic because it and the third part of the poem are in the form of a command. Moreover, this third part is composed of only the single verb “Blow!” At this point, the reader may believe that the poet is referring to the blowing of the wind, that he is perhaps...

(The entire section is 525 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

References to nature abound in “The Wind Increases.” The word “wind” is even in the title of the poem. The picture that the poet paints of the increasing wind as well as the other images of nature found in the first seven lines serve to describe literally, albeit somewhat dramatically, the beginning of a storm. In fact, after reading such vivid descriptions of the wind and storm, the reader may wonder about the use of the verb “increases” in the title. Such a word, which is usually used in a precise, mathematical sense, lacks the immediacy and the power of phrases such as “harried earth” and “tulip’s bright tips.” However, Williams’s choice to use the verb “increases” in his title is actually consistent with his style and form. He believed in experimentation in poetry and was not bound by the conventional rules of style or content. Thus, for him to use a word that often has a mathematical connotation in a poem about nature and the philosophy of poetry is not unusual.

Williams does not refer to nature in the middle section (lines 8-13); rather, it is here that he most openly reveals his overriding concern in the poem. He wants to address the same issue that many other poets have contemplated: What is poetry? In order to explore this topic, the poet uses a question-and-answer format. In lines 11-13, he asks what a poet is and then immediately starts to supply an answer. The first part of the answer (lines 14-17) makes no...

(The entire section is 488 words.)


(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Axelrod, Steven Gould, and Helen Deese, eds. Critical Essays on William Carlos Williams. New York: G. K. Hall, 1995.

Beck, John. Writing the Radical Center: William Carlos Williams, John Dewey, and American Cultural Politics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001.

Bremen, Brian A. William Carlos Williams and the Diagnostics of Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Copestake, Ian D., ed. Rigor of Beauty: Essays in Commemoration of William Carlos Williams. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.

Fisher-Wirth, Ann W. William Carlos Williams and Autobiography: The Woods of His Own Nature. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989.

Gish, Robert. William Carlos Williams: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1989.

Laughlin, James. Remembering William Carlos Williams. New York: New Directions, 1995.

Lenhart, Gary, ed. The Teachers and Writers Guide to William Carlos Williams. New York: Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 1998.

Lowney, John. The American Avant-Garde Tradition: William Carlos Williams, Postmodern Poetry, and the Politics of Cultural Memory. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1997.

Mariani, Paul. William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked. 1981. Reprint. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990.

Vendler, Helen, ed. Voices and Visions: The Poet in America. New York: Random House, 1987.

Whitaker, Thomas R. William Carlos Williams. Boston: Twayne, 1989.