Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Amid the rapid development of technology and with the dawn of a new century, artists partly envisioned and partly effected a departure from old ways. Cars and especially airplanes, whose praises are sung in “Zone,” surpassed trains in expanding horizons and in creating new perspectives. For many artists, that strengthened the impulse toward objectivity, in order to cater to the subjectivity of the reader or viewer. This impulse is present in “Windows.”

The sprawling modern city can only be perceived in pieces. In the increased pace of daily life, several sensations strike the individual at once: Apollinaire, like the Futurists, revels in this “simultaneity” and attempts to reproduce it in writing, although he himself concedes that painting captures it better.

In the poem, the window “opens” in line 11 and again in line 35. It has not closed in between; rather, the suggestion is that all the sights and sounds of the intervening verses are perceived at once. Lines 10 through 12 move from present to future, a logical sequence, then suddenly back into the past—as if past, present, and future were somehow interchangeable. Like the cubists, however, Apollinaire does more than merely present the fragmentation. Out of the chaos of modern life, he fashions a new unity, linking all of space and time; it is not by accident that “when” and “where” are, with “and,” the major linking words in the poem.

Line 35 sums...

(The entire section is 469 words.)