Recordings of poet William Carlos Williams, with an introduction to his life and work. He was a medical doctor, poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. By William Carlos Williams. Copyright by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
The Full Text of “The Red Wheelbarrow”
One answer is to interpret that red wheelbarrow as a metonym for something greater, as a specific example of a general phenomenon or idea. This moment will pass, as soon as the rain evaporates and the wheelbarrow is dry again. We might say, then, that Williams is declaring — in typically concrete, Imagist terms — that much depends on these fleeting moments, on capturing moments of beauty which may seem ordinary or mundane wheelbarrow, chickens. It is important that we observe and perceive such small, everyday details, and recognise the poetic beauty in them. But this interpretation is tenable, nevertheless. In the last analysis, William Carlos Williams clearly set out to write a poem that offers concreteness of expression as its main feature. And, of course, that red wheelbarrow. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
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With four stanzas the poem describes in humongous detail not just a wheelbarrow but a whole scene, a moment stuck in time. Agitated, the reader then looks down to see for what he or she has been thrown into oblivion: a red wheelbarrow. A red wheelbarrow?
The only other information given is vague, and when speaker says that "so much depends upon" this wheelbarrow, the reader likely wonders, " What depends it, exactly? However, this does not suggest that the poem lacks meaning. From the attention paid to the image of the wheelbarrow, it is possible that the speaker is observing and appreciating the everyday necessity of manual labor—or even commenting on humankind's relationship with nature.