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Lecture 18

ENGLISH 45C Lecture 18: 10/26 William Carlos Williams

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Eric Falci

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● even greater focus than Stevens on accurate perception ○ famous line: “No ideas but in things” - like he wants to get rid of abstraction entirely, and make poetry as precise and descriptive as possible (though language is always abstract) ● Williams’ poems all in a single volume, 1923, called Spring and All ○ can understand it as a concerted response to “The Waste Land” (1921), which Williams called a “great catastrophe” - Eliot had handed poetry back to the academics, x available to wider public ■ “There is a constant barrier tw the reader and his consciousness of immediate contact w/ the world. If there is an ocean, it is here” ■ Williams wants poetry to be accessible and direct, provide concrete experience ○ poems in the volume didn’t have titles ○ book alternates between prose/poetry, ~100pgs long ● Ezra Pound and imagism ○ Pound and his buddies agreed upon 3 principles: ■ direct treatmt of the ‘thing’ ■ don’t use any word that doesn’t contribute to presentation of the thing ■ compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, x metronome ● not worn-out iambic pentameter; new styles ○ “image” presents intellectual/emot complex in an instant of time ● Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” classic imagist poem ○ instantiates his argument abt rules of imagism ○ inspired by haiku - density, energy, gnomic wisdom ○ “apparition” - not just seeing, imbued w/ ghostliness ○ interestingly both very ‘imagistic’ and doesn’t just describe simply; a metaphor ○ if imagists purely wanted to be imagists, they’d take photos not write poems - img gets filtered thru language - there’s always something else going in besides just presentation ● Williams becomes alternate center of modernist influence beside Eliot and Stevens “The Red Wheelbarrow” ● 23rd poem in sequence of Spring and All ● compared with Waste Land - this poem is very accessible, you don’t need to know Ovid or Shakespeare ● (Pounds and Williams’ close friendship was based on constant disagreement lol - Williams didn’t necessarily want to fulfill Pounds’ ideas of imagism) ● ea/ stanza has two lines, three words followed by one… ● order of imgs could be the order in which we see them - but maybe a reversal of what we’d normally see ○ wouldn’t we usually see the live chickens first? or any other order, subjectivity ○ wheelbarrow’s given to us first, but placed in context to what’s given las
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