Monday, March 12, 2012

Meter Monday: William Carlos Williams

Twice this week I've run across poems by William Carlos Williams. The first was "The Red Wheelbarrow" and the second (I still can't find the title) was a small poem about a patient still owing Doctor Williams $2. This is not coincidence. Two poems by the same author in the same week means I need to share one with the Spatulans.

Photo Credit: kele michele
I remember first reading "The Red Wheelbarrow" in high school. OK, I don't actually remember reading it in high school. I know I did read it in high school during an English class with my teacher Mrs. Bishop. I know I discussed the poem's meaning with my class, but I don't really remember any of it. My first memory of the poem that actually stuck is from college. It was during my Southern Writers Seminar with Dr. Susan Gilbert who has since retired from teaching that class.

What struck me about the poem first was not the poem itself but my teacher's reaction. I remember* Dr. Gilbert's face seeming to light up. I remember her saying the poem was lovely and then saying that yes so much does depend on a red wheelbarrow, rain, and a white chicken. It was Dr. Gilbert's reaction that made me pay attention to the poem. I like reading poetry. I like it when poems are short and sweet and sort of child like imaginative. But I know** I wasn't paying attention to the poem until I noticed my professor.

And then, when I gave attention to the poem, I noticed Dr. Gilbert was right. It is such a lovely poem. It's sweet and simple. It's the little girl inside me saying, "Hey! You have to notice the rain on this thing. It means everything." It's the magic in an every day, often overlooked thing speaking up for itself. It's my reminder that even I matter, and so much of who I am and my ideas and stories depend on giving credit to even the little things.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

*Memory is a funny thing. This is how I remember it now. Ask someone else who took the class when I did and they may remember something completely different. Ask me about this 20 years from now and I may remember it differently.
** I actually don't remember not paying attention. But I feel like maybe I wasn't paying attention. I remember I had this class around 2:30 or 3 p.m. after lunch and around that golden nap hour. That is why I know I wasn't paying attention. Instead I was probably fighting off, in my own way, that creeping nap feeling.

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