William Carlos Williams Red Wheelbarrow Essay

The saying goes, a picture can paint a thousand words, but can the same feat be applied to a short poem containing just one sentence? This seems so cause during 1932, William Carlos Williams wrote a minimalist masterpiece, “Red Wheelbarrow”. Upon first impressions there’s not much information to take in. The only distinctive phrases that catches the reader’s eye initially is the countryside image that is applied to the scenery, along with the red wheelbarrow and white chickens.

Although initially the reader sees the four stanzas separately, it’s not until further analysis of the poem that one starts to realize that each word plays a critical role in capturing the scenery that Williams paints for the reader. Through the use of imagery, symbolism and diction the poet is able to string together arguably the one of the most well-known, minimalistic poems written to date. Diction and symbolism coincide with one another perfectly in this poem due to the greater importance of each word in the poem.

This is where Williams shines in the poem because nearly every single aspect of the poem needs to be taken into consideration, symbolism all the way to the format, when trying to grasp onto the message the poet is projecting. The first stanza for example, “so much depends/ upon” gives off a tone of pressure and importance of an object. Rather than let the readers know in the following line Williams leaves off the second line in the stanza with “upon”. This is done seemingly to give the readers a sense that the object he is going state is of great importance.

Next stanza goes on to make readers scratch their hands in confusion by just writing “a red wheel barrow”. One might go onto think just a red wheelbarrow? This is furthest from the truth since the poet writes each stanza in a linear format and this stanza is no different, it’s “a red wheel/ barrow”. Every aspect in the poem is made intentionally and the disjuncture in the stanza is made to make the reader put extra thought into establishing an image for the poem.

Further reason is also to set a tone of the poem and give a feeling of transcendence with these one worded cliffhangers that are placed in the second line. This is seen in greater detail in the third stanza. It isn’t until the third stanza that the reader receives a faint glimpse of the poems point. This wheelbarrow is “glazed with rain/ water”. For the most part when the word glazed comes into my head I think of shiny and smooth texture, typically like a glazed donut. The part that contains a key part in this poem though is the rain.

For now with this in mind one could suspect that the wheelbarrow is relatively new since it’s of a red color and if it were rusted and old it wouldn’t be able to glazed in red. Now the critical thinking aspect comes in. One could think, if the word glazed means a texture is shiny, it must mean that light reflecting the wheelbarrow is the sun. Furthermore, if the wheelbarrow were also glazed with rain water that must symbolize a recent rainfall occurred. This is all left hypothetically though to the reader to analyze and interpret their own perspective of the poem.

The poet also introduces the reader to the interlinear rhyme scheme that would be broken if it weren’t for the separation of “rain/water”. There’s a clear structure and if it’s not for those brief pauses between stanzas then one might not analyze the image vividly enough, as Williams intended. Although Williams attempts to create an image in the least amount of words as possible, he still accomplishes being able to specify into great detail of this image he’s displaying. For example, snapping words such as “wheel/ barrow” and “rain/water” makes readers think of each separately, since they are.

Now the reader could think of each word on their own and sparks the reader to think of each word with greater detail and put the pieces together. However this seems to be the reoccurring characteristic in this poem, strict in fixture in following the poem. Since each stanza is dependent on each other it would be impossible to understand the poem if a single aspect were to change, such as a stanza or combining a stanza into one sentence. For the most part this poem wouldn’t be what it is if this poem didn’t include the genius use and placement of symbolism, imagery and diction.

However the biggest contributor in which makes the poem is its symbolism. This is for the obvious fact in which since Williams put together such a short poem, each word has great significance in understanding the poets point. Lastly, in the final stanza, the poem completes the image by ending with “beside the white/ chickens” and implying to the reader that this setting takes place in the countryside, and for the first time a type of presence of life. A color is included in this stanza just as second, though this time it’s white.

The reason to mention the colors is because a pattern starts to become obvious upon analyzing the poem. This pattern is the colors that the poet is able to paint in the readers minds and helps immerse the readers to perceive the story and meaning of the poem. Such an example is the red wheelbarrow, for the most part red is distinguished as a warm color. Then there’s the “rain/water” which in most cases is coincided with the color blue, but the reason the two words were cut or kept from being one is because they each have their meaning.

In this case we know the wheelbarrow is wet from the recent rainfall, but it’s to also give it a sense of coolness by being glazed in water. To add on, the inclusion of rain is to symbolize the overall story and message being told. This is for the primary reason that rain is mentioned in the text not only to provide a vivid picture for the audience but symbolize that the darkness that comes along with nature at times, eventually goes away just as everything else in life. This is an essential part in the poem as well, life.

There was darkness before but the sun shines and the chickens are out again, life is beautiful, and though it might not seem like at during the heat of the moment but there’s always going sunshine sooner or later. After taking in all the symbolism and details within the poem into consideration, Williams delivers on providing a strong statement and story in which he was able to do this astonishingly in just sixteen words. From the strings I attached it seems as though the story gives a lesson of life, anything and everything negative eventually goes away, just like the rain in the poem.

Eventually there’s sunshine again that brings beauty to life, and that’s why the birds are beside the glazed red wheelbarrow. What continues to capture the audiences in today’s time is how astonishingly, the poet is able to create a vivid image in the reader’s minds. Though there’s heavy use of symbolism, there’s also a clever use in imagery. This is for the fact that Williams also uses the colors in to help immerse the reader, by getting into detail. After further analysis of the poem, it starts to become clear that the choice of colors are made so intentionally.

The reason for this is to help reader realize the contrast of colors from the red to white and the equalizing color, blue. When informing the reader of colors that contrast each other it helps the reader’s digest the imagery. It seems as though the same feat was accomplished in the poem as an image, because Williams ended up writing a minimalist classic. The poem is timeless in the respect that in some respect it attempts to identify itself as an art image.

The interlinear structure and brief stops between each stanza causes the reader to digest each bit of symbolism told in the poem from the textures, colors, and setting all the way to the light gleaming off the glazed wheelbarrow. The scene that is framed in our minds is self-reliant by the structure of the poem. On the other hand, the only real reliance in the poem is the message of the poem being captured by readers. In a sense, “so much depends/upon” the readers that have the eyes to see the image Williams painted in the minds of many.