William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams was born September 17, 1883 in
Rutherford, N.J. His father had emigrated from Birmingham,
England, and his mother from Puerto Rico. He was admitted
in 1902 to the medical school of the University of
Pennsylvania, where he met two poets, Hilda Doolittle and
Ezra Pound. A long term friendship ensued between Pound and
himself, to such a degree that Williams said he was able to
divide his life into two distinct segments: Before Pound
and After Pound.
From 1906 to 1909 Williams did his internship in New York
City, writing verse in between patients. His first book was
published in 1909, just before a trip to Leipzig to study
pediatrics. In the following years Williams wrote not only
poems, but short stories, novels, essays, and an
autobiography. In 1946 he began "Paterson", an attempt to
write an epic poem about the city. Williams died in 1963,
while working on the sixth book of Paterson.
William Carlos Williams devoted his life on helping the
poor and all aspects of the human world that appealed to
him were in their most basic form. What appealed to
Williams were not the glitzy and glamourful, but the true
qualities sometimes being old and worn out. He found that
pride was more important than the materialistic qualities.
Many of his poems explore nature and use it to explore and
explain human behavior as he sees it through his own eyes.
A few of these poems that use simplistic language to paint
a very descriptive and clear picture of other aspects of
life are "Love Song", "Apology", "Pastoral", and "Tract".
The poem entitled "Apology" portrays that quality of
looking for the true aspects of nature and humans, not the
materialistic ones. He is mainly discussing everyday life
as it is for what some would call the bottom of society. It
is a poem which utilizes very simple language yet it forges
the point. It serves its purpose which is to portray a
picture of everyday life as he sees it. He focuses on
people who are not necessarily the richest or don't live
the best lifestyle, but their morality stands above the
others. He starts by asking himself why he writes. He
states very simply: colored women, day workers, old and
experienced. These are not qualities of glamour, these are
qualities of pride. In this poem he is attempting to paint
a picture of everyday life by using a common social class.
Some of the harder things in life to explain are explained
in very simple terms by William Carlos Williams.
This next poem, "Pastoral", uses nature to explore aspects
of human life. It's a wonderful poem which paints a picture
of little sparrows in a specified time. After he describes
the sparrows, he attempts, and succeeds to compare it to
the life of an older human. This old man is not a rich guy
stepping into a fancy car, he is just carrying on with his
ordinary chores. He looks for the good and whole qualities
in a human, not the superficial ones.
The poem, "Tract", is about a man explaining to his
townspeople how to perform a funeral. This poem is
portraying a sad time that occurs in every human's life. He
explains how the funeral should be run and he accomplishes
this by combining his description of the funeral with
objects associated with what we would call basic
necessities. Examples such as the terms, weathered, rain,
snow, dirt, illustrate that there be no brass wheels or
upholstery. Just the very basic components of the natural
world, the objects of nature that everyone visualize of
when nature is suggested. In this case, objects of nature
and everything associated with nature is used to portray
aspects of human life. The idea of having nothing fancy is
important to him.
In another poem entitled "Pastoral", Williams talks of
walking through the back streets where the bottom of
society resides. He mentions the roof being out of line
with the sides, the houses of the poor, the yards cluttered
with old children wire, ashes, and furniture gone wrong. He
talks about the fences and outhouses built of barrel-staves
and parts of boxes.
A theme and format which exists in all of these poems and
most of Williams' literature is nature the simplicity of
the language he uses. Many believe he did that in order to
separate himself from other poets of his time.