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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.


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