Stylistic analysis of a Poem.

Topics: William Carlos Williams, Word, Poetry Pages: 5 (1336 words) Published: November 8, 2013

Name: Sajid Aziz, Roll no: AU515926
MA TEFL, Course Code: 5666
Assignment no: 2, Spring, 2013
Research Project

A Stylistic Analysis of the Poem
“The Red Wheelbarrow”
By: William Carlos Williams

The Red Wheelbarrow

So much depends

A red wheel

Glazed with rain

Beside the white


          Oppose practicing the learned rhetoric in poetry writing, Williams finds his subjects in such homely items as wheelbarrows. He believes that “localism aline can lead to culture”. Imagism finds its full expression in The Red Wheelbarrow, one of the masterpieces of William Carlos Williams. This paper analyses the linguistic features of this poem, including phonological, lexical, syntactic and semantic features, and we can have a more clear idea of this poem.

    The poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” is actually a bright colored picture. The contrast of the white chicken beside the red wheelbarrow is a testament to the colors of the world we live in and that fall within the spectrum of our site. The fact that it is glazed with rain takes us back to the smells of youth when a storm finally breaks and everything is fresh and clean with the sun coming back out. The wheelbarrow is a symbol related to the idea of sustenance. The opening line of the poem "so much depends" is indicative to that William Carlos Williams wanted to write a poem which would create in us a thought process in regards to what is really important in life and link us to memories of our senses in the past based on the exposure an individual had to certain things.


Linguistic presentation of the theme:

(1)       Phonological features
In terms of sounds, quite apart from its images or its vocabulary, Williams intricately tunes the poem. The first and second stanzas are linked by the long “o” in the words “so” and “barrow” and by the short “u” in the words “much”, “upon” and “a”. “l” and “r” interlace the core stanzas that is the second and the third stanzas. These two sounds, however, are not in the first and the fourth stanzas. This simple device distinguishes the framing stanzas from the central stanzas. One result of this distinction is that the central stanzas are mellifluous, the frame stanzas choppy. Then, however, the honeyed and the choppy are linked in the third and fourth stanzas. They are joined by means of a parallel construction: the long vowels in “glazed with rain” match those in “beside the white”. In the last stanza, another loop is closed when the sounds “ch” and “ens” in the last word of the poem echo the sounds in the initial line: “so much depends”. The fourth, sixth and eighth lines each has only one word. “barrow”, “water” and “chickens”. These words are all stressed on the first syllable and weaken on the second syllable.

(2)       Graphical features
This poem is a sentence “So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.” to be divided into four stanzas. These four stanzas are always three words and then one word, the one word, moreover, always of two syllables, while the three-word line having four syllables the first and the last time, but only three syllables on its two middle occurrences. This sixteen-word sentence is banal but it is changed into a great poem without displacing a single word except typographically, the sixteen words exist in a different zone altogether, a zone remote from the word of sayers and sayings. That zone is what Williams in the 1920s started calling “the imagination”.

(3)       Lexical features
Lines 3-4
Here the image of the wheelbarrow is introduced starkly. The vivid word “red” lights up the scene. Notice that the monosyllable words in line 3 elongates the line, putting an unusual pause between the word “wheel” and “barrow”. This has the effect of breaking the image down to its most basic parts. Using the sentence as a painter uses line and color, Williams breaks up the words in...
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