A Negro Woman

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Commentary on « A Negro Woman » by W.C Williams

This text is a poem entitled « A Negro Woman » written by American author William Carlos Williams in 1955. It is therefore at the very beginning of the African-American Civil Rights Movement which occurred between 1955 and 1968 in the United States. In this poem, Williams describes a common black woman carrying a bunch of yellow flowers. It is written in free verses and could be divided into two parts: one being mainly a description and the other putting light on the symbol carried by that woman. In order to prove this point, we will first look at the way Williams portrays the woman to then show how he manages to make a symbol out of her by this portrayal.

First Williams depicts the portray of a larger black lady carrying flowers from one place to another in the early morning. She appears strong by the way she walks, caring and powerful. What is striking is the fact that the poem is written in free verse, there are no rhymes, no evident rhythm pattern. The poem is only made of two long sentences: one goes from the beginning till line 13 'on her way.' and the other from line 14 'What is she' till the end. The number of syllables is different in each line, Williams uses simple easy words and creates a slow reading pace that is probably not accidental as it seems to reflect the pace of the woman's walk, 'the back of her thighs causing her to waddle as she walks'. The use of present tense puts us reader right into the action, it feels like we are actually seeing that woman passing by. The way she's holding the flowers, 'upright as a torch' remind us of the Statue of Liberty, symbolizing freedom, a Freedom black people had not yet experienced but were about to fiercely fight for at the time. This comparison starts making her a symbol of hope for black people. She's an 'ambassador from another world', she is therefore representative of all black women about to finally gain their freedom. The fact that...
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