Poetry Explication

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Is it Just a Wheelbarrow, or Something Far More Significant? William Carlos Williams’ “Red Wheelbarrow” is a poem that was written by the late author back in 1923. Eighty years later, a parody of Williams’ poem was written by F.J. Bergmann and it was titled “An Apology”. Although Bergmann’s poem was written just to ridicule Williams’ poem, the similar form of imagery used in both poems possesses more meaning and is more complex than they might seem at first sight. Also, the comparison of the two poems shows how greatly times have changed. The “Red Wheelbarrow” could be interpreted as a poem that focuses on the wheelbarrow and its function. It could also be interpreted as a poem that is portraying a clear image with the wheelbarrow as its focus because each word is slowly drawing a clear picture of what is being described. The first two lines of this eight line poem set the tone for the rest of the poem, as what would be expected of the opening lines of a poem. Ultimately, the poem is composed of one sentence broken up at a multitude of intervals, making it truthful that “so much depends upon” each line of this small poem. Also, these lines are critical for the structure of the poem because they introduced the idea that “so much depends upon” the wheelbarrow (Lines 1-2). In the third and fourth line of the poem, the four words that were used quickly introduce the image of the wheelbarrow. The word “red,” which can be thought of as a vivid word, lights up the scene. In addition to the utilization of the word “red”, Williams notably separates the world “wheelbarrow” into the two words “wheel” and “barrow.” I feel Williams does this to cause the effect of breaking the image down to its most basic parts, as if that were possible considering how small the poem is. By having the image broken down to its full extent, the reader is enabled to see the object more closely. The continuation of the enhancement of the image continues in the fifth and sixth line.


Cited: Williams, William. “Red Wheelbarrow.” Kirszner and Mandell 744. Bergmann, F.J. “An Apology.” Kirszner and Mandell 748. Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell, eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Compact 8th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2013. Print.

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