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William Carlos Williams by Steve Schaeppi

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 5 months ago

William Carlos Williams












A Brief Biography


       Born in Rutherford, New Jersey, William Carlos Williams knew from an early age what he wanted to do. It was when he was in high school that he made the decision to become a doctor as well as a writer.

                 Williams graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1906. While at school, he met a friend named Ezra Pound that helped him get his first collection of poetry published called The Tempers, in 1913.

            Throughout Williams entire career as a doctor, he continued to publish his work. Poetry was not his only writing though. He also wrote novels, essays, and plays, although his poetry was his most notable work. In 1950 he won the National Book Award and in 1963 he won the Pulitzer Prize.

            Late in his life Williams suffered a heart attack and several strokes that made him unable to continue his practice as a doctor. He was also treated for severe depression. despite all of this he never stopped writting. Williams died March 4th, 1963.


"Brief Biography." 7 May 2007 <http://www.uta.edu/english/tim/poetry/wcw/Brief%20Biography.html>.


"William Carlos Williams." wikipedia. 9 May 2007. 7 May 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Carlos_Williams>.






Landscape With The Fall of Icarus


                                                                                                     According to Bruegel

                                                                                                      when Icarus fell

                                                                                                      it was spring


                                                                                                      a farmer was ploughing

                                                                                                      his field

                                                                                                      the whole pageantry


                                                                                                      of the year was

                                                                                                      awake tingling



                                                                                                      the egde of the sea


                                                                                                      with itself


                                                                                                      sweating in the sun

                                                                                                      that melted

                                                                                                      the wings' wax



                                                                                                      off the coast

                                                                                                      there was


                                                                                                      a splash quite unnoticed

                                                                                                      this was

                                                                                                      Icarus drowning


painting by Pieter Bruegel





Williams wrote Lanscape With the Fall of Icarus with a painting by Pieter Bruegel, shown above, in mind. The painting shows Icarus drowning in the sea by the boat while everybody else continues on with their normal day to day routine, uneffected by his death.

         Icarus was a character in Greek mythology. He was known for his death in the Icarian Sea. Icarus fell into the sea because he flew too close to the sun. The sun then melted the wax holding his artificial wings together.

         In the first stanza Williams says that Bruegel though it was spring when Icarus fell to his death as can be seen in his painting. In the next few stanzas Williams describes how everyone goes about their daily life, unconcerned with Icarus. He describes their labor in the sun that melted the wings' wax. That shows the connection with the painting to the Greek mythology. He then talks about the slash that Icarus made when hitting the water and how it went unnoticed.

         Some believe that the painting is making the statement that human kind is indifferent to suffering. Again, everyone goes about their buisiness while Icarus suffers and dies. It is possible that Williams noticed this about the painting and tried to bring more light to the subject.


"Icarus." wikipedia. 7 May 2007. 7 May 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus_%28mythology%29>.


"Landscape with the Fall of Icarus." wikipedia. 26 April 2007. 7 May 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landscape_with_the_Fall_of_Icarus>.






This Is Just to Say


                                                                                                              I have eaten

                                                                                                              the plums

                                                                                                              that were in

                                                                                                              the icebox


                                                                                                              and which

                                                                                                              you were probably


                                                                                                              for breakfast


                                                                                                              Forgive me

                                                                                                              they were delicious

                                                                                                              so sweet

                                                                                                              and so cold






     This seems to be simply a poem of apology. I imagine it written to his wife. Possibly a note on the icebox after the deed had been done. The idea that Williams might have apologized to his wife through poetry is a pleasant one. It's hard to remain made at someone after they have written you a poem.

            There is also the possibility that this poem is just a random idea that Williams had. He might have imagined himself taking the plum when he really didn't. There might not have been a plum at all.

            One final idea that I can offer is the fact that we all know what it is like to eat somebody elses food that is in the refridgerator. At least I do. There is always the instant remourse after eating the item. This poem can be easily related to and that is why it is popular. People always like things better when they can relate to them.


Comments (8)

Anonymous said

at 9:16 am on May 10, 2007

This is Just to Say...

What a silly poem that is! I suppose one could take it literally but if you're taking it metaphorically then it could mean pretty much anything. It reminds me of the Haiku in our book about the cricket, seemingly pointless but I believe the author meant more than just to tell a mundane tale. It makes me want to talk to the author to see what they were thinking.

Anonymous said

at 9:17 am on May 10, 2007

that comment above was by Caroline.

Anonymous said

at 9:34 am on May 10, 2007

So just in case it doesn't say who I am this is Celeste.
I really liked the interpretations you had for both of the poems on your page it gave a great persspective on the world's cold shoulder to human suffering and also really gets the gears turning to make you wonder if there was a plum at all and how the poem realy makes the reader feel.

Anonymous said

at 9:52 am on May 10, 2007

Interesting and humorous interpretation of "This is Just to Say", as well as enlightening insight into the themes of suffering in Landscape of the Fall of Icarus.

-John Taylor

Anonymous said

at 9:53 am on May 10, 2007

It was a good idea find the picture that, that particular poem was talking about. It makes for a better understanding of a confusing poem.

Anonymous said

at 9:57 am on May 10, 2007

I agree that a lot of people probably like the last poem because it can have so many meanings. Good explainations on what you thought the poem ment.

Anonymous said

at 9:58 am on May 10, 2007

Although the poems were confusing you did a great job in explaining them and make them a little easier to understand.

Anonymous said

at 9:59 am on May 10, 2007

We liked the two poems. We are interested in mythology so we really like the first poem. The second poem was really easy to understand. Probally the easiest one out of them all. Good job.
From: Jake Erickson and Savannah Bastian

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