Like many a person, I first met William Carlos Williams in class, and like many a person, I didn’t like him. At all. The teacher I mentioned yesterday said it was the wheelbarrow poem that all students hated because teachers didn’t teach it well. Well, I don’t know about that, because I like the wheelbarrow poem. It’s the plum poem I can’t stand, partially because I really couldn’t care less if someone ate some plums, but mostly because of the enjambment.
As a sound poet, I usually like my lines to end at natural pauses, to the point that I often neglect the use of punctuation. It drives people crazy, but that’s what line breaks are for. It drives me crazy when readers don’t pause at the line breaks. Those are the commas and periods of poetry. But imagists are famous for heavy enjambment. Don’t get me wrong, it provides for some interesting language play, but stopping a line at “the”? Needless to say, I often got into line break debates with a classmate who identified as an imagist. Returning to the plum poem, I find the line breaks less annoying than before, though I could still care less about someone having eaten some plums. Why the wheelbarrow image doesn’t seem so useless to me, I can’t tell you. But I can tell you that the enjambment is so well aligned that each stanza creates a double image. Or maybe I just like it because Williams doesn’t use punctuation either:
The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
the red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
And speaking of line breaks, my poem for today uses none:
Wide awake in her kennel, Nanny watches leaf clad sillouettes fly toward nusery windows, and fails to howl. Neither vengence nor anger at Master causes this silence, rather knowledge of children’s need for travel or adventure. That spinning island summons young ones, even puppies, eternally. Several years ago, such a hound dreamed like humans. Alas, now too much time has passed. Mistress lacks understanding. Dog ears catch excited star’s exclamations as shutters open. Night lights wink out. Candles burn. Three nighties dance behind billowing curtains which also imagine walking on clouds. Only after shadows pass overhead does the alarm sound.