What is so important
Does cleaning out
the chicken coop
With vague apologies to William Carlos Williams (what was your mother thinking?) and his apparently crucial wheelbarrow.
I like this very much. It’s well paced and it give a lot of latitude for drawing my own conclusion. 🙂
😉 Give ’em enough rope, the say…
To be honest, before I learned the story behind the poem, I also had no idea why it was considered so great. *laughs*
Are you just going to leave us hanging? What’s the story?!
The poet was also a doctor. There was a child patient who was gravely ill. Everyday she woke up, she’d see a red wheelbarrow outside her window; to see it meant she was still alive. That’s why so much depends on it.
The child seeing a wheelbarrow meant she was alive. Hmm.
What if she was a ghost? What if she was dreaming the red wheelbarrow? Hmm.
All interesting hypothetical questions, but unfortunately, the actual child never recovered…and passed away.
Undoubtedly, someone put the wheelbarrow into the shed, and thus the child was disconnected from its life.
I’m being flippant, but such external imperatives never go well.
Thanks for the backstory, red gladiola. I’ve always thought that poem was overrated. But what do I know……
LOL. That one made me laugh. I happen to like that poem, and I have some seriously poopy chickens! So yes, yes, it does warrant angst! 🙂
channeling mister williams:
the red wheelbarrow
is an important part
of the universe
even as you are
and i was
but “so much depends”
on what we notice
I hope you’re talking about water. 🙂
Mr. Wiliams and his chickens have inspired a great deal of angst over the years. Makes you want to write poetry, right?
Short story or a narrative poem, perhaps?
Could it have been the morning after he wrestled that little four year old to get a throat culture? I am not so sharp after a late night, either.
lol. Oh dear.
A more effective (to me) WCW poem is “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” (http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15828)
I admit much of Williams has bored me to death. But you don’t have to like most of a poet’s work to love one or two of his poems, and “Landscape” is to me is a powerful poem. Try that one out.
Oh wow. You’re right. There’s quite a bit of scope for contemplation in that one, isn’t there? I do not believe I’ve seen it before, so thanks for sharing it.
A poet I just discovered in the last year is Mary Oliver. On the book I picked up at Powell’s in Portland, when I was on vacation there last March, it says “Far and away this country’s best-selling poet” I guess in Canada we’re so obsessed with Gordon Lightfoot, Margaret Atwood, and Leonard Cohen that gems like Oliver escape us. She and I have quite a similar style- short poems that focus on noticing something. She writes about her dogs, too. 🙂
Oliver’s great–and she has written many wonderful books. Personally, I think an obsession with Leonard Cohen is no bad thing! What amazing songs and poems he has written. And Ron Sexsmith is absolutely fantastic and has created a body of very moving work. I discovered his music maybe five or six years ago and have been trying to catch up ever since.
Oh yes. Another troubadour.
Reblogged this on Rural Poet and commented:
I’m thinking that there could be a whole genre of poems about the poems of W.C.W.. I like this one. Especially the comment at the end.
nice post…like it 🙂
I wish I could answer the question on Williams’ behalf, but I can’t. I think we’re not supposed to know, but rather, simply trust him at his word, “so much depends upon” this red wheelbarrow. It’s not about knowing what specifically depends on the thing, but seeing the thing, in and of itself, “glazed with rain water, beside the white chickens.” Later or earlier, I don’t know which, Williams said or wrote: “No ideas but in things.” At any rate, I love your musing here.
All poems exist within the understanding of the readers, whatever it might be, and whether it is anywhere similar to the understandings of the poet at the time of creation!
The barrow reminded Wheeljam Carlos that, like his poem, it wasn’t going anywhere. That’s what makes it so pathetic. (Well, it’s as good an explanation as most offered. I believe that anything written which doesn’t make full sense without a generally known background story, or stating it, is not clever.)
awww play nice
good read this morning/thanx
Ha. Loved your poem. I once wrote a very long poem that started out “So much depends upon a gray shopping cart.” Thanks for following my blog. Now I’m following yours.
lol. I like that! (or in my case- the eBay check out…) 😉
haha I LOVED this. It’s one of the first poems I ever read (like many people, I’m sure). It is a great little poem, but I love your sassy response to it
Sassy. 😉 That’s me.
nice! another bad poem that makes me wonder is The Old Oaken Bucket by Samuel Woodworth.
which now I have to go look up. Thanks for that. lol 😉
it’s not something you’d want to drink from! LOL 🙂
Coincidentally, I only came across The Red Wheelbarrow poem last month. Its power is the simple openness to being interpreted. Maybe someone was going to wash the chicken until it rained and they got other ideas! There may be as many imagined “back stories” as readers! I wrote a short 100 word piece about a red ferris wheel. Am sure that I didn’t leave as much out though.
The holes are generally more interesting than the fill…
Exactly! Is one of the reasons I enjoy microfiction so much! Every word (including those in the title) must work!
Yes. As I say in another poem somewhere on this blog: “Brevity is an art!”
I like that you insulted the man again in your apology. lol