Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Red Wheel Barrow

During my course  at Ruskin we dealt with this poem We spoke about it for over an hour in tutorial. My argument was the old “Art isn’t art just because the Artist says it is so.” For which I scored nil points. Poems rhyme, poems have rhythm, poems have words lots of them and substance and body and… all that stuff.  “So,” says the tutor, “what do you see here.?”

Here we have a poem of 4 stanzas each is the same as the others. Each has two lines. Each has three words in the first line and one word in the second line. It has balance and metre it is real and has imagery. So I was wrong!

The Red Wheel Barrow

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.


This is what Wiki says about it.

The Red Wheelbarrow is a poem by, and often considered the masterwork of, American 20th-century writer William Carlos Williams. The 1923 poem exemplifies the Imagist-influenced philosophy of “no ideas but in things.” This provides another layer of meaning beneath the surface reading. The style of the poem forgoes traditional British stress patterns to create a typical “American” image.[1]

The subject matter of The Red Wheelbarrow is what makes it the most distinctive and important. He lifts a brazier to an artistic level, exemplifying the importance of the ordinary; as he says, a poem “must be real, not 'realism', but reality itself." In this way, it holds more in common with the haiku of Bashō than with the verse of T. S. Eliot.


Load of bollocks really, but I am not one to pussy foot around the issue. I like the poem not because I think it is the thing to do or because it is ‘highbrow’, but simply because it nice. It is a snapshot of a simple image.

You know its important because ‘so much depends upon’ it.

You know what it is and what colour it is

You know it looks shiny and wet

You know there are chickens nearby

There may even be chook poop on the wheelbarrow.

What does surprise me is that these people can say so much about it!

4 comments:

BigJohn said...

Sounds like you want/need to do another year at Ruskin?

Anonymous said...

Draws a nice picture. Phil and Sally

Maffi said...

Thank you both.

John I would love to do another year at Ruskin. I think £4000 a year is a bit excessive. The Tutors are great but for 4K you get the whole package and that includes admin. I don't think admin are up to the job.

Having said that the first year was harder than I expected and I did struggle a bit. Maybe in a year or twos time I will go back and do the next bit. Or even do it somewhere else.

For the time being I have to concentrate on writing the current book and getting the first book published.

Bill Rodgers said...

Not bad, I would rather read the two Roberts - Frost & Burns. That William Shakespeare wasn't too bad either.