Scenes the Writer Shows: {Forty-one places a poem can go}

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However, when Huncke recovered he began to take over Ginsberg's apartment, filling the place with stolen goods. Ginsberg's life changed when he agreed to be driven by one of Huncke's friends to his brother's house. It turned out the car was stolen, contained stolen clothes, and was spotted by a police patrol car. In a speed chase the car overturned. Ginsberg survived but was found guilty of aiding a thief. Fortunately for him interventions from his university professors allowed him to avoid jail.

Instead he ended up at the Columbia Presbyterian Psychiatric Institute, where he was to be re-trained as a normal member of society. During his 8 month stay he met none other than Carl Solomon, inspiration for the poem Howl. What goes around, comes around. Another suicidal scenario, this time high up overlooking the Hudson river. The moon, that harbinger of lunacy and cyclic energy is present as the victims are crowned with victory wreaths, an old Roman tradition. Ginsberg was well aware of the low life that gathered under the bridges of Bowery, in Manhattan.

A rescue mission has been here since Weeping and onions seem to go together. Hobos and others down at heel often push their belongings around on wheels. There is something tragic about seeing people on the street who have fallen victim to the times, or have a loveless existence. On the flipside there is romance too. Perhaps there's no excuse for bad music though. Bill Keck did build harpsichords, so this line is a direct link.

Ginsberg is said to have spoken with his wife just before starting Howl. Durgin happened to store his theology books in orange crates he'd picked up from the streets. This line introduces rock and roll and the pioneering aspirant beats who thought they were writing great literature to this new music but woke up knowing their work was naught but trash.

Food and eating appear quite often in Howl. The Jewish dish lungen is a stew of lungs and other meats served with potatoes. Ginsberg's mother certainly cooked it but nowadays it is forbidden to eat animal lungs The shortest line. Desperation rules. You have to be mad and starving hungry for eggs to get under a truck for one.

Is the truck moving at the time? Let's hope not, for the sake of the beat and the egg. This line is well known and has some bizarre yet stirring imagery. A certain Louis Simpson, one of Ginsberg's Columbia Uni friends, and a poet and editor, did actually throw a watch, belonging to someone else, out of a window, a crazy thing to do. Simpson thought that time was no longer needed because everyone was living in Eternity. Louis Simpson had served in WW2 and was older than Ginsberg. His war time experiences left him a little traumatised and he eventually had a nervous breakdown.

Such absurd mini-stories within this poem. Suicide attempts result from desperation, the crushing demands of society and family squeezing out hope, yet in this line the victims fail in their attempts to end life and are forced to open antique stores! Ginsberg's talent for juxtaposing dark and light, humor and horror in this poem is once more illustrated.

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One of the longest lines in the poem, depicting Madison Avenue, the luxury district of New York where fashion and bling and money count. In Howl the scene is more like one from Hell - minds being burned alive in what appears to be an environment of war. What battle rages? What war is this? This is none other than the military-industrial complex, the Capitalist elites and the conformists waging war on the best minds, the peripherals, the creatives who question, protest and promote alternative worlds. Tuli Kupferberg, poet, musician and protestor did jump off a bridge in , the Manhattan bridge according to sources, and was picked up badly injured by a passing tugboat.

Ginsberg turns this true episode into a poetic fiction - as he did in many lines of Howl - using biographical fact and dressing it up as poetry. Again, nitty gritty street-life is given ghostly character. And there's not even a free beer? Another long line, with commas for pauses, which helps break up the breath. Bill Canastra, another beat gang member, did fall out of a subway train window and got killed. The language of this line: sang, fell, jumped, leaped, cried, danced, smashed, threw up.. Ginsberg must have heard tales of Nazi Germany and the plight of the Jews in those dreadful camps.

Well, Ginsberg at speed in this line. The beats loved to drive their metaphors to all kinds of places. That phrase hot-rod Golgotha jail-solitude watch quickens then slows all by itself Put the two together and you have a potent mix of life and death, whilst the latter suggests time in the clink, behind bars Still in the car, one of those heavy gas-guzzling whitewalled chrome beasts featured in On The Road, like a Hudson Commodore, driving nonstop to visit one of the best minds Does it exist?

In Reality or Not? Ginsberg and the beats took long necessary excursions, journeying by car, bus, train Neal Cassady is associated with Denver, it was the city he grew up in, studied and worked. He lived with a drunken father but always sought a better life. Later on when Cassady started writing and mixing with Kerouac both would venture out into the city's bars and clubs, including Charlie Brown's and My Brother's Bar.

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Ginsberg was also around, falling in love with Cassady, the Adonis of Denver. Ginsberg liked cathedrals, especially St Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue in New York, where he is said to have prayed for Jack Kerouac one time, himself a visitor to the same cathedral on numerous occasions. A line without punctuation, to be spoken in one long breath, as are the next five. Alcatraz is the island prison in San Fransisco Bay. It was in its heyday an infamous place, because nobody could escape from there.

So the best minds are in jail, waiting for the golden headed criminals, the hardened jailbirds who looked towards Alcatraz with pain in their souls and their sweet voices. What became of some of the best minds? Well, they went to Mexico for the drugs, they went to Rocky Mount, North Caroline where Kerouac's sister lived to find Buddha, they went to Tangiers like William Burroughs for the boys or the railroad like Cassady who was a railroad worker for some time Many of those labelled as insane in Ginsberg's time and even today were, arguably, anything but.

Ginsberg uses the radio of hypnotism in a figurative way - it stands for the brainwashing of the populace into believing that the mainstream way of life was the sane way and that alternative living, creative being, was the path of the insane. Whatever the fact, poetic license allows Ginsberg to neatly sum up Solomon's entry into the psychiatric institute. And once inside the treatment could start.

Back then it was a drug called metrosol an anti-depressant that was commonly used, in conjunction with electric shock therapy, which is banned in some countries and most states nowadays. Ginsberg's use of adjectives and nouns is unusual - concrete void - quite an image. The symbolic pingpong table. The ball flying from one end to the other, the mood swinging between smash and mishit, the ball hitting the net, flying off here and there, out of control. These three lines build up to a climax of near despair, culminating in line 71, the longest, which depicts a very private ending to Naomi Ginsberg's long struggle with mental illness.

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Ginsberg is sensitive and detailed in this carefully constructed line; there's almost a child-like feel to the repeated and the. In line 69 the best minds return years later, in memory? The wig of blood could be caused by the electric therapy, or be a symptom of self-harm. The language in line 70 is weighty : Pilgrim State's Rockland's, Greystone's, dolmen-realms, stone, hea vy. Ginsberg knew of insanity and madness - he was 8 months in a psychiatric institute himself, as previously mentioned. He saw the sad decline of his own mother Naomi, a schizophrenic, who was in Greystones hospital for long stretches.

She died June 9, Ginsberg wrote the poem Kaddish about her, considered one of his best poems. Time narrows down to 4am and that dash - at the end of the line takes on new meaning. Following the death of his mother and the emotional trauma this must have caused for Ginsberg, captured poignantly in line 71, from out of the dark madness comes a glimmer of hope.

The final seven lines of Howl feed on this hope and acknowledge that, despite the grief, destruction and loss, despite the awfulness of mainstream American reality, a transcendant cathartic relationship between mind and soul can be attained. And out of this individual experience, meeting Solomon, Ginsberg gained new insights into his poetry and the direction he should take in life.

Reference to Carl Solomon and the close bond built between the two. Ginsberg's idea of society at large is summed up in the term animal soup of time.

Ginsberg learned about the ellipse, shorter line, through studying haiku and the poetry of Pound and Williams. The catalog refers to the long lines of Walt Whitman, whilst meter connects the line length, stress and breath. Ginsberg loved Cezanne for his vibrant color and juxtaposed images, calling the effect of seeing such contrasts and depth an ' eyeball kick' hence the vibration. Ginsberg wanted to create a similar effect in his poetry, which occurs in Howl with such phrases as hydrogen jukebox. This line is inspired by the French artist Cezanne and his approach to painting.


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Ginsberg studied Cezanne at university in and was inspired by a letter Cezanne wrote in in which he describes his attempts to capture nature on canvas. Lines parallel to the horizon give breadth, that is a section of nature or, if you prefer, of the spectacle that the Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus spreads out before our eyes. Lines perpendicular to this horizon give depth. But nature for us men is more depth than surface whence the need of introducing into our light vibrations represented by reds and yellows, a sufficient amount of blue to give the impression of air.

Ginsberg listened to and was inspired by so many people in his quest for his own poetic truths. Prominent among them was Kerouac who himself had to go through much creative pain and experience before finally crafting prose that he thought a suitable vehicle for his inner soul. Post-mortem who knows what or how bums and angels will communicate? Howl is Ginsberg's addition in the here and now, a prophetic lament to the possible conversations in the there and then. Jazz, bums and angels meet in a ghostly afterlife; and America has been stripped down mentally as the weird cry for help carries across mainstream society one last time.

So Ginsberg is saying in a pseudoreligious manner that Solomon and all the beats had the same question that Jesus Christ had as he suffered on the cross at the point of death Eli Eli lamma sabacthani This is also part of the second line of Psalms 22 in the old testament. Ginsberg is either saying that the best minds were abandoned by society, family or were meant to suffer for their beliefs, for their anti-establishment stance. There is also the idea that they did this for love - Ginsberg's anti-war protests and quest for peace through Buddhism in particular, are an expression of this.

The final line is rather gruesome as an image - Shakespeare's pound of flesh springs to mind, when Shylock the moneylender in the Merchant of Venice demands his pound of flesh of Antonio, as payment of the debt - but the figurative sense suggests that the best minds, the creative writers are like Christ, sacrificial lambs. Ginsberg's writers, artists and poets produce a poem that is so pure it will be edible for a years, just as christians believe the body of Christ is good to eat and according to the book of Revelation 20, he will reign for years with those who did not worship Satan.

So time plays a huge role in these last few lines; time that can be measured and time that cannot. Ginsberg uses time throughout the poem, sometimes in conjunction with space, but more often to re-orientate and fix events, a grounding technique that contrasts with the idea of eternity and spiritual freedom.

Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. One fantastic review. I have to say there are parts I was nodding my head on and parts that somehow were beyond me. Things I agree with and I don't but all in all this is some poem that sort of takes you on one wild ride. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.

HubPages Inc, a part of Maven Inc. As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so. Andrew Spacey more. Allen Ginsberg and Howl Howl is a long poem split into three parts and is Ginsberg's most controversial work. Howl is full of people and places, food, music, suicides, sex, madness, drugs and unusual language.

Ginsberg is a keen observer, the first person perspective obvious in the first line. Autobiographical and biographical episodes play a major role but often they are altered, transformed. The syntax is unusual in some lines, the language paradoxical. Note the use of the word 'who' which starts many of the lines and gives the poem a repetitive feel, much like an incantation.

Howl is a social commentary, a rambling, intense narrative featuring characters, scenes, references and real life sequences. Those on the margins of society are prominent - poets, artists, radicals, homosexuals and the mentally ill - and all are swept along on the long lines that Ginsberg employed to convey deep frustration, joy and energy.

Love or hate it, Howl is important because it is of urban birth, the language simultaneously surreal and vulgar, jazzy and foul, yet full of real life, sensitivity and hope. Walt Whitman's pioneering spirit and opening up of taboo subject matter, plus his use of the longer line, certainly inspired Ginsberg. But Howl is seen as a game-changer primarily because it expressed for the first time a modern psychological angst, an urban existence fueled by drugs, jazz, travel and expansion of the mind.

Howl is on the one hand a personal cry for understanding and a condemnation of comfortable, conforming societal values. It is also full of anguish, incoherency and pain juxtaposed with praise, urgency and calls for change. Allen Ginsberg on Howl Howl is an outpouring, fashioned into long lines that demand deep breathing and emotional commitment.

There's no doubting its ability to shock, to take the reader down to the sordid streets of a dimly lit city at dawn or midnight; there is sex, drugs and turmoil. On the other hand it can inspire because it depicts in vivid imagery and spontaneous language the experiences of young, alternative America. But just what had Ginsberg in mind with his masterpiece Howl? Howl by Allen Ginsberg. Line by Line Analysis of Howl 1 - 12 Howl is a free verse poem, almost a prose-poem, a single long stanza of 78 dense lines, with no regular established meter metre in British English and no set rhyme scheme.

The Lines 1. I saw the best minds The El is short for Elevated railway, part of the subway system in New York. Alliteration again, helping with the phonetics The lightning lights up Time that is standing still, between now and the author's birth. Ginsberg's Howl Line by Line 13 - 22 Peyote solidities It's interesting to look at the first draft of this line, how it changes in the finished piece: who vanished into the New Jersies of amnesia posting cryptic picture postcards of Belmar City Hall and last years sharks So this line turns out to be autobiographical - as many images are in this poem - a composite of images based on Ginsberg's young years growing up in Paterson and holidaying in various places.

Ginsberg had his Blakean vision in a Newark room. Howl Line by Line Analysis 23 - 34 Wichita, Kansas was also a hot bed of alternative thinkers and protobeats. Ginsberg employs these generic characters, be they outsiders or insiders, to create a sense of the beats being alternative, of America being a melting pot of ethnicity.

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Note the tumbling rhythms of the trochee The brilliant Spaniard is? Perhaps someone Ginsberg met in Houston, another generic character. There's a parallel here with line 8. Howl Analysis Line by Line 35 - 43 Line by Line Analysis of How 44 - 55 Lines 56 - 62 Howl Analysis Analysis of Ginsberg's Howl Line by Line 63 - 71 Catatonia is a state of sleep.

Analysis of Howl Line by Line 72 - 78 Following the death of his mother and the emotional trauma this must have caused for Ginsberg, captured poignantly in line 71, from out of the dark madness comes a glimmer of hope. Sources Norton Anthology, Norton, www. Howl is a sort of highly charged literary revolution, for good or bad. Sign In Join. Connect with us. This website uses cookies As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. This is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons. This is used to prevent bots and spam.

This is used to detect comment spam. This is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. This is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. This is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service.

This is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. Javascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis. This is feature allows you to search the site. Some articles have Google Maps embedded in them. Source: Exploring Poetry , Gale. Online Source. A paradigmatic case is from William Carlos Williams in a well-known poem which uses the device almost as if in a manifesto.

The rigorous metrical convention of the poem demands simply three words in the first line of each couplet and a disyllable in the second. But the line termini cut the words "wheelbarrow" and "rainwater" into their constituents, without the use of hyphenation to warn that the first noun is to be part of a compound, with the implication that they are phenomenological constituents as well.

The wheel plus the barrow equals the wheelbarrow, and in the freshness of light after the rain it is this kind of light which the poem is about, although never mentioned directly , things seem to lose their compounded properties. Instead of Milton's shifting back and forth from original to derived meanings of words, Williams "etymologizes" his compounds into their prior phenomena, and his verbal act represents, and makes the reader carry out, a meditative one.

The formal device is no surface trick. Interpretation of "The Red Wheelbarrow" must rely heavily on its visual imagery. There is the vague, casual beginning, "so much depends," then the images of the wheelbarrow and the white chickens. The reader might be justified in considering the poem merely flippant, or perhaps he might think that the poet intends only to entertain through images, that he asks us to imagine, from these juxtaposed images of red and white, a pleasing photograph or painting as we read.

Yet the tone does not invite a dismissal of the generalized introduction. We wish to know what these things matter, to whom they matter. The speaker sees the wheelbarrow immediately after the rain, when the bright sun has created the wheelbarrow's shiny surface and has made the chickens immaculately white. In this short time after the rain has ceased, the chickens have emerged from whatever refuge they sought during the storm. They are reassured that they can begin normal living again and do so calmly simply "beside" the wheelbarrow. The metaphor "glazed" captures time in the poem.

In a moment, the wheelbarrow will be dry, its sheen gone; yet the hardness suggested by the metaphor is not irrelevant. This moment is like others in life of the chickens, the speaker, the reader. Periods of danger, terror, stress do not last. The glaze, like the rainbow, signals a return to normality or restoration.

The poem creates a memorable picture of this recurring process; reflections upon its meaning may provide the reassurance that makes us more durable. We are back in the neighborhood of Rutherford, or perhaps any rural location. Chickens and wheelbarrows are found in proximity in many parts of the world, though they would not be found in the middle of Greenwich Village. But numbers and the red wheelbarrow do have one thing in common: both are elementary in the sense that civilization depends on them. The wheelbarrow is one of the simplest machines, combining in its form the wheel and the inclined plane, two of the five simple machines known to Archimedes.

Just as civilization depends on number, civilization depends on simple machines - both in themselves and in their increasingly complex combinations. We can identify two contrasts in the poem. One is between the latest advances in machine technology and the continuing but overlooked importance of elementary machines. The other is between the universal and age-old scene depicted in the poem and the radically new free verse form in which it exists. In terms of its sounds, quite apart from its images or its vocabulary, Williams intricately tunes the poem.

The first and second stanzas are linked by the long "o," in "so" and "barrow" and by the short "uh" in "much," "upon" and "a. This simple device distinguishes the framing stanzas from the central stanzas. One result of this distinction is that the central stanzas are mellifluous, the frame stanzas choppy. Then again, however, the honeyed and the choppy are linked in the third and fourth stanzas.


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They are joined by means of a parallel construction; the long vowels in "gl a zed with r a in" match those in "bes i de the wh i te," In the last stanza, another loop is closed when the sounds "ch" and "enz" in the last word of the poem echo the sounds in the initial line, "so much depends. Copyright by the Cambridge University Press. In part, Spring and All manifests certain ontological reassurances. One of these is that the artist's relation to nature is not causal; Williams' poems become sullen in the company of Edmund Husserl's phenomenological applications.

Instead, the different realms of nature and art are homologous; the former "possesses the quality of independent existence, of reality which we feel in ourselves. It is opposed to art but apposed to it" Hugh Kenner, in A Homemade World , locates the poem's typographical "suspension system" in an imaginative zone as precarious as art; but Williams may be troping on an adjacent zone Any special space that art inhabits implies another to which it is apposed; Williams, adducing from the synthetic cubists independent but homologous structures for nature and art, early in the twenties began calling that space the imagination:.

One point that emerges from poem XXII is that there is a world to begin with for art to affirm; not that Williams possesses categorizations, etc. The ontological status of the image depends upon whether or not the poem constitutes a psychophysical event; for only then is it useful both as a psychological correlative and as a way of understanding human experience.

So much depends upon the form into which Williams molds his material, not the material itself. From this point of view, the material which composes Williams's poem, material chosen from Williams's position as artist, begins to take on the aura of Marcel Duchamp's famous readymades. Duchamp had written that the aesthetic dimension of his urinal, Fountain, which he had purchased in a plumbing store and submitted to the New York Independents Exhibition, rested in the fact that he had taken "an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view--created a new thought for that object.

It is crucial that Williams's material is banal, trivial: by placing this material in the poem, Williams underscores the distance the material has traveled, and the poem defines a radical split between the world of art and the world of barnyards, between a world which crystallizes the imagination and a world which is a mere exposition of the facts. Copyright by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Not what the poets says , insisted Williams; what he makes ; and if ever we seem to catch him saying "So much depends upon. He has levered that red wheelbarrow into a special zone of attention by sheer torque of insistence.

Attention first encounters the word "upon," sitting all alone as though to remind us that "depends upon," come to think of it, is a rather queer phrase. In the substantial world "upon" goes nicely with "wheelbarrow": so much , as it were, piled upon. In the idiomatic world, inexplicably, "upon" goes with "depends. What are these stanzas? Small change symmetrically counted, always three words and then one word, the one word, morover, always of two syllables, but the three-word line having four syllables the first time and the last, but only three syllables on its two middle occurrences.

These are stanzas you can't quite hear, especially as one very simple sentence runs through all four of them. They are stanzas to see, and the sight of them, as so often in Williams, inflects the speaking voice, the listening ear, with obligations difficult to specify. And as we give "barrow" and "water" the emphasis their isolation requests, two other words, "wheel" and "rain," isolate likewise. And "red" goes with "white," in a simple bright scheme, and "chickens' with "barrow" for an ideogram of the barnyard, comporting with the simplicities of rain; and the rain glazes a painted surface but we are left to imagine does not glaze the chickens, merely soaks them if they are chickens enough to stand in it.

And yet they need it, and may not be wise enough to know how much depends, for them, on the rain. So much depends on all that pastoral order: food, and the opportunity to touch actualities while trundling a wheelbarrow , and the Sabine diastole to counter the urban systole. Are these reflections penumbral to the poem? Probably even external to it. This poem tends to ignore what it doesn't state. But let them serve to remind us that a farmer would know every one of the words in this little poem, but would be incapable of framing the poem, or even uttering its sentence.

We need to be at a picturesque distance from such elements to think of how much depends for us on them. The lines, the words, dangle in equidependency, attracting the attention, isolating it, so that the sentence in which they are arrayed comes to seem like a suspension system. This was one thing Williams meant by "making," not "saying. But art lifts the saying out of the zone of things said. For try an experiment. Try to imagine an occasion for this sentence to be said:. So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater beside the white chickens. Try it over, in any voice you like: it is impossible.

It could nonly be the gush of an arty female on a tour of Farmer Brown's barnyard. And to go on with the dialogue? To whom might the sentence be spoken, for what purpose? Why, to elicit agreement, and a silent compliment for the speaker's "sensitivity. But hammered on the typewriter into a thing made, and this without displacing a single word except typographically, the sixteen words exist in a different zone altogether, a zone remote from the world of sayers and sayings. That zone is what Williams in the 's started calling "the Imagination. Copyright by Hugh Kenner.

The work of edge-to-edge contact here does not need commentary; the effects of such connectives do. Why begin with that abstracting opening clause, if one is committed to the dominant force of the particular images? And why use a word count, rather than a syllable count, as one's organizing pattern?

What can possibly be "realized" by drawing such parallels between word positions? Clearly, the sentence is once again the primary model of agency. But in "Flowers by the Sea," the agency was a fairly simple one. The sentence defined and complemented oppositions organized by our investments in seeing, so that the poem exercised a significant force, simply as visual rendering. Here, despite the confident realism attributed to it by critics, the visual rendering flirts with bathos.

The picture as image is no more compelling a version of an actual scene than the abstracted vision Braque gives of the village at Estaque.

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Our interest must focus on the pronounced formal qualities. There resides our only route to substantial extraformal content. For example, one could concentrate on the way in which this structure calls attention to the material quality of these isolated words, as if, in glazing them, their power to make direct significations could be made manifest.

But that is still to leave words in search of agency. We must show what can be realized through this treatment of dependency as a poetic site. Ten years later, Williams made explicit the implications of that site: "This is, after an, the substance, therefore the explanation, of my poems and my life in which there exists instead of you exist " "A Novelette and Other Prose," in Imaginations Dependency, in other words, becomes a means of exploring ways in which subjectivity is subordinate to other, more inclusive and transpersonal models of intentionality.

So much depends upon the red wheelbarrow, because so much depends on understanding what is at stake in the dual attributes of that "so much depends"; the mind's manifestation of an abiding principle of care, inherent in this "there is," and the mind's becoming itself virtually tactile, in its efforts to compose the world so that those cares can reside in actual phenomena.

I take the formal equivalent of this care to be the force of predication set in motion by the structural pattern of dividing the poem into four equal compositional units, with only one verb. The position of the verb is occupied, in the succeeding stanzas, by three adjectival functions, each literally depending, for its complete grammatical and semantic functioning, on the single words that complete the stanza. The effect is to have the completion of meaning constantly delayed, and to make the delay a means of slowing us down or defamiliarizing the process of conferring meanings, so that we are led to recognize the miraculous quality of words and cares eventually taking hold.

How resonant the word "depends" becomes, when we recall its etymological meanings of "hanging from" or "hanging over.

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And words themselves take on that same quality, because each part of speech reveals its capacity to transfer force. But the words' nominal qualities do not disappear.



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