So much depends : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Now and then my ex and I would chuckle over this poem by Williams. I have since come to appreciate it. Anyone have thoughts? BTW, Williams is from Paterson, NJ near where I grew up. Paterson also is the home town of poet/zen master/lefty political activist Alan Ginsburg and boxer Reuben (Hurricane) Carter.

THE RED WHEELBARROW - William Carlos Williams


so much depends



a red wheel



glazed with rain



beside the white


-- Lars (, September 02, 2000


You sure this guys middle name was Carlos?

-- Carlos (, September 02, 2000.

At a retirement Home, someone left a large box of DEPENDS on a red wheel barrow. It rained. Dunno bout the chickens.

-- (, September 02, 2000.

The environment makes the man?

-- Oxy (, September 03, 2000.

As soon as I saw the header, Lars, I knew it was this poem. It has been one of my favorites for a long time. We do not eat without the work of the farmers, and that is what I believe this poem sets forth; A bucolic, farm scene, the takes an object which is used to perform work and sets it up as the central character. It is about the agrarian age, and for us not to forget what it means to us-it was written at a time when the industrial age was maturing, and williams being from paterson saw what that wrought-with paterson being at the center of industry in new jersey at the time.

It is a homage to that old age, an alarm to recognize and appreciate the labors of men and women in the fields, Of courswe rain is mentioned as the rain brings forth the life of the crops. It is a brilliant use of an inanimate object to animate an important point or perspective. Compare it to this poem by Wallace Stevens:


I placed a jar in Tennessee

And round it was upon a hill

It made the slovenly wilderness

surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,

and sprawled around, no longer wild.

The jar was round upon the ground

and tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.

The jar was gray and bare.

It did not give of bird or bush,

Like nothing else in Tennessee.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), September 03, 2000.

Hi FS--

I thought you might respond to this. An interesting take, thanks. I once asked an English Prof about Red Wheelbarrow and he appreciated it as an exercise, an attempt to describe exactly and minimally what WAS, a varbal "awareness".

Thanks for the Stevens poem. To me, it makes a somewhat different point than you see in Red Wheelbarrow. I think he sees the Jar as bringing a touch of civilization to the wild place of Tennessee. BTW, did you know that Williams was a physician and Stevens was an insurance executive? Poetry, a tough way to make a living, even in those days.

I wonder how many people see our exchange here as the idle chat of pretentious asses? point than you make for Red Wheelbarrow. I think he sees the

-- Lars (, September 04, 2000.


I enjoyed this thread a great deal. Figured I wouldn't sullly it with a remark, since I couldn't think of anything to 'bring to the table'.

{that reminds me of a funny sign which hung above a painting as one entered the MOMA:}

"Please Refrain From Commenting "

-- flora (***@__._), September 04, 2000.


That is funny. MOMA, yikes I haven't been there since the 70s. FS probably eats lunch there daily.

-- Lars (, September 04, 2000.


I saw that sign in the '80's & haven't been back. It set me to cackling immediately...

-- flora (***@__._), September 04, 2000.

From Bukowshi, special for FS:

the blackbirds are rough today


ingrown toenails

in an overnight


wine wine whine,

the blackbirds run around and

fly around

harping about

Spanish melodies and bones.


-- Gregor (, September 04, 2000.

Of course that should be Bukowski.


-- Gregor (, September 04, 2000.


I like it better Bukowshi. Sounds Japanese. Did you see the movie "Barfly" with Mickey Rourke? About Bukowski I think.

-- Lars (, September 04, 2000.

hey guys how are you. Like your choice, gregor.

I included the stevens poem as analgous in its use of an inanimate onject as the central character in the poem. "Made" things represent more than anything else the difference between humans and animals. While many animals can make rudimentary tools and use their appendages in ingenious ways, there is nothing like the artifacts of human kind. It is a bitter irony that what our hands hath wrought may be what destroys us-no lengthy explanation needed there.

That is why I think that these poems are like the still-life paintings of the great masters-it was not just the fruit or whatever items in the bowls in those picture-it was hte bowls themselves that seduced the viewer. I stand in constant wonder of the ingenuity of humans-the bridges, buildings, machines etc. are simply mind-blowing to me. Of course I also partake of the wonder of those things made directly by the hands of God. These poems say so much using so little words. Pure Genius.

Lars-I work midtown east, so maybe I might spend all my lunches at MOMA. I will wait, however, until their workers are no longer striking.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), September 04, 2000.

And I stand in constant wonder at the ingenuity of animals, for without ever having created a bridge, building or machine, and without possessing an opposable thumb, and in spite of being driven out of their natural habitat by the ingenuity of humans and their machines, they manage to persevere in a world gone mad for things bigger and better--and do it rather well without even owing a weapon of mass destruction.

No I don't think you are pretentious asses at all, for I love poetry too, and poetry is a personal taste. Sorry, though, I just can't participate in the song of How Grand We Are, honoring the human race.

If I remember right, this is the point where someone on here usually calls me a "bitter old woman," so go for it.

-- gilda (, September 04, 2000.


You bitter ol'woman. :^)

This is a dirty job but someone has to do it. Hope this helps. Just back into town. Read that you have water problems. I am just two hours north of you and it is still running out of the ground. Mud everywhere. Go figure.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, September 04, 2000.

ZX, explain!! " is still running out of the ground. Mud everywhere."

Have you had a flood that we haven't heard of down this way? Have you drilled a well and have so much water you can pipe it down here? Or have you hit a hole with nothing but mud? Are you over an artensian well? Did a water main break? If none of the above apply, whatda' ya' been drinkin'?

FS, Lars, etal, I'm modifying my stance a little. I do admire the ancient builders who had no previous techological societes to learn from, such as we have had.

The Egyptians and Romans--Now they were builders!! And practically starting from scratch too! Of course they had the sense to appreciate animals and worship Bastast or is it Bast, the great Egyptian Cat God. It was punishable by death to kill a cat.

Want to see how religion has subverted the world, just read about cats down through history, and you will see its ugly side directed at small animals that wanted nothing more than a warm fire and a kind word, usually only available from lonely, "bitter old women," who wanted nothing more than a pet, but often burned as a witch with a feline familiar. (How's that for pathos?" ) One draped over the top of my screen now, and she just looked up and grinned at my wisdom. :)

As soon as today's How Grand I Am crowd builds something like the pyramids, Sphinx and ancient cities like Machu Pichu and all the others the world over, and other works like Stonehenge, etc., and the White Horse, in England, without even a hardhat or benefit of Coke and SUV's, then I'll be impressed.

I heard on the news last week that 22 buildings had collapsed in Philadelphia. Most of our buildings are falling down withing 50 years, even those that are supposed to be well built. And bridges, how about the Roman aqueducts, London bridge, and vine bridges in South America. And machines--they managed without them.

Sorry FS, didn't mean to rain on your parade.

-- gilda (, September 05, 2000.

I thought that I had read somewhere that this poem is actually Williams contemplating a painting, and it's a commentary on the power of the main object (Wheelbarrow) over the viewer and it's importance to the painting.

-- Bemused (and_amazed@you.people), September 05, 2000.


I do not think you have rained on our parade : ). But let me ask you- you do not marvel at the fact you can post your message at all? Electricity, CPU's, etc-think of everything that had to be invented just so we can read your words.


So be it. THat may be the reason williams wrote the poem. HOWEVER, I am not a believer in artistic intentionality. The poem moves the writer, not the other way around. Whatever the author intended is part of the equation, but I see even with my own writing that the works have a life of their own. I can look back now at things I wrote 20 years ago, and through the events that have happened since, see what my unconscious was saying.

This is an ancient debate in literary criticism-intentionality vs. non-intentionality, and I fall on the non-intentionality side. Does it really matter what the artist wanted to convey? Do we not all bring our own experience to the experience of artistic works? What is more important, that we understand why a work was created, or that we just enjoy what we get from the work? Age old questions. What are your answers?

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), September 05, 2000.

FS, actually, I don't even know if that's factual, it's something I thought I had read about this poem. A couple minutes of net-research brings up nothing about what painting it might have been. I could be remembering a reviewer's take on how the interpretation of the poem reminded them of viewing a painting. I also happen to be a big believer in non-intentionality. Art in general and poetry in particular would be boring without it, and you can see it everywhere in your experience if you look - for example have you ever "interperated" a songs lyrics in a certain way, and then when you found out what the artist really meant (or was really even saying in the case where you mis-heard,) it's dissapointing?

Kinda like in the REM song Sitting Still where I can swear Michael Stipe is singing "We could gather, throw up beer."

I never want to find out what the actual lyrics are. My college memories (and lack of) would be dealt a harsh blow.

-- Bemused (and_amazed@you.people), September 05, 2000.

Man's ingenuity to man.

-- (, September 05, 2000.

Howdy Gilda:

I was thinking of the wet weather springs on my property. In a normal year they dry up sometime in July. This year they are still flowing into Sep. All of the little, spring fed, streams that usually stop flowing by this time are full and moving fast. We still have mud puddles. Many of the heavy storms in August moved north of I70. I think that they missed you. Our pond hasn't been this high since 1993.

Best wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, September 05, 2000.

OK Gregor:

"The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying. "

More Stevens; Thirteen ways to look at a blackbird

Anymore. Or "Nevermore"

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, September 05, 2000.

{If cpr catches wind of this thread, he'll think it's full of *nitwit liberal arts majors*}

For the sing-a-long:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night Take these broken wings and learn to fly All your life You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night Take these sunken eyes and learn to see All your life You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly Into the light of the dark black night...

-- flora (***@__._), September 05, 2000.


Somebody finally caught me. That Stevens poem is precisely why I have been posting blackbird ditties in place of my previous mantras. That is also one of my favorite poems.

Have read it for 15 years now and am still getting new things out of it.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), September 06, 2000.

FS, good point. Yes, I am impressed that I can type on this silly looking box and you can answer me. And these same computers are now essential in creating bridges and other great manmade works; so that's why I'm more impressed by the ancient builders and inventors. They created structures that have lasted thousands of years, and without the aid of computers. Now that's impressive!!

Nor do I believe in artistic intentionality. Something spoke to the artist, moving him to write. Whether it speaks to me or not, is a matter of personal taste and interpretation. And I too have written poetry and looked at it many years later, and it still speaks to me. In fact I wrote a poem that I often reread, for it brings back to me of bits of memories that I've never been able to explain, and I'm not even sure they are mine.

The appeal of certain art is probably beat summed up by the college freshman who said in the Art Appreciation class, "I don't know nuthin' about paintings, but I know what I like."

-- gilda (, September 06, 2000.

sorry, should have been "best" summed up by....

Help!! I was on a poetry forum here on the Lusenet forums. There was a poem that someone asked about, and no one seemed to know. I had never heard of it either, and I've read tons of poetry. Arty, farty liberal. you know. :) But it really touched me.

There was no title mentioned. It of course, had more than one meaning, which poetry often does. This is the first line. I'm HTML ignorant too.

The Question 1916 Brethren, how shall it fare with me When the war is laid aside, If it be proven that I am he For whom a world has died?

I would fetch it from Poetry, but it would probably end up ass backward in bold on one of al=d's posts. It was posted by Bill Yamanauchi on May 03, l999. I know I'm asking for a lot of help with this, but you know how old ladies are. :)

-- gilda (, September 06, 2000.


Is this it? I did a search on "when the war is laid aside" and this poem popped right up. I used but I'd bet any good search engine would get it. The new search engines are fantastic.



Brethren, how shall it fare with me

When the war is laid aside,

If it be proven that I am he

For whom a world has died?


If it be proven that all my good,

And the greater good I will make,

Were purchased me by a multitude

Who suffered for my sake?


That I was delivered by mere mankind

Vowed to one sacrifice,

And not, as I hold them, battle-blind,

But dying with open eyes?


That they did not ask me to draw the sword

When they stood to endure their lot --

That they only looked to me for a word,

And I answered I knew them not?


If it be found, when the battle clears,

Their death has set me free,

Then how shall I live with myself through the years

Which they have bought for me?


Brethren, how must it fare with me,

Or how am I justified,

If it be proven that I am he

For whom mankind has died --

If it be proven that I am he

Who, being questioned, denied?

-- Lars (, September 06, 2000.

Lars, that's it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting this for me, and for anyone else that is interested in reading it. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

I will try I haven't used it before. I should have asked Jeeves, but I just thought of it while I was posting, and even had I found it, it might not have ended up here in any recognizable form on here.

I've found that I can use certain search engines for certain things. Does that make sense? For instance, I was looking up Kimmeridge Clay and Purbeck flags, and couldn't find anything but on Jeeves. Yet, most times I find more of what I want on Alta Vista and Excite than other search engines.

-- gilda (, September 06, 2000.

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