William Carlos Williams and his Red Wheelbarrow
The Red Wheelbarrow
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
William Carlos Williams
Oddly enough, my beef today is not with William Carlos Williams, but rather with his anthologists. To think that he can be summed up by a red wheelbarrow, rain and white chickens is really sad. But still at every anthological turn, there is that red wheelbarrow staring you in the face, reminding you of the fellow who handled his stethoscope supposedly as deftly as his pen.
Some of those anthologists/critics seem to experience nirvana as they extol the brilliance of breaking “wheelbarrow” into two words. If the big hunchos at Home Depot ever got wind of the value attached to broken wheelbarrows, they’d be asking full price for those broken ones strewn about in their garden section. Better yet, they may consider them collectibles.
I’m sure Mr. Williams deserves his place among his contemporaries, but that’s not because of his broken wheelbarrow, but in spite of it.
Sometimes I wonder if breaking “wheelbarrow” into two words rises to the level of writing a whole body of poetry using only lowercase letters or, for that matter, doing away with punctuation altogether. Both of these ideas are quirky enough for me to like!
But my problem with all of this, is trying to find a way to tell a child why we’ll be reading “The Red Wheelbarrow” and not “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Maybe the color red will be my savior!
You Figure it out!
How come no one is crying foul
When poetry depends upon
A wheelbarrow, some rain and fowl?
B. N. Faraj