Modernism, Imagism Discussion Post, Essay Example

“The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams is an example of an imagist poem. It is also an example of an objectivist poem, meaning that it refers to objects that exists in the real world and not to objects of fantasy or pure imagination. Although various interpretations of the poem have been forwarded by critics, the simplest explication of the poem involves taking it at face-value. This means that in the poem, the farming implement of the red wheelbarrow along with the image of the chickens and rain are simply acknowledged as being essential elements of existence. In other words, food and water and tools are needed in order to create and sustain human scoiety and human life. This is why Williams chose the words “So much depends” — because, like rain and water itself, the chickens and the wheelbarrow are important and fundamental parts of civilization. This interpretation of the poem is the most simple one to put forward but it is also very much in keeping with Williams’ philosophy of poetry which included his famous dictum “No ideas but in things!” This mens that the “things” that are part of the poem are essential and connected in that they represent the way that humanity rises above the demands of nature while also remaining in harmony with the natural world.

This same basis is true for Williams’ poem “This is Just to Say” where the plums in the poem are an image of how humanity can harvest goods from the earth but remains, despite collectivist society, self-interested. His poem “Spring and All” also grasps the elements of nature in a realistic rather than conventionally poetic fashion.  The poem “Dead Baby” shows a pragmatic reaction to death and the cyclical underpinning of human existence. Similarly, Carl Sandburg’s poetry reflects the use of natural imagery and common themes for its impact.  His poem “Chicago” is an enumeration of real-world scenes and qualities of the city. The poem “Fog” uses figurative language to comment on the approach of fog over the bay but it remains rooted in the objective world. Like Williams, Sandburg relies on straightforward language and objective images to create a sense of meaning and poetic expression.