James Guimond: On "The Descent of Winter"
Williams often constructed his poems upon metaphors, analogies, and contrasts which stressed the formal relationships possible between nature and the human or artificial. Some of the first examples of these poems appear in "The Descent of Winter."
What a red
and yellow and white
mirror to the sun, round
is this she holds?
with a red face
all in black
and grey hair
from under the bonnet brim
The poem's structure is simple and effective. Two bare, unexplained images are juxtaposed to make us aware of their unexpected similarity.
In other poems Williams stressed the contrasts between the human and the natural which could be created by the same bare, unexplained juxtapositions of images. The poem entitled "10/21" in "The Descent of Winter," for example, dramatically contrasts the destructive power of a fire burning up trash with a conservative human emotion, pity for the old. The verbs signifying the natures of the two forces, the natural and the emotional, are balanced in the poem to define one another. The flames stream and wave; they are streaked and stained with purple and flamepoints; the smoke "continues eastward--." These verbs describing the fire are all intransitive and express violent destruction. Those describing the old persons are passive, or verbs of being, expressing negations or static experiences.
From The Art of William Carlos Williams: A Discovery and Possession of America. Copyright © 1968 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
|Title||James Guimond: On "The Descent of Winter"||Type of Content||Criticism|
|Criticism Author||James Guimond||Criticism Target||William Carlos Williams|
|Criticism Type||Poet||Originally Posted||18 Oct 2015|
|Publication Status||Excerpted Criticism||Publication||No Data|
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