Alan Shucard, Fred Moramarco, and William Sullivan: On "To my wash-stand"

In "To My Wash-stand, [. . .] he is initially very Williamsesque in his vivid recording of the simple but essential things of this world:

                To my wash-stand

in which I wash

                my left hand

and my right hand

 

                To my wash-stand

whose base is Greek

                whose shaft

is marble and is fluted.

As Williams himself recognized, however, it is a mistake to approach Zukofsky as an imagist, a poet of pictures, for it misses Zukofsky's insistence on the value of thought and music to poetry, elements that engage fully the poet's emotions and intellect as the object is viewed. As Pound insisted, the "musical phrase" and "the dance of the intellect" also need to be present if the imagistic poem is to enter the realm of art. Thus "To My Wash-stand" moves from image to thought and song. As the speaker mixes the hot and cold water from the two faucets, "comes a song":

                Comes a flow which

if I have called a song

                is a song

entirely in my head.

The form of the poem does not derive from the object in focus but from the poet engaged with the object, which as the poem evolves triggers the dance of the intellect and a flow of music.

Details

Criticism Overview
Title Alan Shucard, Fred Moramarco, and William Sullivan: On "To my wash-stand" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Alan Schucard, Fred Moramarco, William Sulivan Criticism Target Louis Zukofsky
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 09 Mar 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Modern American Poetry, 1865-1950
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