Alastair Wisker: On "Proletarian Portrait"

Whether he is writing of trees, flowers, the poor, the sick, the seasons, months, cities or streetscenes, or city individuals, the subject matter and method of Williams reveal ‘a certain rustic uncouthness whose end is a celebration and which wears the stamp of locality’. In all of his work place is the focus:

Not only is ‘locality’ (a sticking to New Jersey when Pound and Eliot had chosen European exile) the geographic source of William’s poetry, but ‘locality’, seen as the jerks and outblurts of speech rendered on to the here and now of the page, is the source of his lineation.

It is this sense of locality which permeates the work of Carlos Williams and gives a startling clarity to poems like ‘Proletarian Portrait’, ‘The Lonely Street’, ‘To a Poor Old Woman’, ‘A Women in Front of a Bank’ or either of the poems titled ‘Pastoral’, which we have explored. It is in these precise and vivid street scenes particularly that we can see just how Williams retrieves local everyday experience and makes it viable for verse. Deceptively simple, these poems are totally committed to the distinctiveness of the people, the moment, the object, the feeling, the whatever is the focus of their attention.

From Wisker, Alastair, "William Carlos Williams." In American Poetry: The Modernist Ideal. Ed. Clive Bloom and Brian Docherty. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. Ó 1995 The Editorial Board Lumiere (Cooperative Press) Ltd.


Title Alastair Wisker: On "Proletarian Portrait" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Alastair Wisker Criticism Target William Carlos Williams
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 19 Oct 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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