Peter Schmidt: On "The Young Sycamore"

One poem that does appear to be a literal transcription of a visual experience is "Young Sycamore" (1927). As Dijkstra has shown, it is probably based on a photograph by Stieglitz entitled "Spring Showers." Dijkstra praises the poem as a literal record of the eye's "linear movement" as it takes in the photograph. A second reading, however, will show that the poem is hardly without personification or metaphor, although they are implied rather than stated. Williams hints that Stieglitz' sycamore is also a tree of life, starting with youth's "round and firm trunk" and then "waning" gradually until the branches are "bending forward" like the bodies of the old; Both men and trees have offspring: seed "cocoons" hang from the leafless branches. The eye’s movement thus merges with the inner eye’s vision of time’s passage.

From "Some Versions of Modernist Pastoral: Williams and the Precisionists." Contemporary Literature 21:3 (1980), 383-406.


Title Peter Schmidt: On "The Young Sycamore" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Peter Schmidt Criticism Target William Carlos Williams
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 18 Oct 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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