"The Red Wheelbarrow " For a small poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow," by William Carlos Williams, has a great meaning behind it. This poem uses images, symbolism, and form to get the entire picture of the poem across. Meyers defines images, "as a word, phrase, or figure of speech that addresses the senses, suggesting mental pictures of sight and sounds, smells, tastes, feelings or actions." (Meyer 1593). Symbolism is, " a person, object, image, word, or event that evokes a range of additional meaning beyond and usually more abstract than it's literal significance." (Meyer 1604). Then there is form, "images and symbolism, as the overall structure or shape of a work which frequently an established design." (Meyer 1591).
Williams uses images, symbolism and form to catch ones attention, tell a simple story, and tell a greater story behind it all. From taking a look at the poem without even reading it, a reader can see there is a certain form. The poem is, "organized into a single sentence divided into four clauses." (Youngberge 152). What caught my eye was that the stanzas are a total of four words.
On the first line of every stanza there are three words. On the second line of every stanza is just one word. Why would Williams write this poem this way? Could it be to make it more appealing to the eye of the reader? It could have been to make the poem seem longer. Then it could be that writing this poem this way helps the reader see each image the writer wants to get across.
It individualized each image so one can stop and see one thing after the other. A reader can appreciate the poem in its entirely. Williams also uses images to get a simple idea across. There is a "red wheel / barrow," (Williams, 4, 5), a simple and clear picture comes to mind. This wheelbarrow is, "glazed with rain / water," (5, 6). One can see it has been raining and the wheelbarrow has gotten wet.
Then the wheelbarrow is, " besides the white / chickens." (7, 8). The wet wheelbarrow sits next to the white chickens that are around it. The images a reader sees are crisp and clear. There is no doubt that there is a red wheelbarrow that was left in the rain next to the some white chickens. Williams goes one step further and uses symbolism to express a deeper meaning to just a wet wheelbarrow outside next to some chickens. The wheelbarrow was red.
Why not the color blue or green? The wheelbarrow was, "glazed with rain / water," (5, 6), why not water from a hose? The wheelbarrow sat next to white chickens, why not multi-colored or spotted chickens? Williams opens up with, "So much depends / a pon," (1, 2) letting us know that there is a strong meaning behind this simple wheelbarrow. This poem is about the circle of life. Without his wheelbarrow, which is the color red, maybe meaning the hot sun, he could not carry the dirt. This is the dirt that he needs to plant his crops. The wheelbarrow, "serves as an intermediary between man and nature." (Youngberge 153). The rain that glazed the wheelbarrow is what will help fertilize and grow the crops.
"Nature has glazed the wheelbarrow with rainwater in order to concentrate and maintain the purity of its relationship to humanity and inspire fertile growth of the land." (Youngberge 153). Then there are the white chickens. White is the color of purity and innocence. The chicken will eat the corn the farmer has grown and in return innocently become food for the writer. This then keeps the writer strong to carry more dirt, to grow more crops and continue in the circle of life.
.".. represents the purity and innocence of this relationship-one that accentuates the importance of a profound simplicity in communion and unity among humans and nature." (Youngberge 153). In "The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams it's plain to see the form used to catch the reader's attention. We can see the images clear as pictures. And we can see the symbolism behind each image that tells a deep story about the circle of life. All three things help us see the great story within the simple one..