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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

10. Rhythms
in Poetry

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•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

William Carlos Williams - Author Questions

Back Back to William Carlos Williams Activities
  1. Comprehension: Williams is interested in representing the traditions of everyday life. For him, the ordinary often takes on extraordinary overtones. In "Burning the Christmas Greens" Williams describes the ritual of incinerating the holiday tree and greenery. Why does this ritual seem so important to the speaker? What connections does he make between the burning and the bystanders in the last few stanzas? Why are the onlookers suddenly "lost" in the penultimate stanza?

  2. Context: In his architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright employed the technique of tokonama, or the use of a permanent element as a focus for contemplation and ceremony. To what extent does Williams use this strategy in his poetry? What in the poems is equivalent to the hearth that serves as the focus for Wright's architecture?

  3. Exploration: "The Red Wheelbarrow" is one of Williams's most famous poems. What is the relationship between form and subject matter? Why do you think it has gained such an important place in American poetry? How does it differ from work by Eliot and Pound? What do you think each of those authors would say about this poem?

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