So I’m in the middle of the book, “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg (who’s a poet), and she’s talking about the poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, and she stumbles upon something I think most English teachers and professors should consider:

What did the poet mean by ‘the red wheelbarrow’?  Did he mean a sunset? A chariot?  And why was it ‘glazed with rain’?”  So many questions.  He meant nothing so much as a wheelbarrow, and it was red because it was red and it had just rained….  Poems are taught as though the poet has put a secret key in his words and it is the reader’s job to find it.  Poems are not mystery novels. (pg. 33)



2 thoughts on “red wheelbarrow poetry

  1. Hahahaha, when we studied William Carlos Williams in class, it was in the context of imagist poetry (or something like that). I remember thinking, “Ok, so there’s a red wheel barrow. What’s the point?” I like some of his other poems much better (like “This Is Just to Say” and several of his longer ones.)

    But. Yes. Analyzing the heck out of literature used to annoy me. (No better way to ruin a book or poem!) I either do it more subtly/intuitively now, or I’ve grown to enjoy it — I found in the later years of university, analyzing a text helped me to appreciate it (and even like it) more.

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