Thursday, September 6, 2012

So much.


Many know that famous poem by William Carlos Williams: 

“So much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.” 

Impossible not to visualize right?

This poem's a photograph frozen in time. It’s also a waving flag tribute to how powerfully simple poetry can be. I’ve sometimes wondered if it has no other meaning than to demonstrate how purposeful word-choice loves nothing better than to waltz an image around the dance-floor for all to ogle at.

But some say, “So what?” People criticize this poem; they question its point. I guess I can’t blame critics for dismissing an imagery feast. Why not eat the feast instead of just stare at its beauty? And that’s fine. People see what they see, enjoy what they enjoy, appreciate what they appreciate.

I’ve known and kept this poem in my thoughts like a note in my wallet for many years. It just stuck with me. Those words bubble up sometimes when I encounter a strong visual, maybe while reading or watching a film or in the everyday actions of all the people around me. I think the heart of this poem isn’t really the image though. It’s the first four words: so much depends upon.” Upon what? Upon who? Why so much?

Picture this simple description for example: instead of loading their patient into the ambulance, two EMTs in a hospital parking lot talk with him for fifteen minutes. No big deal right? From a distance, would most people even notice? But for someone, so much depends upon that act, that opportunity, that momentary freedom from the weight of the world. Just for a little while, just for fifteen minutes in the fresh air among the tall trees on a warm day in late summer thanks to the kindness of strangers. To someone, so much can depend on that. So much.

6 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

You are absolutely right! "So much depends upon" is the key to that poem. It's the completely enigmatic nature of that phrase which makes the poem so compelling.

The Defiant Marshmallow said...

Nice.

wendy said...

SO much Depends upon..WOW.
I would have never thought of that. I read the poem, and in my ignorance was kinda "what??"
But you are right...MAYBE it is all sumed up in those first 4 words.
I remember when my hubby had his accident in May with the auger ....and how kind those EMT's were and even the RCMP who came by and put his arm around my shoulders to "calm me"
So much DEPENDS UPON...those little, somewhat insignificant things of life that are TERRIBLY SIGNIFICANT to someone else.
thanks for sharing

dbs said...

@DSWS Thanks.
@DM Thank you too.
@wendy Thank you. That's exactly what I was hoping to convey and I didn't know if I got there or not. I appreciate your comment.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Fine post.

Michael said...

I made a painting from this poem many moons ago in art school. I wonder where it is now.

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