Thursday, March 27, 2014

Red Wheelbarrow


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
 -William Carlos Williams

So, this poem. I've known about it for a while, ever since it was used as first a flirtation device then as a way to heighten the tragedy in John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, a book I have to come to absolutely love. Now, I am not an English teacher by any stretch of the imagination. Ask me to analyze novels or poetry for symbolism or meaning and I'll distract you with a description of the work's historical context or just start running in the opposite direction. My relationship with poetry in particular throughout my life has been one marked by severe disdain and avoidance. In general, I despise pretension, and in my mind, poetry is the epitome of that phenomenon.  

(Let's all ignore the fact that I just contradicted myself when I said I hate pretension and  talked about enjoying TFIOS in the same paragraph.)

When I first read this poem in Green's novel, I didn't put much thought into it because 1) I was way too caught up in the plot of the book and 2) I straight up had no clue what it meant. I didn't get what it was about, why it was used in the book, or why the hell it was even a thing. 

I just came back across it in a book of poems intended to inspire teachers. Once again, I had no idea what it was about or why it was included, and just trying to think of explanations made my head hurt. But then I did a little research on it, because I don't like not understanding things. And I went from, "Oh man this is the worst poem ever all I want is for it to die in a fire," to "THIS IS THE BEST POEM EVER," in about the time it takes to skim a Wikipedia article. 
Basically, this poem celebrates the everyday objects that make your memories and your life yours, and promotes observing your world in greater detail. And I LOVE IT. Seriously, I am all about it. William Carlos Williams is the man, and not just because he has a boss double-name.

I then started thinking about what my version of this poem would be, what objects my life depends on so greatly. And I couldn't really come up with anything. I guess I need to pay better attention.