Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Analysis of "Complete Destruction" by William Carlos Williams

Poem found here: "Complete Destruction" by William Carlos Williams


This is a parody of "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost.  Both poems have a sense of humor about destruction, but this poem is more personal, I suppose.  Well.

     It was an Icy day,
     We buried the cat.
     then took her box
     and set it on fire

So there's the place of the initial lines of "Fire and Ice" content and structure wise -- discussion about the duality of fire and ice.

      Some say the world will end in fire,
      Some say in ice.
      From what I’ve tasted of desire
      I hold with those who favor fire.

But what differs is the personal nature of Williams.  The ice is attributed to the day, and the fire is something to cleanse the box; meanwhile, Frost takes more of an ideological stance on destruction.

The last four lines of Williams poem does go more ideological, but in a humorous way:

     In the back yard.
     Those fleas that escaped
     earth and fire
     died in the cold.

The humor is the introduction of the fleas and, regardless of circumstance, would die in fire or in ice.  But behind these lines, there's no choice -- eventually, these "pests" will die by their surroundings.  Comparatively speaking, Frost's last lines are humorous because of a faux choice.

     But if it had to perish twice,
     I think I know enough of hate
     To say that for destruction ice
     Is also great
     And would suffice

This stanza hinges on the line, "Is also great" to redirect a sense of seriousness of the choice between fire and ice.  The end of Frost's poem ends a bit more humorously on the ideology, but Williams is a bit more of a downer when thought about, just a smidge.

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