Sunday, January 11, 2015

Analysis of "April" by William Carlos Williams

Poem found here: "April" by William Carlos Williams


The poem, in my head, alludes to T.S. Eliot's, "The Wasteland" with the famous line, "April is the cruelest month."  The response though starts with a proposition, "If you had come away with me / into another state / we had been quiet together."  There's interesting techniques used here.  First, the reader doesn't know who this "you" is, and, adding to this ambiguity, the single line of "into another state" could refer to a physical or mental place -- but the end result would've been a "quiet together."

But the poem goes into the opposites -- or expectation of opposites with the conjunction of "but" leading turns within the poem through a single word -- conjunction or adverbial phrase..  "But there the sun coming up / out of the nothing beyond the lake was / too low in the sky."  Note this first usage of "too" in the poem as though to trivialize preciseness:

     there was too great a pushing
     against him,
     too much of sumac buds, pink
     in the head
     with the clear gum upon them
     too many opening hearts of lilac leaves,
     too many, too many swollen
     limp poplar tassels on the
     bare branches! [emphasis mine]

Although the first "too" that I quoted had a physical preciseness, the second one implicates a general overview of someone or something or a group of people (ambiguous subject) pushing against "him" -- God? "you"?  Who knows, but then the poem trivializes physical things -- too much sumac buds, hearts of lilac leaves, swollen limp poplar -- too many of too many.  Note it's not the flowers listed, but the adjectives to describe the flower -- "pink in the head," "opening hearts," "swollen limp" -- some can refer to a sense of implied physical and mental fallacies (sometimes phallic fallacies).  So, to me, there is a sense of satire building from cherry picking examples and open ended subjects but implied adjectives with this line, "I had no rest against that / springtime!"

What type of springtime -- the one where the only thing seen is "too" much of something, the one where there is "too much pushing against him," the one that is too loud, but loud of the voyeurs design, not the actual.

Here's the actual:

     The pounding of the hoofs on the
     raw sods
     stayed with me half through the night.
     I awake smiling but tired.

Movement.  Spring is about movement, regardless of how quantifiable excessive the faults are.  For the speaker, It is the pounding of the hoofs -- the movement of horses the represents his own movement on raw sods -- not tainted or used before, but trekked through that stayed with him.

The simple emotion of being awake is more important than smiling but tired.  Here the poem seems the most in the present and not in the overly analytical thought process (against what I'm doing with this analysis) and motion -- physical or emotion, matters.

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