Jacob Falcon on “William Carlos Williams: Triangular Poetry”
As a modernist writer, William Carlos Williams has a unique path. Born in Rutherford, New Jersey, Williams attended the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania where he became a medical doctor in four years. His college internship was at a French hospital which provided him with awareness of a different landscape other than the United States. After The University of Pennsylvania. Williams then became head pediatrician of the General Hospital in the nearby city of Paterson, New Jersey near his hometown of Rutherford. During his years at Penn he met a writer by the name of Ezra Pound, who would serve as an important figure, both negatively and positively for Williams’ writing career.
William Carlos Williams traveled abroad to London with Pound and also met W.B Yeats while doing so. According to an article titled, “William Carlos Williams and H.D.: The Penn Years, while in London”, “Pound persuaded Elkin Mathews to publish an early collection of Williams’s, The Tempers, and he reviewed it himself in The New Freewoman’. In addition to publishing Williams’ work, Elkin Matthews also published works from Yeats, Pound, and James Joyce. It seemed that their relationship was well built, considering Pound persuaded Elkin Matthews to publish it.
Considering Williams and Ezra Pound were college companions, their relationship was not always fine and dandy. In an article titled “Caviar and Bread, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, 1902-1904,” Geoffrey H. Movius states, “He listened to Pound, but was never really his follower” (384). Tension rose between the two because of a triangle love affair which included Hilda Doolittle (also a figure in modernism). While at the University of Pennsylvania, both Williams and Pound found a romantic interest in Hilda Doolittle (also a figure in modernism). Williams writes, Pound “was the official lover, but Hilda was very coy and invited us both to come and see her” (Movius, 84-85). A statement of bitterness, William Carlos Williams had begun to take interest in the woman that was interested in Ezra Pound. With that being said, there friendship started to slowly deteriorate.
These three are important figures in modernism because of the way they wrote their poetry. They coined their work Imagism. In a time period where writers were attempting to write complex pieces like, The Waste Land by T.S Eliot, these writers wrote short works that were easy to read. This was the idea that something so simple can be so complex. Imagism brought us works like, “The Red Wheel Barrow” by William Carlos Williams where he is so simply describing the location of a wheel barrow. Williams’ once said, “An artist must stand a part” and this was their way to break from the pack and create something new.
As writers, Williams, Pound, and Doolittle all became important figures in Modernism, a period that shaped American literature forever. Williams created simple, yet brilliant works that depict the common American Life. Who knows where William Carlos Williams’ works may be today if it was not for Ezra Pound. Even though they created a new route, they still immortalized their position in modernism by creating a new way to view art.
Dcs577. “William Carlos Williams Interview – Mary McBride Show 1950.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 1, 9 Jan. 2013. Web 1 Oct. 2014.
Movius, Geoffrey H. “Caviar and Bread: Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, 1902-1914.” JSTOR 5.3 (1976): 383-406. Web.
“William Carlos Williams and H.D.: The Penn Years.” University of Delaware Library: Ezra Pound in His Time and Beyond. University of Delaware Library. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.
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