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"spring and All" - Death to Life

Essay by   •  March 24, 2013  •  Essay  •  652 Words (3 Pages)  •  954 Views

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When all is cold and pale in the winter, the trees and bushes are brown and bare, and all seems dead, it is hard to imagine that in just a few weeks or months, the same surroundings will be vivid and colorful, a symbol of life itself. William Carlos Williams, however, sees past the lifeless setting in his poem "Spring and All", and instead sees the beauty of the dawning change to the better. The poem suggests that even though something may seem bad today, it could turn into something good tomorrow.

In "Spring and All", the narrator travels on the road to a "contagious hospital", as his surroundings catch his attention. Williams starts off describing the late winter landscape in vague adjectives and terms, and then proceeds with clearly conveying his imagination of the surroundings changing when spring comes.

The change from disorder to order is clear, not only considering the vocabulary, but also the archetypal meanings of the words in the poem. In the first two stanzas, the surroundings are described to consist of "mottled clouds", "muddy fields", "fallen" weeds, "patches of [...] water", and "scattering of [...] trees". These words convey a messy image, where the adjectives and descriptions depict a world where nothing seems to be in order, and the contents are randomly arranged. In the third stanza, the bushes and trees are described as "reddish, purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff" - the portrayals are vague and imprecise, as if the narrator is uncertain about how to describe what he sees. The color brown is also used when describing the fields - this property, being a mixture of many colors, can be viewed as a symbol for chaos and disorder, as well as the "reddish" color of the bushes. The fourth stanza, however, changes the tone of the poem as the thought of spring is presented. Hereafter, the vocabulary is clear as the resurrection of nature is described: "One by one, objects are defined - / [...] clarity, outline of leaf". The disorder of the nature surrounding the road will soon find its order.

Alongside the change from order to disorder is the development from death to rebirth and life. When describing the clouds in the first stanza, Williams refers to the sky, symbolizing passage of life and time. Also the "standing water" archetypally denotes birth, death and resurrection; both of these objects may be foreshadowing what the poem will concern. The mere fact that the narrator is driving to a "contagious hospital" causes the reader to think about the possibility of death. Williams continues to speak of "muddy fields" with "dried weeds, [...] fallen", all depictions of nature at its seemingly weakest point - decomposed, lifeless, and "fallen" from its usual majestic self. Meanwhile, even though the wilderness is filled with "dead, brown leaves

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