Wednesday, February 26, 2014



Ecstatic bird songs pound
the hollow vastness of the sky
with metallic clinkings--
beating color up into it
at a far edge,--beating it, beating it
with rising, triumphant ardor,--
stirring it into warmth, 
quickening in it a spreading change,--
bursting wildly against it as
dividing the horizon, a heavy sun
lifts himself--is lifted--
bit by bit above the edge
of things,--runs free at last
out into the open--!lumbering
glorified in full release upward--
songs cease.

William Carlos Williams

1 comment:

  1. In the literary world, William Carlos Williams is a respected member of modernism and Imagism. To achieve this stunning imagery in such poems as Dawn, Williams chooses very specific diction to produce a very detailed image of the scene being portrayed. He uses multiple juxtapositions to hold these images together and give the poem multiple meanings. Dawn begins with its description of pre-dawn; “hollow” and “metallic” come off as being impersonal and mechanical. A lifeless, barren landscape, void of love captures the scene. Two lines later, the Sun begins its slow, “ardor” climb into the sky bringing “warmth”. This extreme juxtaposition of images portrays the immense change to come, comparable to the difference between night and day. All of this vividness gives the poem an eternal hopefulness where warmth is spread even in “hollow” and “metallic” places. The core of this poem circles around five verbs describing the journey taken by the Sun; “Rising”, “stirring”, “quickening”, “bursting”, and “dividing”. Starting off slow and lethargic the Sun begins its slow and steady climb upwards, all along gaining momentum, finally attaining enough energy to break the surface. This climatic tone continues until it “runs free at last out into the open”. The energy starts off fragil and weak, but grows into an unstopable movement, like the breaking of dawn. The archeatype of a giant "lumbering" around after being woken is pictured. Williams is telling us all that a sleeping giant resides inside of us, waiting to be awoken and bring change to the world.The most intriguing aspect of this poem are the “songs” that tie the entire piece together, beginning to end. The “ecstatic bird songs” strongly oppose the cold emptiness of early morning. Their song seems to call in the coming of the Sun. These same songs signal the end of its coming with their “cease”. Using the birds as a base point, the coming of the Sun could also represent the end of winter as the coming of the birds signifies the end of winter and the coming of spring. The song of a bird will come to an inevitable end, but a new one will always begin. The perfect circle, death bounded by life, a new hope through despair. This aspect gives the poem, and life, the certain stability of continuity. The connotations for this poem are effectively limitless under a Reader-Response criticism of the poem, but the theme of new beginnings is almost undeniable. Through every dark, light will eventually prevail, though it’s coming may be long in the making.