The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Yeah, I don't get it either. I'm not sure I want to "get it." I have never understood why this darn poem shows up in every literature anthology for sophomores that I have ever used. You can probably imagine how thrilled my students are with this poem. (And their teacher's lack of enthusiasm doesn't help!)
This is why students hate poetry. What depends?? And how would we ever figure out the answer to that one? More than one student has said, "Who cares?" when they have finished this one. (Grandma said that was naughty talk!)
We've done the research on the poem. We've looked at the word arrangement, discussed the imagery, and heard the theories. I've tried. Sometimes, I have to side with my students.
Sadly, I prefer the following poem, which by the way, is never in my sophomore literature anthology and probably never will be.
Going to Extremes
By Richard Armour
Shake and shake
The catsup bottle.
And then a lot'll.
I can't get this poem out of my head. (It ranks up there with "You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream.") I had both memorized the first time I heard or read them. And I can totally get a visual of the catsup bottle unloading all over a plate of fries.
Great poetry? Hardly. Enjoyable and maybe even funny? Yes!
I know. I know. My sophomores are rubbing off on me. Scary stuff.