The Influence of Imagism and Modern Painting on the Early Floral Poetry of William Carlos Williams

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The following three chapters identify influences of the Imagist movement and the avant garde painters on the early poetry of Williams, and particularly on those poems that deal with flowers. This study is restricted to the earlier poems for several reasons, the most obvious being that Williams simply does not employ floral imagery to any extent in The Collected Later Poems. For instance, of the almost three hundred poems in The Collected Earlier Poems nearly sixty take flowers as their title or rely on floral imagery for part of their power. Nearly half that many use arboreal imagery, another prominent ... continued below

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iii, 107 leaves

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Trogdon, Lezlie Laws December 1973.

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  • Trogdon, Lezlie Laws

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The following three chapters identify influences of the Imagist movement and the avant garde painters on the early poetry of Williams, and particularly on those poems that deal with flowers. This study is restricted to the earlier poems for several reasons, the most obvious being that Williams simply does not employ floral imagery to any extent in The Collected Later Poems. For instance, of the almost three hundred poems in The Collected Earlier Poems nearly sixty take flowers as their title or rely on floral imagery for part of their power. Nearly half that many use arboreal imagery, another prominent and important "object" in Williams' poetry, and, of course, many more use other images from the natural world. On the other hand, in The Collected Later Poems only three poems have flowers in their titles. Even in these three Williams was more interested in depicting sociological situations than in description, for his conception of poetry changed radically after the 1930's. He became convinced at that time that poetry should be serious rather than entertaining. Further, he became a staunch advocate of the "anti-poetic" theory of beauty whose chief tenet was that beauty and ugliness were part of a single whole. Nothing beautiful, like a flower, could exist without its soil of ugly, drab antecedents. James Guimond believes that this is the reason why Williams ceased presenting "his beautiful objects in splendid, static isolation from time and the world around them" (1, p. 50). Possibly 14 for these reasons the nature imagery is not nearly so dominant in these poems as in those written before 1940. Nor has the poetry of Paterson or Pictures from Breugel been included in this study. Because of the tremendous attention given them in the last five years, their nature imagery has been well covered. However, of the nature, and especially floral, imagery of the earlier poetry little has been said. Hopefully, this study will show that Williams made extensive and successful use of flowers in his poetry because they were the particular objects of the concrete world which best lent themselves to the related techniques and goals of first the Imagistic movement in poetry and later the Stieglitz school in painting.

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iii, 107 leaves

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  • December 1973

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  • June 24, 2015, 9:39 a.m.

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  • Aug. 26, 2016, 9:26 a.m.

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Trogdon, Lezlie Laws. The Influence of Imagism and Modern Painting on the Early Floral Poetry of William Carlos Williams, thesis, December 1973; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc663013/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .