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TSE  August 2007

TSE August 2007

Subject:

Re: William Carlos Williams : At the still point

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 30 Aug 2007 16:11:08 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (68 lines)

Dear Diana,

I'm sure this is quite accurate for the most part, but I would be
interested in any indications that Eliot had an influence other than to
cause the intense negagive reaction I quoted before. I think Williams's
work, even in "Paterson," really does a very different thing. I doubt
that anyone could just escape European influence in some way and to some
extent, but I'm also doubtful about prosody. Marjorie Perloff has a
very interesting account of what she calls "stanzas for the eye." They
might, oddly enough, be more comparable to Moore in their repetition of
a shape or form once started than with, say, Eliot's interest in the
"music of poetry." They have been described as deriving more from
painting.

What do you see as a prosodic link?
Nancy


Dear Nancy: Williams' work is still an influence on poetry of a literal
kind, that is, poetry that uses the page as a field in which to place
verbal patterns. Besides Ginsberg, his poetics were adapted by poets as
diverse as Charles Olsen, Robert Creeley, Ted Kooser and current
"language" poets like Ron Silliman and Charles Bernstein. However,
despite Williams' own promotion of his poetry as being "In the American
Grain" as an essay of his is titled, he, like Wallace Stevens, owes a
prosodic debt to European modernism. It is fascinating that the
avant-garde poetry that became modernism was developed by ex-pat
Americans living in Europe: Stein's cubism, Pound's Imagism and Eliot's
adaptation of French symbolism. And no artist of that time could totally
escape the influence of surrealism.

You write: "He deliberately and consciously avoided symbolic methods and
ideas not part of what he saw as the American new way of seeing physical
reality." Perhaps the clarity of his commonplace images is a poetic
manifestation of rock-ribbed American pragmatism, but in his early work
he follows a cubist poetics as learned from Stein in his emphasis on the
material properties of words, their syntax, sonics, positions on the
page and contiguous relationships.

Like Jackson Pollock, Williams was promoted jingoistically as an
American artist having no indebtedness to European art. But as Pollock
evolved out of Kandinsky and Picasso, Williams following the example of
Stein, Pound and I suspect even Eliot, adapted prosodic concerns that
proceeded from cubism, surrealism and other European modernist styles,
giving them an American flavor. Diana




From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: William Carlos Williams : At the still point
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 12:22:06 -0400
Dear Diana,

Thanks for adding all this: it is not only all explanatory of Williams
but it shows his development. However, "The Bull" is from the earlier
period (1934), not the post-war "Paterson."

In my earlier posts, I should no doubt have pointed to this change, but
the issue was "The Bull," and I think the specific imagery of Paterson
has always annoyed me despite the poem's fascination and wonderful
passages.
Cheers,


>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 08/30/07 3:39 PM >>>

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