Nancy  your characterization of the early Williams as fiercely opposed to symbolism and angry at Pound and Eliot for what he considered a betrayal of the American idiom and character is spot on. But Williams and Eliot have many similarities. For one, both spent time in Paris and Williams had a dear male friend there as Eliot did. Both were influenced by French art and poetry, though Williams found Surrealism and Dada more congenial than Symbolism. I'll find some documentation of this and send it on.

Best, 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 and T.S. Eliot
Date:  Wed, 5 Sep 2007 14:36:34 -0400

This and your previous message are very interesting and helpful.  But
does this also apply to the early Williams?  "Paterson" is very changed
in some ways from early work, as I acknowledged, and it makes sense that
he confirm a debt there.  I would like to know if you have found
examples of such influence and acknowledgment for, say, SPRING AND ALL.

In re: Williams and Eliot, James E. Breslin in William Carlos Williams,
An American Artist notes that after his second stroke, the poet was
"willing to acknowledge continuities between his work and that of the
past. Williams no longer conceives of himself as the combative
revolutionary, cutting through the dried husks of dead forms in order to
begin anew. That crude fight is over...It is in the context of this
shift in Williams' position that we should approach Paterson V...the
mythical unicorn becomes the book's recurrent symbol for beauty.

"In Williams's work, the unicorn stands for the artist or the
imagination, their transcendence of time, suffering, and death...the
unicorn becomes a more elegant and more universal symbol for that beauty
Paterson had found in the girl in the basement in Book III. In these
tapestries he finds a rich set of equivalents for his own quest, a
symbolic legend that amplifies, elevates and pulls together the details
of his own poem...."

In Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, written after Paterson, "Williams
simultaneously quotes Spenser's 'Prothalamion' and alludes to 'The Waste

All pomp and ceremony

of weddings,

'Sweet Thames, run softly

till I end

my song,' --

are of an equal sort.

"But while in Eliot's shattered world this mellifluousness can only be
used ironically, Williams's breaking of the line does not undercut--it
prolongs, deepens, extends; it makes possible a tentative acceptance of
the whole mood and manner implied by Spenser's line."



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