William Carlos Williams was born on 17 September 1883 and was a fore-runner of the Imagist movement of poetry in the early 1900s. He was sometimes referred to as the Physician Poet, as he was a medical doctor by profession, but he is said to have "worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a doctor".
|More William Carlos Williams quotes at izquotes.com
Imagist poets wrote free verse, with a specific focus on diction, "To use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word." They were also at pains to attain "clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images."
Let us take a few lines from The Widow's Lament in Springtime by way of example:
Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
In the first five words he has set up the extended metaphor of the poem, and asked of his reader an imaginative leap: to take all we know of a yard and apply it to all we know of sorrow. Consider his choice of the words 'my own yard'. The speaker of the poem (the widow) lays claim to this domain of grief. The poem concludes with the lines:
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.
Consider his use of the transferred epithet 'heavy', used to describe the woods, but really indicative of her own depression. His choice of verbs in the final two lines is exact: the movement from 'fall' to 'sink'.
Our challenge today is to write in the style of the Imagists. Here are a few guidelines, as defined by Ezra Pound:
I. Direct treatment of the "thing," whether subjective or objective.
II. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
III. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome.
Above all, bear in mind that an image is "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time."
The Sunday Mini-Challenge is posted at noon on Saturday, to allow extra time on the weekend for the creative process. Please link a new poem, or alternately, you may want to take an older poem and rewrite it, with an eye to cutting away excess verbiage, changing words and phrasing in order to produce a poem more in keeping with the Imagist tenets. If you choose this option, please include a link to the original poem, or a copy thereof, so that we may review your process in the interest of learning more about the art of writing. In this regard, I would ask that comments not be made along the lines of "I think this one is better than that" but focused on the piece which is intended for today's challenge.