William Carlos Williams and the New American Culture Essay

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William Carlos Williams' poetry suggest two philosophies he had during his life. While not these ideas are not contrary, they also are not wholly supportive of one another. The first is his rejection of the American Dream – the belief that hard work will lead to success. It is important, with regard to the American Dream, to note Williams' own success within the framework of American society. The second goal seems to be an attempt to create a new, complete, American Culture. As a member of the modernist movement, Williams stands apart from many of his contemporaries not because he was radically different, but because of his approach to literature. While many of his peers focused on a rapidly changing civilization (especially in the …show more content…
As a result of this, Williams (unlike his peers) stayed in America, and continued his work as a doctor (considering it a layperson's role, when compared to the culture-shaping position of the modern poet). It was through this job that he saw what he felt was the true America, believing his job provided “the best possible environment in which to develop a new poetry,”4. Despite his discontent with the American Dream, Williams still made it his responsibility to create (or move toward) a new, wholly American culture. To do this, he used innovative poetry. Excerpts in the Norton Anthology of Williams' manifesto show his feelings toward traditional American industry and economy5. His stance that art, like anything of quality, must not be mass-produced, should not be created quickly, and requires time and effort to perfect, shows his opposition to the standing American way of life. Looking at both the content, and the structure, it is clear that Williams' poetry represents his attempts to create a new literary tradition and language, which could then be used to support a new culture. The constant utilization of the standing European literary tradition is part of Williams' problem with his peers. So much of his poetry focuses on the everyday, the banalities of life. In “The Widow's Lament in Springtime” the speaker

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