Syntax In William Carlos Williams's The Red Wheelbarrow

Decent Essays

In his short poem “The Red Wheelbarrow,” William Carlos Williams uses enjambment to disrupt conventional syntax, encourage slow reading and close consideration of each word, and deconstruct images into their essential parts in order to establish a more vivid visualization of the world he presents. Enjambment is characterized by the incomplete syntax at the end of a line in poetry due to the lack of terminal punctuation. This allows for the meaning of a line to flow over to the next, creating a sense of disorder, ambiguity, and anticipation that is only satisfied by the continuation of the thought on the next line where the syntax is either complete or continued. By use of enjambment, Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” expands a single sentence of sixteen words over the course of eight lines. Deceptively simple, the poem describes a scene Williams observes in which a red wheelbarrow stands coated in rainwater next to chickens. But by writing this sentence in eight lines, Williams inserts space between each word, disrupting the reader’s expectation of flow and forcing closer reading of each line and word that now carries a much heavier weight and meaning.
Each word, separated from the others by means of enjambment, is a carefully chosen and thought-provoking brushstroke in the painting Williams creates for the mind’s eye. The first line simply reads “so much depends,” immediately creating a sense of tension that gives strength to the verb “depends.” On the next line, the

Get Access