So much depends on poets

Yesterday was the birthday of William Carlos Williams, doctor and poet. He is the one behind one of my all-time favorite stories – I originally read about it in the most excellent magazine Doubletake. The magazine has had a hard time staying alive, and right now is on a “publishing break” – but I’ve always loved it.

Anyway, in one of their issues they had a great story about William Carlos Williams. He is, of course, author of the famous poem, The Red Wheelbarrow:

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

Late in his life, William Carlos Williams had become a well-known poet – and he received an enormous amount of mail. One day, his mailman slipped this note to him while delivering the mail:

So much depends too
Upon the cold mail handler
Crazed with Frost blister
Dumping out the
Drab mail sack.

William Carlos Williams told his wife that it was the greatest moment of his career, the single greatest compliment that he could have received.

I wish I could remember the exact language in the Doubletake description of the event – the above poetry text I found online in an interesting essay on rural mail handlers.

So here’s to you, William Carlos Williams, on your birthday – of all the American poets, you’re the one with the best name.

3 Responses to “So much depends on poets”

  1. anne Says:

    yes, happy birthday to him.

    now, reading ‘this is just to say’ and ‘to a poor old woman’ on the link you provided, i connect w.s. merwin with williams because they both loved plums.

    i hadn’t known that the mailman poem helped a magazine survive. lovely.

    speaking of birthdays, with my trip i’ll miss yours– the happiest, i hope.

    so, for him, for your new year, for yom kippur, for the equinox and fall, and for my vacation for change, the end of his ‘spring and all’:

    But now the stark dignity of
    entrance-Still, the profound change
    has come upon them: rooted, they
    grip down and begin to awaken

  2. One Thing I Know - my musings on faith, culture, technology and life » Reflections on "The Red Wheel Barrow" Says:

    […] Nicco Davidson, the writer of the blog As If It Matters relates the following story: […]

  3. One Thing I Know Reflections on "The Red Wheel Barrow" « Says:

    […] Nicco Davidson, the writer of the blog As If It Matters relates the following story: […]

Comments are closed.


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: