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The Great Figure

The Great Figure


by William Carlos Williams

Analysis: Calling Card

A Line Can Be A Single Word

English teachers love to use poems by William Carlos Williams to show that poetry can be super-short and super-sweet. Williams also wrote some great longer poems, but the short ones have become the most famous. He often breaks up single sentences into lines of a few words or even a single word. His famous poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow," begins:

So much depends

In another poem, "This Is Just to Say," he describes eating some plums that were in the refrigerator

and which
you were probably

In part because his line breaks are so unconventional, a William Carlos Williams poem is usually easy to spot.

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