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The Great Figure
The Great Figure
by William Carlos Williams


We’ve got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you’ll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(2) Sea Level

Like Walt Whitman before him, Williams transformed American poetry by helping to free it from the fancy diction of European literature. "The Great Figure" is meant to provoke clear, intense images in your mind, not tie you up in knots with complicated philosophy, allusions, or language. Still, you should take this poem very, very slowly and read it multiple times. (That shouldn't be too tough, considering how short it is!) Although the language is simple, Williams shifts the focus of the poem in every line.

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