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The Great Figure

The Great Figure

by William Carlos Williams

Sound

Symbol Analysis

While the beginning of the poem focuses on lights and colors, the second half shifts the focus to sound. This shift occurs right after the word "unheeded," which refers to something that no one is paying attention to. So at the same moment that he calls the figure unheeded, he stops heeding it!

  • Line 10: A "gong" is the bell ringing on the fire truck, but it also refers to an Asian instrument that you hit with a mallet.
  • Line 11: The siren is personified as a howling person or animal.
  • Lines 10-11: Both "clang" and "howl" are onomatopoeic words – they sound like the things they describe, like the words "Boom!" and "Crash!"
  • Lines 12: The word "rumbling" describes the sound the fire truck makes, and it also brings to mind the sound of thunder.

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