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The Great Figure

The Great Figure


by William Carlos Williams

Analysis: Brain Snacks

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Williams's life has been made into a Caldecott Honor children's book called "A River of Words"(source).

In his later years, William Carlos Williams became a mentor to Beat poets like Allen Ginsberg. Williams wrote the preface to Ginsberg's most famous and controversial long poem, Howl, in which he defended Ginsberg's use of obscenity as true-to-life. He ended his introduction with, "Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through hell" (source).

Williams had a lifelong rivalry with the American poet T.S. Eliot, whose long poem The Wasteland overshadowed Williams's works from the 1920s. Williams compared his own style to Eliot's by saying, "we were breaking the rules, whereas he was conforming to the excellencies of classroom English" (source). That's the poetry equivalent of a huge diss.

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