Spring and All
by William Carlos Williams
Spring and All Theme of Man and the Natural World
This is the big theme. Williams isn’t shy about pointing it out, so neither are we. Now, this could have been a poem just about nature, and for the most part, it is. But, someone is watching this nature, and someone is talking about it. Williams drives this point home hard by starting us out with the road and the hospital. Those two places are major symbols of the human world. They cut through the landscape and shut it out. In order for this poem to happen, the speaker and the reader have to step out of these human spaces and pay real attention to the natural environment.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- What feeling does the poem give you about the relationship between man and the natural world? Does the speaker of the poem seem hopeful? Or, maybe depressed? Indifferent?
- Does Williams’s description of nature seem convincing to you? Do parts of it remind you of your own experiences? Do other parts seem made up?
- Here’s an even bigger question: Does it seem like the speaker is part of this natural world? Do you imagine a living, breathing person interacting with the landscape, or just a watcher, someone or something more like a video camera?
Chew on This
Williams argues that man and nature are fundamentally separate, and that we can observe nature, but only from a distance. He suggests that, in our world of roads and hospitals, we have lost the ability to fully participate in the natural world.