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Spring and All

Spring and All


by William Carlos Williams

Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

The whole poem is basically describing the setting, that famous road to the hospital with the dead plants all around it. Seems simple enough, right? At the same time, some other person could describe this same landscape in a totally different way. A big part of the setting is not just the trees and plants that happen to be standing around, but the mood created by the description.

When we read about this place, it makes us feel alone, surrounded by a sort of brownish-grey emptiness. There’s a kind of loneliness to everything that we lay eyes on. There are no other people, and not even a deer or a chipmunk wanders into the frame. Plants rule this world, or at least the dried skeletons of plants. So, for example, if humans went to war with trees (don’t think too hard about why this would happen) and the trees won, but only barely, this might be how the last surviving human would see the world.

OK, so maybe you don’t see anything as freaky as a plant apocalypse in this poem. Nonetheless, it’s hard to deny that there’s something desolate about this setting that sinks into you a little, which is hard to forget about or ignore. Of course, spring does eventually show up, and the idea is that it will drive away the bleakness of winter. But does it? Do you feel like things in this poem come to life by the end, and the setting is transformed? Or, are we left in the same wasteland, but with some hope that things might soon change?

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