Spring and All
by William Carlos Williams
Analysis: Sound Check
Sounds of the Landscape
This will probably seem silly at first, but bear with us. Have you ever heard one of those tapes that plays sounds that are supposed to make you feel like you’re at the beach, or in a rainforest, so that you can fall asleep faster? So, we don’t want to take away from the genius of Williams, or say that he puts us to sleep, but think for a second about how the sounds of this poem might help put you in the landscape it describes.
When Spring is in its full rush, and Williams tells us that "it quickens, clarity, outline of a leaf," (line 23) listen to the knife-like sound of those words. They make us feel the fast spreading of the leaf and the sharpness of its edge. We get the same feeling a few lines before, when he talks about the "stiff curl" of a new leaf. The texture of those words perfectly captures the strong, tightly packed curve of a leaf unfolding.
When the roots in the final line "grip down," we can feel not just how they grow, but how strong and determined and relentless they are. As spring builds up, the whole poem fills with the rustling sound of growing, moving plants. Although, now that we think about it, maybe the total effect is a little more creepy than soothing, so don’t hold your breath for a "Spring and All" relaxation CD.