Imagistic, Specific, To the Point
William Carlos Williams kicked off his poetic career as part of the Imagist movement, a school of poetry headed up by his buddy Ezra Pound. This movement's main goal was to paint precise images without using a bunch of fancy shmancy words that just get in the way of what a poem is trying to describe. The Imagists wanted to keep it simple, but keep it real. Though "The Dance" was written much later in Williams' career, you can still totally see the influence of this philosophy. Check out the opening lines of the poem:
In Brueghel's great picture, The Kermess,
the dancers go round, they go round and
There's just no pretense here at all. The reader doesn't have to decode any dense poetic constructs; instead, the language is totally straightforward. The speaker is talking about a painting that shows dancers dancing around, and that's exactly what he says.
Of course, the poem wasn't also loaded with well-crafted, specific images then it probably wouldn't be sitting here talking about it today. When the speaker tells describes the dancers "tipping their bellies" and "their hips and their bellies off balance" we get a real sense of not only what they look like, but of the motion swirling motion of their dance (5-7). And this is all achieved—in typical WCW fashion—without a whole lot of fancy shmancy words or poetic hooplah.