Society and Class

In Brueghel's great picture, The Kermess (1,12)

The fact that this poem is focusing on this particular painting by Brueghel tells us that it's going be focused on people of the lower class. Brueghel was actually well-known for his paintings of peasant lifeā€”not a typical subject in his time period in which most paintings were of classical subjects or royalty. The fact that he chose to lend his carefully-honed skills to depicting a country peasant festival was in and of itself a statement. It's like he's saying that the lives of the working class can have just as striking moments of beauty as the lives of the aristocracy. The fact that Williams was inspired to write a poem by this painting in particular highlights his own dedication to representing the lives of everyday folks.

the squeal and the blare and the
tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles (3-4)

We mention this in the "Art and Culture" section as well, but these lines are totally worth noting here again. The fact that this music is squealing and blaring shows that it's the unrefined, raw music of the people, rather than the refined music of the concert halls. The instruments involved also tip us off that this is folk music. There's not a whole lot of bagpipes in Beethoven symphonies, right?

[...] Kicking and rolling
about the Fair Grounds (8-9)

These lines paint a seriously folksy image in our brains. Fair Grounds use to be exclusively associated with farm life, because it's where everybody went to sell livestock and the products of the harvest. It was a place where farmers and their families went to get business done, but also to let their hair down a little bit. So, the fact that this whole event is taking place at a Fair Grounds marks it as a celebration of the rootsy way of life.

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