William Carlos Williams- A Poet On A Mission




"Among the poets of his own illustrious generation, William Carlos Williams was the man on the margin, the incorrigible maverick, the embattled messiah." (Unger 402) Throughout his career, Williams has always been known as an experimenter, an innovator, and a revolutionary figure in American poetry. He is regarded as an important and influential poet because of his unique and unusually plain style. Living a life that was rather conventional, using a writing style that was essentially breaking the mold, and having a style that most critics were unsure about, Williams established a new genre to the poetic world.


William Carlos Williams; born on September seventeenth, 1883, in Rutherford, New Jersey; was the first of two sons born to the middle class status of George and Raquel (Helene) Williams. Having an English father and a Puerto Rican mother, with ancestry from the French, Dutch, Spanish, and Jewish sides, Williams had an interesting mix of culture from birth (Bloom 4338). As he grew older in his middle class household, his father provided him with a fertile background in the arts and literature, introducing him to Shakespeare, Dante, and the Bible (DISC 1). To further elevate his level of knowledge, Williams attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded a Doctorate in Medicine, and later visited the University of Leipzig, for post-graduate study (Bloom 4338). Williams fulfilled his parents’ lofty standards by becoming a general practitioner with his degree from Pennsylvania. Their standards, unfortunately, did not match up with those of Williams himself. He did not wish to become a doctor, but found himself becoming infatuated with poetry. He often found himself torn between what he wanted to do, and what his parents wished for him to do. He was caught, because his love was not as promising a career as becoming a doctor. However, as made evident out by Gale Research in their DISCovering Authors series, a career in medicine could actually assist Williams in his writing passion. From his medical practice, he was able to earn enough money to give him the financial freedom to experiment with his writing dream (3).
Williams carried on with his medical practice for forty-one years in the same town, until he retired to writing full-time in 1951(Bloom 4338). This shows that Williams was happy with the simple things. He found what he liked, pursued it, and eventually ended up doing what he wished – he wrote poetry.
Williams spent the vast majority of his life in the small town of Rutherford, New Jersey, leaving only to attend college. He established a small medical practice in Rutherford in 1910 and, shortly after, married a young woman, whom he met at the University of Pennsylvania, by the name of Florence Herman in 1912. Following his marriage, he had two children, namely William-Eric and Paul-Herman (Bloom 4338).
As Williams’ writings ultimately became acknowledged, he began to produce works which received positive feedback. He received a myriad of awards and honors from all parts of the country. Locher itemized these decorations as ranging from honors within the community, to awards from major universities, all the way up to the Pulitzer Prize which he received in 1963 (575). Although Williams viewed his work as somewhat conventional, it is apparent that others had finally begun to realize his unique flavor and recognize that the topics which he wrote were true.
William Carlos Williams passed away on March 4, 1963, a man who lived a life so plain, yet his early stages were spoon-fed with nothing but knowledge for the mind. He seemed to accomplish all he was on this planet for except for one thing, his final and most lengthy poem – a poem that was never completed, but maybe was never meant to be.


After one reads a selection of poems by Williams, he might think that Williams could be mentally disturbed. This notion could easily be proven false by a thorough analyzation of his poems. Williams is actually quite the opposite. The following selection is entitled "The Rose Fades…":
The rose fades
and is renewed again
by its seed, naturally
but where

save in the