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Tract Analysis



Author: poem of William Carlos Williams Type: poem Views: 5


I will teach you my townspeople
how to perform a funeral
for you have it over a troop
of artists—
unless one should scour the world—
you have the ground sense necessary.

See! the hearse leads.
I begin with a design for a hearse.
For Christ's sake not black—
nor white either — and not polished!
Let it be weathered—like a farm wagon—
with gilt wheels (this could be
applied fresh at small expense)
or no wheels at all:
a rough dray to drag over the ground.

Knock the glass out!
My God—glass, my townspeople!
For what purpose? Is it for the dead
to look out or for us to see
the flowers or the lack of them—
or what?
To keep the rain and snow from him?
He will have a heavier rain soon:
pebbles and dirt and what not.
Let there be no glass—
and no upholstery, phew!
and no little brass rollers
and small easy wheels on the bottom—
my townspeople, what are you thinking of?
A rough plain hearse then
with gilt wheels and no top at all.
On this the coffin lies
by its own weight.

No wreathes please—
especially no hot house flowers.
Some common memento is better,
something he prized and is known by:
his old clothes—a few books perhaps—
God knows what! You realize
how we are about these things
my townspeople—
something will be found—anything
even flowers if he had come to that.
So much for the hearse.

For heaven's sake though see to the driver!
Take off the silk hat! In fact
that's no place at all for him—
up there unceremoniously
dragging our friend out to his own dignity!
Bring him down—bring him down!
Low and inconspicuous! I'd not have him ride
on the wagon at all—damn him!—
the undertaker's understrapper!
Let him hold the reins
and walk at the side
and inconspicuously too!

Then briefly as to yourselves:
Walk behind—as they do in France,
seventh class, or if you ride
Hell take curtains! Go with some show
of inconvenience; sit openly—
to the weather as to grief.
Or do you think you can shut grief in?
What—from us? We who have perhaps
nothing to lose? Share with us
share with us—it will be money
in your pockets.
Go now
I think you are ready.

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




.: :.

I agree with K.S. in that this poem is speaking to the poets of his time, a plea to abandon the conventions of classic poetry. The title Tract says it itself; one definition of Tract is - a pamphlet or leaflet of political or religious propaganda; also : a piece of writing that is suggestive of such a tract. This is clearly Williams 'propaganda' to other poets to convert to a modernist style.
J.N.

| Posted on 2014-10-12 | by a guest


.: :.

Shows the poet\'s desire for changing poetry conventions because they seem to superfluous. You must strip away the norms and conventions and focus soley on the content and focal point of the argument and poem, for example, focus on the deceased man instead of dressing him up for a funeral - people have come to pay tribute to the man, he does need to be carried in a fancy hearse or be plotted with a wreath. Poetry should be stripped away from the complicatedness and present itself with simplicity.
-K.S.

| Posted on 2011-11-08 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem is meant to address the materialism, pomp, ritualized "convenience", and impersonal feel of a traditional funeral. Williams himself takes a light, facetious tone, but the underlying themes are critical.
Instead of iring a polished hearse with glass windows and flowers, Williams posits a different approach. He suggests that one should, rather than riding above a coffin in a fancy hearse, drag the hearse. No, in fact, remove the hearse altogether. "let it be weathered/like a farm wagon", he says, showing that he prefers genuine simplicity to frippery.
He playfully mocks the use of glass "My God-- Glass, my townspeople!/For what purpose? Is it for the dead/ to look out or for us to see/how well he is housed...". In this stanza he is trying to enlighten his townspeople to the ludicrous nature of having glass windows for a dead man.
He asks for no hothouse flowers, because he sees the flowers as impersonal. One would be better set to display "some common memento" of the deceased. This would be more personal; more fitting.
Toward the last stanza, the tone becomes more serious. the meaning of this passage is that one should not hide grief or suppress it. He acknowledges that grief must be dealt with,a major theme of this poem.

| Posted on 2010-06-02 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem is meant to address the materialism, pomp, ritualized "convenience", and impersonal feel of a traditional funeral. Williams himself takes a light, facetious tone, but the underlying themes are critical.
Instead of iring a polished hearse with glass windows and flowers, Williams posits a different approach. He suggests that one should, rather than riding above a coffin in a fancy hearse, drag the hearse. No, in fact, remove the hearse altogether. "let it be weathered/like a farm wagon", he says, showing that he prefers genuine simplicity to frippery.
He playfully mocks the use of glass "My God-- Glass, my townspeople!/For what purpose? Is it for the dead/ to look out or for us to see/how well he is housed...". In this stanza he is trying to enlighten his townspeople to the ludicrous nature of having glass windows for a dead man.
He asks for no hothouse flowers, because he sees the flowers as impersonal. One would be better set to display "some common memento" of the deceased. This would be more personal; more fitting.
Toward the last stanza, the tone becomes more serious. the meaning of this passage is that one should not hide grief or suppress it. He acknowledges that grief must be dealt with,a major theme of this poem.

| Posted on 2010-06-02 | by a guest




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