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Published: 14-10-2019

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Analysis of “Nuances of a Theme by Williams”

The title of Wallace Stevens’ poem “Nuances of a Theme by Williams” implies that he intends to comment on, possibly celebrate, and almost surely discover the prospective distinctions and variations accessible in the poem by William Carlos Williams titled “El Hombre.” Stevens consists of “El Hombre,” in its entirety minus the title, in the opening four lines of his poem with the implication (once again based on the, at worst, neutral title of Stevens’ poem as well as the seemingly tributary inclusion of “El Hombre”) that his re-workings and explorations of his colleague’s piece will keep its essence and, presumably, not bear it a lot, if any, antipathy. The title, however, proves to be misleading and Stevens’ subsequent lines seem to be much less of a nuanced exploration of Williams’ poem than a criticism of what he sees as its faults: namely the sentimentality, anthropomorphizing, and romantic detachedness of the narrator that is present specially in the first two lines.

It is particularly the initial stanza of Williams’ poem that Stevens requires issue with and he does so, at least in portion, by way of its second stanza. Stevens attaches himself to two phrases, “shine alone” (3) and “lend no part” (four), that bookend the second stanza of Williams’ poem and uses them as his access points to the poem. He quotes the two phrases directly, elevating them to the opening words of each of his subsequent stanzas, although in carrying out so he also very purposefully alterations their which means.

The very first line of Stevens’ composition, “Shine alone, shine nakedly, shine like bronze” (5) seems, appropriately, to satisfy the expectations of the title while also being characteristic of Stevens’ playful perspectivist aesthetic tendencies (reminiscent, possibly, of “Thirteen Techniques of Searching at a Blackbird”) beginning with the two-word phrase taken directly from Williams’ piece, Stevens’ proceeds to stretch it into a richer, a lot more textured crucial description of the exact same “ancient star” (two) addressed in Williams’ poem.

Nonetheless, the succeeding two lines that make up the rest of Stevens’ initial stanza diverge from mere variation into what seems to be an invective response to the opening lines of Williams’ poem: “It’s a strange courage/you give me, ancient star” (1-two). Stevens seems to be concerned with the reality that Williams sort of anthropomorphizes the star, which seems to be the increasing sun, and instills it with the potential to give courage. He says of the sun that it need to shine like some thing that “reflects neither [his] face nor any inner element/of [his] being” (six-7) and, in the end, “like fire, that mirrors nothing” (7).

Stevens’ deliberate dissociation with the sun (as a stand-in for nature) reflects his belief that one particular must apprehend nature without having embellishing it that the things of nature should not be utilized as signifies to access the triumphs or despairs of humanity. Exactly where in Stevens’ “The Snowman” it is only with “a thoughts of winter” (1) that one particular can hear “the sound of the land” (10) without having becoming distracted by “any misery in the sound of the wind” (eight), so have to Williams’ sun, in Stevens’ conception, mirror “nothing that is not there” (The Snowman, 15) if it is to be genuinely apprehended.

With the entirety of Stevens’ very first stanza in mind, the variations in his very first line (that continues and concludes in the third with “shine like fire”) study much less playfully and more like a slow, deliberate distancing from the humanness of the word “alone.” For “alone” is seldom employed to describe the state of an inanimate object by itself, which wouldn’t require the recognition of becoming outside of a society of comparable objects considering that society is restricted to animate creatures. So Stevens re-types the description as “nakedly.” That initial step, although, is only a small step away from animation given that it evokes the notion of becoming with out garments. But the adverb “nakedly” is, in fact, much more frequently employed to describe the nature of concepts or tips, as in “plainly” or “blatantly,” and significantly less the physical state of one’s dress. With the second transformation, “like bronze,” however, the much less subtle split with animation starts. With “like bronze” Stevens has reformulated an idea of the sun as merely resembling anything. Though it is a man-created something, which, therefore, maintains an inevitable if convoluted connection to the human realm. So, Stevens’ necessarily searches for one particular more angle, “like fire,” and the split with humanity is complete the sun is lowered to one thing organic, independent of human existence, but, a lot more importantly, it is reduced to precisely what it is.

The sun is precisely anything that in Stevens’ view should “lend no portion to any humanity that suffuses/[the sun] in its own light” (eight-9) as Williams does. For like Stevens declares in his later poem “Things of August”: “The rich earth, of its own self created rich,/Fertile of its personal leaves” (51-52), so should the shining sun, of its own self shine.

It appears that Stevens’ wishes to neglect all human history of sun worship and mythology and relish the sun as it is perceived in the moment, in the present, by an person particular person. However, in communicating his point, Stevens’ says that the sun must “be not chimera of the morning” (ten). “Chimera” carries the meaning of “illusion” or “daydream” as if warning against becoming tricked into seeing the sun as far more than it is, or as one thing that it is not. But “chimera” also carries the connotation of the mythical creature that was produced of numerous animal components and had an intelligence. So in this moment, although Stevens’ argument is ostensibly sustained, he undermines it slightly by constructing it about such a contradictory notion, even if only as a implies to negate it.

The final 3 lines of the poem continue in this vein of ridding the sun of any ancient residual meaning. He ironically says the star ought to “Be not an intelligence/Like a widow’s bird/Or and old horse” (12-15). These comparisons are ironic just due to the fact Stevens would not grant intelligence to a bird or horse, but he knows that they are typically thought of that way. A lonely widow offers a lot more which means and power to her avian companion and a farmer may possibly attribute wisdom to a horse that has weathered a lot. Stevens slyly insults the romantic sentimentality of Williams’ poem by placing it on the identical level as the foolish and uneducated figures recommended in his closing lines.

It appears that Stevens sees Williams’ poem as weak and sentimental. Stevens’ poem is an exercising of his mind on Williams’ theme, enacted to deliberately and systematically gain control over the emotional preoccupations of the poem. I would suppose that, eventually, Williams would not only have appreciated the criticisms of Stevens, but also would have agreed with them. I feel as though “El Hombre” is, at least on a simple level, an immature poem of Williams’ that would not have match into his later, a lot more distinctly formulated views.
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