Desmond Painter. William Carlos Williams en die gedig as objek

William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams

Ek lees nog steeds Octavio Paz se gebundelde essays oor digters en die digkuns, On Poets and Others. Kan jy jou ‘n beter beskrywing van William Carlos Williams se estetika, en sy benadering tot die gedig as ‘n talige objek, voorstel as hierdie: “From the time he started writing, Williams evinced a distrust of ideas. It was a reaction against the symbolist aesthetic shared by the majority of poets at the time and in which, in his case, American pragmatism was combined with his medical profession. In a famous poem he defines his search: ‘To compose, not ideas but in things.’ But things are always beyond, on the other side: the ‘thing itself’ is untouchable. Thus Williams’s point of departure is not things but sensation. And yet sensation in turn is formless and instantaneous; one cannot build or do anything with pure sensations: that would result in chaos. Sensation is amphibious: at the same time it joins us to and divides us from things. It is the door through which we enter into things but also which we come out of them and realize that we are not things. In order for sensation to accede to the objectivity of things it must itself be changed into a thing. The agent of change is language: the sensations are turned into verbal objects. A poem is a verbal object in which two contradictory properties are fused: the liveliness of sensation and the objectivity of things.”

Hoe word sensasies dan omgesit in verbale, talige objekte? Volgens Paz, “by the operation of a force which for Williams is not essentially distinct from electricity, steam, or gas: imagination.” Die verbeelding is dus ‘n kreatiewe krag wat objekte, ook gedigte, tot stand bring. Die gedig is nie ‘n representasie van ‘n sensasie of ‘n objek nie; die gedig is nie ‘n dubbelganger nie, maar ‘n selfstandige objek. Die verbeelding maak gedigte, “objects which were not real before. The poetic imagination produces poems, pictures, and cathedrals as nature produces pines, clouds, and crocodiles.”

Volgens Paz, dan: “Williams wrings the neck of traditional aesthetics: art does not imitate nature: it imitates its creative processes. It does not copy its products but its modes of production.” Hiermee dan die baie bekende van Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow”:


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

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