Samples Poetry Spring And All: An Analytical Summary

Spring And All: An Analytical Summary

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Dr. William Carlos Williams created a poem entitled, Spring And All that was simple yet complex. It is true that seasonal change is the one thing that everyone can count on to remain constant. However, the poetic transition from winter to spring represents more than just temperature changes according to the author. To fully appreciate the poem, it is important to learn about the author and time period in which the poem was written. Williams was born in 1883 and died in 1963. Prior to becoming a famous writer, Williams earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania (Academy of American Poets, 1962). During his lifetime, the world had survived WWI and America had to contend with devastating epidemics such as cholera, influenza, Spanish flu, polio and Asian flu (Krucik M.D., MBA , 2013). Understandably, he would have the authority to mention the hospital as no ordinary building. It was indeed a place where sickness, rather than healing awaits. Based on the way he takes the reader on a field trip, his poem is like a picture that says a thousand words. With the creation of moods and use of imagery Williams offers a short excursion that stimulates hours of fun conversation for his readers.

When most people think of the spring season, they imagine colorful flowers, busy bees pollenating and sunny showers with warm water droplets. Although the poem ends with a positive tone, the beginning is quite gloomy. The poem suggests that spring gets a gooey, sloppy start that is ugly in appearance before the beauty shows up. For instance, “the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen” (lines 4-6) suggests that winter is still holding onto its authoritative position. The 2nd and 3rd lines share the surge of blue mottled clouds. They rushed over the landscape as if they were impatient. With dark colors like brown, reddish and purplish, vines with no life and dead trees, the mood is not cheerful. Looming over the entire opening is a road that leads to a contagious hospital. This is certainly a place no one would want to visit. It is almost as if the author tried and find something positive about a dead- looking field because he is procrastinating his arrival at the hospital. As a doctor, Williams might have stopped many times along the road to look around while wishing he didn’t have to go to a dreadful place of diseases. Appreciating the dead surroundings was better than being around people who are near death. What is there to appreciate? The remainder of the poem explains it quite well. One thing is for sure, dead people never come back. On the other hand, dead leaves have more to offer because the spring season is drawing near. Lastly, the mood at the end improves because the plants decide to “grip down” in their roots and wake up. This announces the arrival of spring as a “profound change” (line 25).

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The imagery of this poem is created by personification and metaphors. If the hospital is a metaphor for what is wrong with the world, then the dead leaves followed by awakening plants represent positive change. In other words in spite of wars, diseases and people dying, babies are born and the economy improves. The biggest metaphor is the profound change at the end of the poem. At the time it was written, WWI was followed by a wave of exciting art, scientific discoveries and new philosophies. Even more abundant than the metaphors were the instances of personification. Williams gave human characteristics to non-living nouns and the season of spring. For instance, he described spring as being “sluggish and dazed” (lines 14-15). Another form of personification is in the poem’s depiction of water in line 7 and dried weeds standing in line 6. Neither of those things can stand like a human being. However, standing insinuates a persistence to remain in place. Entering the new world naked, cold and uncertain (lines 16-17) is exactly the way babies enter the world. Spring is personified by describing it in the same way a newborn child appears at birth. Spring “quickens” as if to move hastily after being so sluggish in the beginning. (line 23). Finally, the plants begin to awaken in line 27 as if to have been asleep along with hibernating wildlife. The imagery of the poem can be summarized by colors that are not exciting, the smell of old, dead leaves and the sickness hovering over the land. The image of fertile, determined new plants sinking their roots into life-giving soil ends the poem. The personification tells a tale of lazy, exhausted plant life that is indecisive about starting anew in the beginning. In the end, they stylishly present “stiff curls of wildcarrot leaf” (line 21) and disregard the chilliness of the air.

What makes this poem an easy pill to swallow is that everyone can understand the sentiments made by words. There are no long sentences but there are plenty of short phrases. The collection of phrases makes it possible for people to recall their own experiences when changes, discomforts and triumphs shaped their lives. The meaning and message are related but not the same. The meaning of the poem is subjective and will be different according to each individual’s personal views. For a person who grew up during the years that Williams was alive, the poem might mean that there is life after epidemics and happy days are just a few temperature changes away. For a person who is young in today’s world of modern technology, the poem could suggest that the land along the road is dead for so long, it is a perfect place to build a restaurant. The colorful plants would create a pleasant ambiance for outdoor eating. Finally, for someone heading to a dreadful job, stopping along the road to look at the stretching hills or muddy waters might be calming before slaving away while underpaid.

In conclusion, the message of William’s poem is quite clear. No matter what he intended the meaning to be, optimism is the giant, flashing red light for this poem. The low mood which could have been set to sad, funeral tunes eventually brightens to a joyful sense of hope. The new plants decide to get firmly planted and wake up, thereby spreading an optimistic message of encouragement and endurance.

  • Academy of American Poets. (1962). William carlos williams. Retrieved from
  • Williams M.D., W. C. (1962). Spring and all. Retrieved from
  • Krucik M.D., MBA, G. (2013). 10 worst outbreaks in U.S. history. In Healthline Editorial Team (Ed.), The Worst Disease Outbreaks in History . San Francisco, C.A.: Healthline Networks, Inc. Retrieved from