How observant are you? When a tragedy strikes, how observant were you to the little details that led to the big tragedy? Could the tragedy have been avoided if you had paid attention to the little details leading up to the tragedy?
These questions came to mind when I found out about a little poem called The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams.
The red wheelbarrow
By: William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
What does this poem mean? What exactly is the poet trying to say?
Is he saying:-
• The redness of the wheelbarrow makes one think of a childhood toy? Why is it outside, left in the rain? Did something happen to cause it to be abandoned? Was it a tragedy of some kind?
• “So much depends upon” – what exactly is it that depends on the wheelbarrow? Could the tragedy have been avoided? Did the incident happen recently or long ago?
• Was the poet an adult who should have known better and could have avoided the tragedy? Was the poet a child when this unspoken incident occurred? Was the poet somehow responsible and could this thing that depends so much on the wheelbarrow be the long sadness that he’s felt because of his involvement?
• The colours red and white – why those colours? If there was a tragedy, then red and white could symbolise blood and bone.
Perhaps the poem is saying that whatever it is that depends on the simple wheelbarrow is like anything else in life – that big important things depends on little details like the wheelbarrow and the chickens?
Maybe big tragedies or big things happen because we ignore and don’t pay attention to the little details.
What do you think?