Tract By Carlos Williams GILT ON A SAD HEIGHT The poem Tract by William Carlos Williams, on the surface, is a criticism of an ostentatious funeral (Geddes 37). However, the poem does have a strong hidden message. Tract could very well be a direct criticism of Dylan Thomas Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night(Geddes 123) and any other poem like it. In his poem, William Carlos Williams criticizes poets like Thomas for using too many stylistic formalities, thereby obscuring their poetrys true literal content. He also scolds them for placing themselves into the poetry when, in his view, there really is no place for them there. Finally, he ends with an offering of recourse for all the poets like Thomas.
On the surface, the narrator in Tract is criticizing an overly ornate funeral. His purpose is to establish a new idiom in which cultural inhibitions are discarded. This purpose can also be applied to the poems hidden meaning; a criticism of Dylan Thomas work. When the narrator refers to his townspeople, what Williams might be implying is my fellow poets. He is addressing a small community; the poets of the world, and in this case, Dylan Thomas.
In Dylan Thomas Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, there is a very distinctive structure of repeated lines and rhythms called a villanelle (Shaeffer). William Carlos Williams poem strives to do away with such convention. His design for a hearse is really a design for a poem, which should be not black- nor white and not polished[but] weathered like a farm wagon- with gilt wheels. With this, Williams might be saying that there should be no specific design; we should not have villanelles. This corresponds with his philosophy to reject poetic formalism (Geddes 34). It could also be a comment on using the common elements to create poetry. This would follow Williams philosophy that the subject matter of poetry should be centered on the everyday circumstances of life (poets.org). According to Williams, a villanelle is a form of gilt that is there for decoration alone.
This gilt can be applied to the wheels of the hearse or to a small portion of the poem, if so desired, by the poet without over-embellishment. This point is further emphasized with the line no upholstery, phew! And no little brass rollers and small easy wheels on the bottom. These features refer to other stylistic conventions used by some poets. The narrator in Tract insists that on this [a rough dray] the coffin should lie by its own weight. This can be interpreted to say that the poem should be judged as good or bad solely on the basis of its literal meaning and content; not on pretence and frills injected into the art. Because of its rhyme scheme and syntax, Dylan Thomas poem seems to be elegant.
If the sophisticated style were removed, what would the poem say? What kind of poem would it be without the rhyme scheme? These are questions asked by William Carlos Williams Tract. The word tract, like the poem, also has a dual meaning. A tract could be a religious ceremony, such as a funeral, or it could be a medical term for a biological structure that serves as a way of passage. It is a very fitting title for a poem that criticizes peoples way of passage from one life to the next. The poem stresses that a funeral should be dedicated to the deceased and not to those in attendance.
It is wrong for the driver to draw attention from the guest of honor, as it is wrong for the poet to put himself into the poem. In the villanelle, it is apparent that Thomas puts himself into the poem: the reader knows that the poem is about Thomas father, without having to read a history or an interpretation. The line and you my father, there on a sad height informs the reader that Thomas father is sick in bed. In the context of Tract, Thomas is the driver who should take off that silk hat! There is no place for him [Dylan Thomas] at all- up there… On the surface, Tract criticizes the driver for drawing attention away from the deceased.
Covertly, Williams is scolding Thomas for putting himself in the poem about the death of his father when he has no business drawing attention from the event that is the death of his father. The purpose of the last stanza is to provide advice and a method of recourse for the younger or less experienced poets. When Williams writes, walk behind- as they do in France, seventh class, he could be saying that the poem should speak for itself and does not need to be read by the author, which is often the case with Dylan Thomas (Smith). Sit openly to the weather as to grieve could imply that a poet should succumb to failure because it will make him a stronger poet ( money in your pockets.) There is an implied parent-child relationship here. All parents want their children to be successful and to avoid the same pitfalls that they have encountered.
Williams suggests for the younger poets to humbly seek advice from the elders to avoid suffering in the same ways. At the end of the poem, Williams tells the younger poets, Go now I think you are ready. This is Williams (the parent) saying to Dylan Thomas (the child): – I have taught you what you need to know, now go and use what I have taught you. According to William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas injects pretence into his poetry to obscure its meaning and disguise it as something that it is not. He also inserts his identity into his poetry. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is therefore, in the eyes of William Carlos Williams, a great example of how not to write a poem.
Work Cited Geddes, Gary. 20th Century Poetry & Poetics: Fourth Edition Oxford University Press. Toronto, 1996 Dylan Thomas. Carmen Smith. thinkquest.org 11/15/2000. *http://library.thinkquest.org/3187/thomas.html* William C.
Williams. Poets.org. 11/15/2000 *http://www.poets.org/poets.cfm?prmID=120 * Rage, Rage. Frank Beck. Poets.org.
11/15/2000 * http://www.poets.org/poets.cfm?prmID=1159 * Do Not Go. Peter Shaeffer. 11/15/2000 *http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/38 .html* Bibliography about a thousand words. Grade A. a look at how the poem Tract is a criticism of thomas’ Do not go gentle into that good night. Poetry Essays.