St Brigid Poetry Reading day
Saturday February 02nd 2008, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Totally stealing the concept from Stephanie and Lene. From William Carlos Williams, a pediatrician whose poetry was my favorite in college, written, if I remember correctly, about a six-year-old oncology patient of his:

The Red Wheelbarrow

Trying not to violate copyright, I offer the link. I used to think of this poem when my children, especially when they were little, would fixate on some one particular thing and how important it became to them for a passing time. My youngest, at about 18 months, was given a little red plastic hammer by a friend of mine that for ten days afterwards was in his hands round the clock, asleep or awake. If you tried to remove it from his sleeping clutch, he would wake up. “Mine!” and he would groggily reach for it back and roll over with it tucked safely half under him. With three older siblings, he learned that word early on.

When he was awake, he was constantly, constantly tap-tapping it on every surface he toddled past, listening to the sound that that one would make. Now that one. The wall. The fridge. Mom’s leg. Assessing the interaction between it and everything he could reach. Same hammer, but such different effects. It completely absorbed his world day after day, and I liked to think he was training his ear for future musicianship.

I think he did.

“so much depends


the red wheel

barrow… “

9 Comments so far
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Oh the story about your son is so cute. My daughter used to clutch a pacifier in her one hand while rubbing in circles against the ring on the one in her mouth. She could not sleep without 2 of them. It was so odd. She still likes her blankie, even at 18. Thankfully we did break her of the pacifier habit.

Comment by Lisa 02.02.08 @ 8:35 pm

One of my favorite poems, too.

Comment by amy 02.02.08 @ 8:51 pm

I have never heard the poem, it is lovely. Great story about your son, don’t we all know that fixation. The same book, the same toy etc. My favourite was the swimming costume to be worn every day, all day only to be taken off at night so it could be washed. People would say, “Are you going swimming?” “No!” she would reply emphatically and look at them like they were complete fools. How on Earth did they come to that conclusion? I wonder?!

Comment by Vicki 02.02.08 @ 9:51 pm

Josey had a “blankie” that he would carry with him. It was a crib sheet and his Grame ended up having to cut it into quarters so he would still have his blankie after it started wearing out

Comment by Danielle from SW Missouri 02.03.08 @ 7:38 am

My favorite William Carlos Williams poem:
This is Just to Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
Forgive me
They were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
—this is like my blessing for plums. I think it, or say it, every time I eat one. 🙂

Comment by Joanne 02.03.08 @ 3:09 pm

I tried and tried to think of what I clung to as a child. (Not having children of my own, I use myself as reference.) I came to the conclusion that nothing in particular was that security to me when I thought of books, and my animal buddies.
I learned to read before kindergarten, and was never without a book thereafter. I also bonded very closely to all the animals in my life, and clearly remember full conversations with the old garter snake in the garden who came back each year, and with my grandpa’s dog, Tony, and every other animal in my life at the time.
These days? I cling to my needles and yarn with a grip tighter than the lid on the molasses jar.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 02.03.08 @ 5:00 pm

thank you for sharing the poem and the story about the little red hammer. i almost missed the silent poetry reading day this year and i think that i would have been very sad if i had.

Comment by marti 02.04.08 @ 1:04 am

Things you didn’t know about your dad. To celebrate the 1947 centennial of Brigham Young arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, the U of U English department held a writers’ conference. The extraordinary faculty: Walter van Tilberg Clark (who wrote Ox-Bo Incident), Alan Tate and his wife Carolyn Gordon (Google them) and WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS. I wanted to write Western novels and gravitated to Clark, who was from Reno and shared many of my interests. But Williams was my favorite. He read his poetry and expounded on his view of verse, which I admired and absorbed, and much of the poetry which I wrote then and in subsequent years was influenced by what he said. Many years later I bought a recording of him reading his poetry. Maybe I gave it to your niece Christina. Love, Dad

Comment by Lawrence Jeppson 02.04.08 @ 5:19 pm

Go DAD!!!


Comment by AlisonH 02.04.08 @ 5:37 pm

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