The Use of Form and Rhythm in William Carlos Williams's poem, The Dance

The Use of Form and Rhythm in William Carlos Williams's poem, The Dance

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The Use of Form and Rhythm in William Carlos Williams’s poem,“The Dance”

     In William Carlos Williams’s poem, “The Dance”, Williams uses the inspiration of a painting by Peter Breughel to shape his poem. Peter Breughel’s painting called “The Kermess” depicts a peasant dance of the mid fifteenth century. It shows the form and rhythm of the dance. Williams also captures the form and the rhythm of this dance in his poem. In William Carlos Williams poem, “The Dance” the open form, suggested images, and rhythm embodies the dance depicted in the painting “The Kermess” by Peter Breughel.

     In Breughel’s painting, “The Kermess”, all of the people that are dancing, do so around and around each other. The opening of Williams’s poem establishes the rhythm of the entire poem. In lines two and three, “the dancers go round, they go round and around”(Kennedy 234), Williams establishes a bouncing and circular motion in the poem. This bouncing and circular motion is also emphasized by the absence of line stops in the entire poem (Diggory 156). Every line continues to the next giving the poem the feeling of a circular motion. The open form of the poem helps to continue the bouncing rhythm throughout Williams’s entire work.

     Williams continues to establish a rhythm by mentioning musical instruments. The peasants dance to “the squeal and the blare and the tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles”(Kennedy 234). This alludes to the bagpipe player keeping the beat of the dance f...

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