Using William Carlos Williams's and Orrick Johns's early working association as members of the "Others" group as a starting point, the essay examines how Johns's now largely forgotten poem, "Blue Under-Shirts," possibly influenced the composition of Williams's iconic "The Red Wheelbarrow." The similarities between these two poems are striking, and I argue that Williams may very well have had the shortcomings of Johns's poem in mind when he composed "The Red Wheelbarrow." The essay proposes that what Williams likely recognized in his friend Johns' poem was the framework for a new modern American poetic line, demonstrated by his own one-sentence poem, that moves beyond the imagist principle of austere, objective description to a new focus on the distinctive linguistic features of the American idiom, an approach that draws the reader in as an active participant in the creation of the poetic experience.


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pp. 167-183
Launched on MUSE
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