Monday, February 15, 2010

"The Dance" Response

William Carlos Williams' poem, "The Dance" uses careful craft to convey the emotion of artist, Breughel's painting, The Kermess. The first thing that I noticed was the repetition of the word, "round," as well as the assonance of round and the "o" sound, as in "go." Given the subject, the repetition sets the stage for a few things. First, repetition alone can mimic dance steps, and second, by the word choice and the "o" sounds, a circular motion is suggested. The second thing I noticed was the appearance of the conjunction "and." I think it's unusual to see so many conjunctions in a poem, and such a short one at that. The use of the word "and" makes the bulk of the poem a run-on sentence. But that is the pace and rhythm that Williams was trying to achieve. The "and's" facilitate movement so when the poem is read, the tempo flows freely. Lastly, I noticed that the rhythm of many of the lines imitates the steps of the waltz. The waltz is unusual in using a three-count measure of music, with a stress on the first count, then two downbeats following (1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3, etc.). For example, the line "tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles," follows this step pattern, a craft technique emphasizing the idea of a dance.


  1. I think this is a great response and analysis of "The Dance" as you are correct, the repetition creates the rhythm and motion within the poem, and even the use of "and" joining the sounds, although a run on sentence- really works in this piece. This is a detailed response that helped me see "The Dance" in a new light. I like it.

  2. When I read this poem I did not to such a thorough job of picking apart the word use. Since you did I have gone back and read it again. Your analysis is much more in depth than I think I see the poem. It's meter doesn't catch my attention as much as you have subscribed to it. However, I will need to read it again and again to understand the elements you have mentioned in you response. I would quess you have read the poem several time to get such an accurate depiction of the authors actions

    Jason Yelland

  3. I found your response to this poem to be very helpful in to my understanding of it. Not only did I read it at a different pace after you mentioned how the "ands" facilitate the movement of the piece and that it reads similar to the steps of the walts in the ( 1 2 3, 1 2 3) This helped me appreciate the piece so much more, I think your observation was very observant and helpful.

  4. Interesting analysis of the poem, I completely agree. One thing I might add to the your analysis is the way the lines cut off awkwardly to the next line. Sometime a line ends with "and the" only to continue in the next line, disrupting the smooth flow of the reading. In tune with your idea of this poem being presentative of a waltz, I would have to say this mimicking the dance itself? Each line constrained by the timing of it perhaps?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.