Comparing Grace Nichols to William Carlos Williams’ – Literature Term Paper
Grace Nichols, a compromised writter with the richness of Pre-Columbian cultures, has attempted with her work along her life, to avert the imposed ideas from western
societies. On the other hand, the William Carlos Williams’ work turns around the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people. In addition, the Williams’ poetry experiments with innovative techniques of meter and lineation. Both features are present in the poems that we going to analyze in this essay.
Beginning with the poem analysis, we can start to speak about the deviation. It would be more evident in “A poor old woman”; however, it’s present in both poems. In the Williams’ poem, we can see a semantic deviation like the enjambment in each stanza. An example of that can be the first one:” munching a plum on/ the street a paper bag / of them in her hand”. With regard to the look of the poem, we can find a lot of alterations in the discourse pattern, like the deviate use of punctuation, capital and lower-case letters and the different size of the stanzas. For example, the first stanza contains three lines, whereas the rest contain four lines.
As for the defamiliarization on “The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping”, we can find different kinds of semantic deviations. On the one hand, we can see enjambments in this poem too, as in the last stanza: “The fat black woman could only conclude / that when it come to fashion / the choice is lean”. On the other hand, we can observe a rich imagery in the poem. For instance, the second stanza cold be a symbol of the society rejection towards the appearance of the protagonist of the poem: “Look at the frozen thin mannequins / fixing her with grin / and the pretty face salesgals / exchanging slimming glances / thinking she don’t notice”. In addition, we can see a simile in the fourth stanza, when the author says: “Nothing soft and bright and billowing / to flow like breezy sunlight / when she walking”. At the same time, we can find a metaphor in these lines, because Nichols establishes an implicit comparison between the ideal pomp of the fat black woman and a “breezy sunlight”. Moreover, also the poem contains deviation with regard of the look of the poem, for example in the size of the stanzas and the lines or in the use of the capital letters in the poem’s title.
With regard to the register, Williams uses in his poem a neutral tone. He is only showing a real fact, without adopt any special attitude as the critic or the sarcasm. Moreover, the vocabulary used isn’t too much poetic or cultured, but plain and colloquial. On the other hand, in the Nichols’ poem the tone is critical, because she is denouncing the slavery of fashion and the perfect bodies in western societies. In addition, she uses a plain vocabulary along the poem.
As for the poetic voice, its approach is similar in the both poems. They have an external voice that is talking about the life of a woman. However, whereas in “To a poor old woman” the poetic voice only explains the facts, in “The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping” the poetic voice is being critical with this situation.
Talking about the parallelisms, in “To a poor old woman” we can see a phonological parallelism: an alliteration with the sound of the letter “h”; for instance, in the two last lines of the second stanza: “to the one half / sucked out in her hand”, although this alliteration is repeated along the poem. On the Nichols’ poem, we can find two anaphors: in the fourth and the last stanzas with the word “Nothing” and in the fifth and sixth stanzas with the words “The fat black woman”.
As for the repetitions, in Williams’ poem we can see a clear epizeuxis in the second stanza with the sentence: “They taste good her”. At the same time this is a ploce, because the sentence is repeated in the last line of the poem too. Moreover, we can find another ploce with the word “her”, which is repeated along the poem; however, this is a normal thing because the author is talking about a woman. In the Grace Nichols’ poem there are a ploce in the last line of the fifth stanza: “journeying and journeying”.
About the ellipsis we can say that isn’t evident in “The Fat Woman Goes Shopping” but that in “To a poor old woman” we can see an ellipsis in the first stanza: “munching a plum / on the street “AND” a paper bag…”.
Finally, with regard to the sound patterns, we can emphasize that both poem haven’t a constant rhyme. This way, with these two poems, William Carlos Williams and Grace Nichols show the lives of two different women, from different points of views, but coinciding in the fact that these two lives aren’t too much happy and beautiful.