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The Yachts by William Carlos Williams
Posted by: HikerGirl (24.239.12.---)
Date: February 15, 2009 06:49PM

I'm supposed to answer the following question on this poem, and I'm really struggling with it.

What is the chief figure of speech in William’s “The Yachts” and what does it seem to say about William’s subject?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Re: The Yachts by William Carlos Williams
Posted by: IanAKB (210.84.33.---)
Date: February 15, 2009 08:35PM

HikerGirl, can you post a copy of the poem?

Re: The Yachts by William Carlos Williams
Posted by: HikerGirl (24.239.12.---)
Date: February 15, 2009 10:05PM

Here's the poem

The Yachts

contend in a sea which te land partly encloses
shielding them from the too-heavy blows
of an ungoverned ocean which when it chooses

tortures the biggest hulls, the best man knows
to pit against its beatings, and sinks them pitilessly.
Mothlike in mists, scintillant in the minute

brilliance of cloudless days, with broad bellying sails
they glide to the wind tossing green water
from their sharp prows while over them the crew crawls

ant-like, solicitously grooming them, releasing,
making fast as they turn, lean far over and having
caught the wind again, side by side, head for the mark.

In a well guarded arena of open water surrounded by
lesser and greater crafts which, sycophant, lumbering
and flittering follow them, they appear youthful, rare

as the light of a happy eye, live with the grace
of all that in the mind is fleckless, free and
naturally to be desired. Now the sea whoch holds them

is moody, lapping their glossy sides, as of feeling
for some slightest flaw but fails completely.
Today no race. Then the wind comes again. The yachts

move, jockeying for a start, the signal is set and they
are off. Now the waves strike at them but they are too
well made, the slip through, though they take in canvas.

Arms with hands grasping seek to clutch at the prows
Bodies thrown recklessly in the way are cut aside.
It is a sea of faces about them in agony, in despair

until the horror of the race dawns staggering the mind;
the whole sea become an entanglement of watery bodies
lost to the world bearing what they can not hold. Broken,

beaten, desolate, reaching from the dead to be taken up
they cry out, failing, failing! their cries rising
in waves skill as the skillful yachts pass over.

Re: The Yachts by William Carlos Williams
Posted by: IanAKB (124.181.18.---)
Date: March 04, 2009 04:56AM

Sorry, Hiker Girl, after you went to all the trouble of typing out the poem (though with a few typos that could do with correction by you using the 'Edit Post' function), my Internet went on the blink, and until now I wasn't able to get back to you with an answer to your question.

I guess it may now be too late for you.

The main figure of speech Williams uses in this poem is personification. He writes about the inanimate yachts and surrounding craft as if they were alive, with human qualities. They are the dominant creatures in the scene he describes. The human crews work for the yachts; not the other way round. In the last three stanzas he imagines the humans fallen into the water, and the "skillful" yachts slicing over and through them.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/05/2009 03:18PM by IanAKB.

Re: The Yachts by William Carlos Williams
Posted by: jessie319 (222.79.135.---)
Date: April 15, 2011 04:57AM

Wow....It really is great poem, thanks a lot for sharing!
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