And I’m not talking about Christo, either.
I”m talking about this:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
chickens.William Carlos Williams
But from what element in “Brilliant Sad Sun” did Williams get the “red wheelbarrow”? From an imaginary translation from the Spanish. In Spanish, to know things by heart or to do something by rote can be described by the phrase de carretilla: hacer de carretilla or saber de carretilla. The image evokes carrying around the knowledge using a small cart. Colloquially, one can refer to someone’s habitually prattling on about some- thing as bringing back one’scarretilla. And carretilla also literally denotes “wheelbarrow.” On that afternoon, Rose was prattling nostalgically de carretilla, so the carretilla was Rose’s, la carretilla de Rosa, which homonymously translated also says “the red wheelbarrow.”
(There are many more writers who give their opinion about the poem there, but you can see for yourself what you think is valuable.)
So can we get there from here or do we have to?
The reason that this poem is dear is because it was a way out of an assignment that our dear son#2 had to do in some level of schooling (what year did they make you do this?) and ISHI came up with this ingenious way out.
I mean, so much depended on his ability to finish the assignment, you know.
But then, after the kids were grown, I started looking around and seeing things with new eyes.
I realized that my neighbors always had a wheelbarrow for displaying plants out during the spring and summer and then I realized I didn’t know what they did with it in the winter. And then I realized how little I knew about my neighbors. And then I heard that they died.
And I saw how much does depend upon that wheelbarrow.
And I saw the brilliance of the poem and of WCW.
And I saw how powerful writing can be.
And then I saw this article about Zionism that posed this question:
Both of you have written about the tragedy of young American Jews who have no connection to Judaism and the fate of the Jewish State. So let’s say you were stuck in an elevator with one of the people from that demographic and you had two minutes to sell them about why they should re-engage with Jewishness and Zionism and the Jewish people. What would you say?
Oh did you see that coming? You should look at the article to see what he says.
Can we redact everything so perfectly?
It’s a good exercise.
And so much depends upon it.