Summary of “The Red Wheelbarrow”

William Carlos Williams was basically a medical practitioner and a pediatrician. He was an American poet who portrayed his poems with modernism and imagism.

Apart from poem, he also wrote short stories, novels, plays and essays. He was a successful Writer and Doctor. He was a good observant and could put down words of nature in simple language. He always preferred to observe the small things and loved to prove that, poems are not from imagination, but could be written about simple things in simple Language.

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The Red Wheelbarrow is one such poem, that has only 8 lines and at the first read, the reader get confused as to what the poem is being linked to. This was one among his last works of his imagist movements. His poems never told any specific stories or describe emotions, as the way usually poets do.

The Red Wheelbarrow is like a life painting poem in 1923.He based this poem on a scene he observed in a farmyard from a window.


The basic summary of the poem is the outlook of a farmyard and how simple things used in a farm could be important. Here, poet talks about three things mainly, the wheelbarrow, the chickens and the rain and emphasis the word “so much depends”. Actually, so much depends on which of these in a farmyard is what is being thought about.

In this poem, the reader could interpret in many angles. It could be thought as the rain has just been over and left the shiny droplets on the wheelbarrow with the white chicks beside it, or as was it after a major drought that the showers of rain being emphasized. Or is it that the wheelbarrow is the most important thing in the yard as it a transporter of products, or are the chickens the important ones, as they provide food? .in such manner, the poem could be read from different angles.

This poem is like a puzzle and the answers to this puzzle lie all within these eight lines. Why has the poet used the color ‘red’ for the wheelbarrow and ‘white’ for the chickens? Is it a symbolic representation of a mass killing of the chicks? Is the rain to symbolize the washing away? Or is it that the barrow has been given red, to show the importance it has in the yard and how it could reflect if not present and the chicks as white to show the peace?

In many ways the readers could take it, as this poem is an imaginative movement portrayed with simple words. The poet has left it upto the reader to decide on what the theme is about.


Williams won the first National Book Award for poetry. In 1963he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and also the Gold Medal for Poetry of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

This poem is one of a kind and is all left up to you to decide, what the poet might have tried to convey!


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