“The Corn Harvest”-
The Irony of a summer’s Harvest
In W. Carlos William’s poem, “The Corn Harvest”, Williams the mature differences between an inexperienced youth and experienced old age to convey an ironic interpretation of a summer’s harvest. Williams, who relies on the reader’s prior associations with golden harvests and golden summers as times to gather and embrace unity, purposely appears to separate the characters of his poem to create a distinction between youth and experience, contradicting the very essence of a harvest.
The author introduces the reader to the perspective of a young boy laborer in the first four stanzas of the poem. William’s writes: “Summer”(Williams 1)! In his use of exclamation, Williams’s creates a mood of excitement and vigor which immediately parallels the character of the boy, as he is relaxed and inattentive, “sprawled” (9) “sleeping"(10). To emphasis these lazy actions, Williams uses informal, standard diction in the form of short one lined sentences or words, such as the adjectives “sprawled” or “relaxed”. The short sentences or one-lined words put emphasis solely on that word, applying a stronger meaning to it. The author further describes him as “a young reaper”, which implies a supernatural and negative connotation, and in western society, usually associated with death and fatality. In other words he is hurting the rest of the harvesters. Another way that this can be taken is that w. Carlos Williams is having that the old men are being treated as machines so they are use to it but he is still young. Unlike other laborers in the fields, he is apathetic and solitary. He does not fulfill the essence of a harvest, as he chooses to remain alone and under a single solitary tree.
Much like the tree in the portrait, which separates the youth from his elders, Williams separates his poem in half, with one perspective on the boy then switching to the women elders. With the inclusion of gender differences, in addition to the obvious age differences, Williams creates from the portrait a clear distance between the characters. Williams writes: “whose shade carelessly he does not share/ the resting center of their workaday world”(Williams 19-24). The author indicates the absence of unity within the poem by establishing that he does not share their world. They are in the shade, which contradicts the significance of the sunlight of summer and also where the boy has chosen to rest.
Summer, as stated in exclamation by the author, is a time of excitement and is normally associated with a gathering, much like the harvest indicates. This association, however, is broken in the poem, as distance is created at a time where unity must reign supreme. Nearing the end of this poem, this introductory choice of words just seems sarcastic with so much detachment in the poem between humans, and the references to reapers and shade. To further assert this seasonal irony, Williams also incorporates subtle biblical allusions in his poem. For example, in his poem Williams incorporates the symbol of a lone tree under which different ages are separated. This tree could very well be interpreted as the tree of wisdom, in nonetheless; the Garden of Eden which overall adds to the irony of the perfect summer’s harvest by accentuating that this heavenly paradise will come to an end for the harvesters.
W. Carlos Williams’s purpose of writing this poem is to portray the ignorance’s of youth. The evidence that show this is in the first stance when he say’s the painting is organized/about a young // reaper. In other words the painting is about a young men and haves not yet grown in to mature he believe. This is said through everything that is written from the young boy taking a “noonday rest” (5) all the way to the “resting center of their workday world”. Something I thought was weird was that though out the whole poem there are no punitions it’s just a straight read it kind looks like he didn’t write it but more like when he saw the panting he made notes about it.