Modernism came to be a prominent artistic field of thought within the first half of the twentieth century. It encompassed many new ideas brought on by the ever-changing society and ways of technology, but it also had strong roots and references to the traditional literature of the past. William Carlos Williams was a poet whose writing is a great example of the modernist style. In his poetry, Williams uses simple verse forms, American rhythms of speech, vivid images, a very honest depiction of everyday life, and many references to past works of art and traditional literature.
Williamsâ€™ poem The Dead Baby is a good example of his general writing style and technique. It is a simple, four-stanza poem that serves as a commentary on a certain aspect of society. The poemâ€™s title makes clear the theme of the piece, even though it is not as much about the actual baby as it is the effect the dead baby has had. The poem centers on the parents of the dead baby and how they are dealing with what has happened. In the first stanza, the line, â€œSweep under the table and the bed... the baby is deadâ€ shows that they are trying to remove the remainders of death; by â€˜sweeping under the table and bedâ€™ they are symbolically cleansing themselves of the terrible thing that has occurred.
The motherâ€™s eyes where she sits
by the window, unconsoledâ€“
is the abler of these twoâ€“
Here we can see that the mother is obviously mourning for her loss, while the father is more than likely in denial. They are no longer a comfort even to each other. In stanza three, we learn that the baby was a â€œproblematicâ€ birth, which with our knowledge of medicine in our technological society today we know could mean any number of things. But these people do not mean to dwell upon their misfortunes