The Red Wheelbarrow Poem by William Carlos Williams Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” may at first glance appear to be an absurd poem about an unimportant “wheelbarrow.” Thoughtful analysis reveals levels of complexity that speak of concealment, appreciation, and utility that may be used outside of the poetry, such as in our relationships with friends. In essence, we may learn that some of the most important aspects of our life can be missed from the narrative of “a red wheelbarrow,” and we can utilize that knowledge to be more appreciative of people who deserve it.

About the poet

William Carlos Williams, a writer, and physician, was born in 1883. He has a diverse heritage that includes French, Puerto Rican, Jewish, and Spanish ancestry, and he is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for his work on the Brueghel paintings. In 1963, the year he received the Pulitzer, he went dead.


Stanza 1

so much depends


The poem’s opening two lines act as an introduction and provide the groundwork for what follows. The phrase “so much depends upon” arouses anticipation since it suggests that something significant is going to be said. The term “upon” implies a close relationship between what comes next and what happened before.

Stanza 2

a red wheel


The poem’s focus, a red wheelbarrow, is introduced in the second and third lines. The language’s simplicity hides the significance of the thing being described. The word “wheelbarrow” is spread across two lines, which highlights the significance of each word and gives the reader a moment to reflect on the thing being described.

Stanza 3

glazed with rain


These two sentences give a description of the wheelbarrow’s look. When “rain water” is spoken, the smooth, shining surface that is suggested by the word “glazed” is rendered even more apparent. The fact that the water is “glazed” indicates that it may have developed a coating of sorts on the wheelbarrow, emphasizing how the effects of nature can alter the look of things that were created by humans.

Stanza 4

beside the white


White hens are a new addition to the landscape that is introduced in the last two sentences. The term “beside” suggests that the hens are nearby, maybe even engaging with the wheelbarrow in some way. The stark visual impression that is created by the contrast between the wheelbarrow’s rich red color and the dazzling white of the hens highlights the significance of the items in the poem.