Thursday, October 11, 2007

IX The Parable of the Blind

Please Post your explication of "IX. The Parable of the Blind" by William Carlos Williams here by Monday October 15th at 3:00p.m. This should give you time after school if you need computer access for whatever reason.


Katie S6 said...

Katie S.
Period 6

The Light of Sin

In the poem “The Parable Of The Blind,” by William Carlos Williams, the speaker analyzes the painting “The Parable Of The Blind” by Pieter Brueghel, and connects the idea of being blind to the morals of parable belief. William’s connects this idea of religious morals throughout all of his poems on Brueghel’s work. In the poem three, William’s used a crucifix to symbolize the idea of being reborn just as Jesus did when he passed on. In poem four the speaker was said to be a Christian who believed that the idea of celebrating Jesus’ birth, or Christmas, had been forgotten by the idea of presents that the three wise men presented to Jesus after his birth. In poem five, the setting of the poem was a wedding, the holy union between a man and a woman under the eyes of God. In poem six, workers were relaxing from a day of hard labor, enjoying their life that God had given them. In poem eight, men and woman enjoying themselves by dancing together at a celebration which could symbolize unity, friendship, or love which is celebrated by the Catholic faith. In “The Parable of the Blind,” William expresses that perhaps the human way towards sin is blinding oneself from the parable faith of God above.
Williams starts out his poem stating that the painting is “horrible but superb” (1), already contradicting himself, the painting is not a piece of art that would catch ones eye yet it does allow ones mind to shape different theories about the art work. William then uses the idea of Brueghel’s work as “the parable of the blind / without the red” (2-3), meaning that the art is an example of sin and what sin does to a human being. Parable is used to teach truth, religious, or moral lessons. In William’s poem, parable is used to describe the religious morals that humans face in their life towards sin, which is symbolized through the color red however the painting is “without the red” (3), ironic. The painting uses dark earth tones instead to form this idea of sin throughout the piece and also, “in the composition shows a group / of beggars leading / each other diagonally downward” (4-6). The men are blind which means that because they are blinded from sin it leads them into a “bog” (9), which could also be interpreted as a grave, their overall death.
In the background of the painting, Brueghel paints a plain white church faintly in the background which also unites William’s series of poems on his art work, because the blind men are towards the foreground of the painting it shows the religious meaning in the poem. William also mentions that the blind men carry “pitiful possessions a basin / to wash in a peasant / cottage is seen and a church spire” (16-18). Basins are used to hold water which is used to provide life but also in a church you use water to bless oneself, to cleanse oneself of all their sins. It’s ironic because the men in the painting are blind and they suffer from sin and as they fall into the bog they carry their basins which are used to rid themselves from sin, which they do not. Also as they fall into the bog they show no emotion towards their actions, “the faces are raised / towards the light / there is no detail extraneous” (19-21). They keep their eyes towards the light above, towards God, but because of their sin they still fall into the darkness of the bog, the end.
Williams stresses this idea of religious sin even to the very end of this poem. As they keep their faces to God and fall into the bog, the viewer of the painter would also notice that they bring themselves down into the bog. They carry sticks to keep each other safe, yet one falls to sin they all fall as well, “to the composition one / follows the other stick in / hand triumphant to disaster” (22-24). Sin is something that’s contagious and if one person is affected by sin it slowly attracts to others until everyone in the world becomes affected by it. Brueghel paints this piece to show that when one lets themselves fall to sin it affects everyone around them and when that one person fails to look to God for forgiveness it leads to a downfall, the bog. It also shows that when times are rough and everyone is falling down, when one does look towards God it is only to save them self and not because they believe in the respect of the church.
William’s wrote this poem for Brueghel’s, “The Parable of the Blind” because he wanted to show the real truth behind some peoples view on religion and the idea of sin trying to corrupt those that do believe in God. Breughel painted the visual and Williams communicated the words, the meaning of the painting is that everyone eventually falls to sin, even the blinded, its only how one picks themselves up that matters in the end. That end Brueghel and Williams has left to the viewer of the painting and the reader of the poem to find out for themselves.

Christina H 6 said...

Lost Faith
William Carlos Williams admires Pieter Brueghel’s, “The Parable of the Blind,’ because it is a “horrible but superb painting” (1). The picture is horrible because it is morbid, gruesome, and unpleasant to the eye. The topic of religion stirs controversy, so the painting’s parable sparks disagreement. However, it is, nonetheless, a superb painting because it is meaningful and painted with great skill. “The Parable of the Blind” is the eighth poem, also the last poem, from Williams’ collection of poems, Pictures from Brueghel. His careful choices of detail in each poem focus on the main ideas of each of the paintings. He hints that the viewers should focus on these details as well. In “The Parable of the Blind,” Williams uses imagery and diction to reveal the flaws of human nature and the importance of faith.
Williams, first, conveys the atmosphere of the painting to show the mood for the rest of his poem. He describes the peasants as “destitute” (14-15) and the possessions they carry as “pitiful” (16). The poet’s diction evokes feelings of pity and depression. The peasants “stick in hand” (23-24). An image of peasants attached to each other appears showing their dependence on each other. However, they are all equally blind, so they should learn to be more independent and rely less on others.
“The Parable of the Blind” is “without red.” (3). Williams notices the absence of red, because the painting isn’t initially eye-catching. Red is a dominant color, so when it is present in a picture, the viewers’ eyes notice the red spot first. This time the painting doesn’t contain the red that the Williams must have been looking for. Viewers look for the color red to guide their eyes like the blind peasants whose “faces are raised toward the light” (19-20) look to God for guidance. They look up at God even though they cannot see him.
Humans, in general, are followers of each other rather than followers of their own hearts. “No seeing man is represented” (12-13). Even though these men do not have the ability to see the world they are living in, they still believe that there is someone out there to guide them in the right direction. The peasants are “leading each other diagonally downward” (5-6). In religion, upward direction represents heaven while the opposite direction represents hell. Williams blames the men for following depending on other’s instincts rather than their own. If they truly believed that God would save them, then they shouldn’t have taken up another person’s belief. Ironically, there is a “church spire” (18) in the background, which represents the destination where the peasants should have been headed. As a consequence for not having total faith, the peasants “stumble finally into a bog” (9). By not whole-heartedly believing in themselves and in God, they do not deserve to be rewarded. Therefore, they are punished by falling in the bog. Williams uses the bog as a symbol of hell, a place of sin. Bog is also a verb, which shows that the peasants are bogged down by disgrace and sins. The peasants are, therefore, being pushed down because of their own actions and pulled down at the same time by the person in front of them whom they are depending on. Led by a guilty conscience, a few of the peasants carry “a basin to wash” away their sins (4-6). Deep inside the peasants know they aren’t fully putting faith in God’s hands. Williams interprets the basin as a reminder that all men have sins.
Williams stresses the importance of believing in oneself. By following others, the peasants feel more secure and “triumphant to disaster” (24). However, their personal connection with their inner self and God is then lost. In order to truly emerge victorious in life, a person must start by having faith. With faith, all of the hardships in life can be overcome and even death will seem less intimidating. There will be no need to rely on the help of others, making the person stronger and more independent.

Kev.Tran 5. said...
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Kev.Tran 5. said...

Blind to fail
In the poem, “Parable of the Blind”, by William Carlos William, blindness inflicts both the freedom of thought and blindness also mentally hinders man’s judgment to reason for himself in order to succeed. William Carlos William uses blindness to portray the failures that society will create through the blind dependence on one another. William does not know in fact that an event will occur, but he brings into play the aspects of being blind, and the direction being blind leads to, in order to illustrate his belief on society’s future.
The speaker of the poem starts out by commenting “This horrible but superb painting” (1) to complement the features hidden in the painting that another spectator would not. Bringing on a hidden meaning in the painting that another spectator could not decipher himself shows the blindness of another spectator’s narrow perspective. If one has a narrow perspective, he is also blind to the ideas and viewpoint of another person’s.
The speaker is able to see the painting for what it is, “the parable of the blind/ without a red” (2-3). The speaker has knowledge on what “the parable of the blind” (2) is. A parable is a short story that has a moral. Knowing this, the speaker goes on to describe the parable as “without a red” (3). Red is a very lively vibrant color linking to fire, a very miniscule scale of the sun. The sun sheds light, and also allows man to see. Light is a great symbol of guidance and enlightenment. The parable “without a red” (3) is lacking a guiding light. The blind in the parable are lacking a guiding light. William links this with society because he believes society also lacks a sense of direction towards a destination.
Imagery connects to the lack of range in perspective and connects to the lack of thought. Often, beggars are associated with being poor in material. “Beggars” (5) represent the poor in society. Beggars are not only people poor in possessions, but also people who lack the ability to think for themselves and are be blinded by the teachings of others. To William, society is filled with people lacking the ability to think for themselves and therefore has to rely on another source of reason, a reason that may be blind and misleading on its own.
According to the speaker, the beggars lead “each other diagonally downward” (6) “into a bog” (9). William uses this to exemplify society’s tendencies to follow a wrong idea or leader, and ultimately, this blindness in following a wrong path leads to the downfall to society. The speaker creates an image from “diagonally downward” (6). The speaker uses the word “downward”(6) to foreshadow to downfall of the beggars. The beggars are blind to their fate to stumble into the bog. Similarly, society is doomed to fail unless society does not blindly follow the ideas of one another.
In the painting, a “cottage is seen and a church spire” (18) is in the distance. A cottage is a home, a place to grow ideas and beliefs that one can believe in without having to rely on the ideas of another. The cottage is ironic because its symbol is to believe in one’s own belief while the line of beggars represents their reliance of ideas on one another. The cottage is a symbol of trying to make a person not blind by creating a light, or belief, by himself, for himself. The cottage, being present in the poem and painting, is also ironic because the cottage is hardly noticeable at all in the painting. The church is a symbol of religion, a set way of life and a set authoritative way of thinking. To be constricted in idea is being blind to other types of thought.
Some failures in life and in society are due to the reliance people have on one another. To stop this type of failure, a person must find his own way to achieve success. If a person is tied down by a set way of thinking, a religion, he won’t be able to think for himself beyond the boundaries of the religion unless he begins thinking a little bit for himself.

sarah c 6 said...
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sarah c 6 said...

Blind to Truth

In the poem "The Parable of the Blind", William Carlos Williams displays a belief about religion that God cannot always save people. The poem is about blind people but mentions a church. The picture shows blind men walking in a line looking upward and an ending result of them falling into water. In the background of the picture a church is present. The blind men are looking up toward God but are still falling into the water. Looking upward does not save them.
The first part of the poem is describing the painting. The first line, which says "This horrible but superb painting", indicates that the subject of the work is insensitive and perhaps a poor choice but that the artwork is done quite well. The next few lines go on to say that there is no red in the composition. This is because darker tones or colors display a gloomy, hopeless setting. Red is bright, vibrant and full of life and would contradict the setting and mood of the painting. The poet writes these lines to show that the subject is sad and undesirable for one to think about.
The second part is about the blind men; "shows a group/of beggars leading/each other diagonally downward"(4). The word beggars indicates that the blind men are peasants and lower in society's status. These men stay together and lead each other though they cannot see. The poet is saying that the blind men stay together to help one another because they can relate to each other's disability and perhaps this is an indication that misery loves company or that there is safety in numbers.
The third part of the poem is telling the reader to where and what the blind men are leading one another. In the painting the blind men are being led to the right side of the canvas whose ending point is "to stumble finally into a bog"(9). A bog is water and these blind men obviously cannot see it. They will fall into the water because they can't see where they are going. Williams is saying that even though people try to help each other sometimes they lead one another into dangerous and even fatal situations.
The next part of the poem describes the end result of the painting. The blind men start out on one side of the canvas unaware of what awaits them on the other side; "of which no seeing man//is represented"(12). This line tells the reader that the disabled are the only ones in the picture. Only blind men are leading one another, looking up to God or heaven, and they are falling into the bog. This would not happen to people who can see. The reason the poet mentions this is to remind the reader that this type of experience doesn't happen to sighted people. If there were someone sighted there to help the blind beggars they would be saved.
The following lines comment on the appearance of the blind men. They are unshaven because they are not able to see to shave without cutting themselves or doing a thorough job. These men are destitute so they may not even be able to afford to shave even if they could see what they were doing. "The des-/titute with their few//pitiful possessions" (15), refers to the place in society these men occupy. They are poor and tired. They are not seen as important because they are peasants and they are disabled; no one feels inclined to help them because they are viewed as expendable, perhaps even as a drain on society.
Peasants do not own many possessions but the few they do have are important because it's all they have. Their wash basin that is mentioned is essential for washing. Peasants have the same basic need for cleanliness and good health as anyone else does. The church that is seen in the painting represents the need for faith. All people no matter what their status in society or their disability need to believe in something to give their lives purpose and meaning. The church is painted small in the background because while having faith is important the artist is trying to convey that one cannot depend on only faith to have a successful life.
The next part of the poem supports a previous idea that having faith in God is not a guarantee for long life, health, wealth, good social standing or safety. "The faces are raised/as toward the light" (19). The picture is painted in dull earthy colors. This signifies the environment is sorrowful. These men want God to help them. They are looking to Him with eyes that cannot see yet they still believe He is there. The have faith though they cannot see. Ironically the eyes He gave them do not work so they are still going to fall into the bog. Williams is saying that one cannot feel sorry for oneself nor should one depend upon God to save him or fix everything that is wrong in one's life. Those who are sick do not always get cured; those who are disabled do not always get healed; those who are poor do not always become rich.
The last part of the poem tells the reader the outcome. The first few lines are saying that there is no extraneous detail, or no unnecessary detail. This is because the painting is focusing only on the blind men and their surroundings. "One/follows the others stick in/hand triumphant to disaster"(21) are the last lines of this poem. These lines are saying that the men are very confident and are trying hard but will encounter disaster anyway. They look up to god but he cannot save them for their upcoming disaster. The poet is saying that the blind men are destined for this fate. God cannot save everyone them. They have hope that He will but it is useless. They are blind to the truth that God cannot always save people.
This poem describes the picture that goes with it very well. It is very descriptive and has nice expression of the poets analysis of the picture. Compared to the other poems and pictures, this one is quite different. It is about religion and has a meaning that is perhaps deeper than the others. There are no light colors in this picture; no vibrant colors that stand out. It is all earthy and dull tones. There are no normal people in the pictures. All the other poems have normal people in them. However, this does relate to many of the other poems because peasants are mentioned. Its almost as if some of the poems show the negatives and positives of how peasants live. Although there are many struggles for them, they can still have confidence and be happy. This poem shows a great point of view about religion and shows how the author felt about it. Religion cannot always save people.

Natalia A5 said...

Blindness Towards God

In the poem “The Parable of the Blind,” William Carlos Williams suggests that the beggars are blind towards the truth, which in this poem the truth means God. The first clue is that the word parable, from the title, means “a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson”(definition taken from Williams describes Brueghel’s painting with his poem, and in his poem, he insinuates a moral lesson being taught from the painting. He starts off differentiating the colors of this painting in comparison with that of the others that Brueghel painted in the first stanza, “without a red//in the composition”(lines3-4). This shows that there are no vibrant colors, that the paintings dark colors represent the blindness.
Williams calls the group of peasants in the painting beggars in the second stanza, “…shows a group/of beggars..”(lines 4-5). He refers to them as beggars because they have their faces lifted upwards, with a sad expression. They look as if they were begging, or as if they were in need of this ‘truth/light’, “the faces are raised/as toward the light”(lines19-20). Williams explains them as if they are begging for light, for God, because they are blind towards Him. He then, beginning the moral lesson, describes the ‘beggars’ in the second stanza to be “leading/each other diagonally downward”(lines 5-6). When people are blind towards God(light), it’s easier for others to who are also blind and weak to follow each other into sinning, and then “to stumble finally into a bog”(line9), as Williams states it. He states this two times, differently though, once in the beginning and then again at the end, “one/follows the others, stick in/hand”(lines22-24). When reading these words, a phrase that is or was often used came to my thoughts; a rotten apple can spoil a barrel full of good apples. The lesson or idea of this phrase is what Williams is insinuating in those lines. The blind ‘beggars’ will each fall into that ‘bog’ one buy one until one of them decides to let go of the stick and follow that light he looks up for. The meaning of the “light”(line20) is mentioned a couple of lines before this one, where he points out that “a peasant/cottage is seen and a church spire”(lines17-18). Also, the ‘beggars’ faces are described by Williams as being ‘raised’ towards the light in lines 19-20, and light comes from above, from heaven, where the sun is. Therefore, since God lives in heaven, and the sun is also usually described in myths as being God, the light that Williams mentions in the poem that the beggars are longing for, is God.
Lastly, Williams describes the beggars as carrying “pitiful possessions”(line16) in which one of them was a basin. He later explains that the basin was “to wash in a peasant/”(line17). The ‘wash in’ probably has to do with washing away their sins. This concludes with the religious lesson being taught throughout the poem.

Edmund H5 said...

Walking Blindly into that Light

In the poem, “The Parable of the Blind” by William Carlos Williams the speaker is using the painting “The Parable of the Blind” by Peter Brueghel to express the main idea that following the ignorant can only lead a person astray. The speaker sees the blind “leading/each other”(5-6) downwards, though the faces are “raised/as toward the light”(19-20), they follow the others “hand triumphant to disaster,”(24) illustrating that having blind faith in others leads to discord.

The speaker points out that he is telling a “parable of the blind/without a red”(2-3). The color red is used to refer to warnings, since red is a color of danger, it requires an assessment of this danger; that danger is following others without questioning and examination. The blind “beggars” represents humankind during the setting of this painting; the ignorant lower-classes sough out guidance from a higher being through its liaison the church which was the only one to interpret the biblical scriptures. The beggars are uneducated people who are too poor to afford the luxury of being schooled which created illiterates and made the lower class people puppets to the church. Education is freedom from ignorance but if people depend on each other’s belief unquestionably they are leading each other astray.

The speaker than focuses, “across the canvas/from one side/to stumble finally into a bog/where the picture/and the composition ends back/of which no seeing man”(7-12). He is showing where blind faith will lead a person towards, which is represented as a bog. This bog is the bottom of the low, it is the representation of trouble; with the insecurity of the future one might place all confidence in another which is just irresponsible as they will end up falling down in to that bog. As the blind are following each other their “faces are raised”(19) facing the light of the sun. Religion appears in the form of this “light” that the beggars are feeling the warmth of it, which shows how people trust their feelings instead of reason. The fickle emotions that one relies on are unreliable and beliefs must be backed up by evidence or else it will be inevitable that a person will perish by their gut feelings. It is religion that creates faith, faith that is not based on proof but rather it plays on the emotions of the believer. A person’s absolute devout unquestionable faith is the topic the speaker is criticizing. The purpose is to open the eyes of the people so that superstition is replaced by logic and reason.

The blind are walking hand-in-hand in full belief that faith will save them from falling to their “disaster.” It is the shoulders that the blinds hold on to and they follow their front partners unknowing what is in front of them yet they have faith. In this canvas faith will not save the beggars from tripping over into the bog, rather it blinds them from the truth that lies in front of them. This image also portrays conformity as each one is following another to their dooms. In conformity, individuality is not existent and so people must act accordingly to the socially accepted behavior of society. Individuality must be given-up which is equivalent to falling to one’s doom and in this canvas as one follows the other they are walking to their own death.

In brief the canvas and the poem “The Parable of the Blind” express how blind people are when they accept the teachings of others with whole devotion and faith; by being dependent on others their source for guidance could take advantage of them and lead them astray. It is when a person is educated are they free from others and independent for themselves to find their own way of walking their own path.

Ping L 6 said...
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Ping L 6 said...

A Basin to Wash Away Sins

William Carlos Williams writes “The Parable of the Blind” after carefully analyzing Pieter Brueghel’s painting. Williams thinks that Brueghel’s painting is “horrible but superb” (1). He believes that Brueghel’s painting is horrible because it is composed of dark and dull color, “without a [show of] red” (3). All the color used in the painting is not attractive and the images seem to be covered with “dirt”. And, he believes that the painting has a “parable” (2), a special or hidden meaning. “The Parable of the Blind” is the last poem in Williams’ collection of poems, “Pictures From Brueghel, 1962”. There is a reason for Williams to place it last in his collection. Williams hopes to wrap up the ideas in all of his poems about Brueghel’s paintings in this last poem. He believes that the human nature is faulty and that human’s faith in God is diminishing. He establishes such believes in “The Parable of the Blind” through imagery, diction, and symbol.
The painting “shows a group/ of beggars” (4-5). The speaker believes that humans are beggars fundamentally and that they are “blind” (2). Beggars are those who are drags and who follow people around for money or other means of kindness. Williams believes that human beings do not have their own thinking or are blind to their own desires. Similarly, the beggars just go to where there is comfort and where they can attain it without effort. Without even the slightest knowledge of the comfort they will receive, the beggars just follow other people’s footsteps. These beggars are “leading/ each other diagonally downward” (5-6). They are led by the leading beggar and are blind to their own destination. The speaker believes that people are blind to their own thinking; they just follow the actions of other people without thinking about it. He believes that they are demoting themselves by doing this.
These beggars move “across the canvas/ from one side/ to stumble finally into a bog” (7-9). The canvas symbolizes the world and the bog symbolizes the afterlife in hell. People across the world are following each others’ movement and they always depend on someone else to think for them. They do not act the way their minds tell them to act. God is the creator of everything; he creates people who are able to think and who will be able to have freedom to do their desired actions. By not doing what their minds tell them to do and instead following each other’s footsteps, they unintentionally disappointed God and decline his gift for them in being able to think. They eventually fall into a bog because they do not have enough faith in their God. They believe in the actions of other people to be more right than their own actions, which stands for God’s will.
The “bog” (9) can also symbolize the result of the human creation of technology. The technology used by humans today and back then can be a huge problem in the future. It is a defect that will create many problems in the environment. As a result of technology, the world will “end [with]/ no…man” (12). In the end, men will be “represented… [with] the unshaven/ features of the des-/ titute with their few// pitiful possessions” (13-6). Through these lines in the poem, Williams is trying to tell his readers that the world will end with “blind” (2) men who will have only a “few// pitiful possessions” (15-6). These men are those who cannot see the defects of technology.
There is “a church spire” (18) in the background of the painting, but it is small in size compare to the beggars. This shows the diminishing importance of the church. The beggars know that they are less faithful. They place “basin[s]” (16) in their house in order to “wash” (17) away their sins, to save themselves and to make up for the sins they made. The beggars want to think by themselves and to do what they want; their “faces are raised/ as toward the light” (19-20). The light is a symbol of God. They want to see God, to follow his will, and to have their own thoughts. However, “there is no detail extraneous” (21) or eyes for them to look at the God; they are blind.
The painting is read from left to right. Therefore, the left is the beginning and the right is the end. The painting “ends/ [without] seeing man” (11-2). The speaker believes that the world is filled with blind men, men who cannot think for themselves and who do not dare to stray away from their leaders. They would just “follow the others stick in/ hand” (23-4), not daring to leave for the unknown. He believes that everyone is like this and that our world will just end with blind men—men who are not able to see the defects of technology and who are blind to their own desires. These people believe that they are “triumphant” (24), but they are actually moving “to disaster” (24).
Each of the poems in Williams’ collection, “Pictures from Brueghel, 1962,” reveals the characteristics of human nature. Human are being divided up into classes. Life is a cycle; people always do the same action repeatedly. People are blind to defects in the society and their desire.

Derek D5 said...

The Futility of Life and the Fall of Religion

William Carlos William’s wrote a series of poems pertaining to the artistic works of Brueghel. Each poem in the collection is about one particular painting by Brueghel. The 9th poem in the series The Parable of the Blind is about a painting featuring several blind men traveling towards a bog. The painting bearing the same name conveys a dark view towards religions and the darker side of the Christian god. Williams also works to depict the rise of modernistic ideals and the simultaneous fall of religion in his poem.
Williams begins his poem with the line, “This horrible but superb painting” (1). He makes this remark because the images in the painting are terrible to behold. In the painting there are a group of blind men stumbling into a swamp. The superb aspect Williams is referring to are the number of points that a person could use within the painting to expand on and prove a point. In the rest of the first stanza Williams states “the parable of the blind/ without a red” (2, 3) the second line is a restating of the title so the audience knows exactly what the first line is referring to. The interesting line is “without a red”, that line points out that there is a lack of a scarlet character. In many of Brueghel’s other works that Williams chose as his focus there is at least one figure garbed in red. They act as a draw to the eye, which makes a person begin to examine finer details. However the lack of a character in red is obvious to any person who has seen several of Brueghel’s paintings. In a more abstract way the lack of red can mean a lack of compassion, the men in the painting are blind beggars who are wandering into a swamp. No one would help them, they must struggle on their own, and at the time Brueghel lived beggars were treated like dogs and driven out when they became a nuisance. From the standing point of a modernistic thinker, no god would allow his people to be cast from society in such a terrible way. Williams also states “across the canvas/ from one side/ to stumble finally into a bog/” (7-9), this line explains the movement of the beggars. They are blindly wandering into a bog. Bogs often symbolize rot and decay. The decent of the beggars symbolize a falling from grace; a casting out of sorts from the eyes of heaven, and a fall into the pits of death and rot. Brueghel showed this aimless wandering for a reason, and Williams picked up on this reason. The beggars are traveling to the swamp because they are wanted no where else. They are blind men, unloved by even the lowliest peasant. They have banded together to reach a final destination, but are led to a swamp and to their ends. In the sixth stanza, Williams further expands on the fall from grace, “the faces are raised/ as towards the light/ there is no detail extraneous” (19-21) as they walk forward the blind men stare upward with unseeing eyes. The second line, “as towards the light” does not refer to the sun. It is intoning a search for the light of god. The lack of this light in the painting and the end of the beggars’ journey show the lack of divine intervention; further supporting the modernistic effect of a religious decline. The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most troubling, “to the composition one/ follows the others stick in/ hand triumphant to disaster” this final stanza is depicting the futility of the beggars journey. Even if their wanderings had led them to a city they stil would have been treated as dregs of society. The swamp simply was a representation of the rot and death that their existence would have ended in. Williams makes this plain that there is no point in existence.
In truth Williams’ works spark feelings of futility. We are all like the beggars wandering down an unseen path to the inevitable end. Human kind will walk blindly to its destruction and will never notice it’s the end until the ground drops out from under them, and by then it will be too late. Williams’ works also help to spread modernistic ideals. “The Parable of the Blind” was written to help spark idea about the futility of the human lifestyle and the fall of religion. It was meant to give people another avenue of thought. In short he succeeded.

Emily R 6 said...

Blind Faith

In the poem “The Parable of the Blind”, William Carlos Williams shows through his interpretation of the painting that having faith or believing in religion is misleading and deceitful. The blind beggars are all leading one another into a “bog”(9). They are putting their trust and faith in something, which they cannot see, just as one would put his or her trust in a god. Ultimately, the beggars are all led into the bog. This shows the result of belief in a god, no progression, no “God” to save them from their failure.
Williams shows the struggle and hindering effect faith has. The “beggars leading/ each other diagonally downward/ across the canvas/ from one side/ to stumble finally into a bog”(5-9), showing that the beggars trust is leading them into a swampy mass, just as belief in a god would lead you no where, no one can save one from his fate. In the painting “no seeing man/ is represented”(12-13). Williams’ understanding is that everyone who believes or has trust in God is essentially blind. Blind to the reality that putting faith into religion will lead one to a “disaster”(24).
Williams portrays the men as “beggars”(5) and “pitiful”(16) to show that the beggars blind faith, literally and figuratively, has given them nothing in life but hardships and grief. The peasants are depicted as poor and their lives seem tragic. Their possessions include “a basin to wash in”(18) and a “peasant cottage”. They lead poor and their possessions are meager. God has shown no decency to them, even if they have faith. Their lives filled with hope, their “faces are raised/ as toward the light”(19-20), almost asking God to help them on their way. However their faith proves aimless, just as they lead their lives as blind men.
The “church spire”(18) Williams writes about of how faith will not help one in need. The church stands, representing religion, while the blind fall into a muddy bog. It is ironic that the men’s faces are facing upward toward light, and they are fumbling downward. Their faith is having an opposite reaction to what they expect, to be saved by God. There is no God to help these poor blind men.
This theme of contradiction is shown twice in the poem. Williams describes the painting as “horrible but superb”(1). It is horrible because of the poor men falling into the bog. It captures not only disability but poverty as well. There is no “red” in the poem, suggesting that the colors are dreary. Williams contradicts himself and describes the poem as superb because of the meaning the painting conveys, the idea that God will not help those, even those with faith. He also uses contradiction when he describes the beggars’ fate. “One/ follows the others stick in/ hand triumphant to disaster”(22-4)”. This passage shows the belief of Williams. The beggars are triumphant in how their belief is strong. The disaster is the bog in which they inevitably fall into.
Williams’ “The Parable of The Blind”, is just that. It shows the result of people who are “blind” to the truth. The truth being that religion will not save one, even when one needs it the most. Poverty and disability it just two aspects of life that Williams portrays that God will not save one from.