Smell! – William Carlos William




Traditionally, the world knows of five senses: Sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Throughout time we have learned that each of the 5 senses consists of organs with specialized cells that have receptors for specific stimuli. These cells have links to the nervous system and thus to the brain. All of these senses are vital to human life, the top two are sight and hearing. In the world today, we hear about those who have no sight, and even those who have no hearing, but have you ever heard of those who have no smell!?

When I first read William Carlos Williams` poem, Smell! I was like what is he talking about!? I know poet’s are supposed to be crazy and all but really was this guy writing a poem about his nose? How odd, but then when I read it a few more times, I realized that he is not only writing about his nose but he is talking to his nose.  In lines 1-2 he states,

“Oh strong-ridged and deeply hollowed

nose of mine! what will you not be smelling?”

I may be wrong but I think this line is not only a Run-on line, but also it is the first piece of dialogue between the author and his nose. He first begins by explaining what his nose is like, and then he goes on to ask it a question. He continues throughout the poem in this way, talking to his nose about all the different things it helps him to smell, the souring flowers, to the rank oder of a passing springtime, but then at the end I think he reaches his main message he is blaming his nose for continroulsy smelling everything. His nose is always in the way and must have a wiff of everything that is out there. I think this implys the famous phrase, keep you nose out of others busniess. At the very end the last two lines of the poem, he says

“Must you taste everything? Must you know everything?

Must you have a part in everything?”

Oh dear nose, must you be in everyone’s business, you are getting the author in trouble with the ladies, and with all the people whose businesses you are interrupting.


3 responses »

  1. I think this is a really interesting, and validated, way to view this poem. The first time I read it, I thought of a nose being a part of everything because a smell doesn’t really exist unless there’s a nose around to smell it. But I think your analysis has a lot of merit.

  2. I liked your interpretation to this poem very much. I like how you stated that the author mentions to keep your nose out of others business. I think your interpretation helps explain this poem very much. Keeping your nose out of other business is sort of like when we are told to not be so concerned about what others are doing if it doesn’t concern us. When I read this poem I thought this poem was just about an author speaking about his nose, but after reading your insight on it, I think I can relate this poem to many. For example celebrity gossip, the gossip does not concern us but we love to hear it. It kind of relates to keeping our nose out of others business.

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