In ‘Vision’ Watts explores themes of love, the mundane, and simple beauty. The mood and tone are uplifting and joyous throughout as the speaker depicts all the wonderful things she saw in one day that she’d never really noticed before.
Summary of Vision
The poem takes the reader through all the different sights the speaker saw in one day. These all touched ere differently than they might normally. They seemed especially beautiful and noteworthy. There were objects like a marmalade jar and more ephemeral sights like a rainbow in dishwater. She recalls a young girl with new shoes and the ruts in the road at sunset.
The poem concludes with a mention of a loving relationship the speaker is involved in. This piece of information helps the reader understand why she was seeing the world so joyously.
You can read the full poem here.
Structure of Vision
‘Vision’ by May Theilgaard Watts is an eighteen line poem that’s separated into sets of seventeen lines and one single final line. The poem does not conform to a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern, but there is rhythm and unity created through the use of various poetic techniques (see below) and half-rhyme.
Half-rhyme, also known as slant or partial rhyme, is seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line or multiple lines of verse. For instance, the long “a” sound in “marmalade” in line three and “gate” in line four. Or, “chickadee” in line nine and “geese” in line eleven.
Poetic Techniques in Vision
Watts makes use of several poetic techniques in ‘Vision’. These include anaphora, alliteration, enjambment, and juxtaposition. The first, anaphora, is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines, usually in succession.For example, “A,” which starts lines four and five. This technique is often used to create emphasis. A list of phrases, items, or actions may be created through its implementation.
Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. For instance, “Candlelight” and “crinkled” in lines seven and eight. Or, another example, “Where white” in line twelve.
Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. There are examples throughout this short poem. For instance, the transitions between lines five and six as well as between thirteen and fourteen.
Juxtaposition is an interesting technique and one that depends on the use of strong imagery. It occurs is when two contrasting things are placed near one another in order to emphasize that contrast. A poet usually does this in order to emphasize a larger theme of their text or make an important point about the differences between these two things. There is a great example in the last lines where a yellow “egg yolk” is sitting in a ‘blue bowl” or, that between the girl’s “crinkled smile” and her “new shoes”.
Analysis of Vision
To-day there have been lovely things
I never saw before:
In soapsuds on dishwater;
In the first lines of ‘Vision’, the speaker begins by listing out some of the “lovely things” that she saw today that she’d never seen before. These are all mundane, normal sights but to her, in these moments they were a “vision” of loveliness. The first she introduces to the poem is “Sunlight through a jar of marmalade”. Like most of the items she speaks about, this one is seen just at the right moment. She was in the right place at the right time to see how the light acted as it passed through the jar and what was within it.
The next lines of ‘Vision’ are shorter, more list-like, and benefited by the use of anaphora. She speaks of a “blue gate” and a “rainbow / In soapsuds on dishwater”. A confluence of events, time and place, allowed her to glimpse the dishwater at just the right moment.
Candlelight on butter;
The crinkled smile of a little girl
Empurpled mud under a willow,
Where white geese slept;
In the next lines of ‘Vision’, she mentions “Candlelight on butter”. The warmth of the flame and the coolness of the butter are juxtaposed. But, they are also connected through their color.
Alliteration occurs with the use of “crinkled” in the next line, connecting up to “Candlelight” in the previous. The speaker saw an unnamed “little girl” who had a “crinkled smile” and “new shoes with tassels”. In another moment, at another time, this sight would not have impacted the speaker so profoundly. The joy of all these images came together allowing to her see even more beauty in the world.
In the next lines, she speaks on a chickadee and “Empurpled,” purple-colored, mud “under a willow” tree. The mud is juxtaposed with the “white geese” that slept in and around it.
White ruffled curtains sifting moonlight
My love kissed my eyes last night.
In the next lines of ‘Vision’ the speaker moves inside the house to speak on the ‘White ruffled curtains” and how they moved in the “moonlight”. There was a light breeze penetrating the room. She was drawn into every little detail, down to the way the fabric brushed on the clean kitchen floor. The use of the word “clean” in the fourteenth line brings the speaker’s, or someone else’s, actions into the poem.
In the sixteenth line of ‘Vision’, Watts uses alliteration again to speak on the “Ruts in the road” at sunset. The final image is one in her own memory. She calls how her “loved kissed [her] eyes last night”. This provides a little bit of reasoning as to why she is seeing the world so powerfully in these moments. There is a deeper emotional undercurrent to the entire day.