In his work as a physician, Williams had learnt the skill of objective observation which he applied to his poetry, examining, as he said, 'the particular to discover the universal'. Marked by a vernacular American speech and direct observation of the landscape and people of his native New Jersey, his poetry explores the 'raw merging of American pastoral and urban squalor. Emotionally restrained but rich in sensory experience, the poems were written according to the guiding concept: 'no ideas but in things' and those 'things', a red wheelbarrow, a group of trees, a river, convey the local and the particular with a vivid intensity.
William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883. He lived there most of his life, practising medicine as a paediatrician. While studying at the Pennsylvania Medical School he became a friend of Ezra Pound and H. Doolittle, and was deeply influenced by Imagism. The limitations of Imagism, however, soon led him to launch his own campaign to 'create somehow by intense, individual effort, a new - and American - poetic language.'