What Does the Poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” Mean?

“The Red Wheelbarrow” is about the significance of a red, rain-glazed wheelbarrow placed alongside white chickens. The poem is composed of one sentence broken into fragments; each line provokes the reader to imagine the image from the writer’s view of the red wheelbarrow being the most significant object of the scene.

The fragmented style of this poem gives power to an object through the poet’s use of language. In the third and fourth lines of the poem, the wheelbarrow is minutely described in order for the reader to focus intently on the subject of the poem. The word “wheel” and “barrow” on separate lines gives the reader a clue to dissect the wheelbarrow completely before moving on to the rest of the image. The next lines that feature the rainwater glazing the wheelbarrow, invite the reader to begin looking outwardly to consider the white chickens placed beside the wheelbarrow.

At the end of the poem, the image is firmly painted in the reader’s mind; the poet believes that the red wheelbarrow was the pivoting factor of the portrait. It is then that the reader is left to ponder in what ways is the red wheelbarrow so significant. The usual reflection is that the wheelbarrow is important because it transports many important things around farms. In essence, if not for the things carried by the wheelbarrow, the farm with the white chickens would not exist.