Each time it rings
I think it is for
me but it is
not for me nor for

anyone it merely
rings and we
serve it bitterly
together, they and I

Analysis, meaning and summary of William Carlos Williams's poem The Thing


  1. brooke says:

    i love this poem, does anyone know the year it was written?

  2. Ryang says:

    It could be anything. A phone. An alarm clock. Death. The thing is, why is it that we trying get just one answer? Monotheism? Why not pantheism? Such a Christian mind, huh?

  3. cb says:

    When reading and teaching literature we should ensure that first thing student always know is that the reader creates the meaning in conjuction with the words on the page. This is nothing new or even post modern that fellow whats his name it doesnt matter just decided to right an essay about it. this has always been the only honest way to read academia just lost sight of that. put this as the first thought in a readers mind and they will love reading and have no problem understanding almost anything (finnegans wake may still take time)

  4. cb says:

    The most obbvious answer is a phone… i am imangined it as a personal phone perhpas his first after the novelty wore off … but whoever said it could be anything is right of course it could be anything that rings metaphorically or otherwise or it would be called the phone it doesnt matter what williams proclivities or even his intentions were what maters is on the page. simply read the poem out loud stopping at the line breaks and a little longer between the stanzas. It is awkward rhtymicly and will force you into a very specific way of speaking it and a distinct kind of meaning. I happen to think this poem is about family. I do not think it is the least bit frustrating and if come across by a student it should be the easiest kind of poem to read meanigfully.

  5. lil nina says:

    the thing maybe a phone duhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  6. Quintic says:

    i reckon the thing should be an alarm clock which i set up for myself.But neither i nor any other will be happy to accept it when we have to get up from the cosy bed !

  7. Scars says:

    i believe this poem is either about the opppression of the different religious institutions or about the stifling traditions and conventions.

  8. Brooke says:

    I think that “the thing” is something that… rings, but it’s not for anyone. It’s easy.

    What did 50 cent say when he got a sweater? gee…you knit? (g-unit)

  9. Bernard Ben Berket Williams III says:

    I am the great grandson of William Carlos Williams and I truly believe that the message he tried to say in “The Thing” is profound beyond words or human understanding. Although he is not with is now, I am certain that Ol’ Willy would want his legacy to live on through his poetry. We miss you William Williams.

    Bernard Benjamin B. Williams III

  10. Robert says:

    i don’t think the poem does not make any sense at all. Eli should not make comments like that because in a poet’s state of mind he is creating an image that not only tickles the reader’s minds but is also real. So The Thing could actually be anything that Williams saw, perceived something, and sat down and wrote about it. It just depends on the actual perception of the writer during the time he wrote the poem.

  11. Rao says:

    Beautiful poem.

    I think it is for

    when I read this I remembered Frost – “Wood Pile”

    like one who takes
    Everything said as personal to himself.

    A very sweet poem indeed.

  12. Meghan says:

    I do not agree with Eli or Jamie, but as a teacher of poetry, have come to respect the frustration that Williams sometimes evokes in his readers. Poetry is supposed to be provocative and make you ask the qwuestion, “so what?” I have been toying with the idea that “The Thing” may be death. It may be a phone, or a classroom bell (appropriate in my case), it may be different for everybody. At least Williams gets a response. My favorite Williams poems are “The Red Wheelbarrow” and the poems from “Pictures from Bruegel.”

  13. Jamie says:

    I agree with Eli

  14. carol says:

    This is to eli from italy… you should stop being so rude and leaving nasty feedback on all these poems at this site. there’s no need for you to cuss and get so upset over a poem. if you want to write about a poem with you being naked then do it but everyone who visits this site doesn’t want to know!

  15. steven says:

    It could be that THE THING is death.

  16. Eli says:

    I love the way he writes poems that not only not make sense, they are pointless. Poems should make you think, but they shouldnt make you think, “What the hell is he talking about?” Why dont I write about sitting naked on my couch and finding a 6 day old slice of pizza? It’s just about as effective as him writing about a stupid phone call that isnt for anybody.

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