The Cod Head By: Nicole&Nicole

The Cod Head
Poem by Williams Carlos
Sign language for
Thesis statement(:
• William uses ocean imagery to show life is like an ocean. You have ups and
downs in life but you keep going. Some people struggle through the
• Unfortunately the Fish did not make it and his head got cut off.
• In stanza 5 when it says “the bottom skids a mottle of green sands
backward” it is referring it to the bottom of a ship scraping against the
seaweed. This could be seen as a Metaphor.
• Also in stanza 5 when it says “moons in whose discs sometimes a red cross
lives-four” it relates to the author Williams because he was a doctor and
the red cross is a Symbol of the hospital. He was so interested in the
severed cod because he is use to seeing dead people and blood.
• In the 9th stanza “red stars” is a Symbol of the blood from the deceased
• This poem has a very unique structure to it!
• There are three lines per stanza and fragmented sentences.
• Some of the structural techniques in the poem The Cod Head are that
some of the lines in the poem are separated by dashes.
• This is called end-stopped.
• The dashes are used to separate different ideas and creates pauses in the
poem when you read it.
• The lines are not complete so they are not complete thoughts. As if it was
a fading memory.
• And because of the end-stopped they’re not really complete sentences
there is a very different kind of Syntax! Which means sentence structure.
• In this poem Williams uses the organic structure he continuously uses sea
• William succeeds in communicating to the reader, a feeling of the sea.
• The climax of the poem is the sudden interjection of “a severed cod head”
into the “lulling” rhythms of the ocean previously established by which the
real violence of what might be otherwise only a pleasing exercise in
imitative form is brought across.
Structure continued…
• “The Cod Head” is not an example of “free verse.”
• Williams says since all verse is a “measure” of some kind,
“there is no such thing as free verse”
• A unique thing about the poem is if you read aloud, the poem sounds like the
current and the waves of the ocean.
• Also when you turn your book side ways it looks like waves!
• Williams reinforces our sense of the sea’s depth by alternating high- and lowpitched vowels—as in the sequence: Williams also employs vowel pitch to
help describe the surface Rhythm, the rising and falling wave motion of the
ocean. It may help to present either the motion of waves, or the vertical
actions of fish
• There are many different sound techniques such as alliterations and many
• In the 1st stanza we noticed an Alliteration “strands, stems”
• In the 3rd stanza we saw that there was Assonance when they said “Oars whip
ships churn to bubbles at night wildly”
• In stanza 8, another Assonance when it says “small, scudding”
• Then also in the 3rd and 4th line another Assonance “Firmament to fishes”
Sound continued…
• Rhythm, indicated by lining, is not the only
imitative prosodic element in the poem.
• By attending to the pitch relation of vowels in the
words he chooses, Williams molds prosody to
wave motion and depth, and thus presents the
sea in a form analogous to its own composition.
• The descriptive function of vowel pitch is one of
the most important factors to a reader’s
response to a poem and one of the most difficult
to define. So the way you pronounce your vowels
in important.
The Theme if this poem is the sea! And how the waves of the current lift
and fall!
• This poem also gives of the Allusion of being at the ocean floating in
the waves.
• Williams uses interesting vocabulary in this poem.
• He uses diction such as:
 Midges which are flies that carries many diseases
 Firmament- Which means that the ocean is the sky to the fish.
 Fathom- A unit of length equal to 6 feet, used in the measurement and
specification of marine depths.
 The cod was severed which means killed by nature.
This poem is meant to give off a calming mood. Because the ocean is a
calming place.
What inspired Williams to write the
Since Williams was a doctor he was very interested in seeing the dead cods
head floating because he was use to seeing all the dead people and
• He was probably just walking along the beach when he saw a cod head
floating in the water.
•In the last stanza when he says “head between two stones- lifting falling”,
he sees the cods head going with the waves of the ocean at the shore.
•Overall William C. Williams wants' to express and appreciate nature and the calm side
of life.

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