- April 22, 2020
Thisis Just to Say isa 1934 poem by William Carlos Williams that is composed of only fourshort lines. In the first stanza, the narrator, who is also thewriter of a memorandum, says that he has eaten all the plums thatwere in the icebox. In the next stanza, the clearer mentions a “you”,to whom the note/poem is addressed, noting that the person must havebeen saving the plums for breakfast. Essentially, the whole point ofthe note is for the narrator to seek forgiveness for eating the otherperson’s plums the reason for doing so was simply because he couldnot resist the urge to eat the plums.
Fundamentally,several themes are clear in the poem the main one being guilt.According to the poem, the speaker ate the plums despite being awarethat he should not have done so, as “you” was probably savingthem for breakfast. In such a manner, the entire poem is an apologythat is driven by the narrator’s guilt for doing a wrong thing. Theother theme that is evident in the poem is choice the writer/speakerhad the choice of refraining from eating the plums but did soregardless. Essentially, this suggests that in life, right or wrongis a matter of choice.
Thepoem is clearly set in the kitchen this is evident from the author’smention of plums and a kitchen. Plums are fruits or rather a type offood, which strongly suggests that the setting of the poem is akitchen. Besides, the icebox that is mentioned in the poem furtherconfirms that the deed (eating “you’s” plums) occurred in thekitchen. Furthermore, it is very likely that the poem is a note thatthe narrator left for you on top of the icebox, which You had left inthe kitchen with his/her breakfast (Sidman & Zagarenski, 2007).Moreover, it is highly probable that You and the narrator share ahome/are roommates. This is suggested by the fact that the narratoris aware of You’s routine he knows that You was saving the plumsfor breakfast. In such a manner, the setting is the kitchen of a homethat You and the narrator share.
Themeter of William’s poem is regular this means that it has aregular rhythm in every verse. Nevertheless, the stanzas in the poemlack punctuation nevertheless, certain words, such as “Forgive”in the third sentence, are capitalized in the line of the poemsuggesting maybe the beginning of a new sentence (Sidman &Zagarenski, 2007). However, even without punctuation, one cannot readthe poem out loud without pausing at the end of every line, which isunique in its own way. For instance, the short pauses add a somewhathumorous effect to the poem — the poem is supposed to be a sadapology, but it ends up seeming kind of funny that the narrator isapologizing for eating someone else’s fruits. The short pauses alsogive the reader time to imagine the situation after every line.Contrarily, the most distinctive things about the poem’s forms isthat it is made up of extremely short lines.
Theaction of the narrator eating the plums can be considered symbolic of the premature death of the plums they were saved to be eaten duringbreakfast, but did not last that long as the narrator ate them.Moreover, the entire setting of the poem, from the plums in theicebox to the note itself, is symbolic for a home in which the authorhas some form of relationship with. Most probably, “You” issymbolic for the narrator’s wife he is close enough to eat herplums because he feels like it, yet he loves her so much to apologizefor doing so, especially because she was looking forward to eatingthe plums. You can also symbolize a roommate or the narrator’smother for whom he has affection and respect for. Furthermore, thetitle itself “This is Just to Say” is symbolic of the apology inthe poem (Sidman & Zagarenski, 2007). Even before beginning toread the poem, one can guess that the narrator is about to confess orapologize for something wrong that he did.
Conclusively,Williams’s poem is intelligible despite being only a few lineslong, it contains a lot symbolism, as well as several themes — theentire poem is only several lines long. Moreover, one is forced totake short pauses at the end of every line even though the poem lackspunctuation. Correspondingly, these short breaks give the reader timeto create the image of the actions that transpire, and create ahumorous effect. Overall, it is clear that the poem is a note thatthe narrator writes to someone he is living with, apologizing foreating the plums they were planning to eat for breakfast. The note isplaced on the icebox that contained the plums, suggesting that thesetting is the kitchen of the home that the narrator shares with theperson to whom the poem is addressed.
Sidman,J., & Zagarenski, P. (2007). Thisis just to say: Poems of apology and forgiveness.Boston, Mass: Houghton Miffin.