English Literature
This is Just to Say

This is Just to Say

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The Playful 'This Is Just To Say' by William Carlos Williams

'This Is Just To Say' is a playful free verse poem written in 1934 by American poet William Carlos Williams. Written as a note for his wife, Florence, it may seem like a simple piece about chilled plums, but its meaning goes beyond the surface.

Historical Background of the Poem

William Carlos Williams was a talented multi-hyphenate, born to an English father and a Puerto Rican mother. He worked as a pediatrician, novelist, essayist, and poet. Williams was part of the Imagist movement, which influenced his unique writing style after meeting fellow writers Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle. He once stated that his life could be divided into "B.C." (before meeting Pound) and "A.D." (after meeting Pound).

In 1917, with the publication of his third book 'Al Que Quiere!', Williams embraced the key principle of Imagism - the direct treatment of subjects, whether subjective or objective. This approach challenged the traditional structures and forms of poetry, which were struggling to keep up with other art forms. Williams used free verse and his own version of meter, called "variable foot".

Williams' experiments with poetry had a lasting influence on future generations of writers, including the Beat Generation. This group of poets and novelists aimed to make poetry more relatable to everyday life, inspired by Williams' no-frills style. He further refined his use of the variable foot in works like 'The Desert Music' (1954) and 'Journey to Love' (1955).

The Main Themes of 'This Is Just To Say'

At first glance, 'This Is Just To Say' appears to be a simple poem about a trivial event involving plums. However, this was a signature of Williams' style - writing about ordinary subjects in a straightforward and relatable manner. He also deliberately broke away from traditional poetic structure and language.


The poet makes two distinct choices in this poem. Firstly, he chooses to eat the plums, despite knowing that they may have been set aside for someone else. Secondly, he chooses to turn his apology into a lighthearted and whimsical poem.

"I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast"

These lines showcase the poet's deliberate actions and how he transforms his apology into a playful poetic gesture.

Relationships and Communication

The poem does not explicitly state the nature of the relationship between the poet and the owner of the plums. However, the tone of familiarity and shared experience suggests a close bond between the two. It is also worth noting that the mention of the shared icebox implies that they live together.

Although the note was written for William's wife, Flossie, it is evident from the poem that the two individuals have a strong connection and share a home.

In conclusion, 'This Is Just To Say' may seem like a simple poem about plums, but it holds much more depth when examined in the context of Williams' unique style and the key themes of choices and relationships. Its impact on the evolution of modern poetry cannot be denied, and it continues to be a beloved and mischievous poem that brings a smile to readers' faces.

Despite its seemingly trivial subject matter, 'This Is Just To Say' also reflects the poet's struggles with a conflicting schedule and the need for various forms of communication with his wife. The note serves as a reminder of their temporary physical separation, but the tone and humor in the poem suggest a strong understanding between the couple, in typical Imagist fashion.

The poem also touches on the themes of apologies and forgiveness. After confessing to eating the plums, Williams playfully asks for forgiveness, admitting that he thought the plums were not meant for him but couldn't resist their deliciousness. It's not a convincing apology, but it's also not a serious request for forgiveness.

To gain a deeper understanding, it's worth looking at Flossie's casual reply to the poem. She responds nonchalantly, not at all troubled by the loss of the plums.

Unveiling the Meaning of "This Is Just To Say" Poem - An Unconventional Perspective

The poem "This Is Just To Say" by Williams Carlos Williams carries a fascinating significance for every reader, whether it is seen as a note of gratitude or an apology. But what exactly does this poem entail? Let's delve into it.

With an expert use of literary devices, Williams seamlessly incorporates enjambment, allowing lines to flow continuously and create a harmonious rhythm. Additionally, the strategic use of sibilance, repetition of the hissing "s" sound, adds depth and ties together the title and the mention of plums throughout.

Interpreting this poem has been a subject of debate, with some critics analyzing its symbolism and underlying meanings. For instance, the plums could represent temptation, the note could symbolize the distance between the couple, and the apology could be seen as a larger confession or an effort at redemption for Williams' infidelity.

However, it could also be viewed as a light-hearted and playful thank you note in the form of a poem. As a pioneer of the Imagist movement that focused on capturing everyday life using simple language, this could be seen as a true reflection of American society by Williams.

"This Is Just To Say" is considered a "found" poem, originating as a note to Williams' wife after consuming the plums from the icebox. It serves as a testament to Williams' belief in breaking the conventional rules of poetry and directly portraying everyday life without embellishment.

In conclusion, while many have dissected and analyzed the meaning of "This Is Just To Say," it can ultimately be seen as a humorous and light-hearted note of gratitude, showcasing Williams' unique style and contributions to the movement of Imagism.

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