Monday, April 10, 2006


This is just to say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

-William Carlos Williams

So here is yet another of my favorite poems (hey, just wait until I decide to talk about Howl!) This one is unusual. A lot of people have spent a lot of time pouring over it and analyzing it but in the end, I think what it really is a very nice image. You can just see the plums in the fridge. I always think they are in a bowl and there is very little else in there with them. But that’s what this poem does; it gives you a very strong visual image that the reader can embellish in his or her own mind. And that is more difficult than you may imagine.

One of the other things I like about this poem is the simplicity. Although it is not actually a haiku, it certainly evokes the idea of a haiku. It is simple, natural and it brings to mind a specific season (although the season itself is never mentioned, I feel like the fact that there are plums and they are being kept in the icebox suggests summer).

Finally, I like how this poem is a little bit of a love poem. Only on the fringes. The writer has done something that may well be selfish, we don’t actually know, but at the same time has left a note of apology for what is suggested to be a very sensual indulgence. I think that this poem suggests even more than it actually says. That is what makes it such a good one for me, it’s minimalist to the point where it is almost absurd and yet somehow I end up with and awful lot of clear images and ideas. William Carlos Williams makes it look so easy (but it’s not!).

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