This is Just to Say Analysis by William Carlos Williams


The poem This is Just to Say was written by William Carlos Williams in 1934. According to Owlcitation, this poem was just a short note written by the poet to his wife one morning and then he left for work. Later on, after being published, the note becomes one of the most famous poems of his time.

It is quite a short poem without any rhyme scheme. It has just 28 words, 12 lines and no line has more than 3 words. As a modern poem, it has no traditional theme. Rather it is just an apologetic note of the poet.

Hence modern poetry can be about anything ordinary happening in day-to-day life. There are only two full stops in this 3 stanza-poem. The poet uses enjambment in the poem.

Another interesting thing worth noticing is that the title of the poem can be considered as the first line of the poem. Like Keats, Williams also uses a number of images that can be felt and appreciated by the reader. I have divided the poem into three parts.



Part 1

The poet says that “This is Just to Say” that he has eaten the plums that were in the icebox. There is no formal beginning in the poem. The poet simply confesses in the note that he just wants to tell his wife that he has eaten the plums that she might have kept in the icebox.

‘Plums’ and ‘Icebox’ are the two images that a person can feel just be dictating. Hence the reader also feels as if he has eaten plums and has also felt the coldness of icebox. Thus in spite of simplicity, the poem is quite rich in imagery and symbolism.

Part 2

The poet is apologetic as he thinks that his wife might have saved those plums for breakfast. Breakfast is again a rich image. It shows that the time is that of the morning and his wife might not be in the kitchen.

Part 3

Finally, the ask for forgiveness because he ate all of them without asking or telling her. The reason he gives is that the plums were delicious, sweet and cold and he could simply not resist himself.

The final lines also depict human nature. We know that we do the wrong things in spite of knowing well that it is wrong and the simple reason we give is that we could not control ourselves. The lines, in a deeper sense, can refer to the story of Adam and Eve.