This Is Just To Say

This Is Just To Say

by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Summary of This Is Just To Say

  • Popularity of “This Is Just to Say”: William Carlos William, a great American poet and physician, wrote ‘This Is Just to Say’. It is a short and wonderful poem about making a choice. It was first published in 1934. The poem speaks about a person who eats some plums saved for breakfast. It also illustrates how he feels guilty about his hasty action.
  • “This Is Just to Say” As a Representative of Regret: This poem is about a man who regrets his action and offers a confession. The speaker says that he has eaten plums from the icebox, which someone else had probably saved for the breakfast, and he did not bother to ask before consuming them. Later, the speaker regrets his action and asks for forgiveness. Surprisingly, he states that the plums were sweet, cold, and delicious. On a deeper level, the poem speaks about the negative side of human nature. Sometimes, we do the wrong things despite knowing that we are into something bad. Unfortunately, instead of accepting our flaws genuinely, we simply say that we could not control ourselves. Hence, the poet reflects upon the weaknesses of human nature.
  • Major Themes in “This Is Just to Say”: Choices, regret and darker negative aspects of nature are the major themes underlined in this poem. This simple yet short poem accounts the speaker’s mistake and regrets at the same time. He confesses that he has eaten the plums that were preserved in the icebox for breakfast. While on the other hand, he fails to resist and enjoy eating them. However, after some time he realizes that he has done something wrong and pleads for forgiveness. The choice of words suggests that his apology is not sincere or genuine. Instead of feeling sorry, he attempts to describe the sweet and unforgettable taste of those plums. It is through this simple text, the speaker comments upon the flaw of human nature. Sometimes, we intentionally perform certain acts that make us stand on the verge of embarrassment.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “This Is Just To Say”

Literary devices are very important elements of any literary text. Their use not only brings richness to the text but also makes the reader understand the story Similarly, William Carlos Williams has also made this poem superb by using figurative language. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /uh/ in “the plums”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /s/ in “so sweet”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “I have eaten/the plums”, “they were delicious/so sweet” and “that were in/the icebox.”
  2. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meanings of the words. The poet has used this device in the ending lines of the poem where the speaker’s apology lacks true meanings. For example,

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold”

  1. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. Plums are the metaphor for the speaker’s happiness.
  2. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. Plums might symbolize premature death of an object or person.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “This Is Just To Say”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each having an equal number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful by children while talking about the mischief they have recently done.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox.”