BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

“This Is Just to Say”

with 5 comments

Fallen plums from our neighbor's tree last October

Fallen plums from our neighbor's tree last October

The end of today’s “This American Life” was a tribute to William Carlos Williams’ sparse, perhaps unfeeling “This is Just to Say” poem. It’s one of my favorites. It’s a non-apologizing apology, which contributors from Sarah Vowell to Shalom Auslander riff on in their own versions of the verse. But I mostly love it for its simple evocation of the powerful temptation represented by those crisp, cold plums. As President Obama once said, “The flesh is weak.”

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams
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

Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of
New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of
this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent
of the publisher.

Written by baltimoregon

April 13, 2009 at 12:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

5 Responses

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  1. Savoring
    the guilt free
    bold enjoyment
    of free fruits
    calling for

    May we be so bold
    in our forgiveness
    when our ice box
    is raided and plums

    Abthony Noble

    April 13, 2009 at 10:45 am

  2. Loved the poem…here’s another good one about self-absorption in eating.

    Man Eating by Jane Kenyon

    The man at the table across from mine
    is eating yogurt. His eyes, following
    the progress of the spoon, cross briefly
    each time it nears his face. Time, and the world with all its principalities,
    might come to an end as prophesied
    by the Apostle John, but what about
    this man, so completely present to the little carton with its cool,
    sweet food, which has caused no animal
    to suffer, and which he is eating
    with a pearl-white plastic spoon.

    “Man Eating” by Jane Kenyon, from Collected Poems. (c) Graywolf Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission


    April 13, 2009 at 5:14 pm

  3. Oh love any food-related poems. And don’t forget that sexy “Linguini” one you sent:

    Linguini by Diane Lockward

    It was always linguini between us.
    Linguini with white sauce, or
    red sauce, sauce with basil snatched from
    the garden, oregano rubbed between
    our palms, a single bay leaf adrift amidst
    plum tomatoes. Linguini with meatballs,
    sausage, a side of brascioli. Like lovers
    trying positions, we enjoyed it every way
    we could-artichokes, mushrooms, little
    neck clams, mussels, and calamari-linguini
    twining and braiding us each to each.
    Linguini knew of the kisses, the smooches,
    the molti baci. It was never spaghetti
    between us, not cappellini, nor farfalle,
    vermicelli, pappardelle, fettucini, perciatelli,
    or even tagliarini. Linguini we stabbed, pitched,
    and twirled on forks, spun round and round
    on silver spoons. Long, smooth, and always
    al dente. In dark trattorias, we broke crusty panera,
    toasted each other–La dolce vita!–and sipped
    Amarone, wrapped ourselves in linguini,
    briskly boiled, lightly oiled, salted, and lavished
    with sauce. Bellissimo, paradisio, belle gente!
    Linguini witnessed our slurping, pulling, and
    sucking, our unraveling and raveling, chins
    glistening, napkins tucked like bibs in collars,
    linguini stuck to lips, hips, and bellies, cheeks
    flecked with formaggio–parmesan, romano,
    and shaved pecorino–strands of linguini flung
    around our necks like two fine silk scarves.

    “Linguini” by Diane Lockward, from What Feeds Us. (c) Wind Publications, 2006. Reprinted with permission.


    April 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

  4. There are many parodies of this poem. I like to assign one to my students when I teach poetry, and they never fail to delight.

    Here’s mine for your picture:

    I have raked up
    the plums
    that were in
    your backyard

    and which
    you were probably
    for compost

    Forgive me
    they were beehives
    so rotten
    and so old


    April 13, 2009 at 9:05 pm

  5. Oh I like yours! It really invokes the tragic waste of fallen fruit we have in the Pacific Northwest. Check out the other parodies at TAL. Where do you teach? I miss teaching and hope to get back to it soon!


    April 14, 2009 at 2:24 am

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