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Saturday, November 05, 2011

William Carlos Williams: This Is Just To Say

You could ask what makes this poem, well, a poem. William Carlos Williams gave once the answer, mockingly, it has to be a poem because it goes that way. Metrically speaking, there should be no complaint. If we go now to Cliffs Notes, an excellent website about seemingly everything, American poets of the 20's century included, we'll find there that building on sibilance and concluding on so cold, the poem implies that sweet, fruity taste contrasts the coldness of a human relationship that forbids sharing or forgiveness for a minor breach of etiquette. Maybe to savant for me.

William Carlos Williams was one of the masters of the Imagist movement, and he was trying in his verses to see the world just as it was, to look for what was not in ideas, but in things. So, another, more straightforward, interpretation is that the writer of the note on the refrigerator seeks to replace the experience of eating the plums with a clear, succinct description--They were delicious / So sweet and so cold"-- forgiveness (that --Forgive me-- in the end) depends on the success of the description (I quoted here from Wiki).

What should I say in the end? Consider it the same way you take a Haiku: it's written in plain American which cats and dogs can read (quote here from Marianne More), but it implies a lot of craftsmanship. I will put here again the comment that I found about Williams, he is the master of succinctness and subtle interactivity. Isn't it true also for a Haiku?

Here is a French version (C'est Juste Pour Indiquer):

J'ai mangé les prunes qui étaient dans l'icebox

et que tu sauvais probablement pour le petit déjeuner

Me pardonner qu'ils étaient si doux et si froids délicieux

German (Dieses Ist Gerecht Zu sagen):

Ich habe die Pflaumen gegessen, die im icebox waren

und das Sie vermutlich zum Frühstück speicherten

Mir verzeihen, den sie köstliches so süsses und so kalt waren

Spanish (Esto Es Justo Decir):

Yo he comido los ciruelos que estaban en el icebox

y que usted ahorraba probablemente para el desayuno

Perdonarme que eran tan dulces y tan fríos deliciosos

Gotcha, I'm stopping here :)

(William Carlos Williams)



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