This Is Just To Say
I have eatenthe plumsthat were inthe iceboxand whichyou were probablysavingfor breakfastForgive methey were deliciousso sweetand so cold
by William Carlos Williams,”This Is Just to Say” from The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939
illustrated by Corrie Haffly
This poem is in the Norton Anthology of Poetry, the hefty tome I bought for my first year English class at university, and which still sits on my shelf. I remember first reading this poem at school, and wondering “how is this a poem? If you just wrote it in a sentence—without the short lines and stanza breaks—it would be a run-of-the-mill post-it note.”
And yet, twenty years later, I still remembered this poem (although strangely, I remembered it being about peaches, not plums), and I still think of it from time to time if I grab the last piece of fruit from the bowl and wonder if someone else had their eye on it.
But it does raise the question: what makes poetry poetry?