“This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams
Written in 1934, William Carlos Williams’ Imagist poem “This is Just to Say” is written almost as though it were a note left on a kitchen table, Metrically, the poem exhibits no regularity of stress or of syllable count.
A conspicuous lack of punctuation contributes to the poem’s tonal ambiguity. While the second stanza begins with a conjunction, implying a connection to the first stanza, the third stanza is separated from the first two by the capitalized “Forgive.” In a 1950 interview, John W. Gerber asked the poet what it is that makes “This Is Just To Say” a poem; Williams replied, “In the first place, it’s metrically absolutely regular… So, dogmatically speaking, it has to be a poem because it goes that way, don’t you see!”
William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) was an American poet closely associated with modernism and imagism. Williams is often counted as being among a group of four major American poets who were all born in a twelve-year period that began in 1874. The group also consists of Robert Frost, who was born in 1874; Wallace Stevens, who was born in 1879; and Hilda “H.D.” Doolittle, who was born in 1886. Of these four, Williams died last, several weeks after Frost.
In addition to his writing, Williams had a long career as a physician practicing both pediatrics and general medicine. He was affiliated with what was then known as Passaic General Hospital in Passaic, New Jersey, where he served as the hospital’s chief of pediatrics from 1924 until his death. The hospital, which is now known as St. Mary’s General Hospital, pays tribute to Williams with a memorial plaque that states “we walk the wards that Williams walked”.