William Carlos Williams' This is Just to Say Essay

William Carlos Williams' This is Just to Say Essay

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William Carlos Williams' This is Just to Say


poem (p m) – noun:
1. A verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a vivid and imaginative way, characterized by the use of language chosen for its sound and suggestive power and by the use of literary techniques such as meter, metaphor, and rhyme.
2. A composition in verse rather than in prose.
3. A literary composition written with an intensity or beauty of language more characteristic of poetry than of prose.

-- The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, there are three different definitions of a poem. William Carlos Williams’ highly anthologized poem, “This Is Just to Say,” fits only one of those descriptions. The single reason it can be classified as a poem is that it is written in verse. In all else, “This Is Just to Say” fails not only as a poem, but as an interesting work of writing.

“This Is Just to Say” makes absolutely no use of any literary techniques. It lacks rhyme, meter, metaphor, simile, symbol, analogy, allusion and any other device one can think of. The only alliteration present is in the second to last line and is otherwise so sparse as to make that bit seem accidental. Any person attempting to read the poem as a “metaphor for a variety of larger conflicts,” as the opponent of this particular paper claims, is making it up out of whole cloth and giving Williams far too much credit. True, there are three stanzas, each composed of four lines, but that hardly qualifies a piece as a genuine poem. There is no discernable pattern of syl...


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...had been fooled. It’s about time that somebody called the emperor’s bluff. Not even Williams himself originally intended “This Is Just to Say” to be read as a poem, so any attempt to defend it as one is doomed to fail. Unless, of course, the person defending that position is of the belief that any set of words strung together with the proper line breaks is magically transformed into a poem. In that case, everyone with a Magnetic Poetry Kit deserves to be as famous.

William Carlos Williams simply took two ordinary sentences, chopped them up into lines and stanzas, and called it poetry. The so-called poem “This Is Just to Say” is in reality nothing more than two thinly disguised, unremarkable lines of prose. The name of all poetry is cheapened when people call notes such as these “poems.” The truth is, “This Is Just to Say” says very little indeed.

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William Carlos Williams' This is Just to Say Essay

- William Carlos Williams' This is Just to Say poem (p m) – noun: 1. A verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a vivid and imaginative way, characterized by the use of language chosen for its sound and suggestive power and by the use of literary techniques such as meter, metaphor, and rhyme. 2. A composition in verse rather than in prose. 3. A literary composition written with an intensity or beauty of language more characteristic of poetry than of prose. -- The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition....   [tags: Poem Williams This Just Say Essays]

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