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February 23, 2007

I still hate poetry!

Jerz, ''Poems: Short but Effective'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I still hate poetry. I did enjoy these though. I totally didn't recognize the sarcasm in this poem until I read it over a few times. At first, I was really annoyed at reading about plums. Now, it's kind of funny. "Forgive me for eating your breakfast. It was sooo good. You have NO idea!" It reminds me of a cheesy scenario from a sitcom like Boy Meets World or Full House (my 2 favs).

Posted by CheraPupi at February 23, 2007 1:06 PM


Okay, I reread the poem, and that "cold" thing at the end just bothers me. If Williams really wanted us to think that eating the plums was naughty in a delightful way, why didn't he end the poem with the "delicious" or "sweet" detail? Also, it's not just "cold," it's "so cold." Generally, you wouldn't want temperature of food to be that extreme. If chicken wings are "so hot" they burn the roof of your mouth and you have that funny numb feeling for days. I know in the summer people want "ice-cold lemonade" but we don't know what season this is and generally the most important thing is the lemonade tastes sweet. Maybe I'm putting my own personal spin on it, because I know that I would feel kind of bad if I ate what was probably someone's breakfast. I generally feel better if I eat something else, and I tell the person I saved the plums for them and they say, "Oh, wasn't that nice of you?" But this poem makes me feel that the things that aren't really that big of a deal still matter. No, the world's not going to end because the speaker ate the plums, but it still would've been nice if he considered the other person. It's little things like saving plums for a loved one that can brighten up that person's day and make your relationship a little "warmer." I also think it's kind of extreme for the speaker to say "Forgive me" for such a trivial matter instead of "I'm sorry." Of course he could have been sarcastic. But still, sarcasm can distance you from a person's feelings and therefore make you "cold" again. Whoa, I can't believe I'm writing this big long paragraph about such a short little poem. Well, I guess that just goes to show how maddeningly unsimple simple poems are.

Posted by: Matt Henderson at February 25, 2007 5:36 PM

Matthew, I have also read the poem with the red wheelbarrow and I remember being frustrated with it, too. But, maybe you are trying too hard to find some deeper profound truth. What is so great about this poem is its simplicity, even in meaning. Have you ever snuck into the kitchen to eat one of those cookies that your mom just baked but you knew she was planning on using for a special occasion? I know I have, and there is something so good about that cookie just because I know that I wasn't supposed to eat it. And I know my mom will find out about it and scold me, but she really won't be mad. In fact, she was probably expecting me to eat one. I think this poem is representative of that sort of situation in real life. Oh look at me go - applying mimetic criticism (I think)!

Sorry, got a little excited for a second. Anyway, I think this poem just shows a certain aspect of humanity - we all do things that we know we shouldn't. This poem is a good example of how we rationalize doing something wrong if it isn't, in the grand scheme of things, that big of a deal, like eating all the plums in the icebox. You can always just buy more plums. Of course, in some cases maybe that would have been a big deal, if let's say the person is struggling to make ends meet and those plums were the only thing they had to eat for breakfast and they canít just go out and get more. But, from the tone of the poem I don't see that being the case. I see it more in terms of my own cookie example. But, perhaps I just see it that way because that is how I have experienced life. (Reader-response?...AGH go away lit crit!)

Ok, so maybe it isnít as simple as I originally thought, but still. Donít try so hard to find a ďdeeper meaning.Ē If it is an effective poem it should just come to you Ė maybe you wonít be able to identify it right away. Just enjoy it first, and then see what is at work in it later. Sorry for getting so carried away.

Posted by: Lorin at February 25, 2007 3:21 PM

I can't even say that I could see the idea that he was being "cold" in eating the plums, because it says the he ate the plums "you were probably saving for breakfast." This implied to me that she hadn't said, "Don't eat these, I'm having them for breakfast." I just thought he assumed that she would eat them for breakfast, not that he knew. It would be like leaving a note if you drank the last of the milk; yes, it's a little annoying, but really no big deal. I really don't think this poem is trying to portray any deep or meaningful emotion. It seemed to me that it was just putting a mundane interchange into pretty words. I don't know. Maybe I'm just not "getting it." I really don't like poetry either.

Posted by: HallieGeary at February 25, 2007 2:30 PM

I'm still trying to find the deeper meaning in that poem. This is the same guy behind that darn "red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens" poem. The only thing I picked up on was the fact that the last detail describing the plums is that they're cold. The person who stole the plum certainly was cold to the person who was saving them for breakfast. That poor guy's probably starving now. The only thing I got was that things that you get through dishonest means and disregard for others are not as emotionally satisfying as things you get through honest means. I don't eat plums, though. I guess they're good cold. Who knows? William Carlos Williams drives me nuts.

Posted by: Matt Henderson at February 23, 2007 3:07 PM

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