The Image is All: “This is Just to Say” and “In a Station of the Metro”

This afternoon I was at my desk in the High School Library talking to my great friend, Dutch teacher colleague and writing buddy Katrina about National Poetry Month, and she gushed about one of her favorite poems, “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams.  I knew I wanted to dedicate tonight’s post to that poem. I got home, eager to put it all together, poem plus image.  Should be quick.

But it’s never that simple.  I went to Stock.XCHNG, my favorite free stock photo site, and found a luscious shot of plums just about to be eaten to use as an illustration.  But…then I went to to find a clean copy of the poem and read a little bit about the poet WCW.  Not being one to simply read a poem and leave it at that, I wanted to know more about WCW.  So I read his bio.  Interesting.  Then I read that he was one of the main poets in the Imagist movement.  Hmmm. I wanted to know more about that.  So I wandered into the page “A Brief Guide to Imagism” and lo and behold, one of my all-time favorite poems, Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” is the poem used to describe classic Imagist poetry.  I read that Imagist poets wrote in free verse and concentrated their language so that there was an “absolutely accurate presentation of its subject with no excess verbiage” (A Brief Guide).  I read that they were restless poets sick and tired of the excesses of the poetic traditions, reacting “against the flabby abstract language and ‘careless thinking’ of Georgian Romanticism” (A Brief Guide). Not fans of Wordsworth, then.  Those modernists, so serious, so streamlined.  I myself like a little verbiage, but I do also love the pared-down essence of these two poems.

So a double bill post was clearly in order.  Back to Stock.XCHNG for an appropriate photo for “In a Station of the Metro”.  Nothing striking.  Off to Flickr Commons, searched for “metro”, nothing…then “subway” and I struck free-to-use photography gold!  Now, I know it is not technically a metro station…but it is somewhat a tram/elevated train station, and I can clearly see “Petals on a wet, black bough.”  Pound’s poem might as well be titled “[subway (?)]”, which is all the Library of Congress could come up with for the photo.

And now, a poem for Katrina:


“This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

And then a poem for me:


“In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

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