"I have eaten/ the plums/ that were in/ the ice box// and which/ you were probably/ saving/for breakfast// Forgive/ they were delicious/so sweet/ and so cold.” These twelve lines are everything that can be found from the poem “This Is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams.
Look how simple it is: twelve very short lines, taking less than 30 seconds to recite from top to bottom, no rhythm, no rhymes, and not even a single use of punctuations other than line-breaks. As a huge fan of poetry, I was mesmerized into contemporary poems after taking a course in modern poetry and society. Among the numerous sophisticated poems that had layers of implications, this poem of Williams’ was undoubtedly one of my favorites.
The short lines and superficial stories of the poem made it more relatable than the fancier ones that were dealing with big, social issues. Williams stemmed his entire idea of the poem from that one plum. This one plum would have probably been overlooked as a mundane object by most people. The poet liberated his poems from factors that were considered as parts that compose the essence of poetry, and escaped from the conventional restraints through writing about an everyday object in the simplest language.
This idea of caring for the sense of familiarity is what was inspiring. The gentleness taken in expressing the ordinary object, and the episode that is not so special provided me with a whole new perspective on how we should view the small moments of our lives. It’s hard to take a step away from one’s own life but it is crucial to approach it in the way how Williams stemmed all of his poetic ideas from this juicy fruit. People strive to reach heroic endings, considering that the small, daily moments are not as meaningful, often ending up underestimating their small accomplishments. This is especially so for youths who are yet unsure about what the future withholds for them. They are pressured into constantly doing something, neglecting the art of doing nothing, or the importance of cherishing the small moments that fill up most of their times. Paralyzed with the horror of time spent on something that doesn’t lead to fruitful results, people keep on seeking for what to do next, when they are not even sure about where they are heading to. This paradoxically led to a trend in “healing” cultures as they seek for comforts in the words of others. But how can anyone be truly comforted while keep lashing oneself?
Completing my terms as the Editor-in-Chief, I reflected upon every moment: my first meeting as a cub reporter, meeting interviewees, how thrilled I was at my first byline, and even the silliest mistakes I made before getting used to the bi-weekly publishing routine. My past three years in Ewha Voice did not pass me by in a blink of an eye. There were definitely times of struggles and frustrations. Nevertheless, I can now take a step back and speak of my experience in “Williams’ way of approach” – that heroic moments are not the only parts that matter.
Not only for someone who is wrapping up on what used to take a big part of their life, but for anyone, December is a great time of the year to look back on what we are leaving behind and make plans for the future. But don’t stress out too much. Instead, let’s view the simple things in our lives in a more caring light – because the big moments of our lives are not the only things that make our life meaningful, but also the everyday “plums” we have.