What are the meanings of the word "just" and which one(s) are relevant (as a denotation and/or possible connotation) for this poem?
In the poem "This is Just to Say," the word "just" is being used as an adverb. Dictionary.com gives 5 definitions of the word used in that way:
- within a brief preceding time; but a moment before
- exactly or precisely
- by a narrow margin; barely
- only or merely
- actually; really; positively
In the context of Williams's poem, definition #4 seems to be the most accurate; the speaker is "merely" mentioning in passing the eating of the plum to the reader of the note, which thus adds to the lack of sincerity seem in this poem. If the speaker had really felt remorseful for eating the plums, he would not have mentioned "delicious / so sweet / and so cold" (ll. 10-12) those plums were. Someone who feels remorse for committing an action against another would simply say, "I'm sorry" and leave it at that. The insertion of the word "just" in the title of the poem, therefore, adds to the negative tone of the speaker instead of a more positive connotation as some of the other definitions might suggest.