What is the tone of the poem This Is Just To Say?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tone of this poem is lighthearted. This short, three-stanza imagist poem is actually a note the poet has written to someone he is close to, apologizing for eating the plums she has saved. The poet writes, "forgive me/they were delicious." He doesn't sound remorseful: his apology is an "oh, s-o-r-r-y" that isn't meant to be taken seriously. Actually, he conveys pleasure and delight that he ate the plums: "they were ... so sweet and so cold."

The light-hearted, flippant tone of the poem reflects the subject matter, the record of a tiny, transitory detail of domestic life. Williams focuses on a fleeting moment, capturing a mundane act--eating someone else's plums--that most poets would overlook. His remorse matches his crime: a small one. 

The flippant voice of the poem, the "sorry!!" aspect, has been much parodied, most famously by Kenneth Koch, who pairs the poet's light-hearted tone with more serious transgressions, such as giving away someone's savings or breaking their leg. 

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