This Is Just to Say (transcript)

Lawrence Broch: I’m Lawrence Broch. This past season, I wrote for Ellen, before that I wrote for Roseanne for many years. I’m going to read two poems, the second one based on the first one. William Carlos Williams is a favorite of mine. In addition to being a great poet, he was also a doctor, and I like this poem because it’s beautiful but it’s amazingly simply. This is poem called “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

[laughter and applause.

This next poem is by Kenneth Koch who I like because he’s just so darn funny. This poem is called “Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams.”

[laughter throughout following poem]


I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.


We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.


I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.


Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy, and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!

Thank you.

[laughter and applause]