Study Guide

The Last Words of My English Grandmother Stanza 1

By William Carlos Williams

Stanza 1

Lines 1-4

There were some dirty plates
and a glass of milk
beside her on a small table
near the rank, disheveled bed—

  • Things don't look so great for the speaker's grandmother.
  • The imagery of this stanza paints kind of a grim picture of her sick room. The plates are dirty and the messy bed she's lying in stinks like crazy. And… we're very suspicious of how long that glass of milk has been sitting there. 
  • Notice how each line of the stanza ends a specific noun: "plates," "milk," "table," "bed." Our eyes are drawn to these words, because of this placement at the end of the line, which helps to paint a specific image of this not-so-cool sick room in our heads.
  • We sort of wonder why no one's taking better care of her, but it's none of our business, we guess. Let's read on to see if we learn more.
  • But—before we do, do you hear anything? Any rhyme? Any regular rhythm? Nope? Yeah, us neither. That's no accident, though. Check out "Form and Meter" for more on how this poem is put together.

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