Study Guide

The Last Words of My English Grandmother Stanza 3

By William Carlos Williams

Stanza 3

Lines 9-12

Gimme something to eat—
They're starving me—
I'm all right—I won't go
to the hospital. No, no, no

  • Now, the speaker gives us some dialogue, and we get to hear his grandmother speak. 
  • We get the feeling that this is a no-nonsense kind of lady. She doesn't politely ask for something to eat; she demands it. 
  • That seems harsh. We wonder if she's really being starved. The last stanza told us there were dirty plates, though, so she must be getting something to eat. Could this be a sign of dementia, or have those plates been sitting there a long time?
  • We also get the sense that she's in denial about her sickness, because she says she's okay and refuses to go to the hospital. 
  • Notice how conversational the language in this stanza is. It really gives you a sense of how people actually talk. 
  • For one, you've got the slang word "Gimme." But also, the use of dashes chops up the dialogue, making an uneven rhythm that mimics how a person in the grandmother's flustered state would speak. 
  • The repetition of "No, no, no" makes us feel the panic building in the poor old lady. 
  • Making poems conversational was one of Williams's big goals as a poet, so all of this is no accident. Check out "Form and Meter" and "Sound Check" for more.

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