Study Guide

The Last Words of My English Grandmother Stanza 4

By William Carlos Williams

Stanza 4

Lines 13-16

Give me something to eat!
Let me take you
to the hospital, I said
and after you are well

  • Man, this lady is really hungry. 
  • She again demands something to eat, and this time the speaker slaps an exclamation mark on it. 
  • The speaker speaks back as he joins in the dialogue and reasons with his grandmother, trying to get her to go the hospital.
  • Check out how the speaker ends the stanza with "and after you are well."
  • Using enjambment, he lets the second half of the line spill over into the next stanza, which isolates this part of the sentence. 
  • It's kind of ominous, right? Especially in a poem where we're pretty positive from the start that this lady isn't going to make it.
  • The placement of the line emphasizes the sad subtext of the statement: we have a strong feeling that this lady will never be well again.
  • Has anybody else noticed that there're no quotation marks around any of this dialogue? 
  • To us, it has the effect of taking this everyday speech and placing it in a poetic context. 
  • You know, by not separating it from the language of the poem, it is the language of the poem. 
  • So, the common-sounding dialogue becomes just as important as the language geared toward imagery and whatever other fancy poetic things are going on.
  • Again, you can check out "Form and Meter" and "Sound Check" for more of what W.C.W. may have been up to here.

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