William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Dedication for a Plot of Ground
1This plot of ground
2facing the waters of this inlet
3is dedicated to the living presence of
4Emily Dickinson Wellcome
5who was born in England; married;
6lost her husband and with
7her five year old son
8sailed for New York in a two-master;
9was driven to the Azores;
10ran adrift on Fire Island shoal,
11met her second husband
12in a Brooklyn boarding house,
13went with him to Puerto Rico
14bore three more children, lost
15her second husband, lived hard
16for eight years in St. Thomas,
17Puerto Rico, San Domingo, followed
18the oldest son to New York,
19lost her daughter, lost her "baby,"
20seized the two boys of
21the oldest son by the second marriage
22mothered them -- they being
23motherless -- fought for them
24against the other grandmother
25and the aunts, brought them here
26summer after summer, defended
27herself here against thieves,
28storms, sun, fire,
29against flies, against girls
30that came smelling about, against
31drought, against weeds, storm-tides,
32neighbors, weasels that stole her chickens,
33against the weakness of her own hands,
34against the growing strength of
35the boys, against wind, against
36the stones, against trespassers,
37against rents, against her own mind.
38She grubbed this earth with her own hands,
39domineered over this grass plot,
40blackguarded her oldest son
41into buying it, lived here fifteen years,
42attained a final loneliness and --
43If you can bring nothing to this place
44but your carcass, keep out.
4] Williams' grandmother, whose house was in West Haven, Connecticut (Litz and MacGowan, 489). She died in 1920 of a stroke (Mariani, xiv, 7).
8] two-master: a small ship, with just two masts, powered only by the wind.
9] Azores: North Atlantic islands about 800 miles off the coastof Portugal, far from any direct route from England to New York.
10] Fire Island: very narrow bar parallel to Long Island and protecting it from the Atlantic.
12] Brooklyn: borough in New York.
16] St. Thomas: one of the Virgin Islands in the West Indies.
17] San Domingo: chief city in the Dominican Republic in the West Indies.
40] blackguarded: swore at.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: William Carlos Williams, A Book of Poems. Al Que Quiere! (Boston: The Four Seas Company, 1917): 69-71. York University Library Special Collections 5773.
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/20
Composition date note: not known but in 1920 or after
Form note: unrhyming rhythmic lines
Other poems by William Carlos Williams