Dedication for a Plot of Ground

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.
1This plot of ground
2facing the waters of this inlet
3is dedicated to the living presence of
5who was born in England; married;
6lost her husband and with
7her five year old son
11met her second husband
13went with him to Puerto Rico
14bore three more children, lost
15her second husband, lived hard
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,
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.

Notes

4] Williams' grandmother, whose house was in West Haven, Connecticut (Litz and MacGowan, 489). She died in 1920 of a stroke (Mariani, xiv, 7). Back to Line
8] two-master: a small ship, with just two masts, powered only by the wind. Back to Line
9] Azores: North Atlantic islands about 800 miles off the coastof Portugal, far from any direct route from England to New York. Back to Line
10] Fire Island: very narrow bar parallel to Long Island and protecting it from the Atlantic. Back to Line
12] Brooklyn: borough in New York. Back to Line
16] St. Thomas: one of the Virgin Islands in the West Indies. Back to Line
17] San Domingo: chief city in the Dominican Republic in the West Indies. Back to Line
40] blackguarded: swore at. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1917
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.